Next Tuesday will be the final day in the month, and for many people 31st October means celebrating Hallowe’en. For decades the impact in this country of the Americanised Hallowe’en has increased, with “trick and treat”, and the wearing of all sorts of bizarre and ghoulish costumes - though we haven’t yet followed
To some this is just harmless fun, but to others it is a sinister and unwelcome focus on the forces of darkness. Yet I suggest two historical events on this date that are more worthy of our notice. The first has already received much attention, for this year is the 500th anniversary of when German monk Martin Luther pinned up 95 theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in
The second event is local, being the start (in human terms) of the 1904 Welsh Religious Revival, which we date from a prayer meeting in Loughor’s Moriah Chapel on 31st October 1904. In the schoolroom (adjacent to the new chapel of 1898) a young man named Evan Roberts spoke of four conditions for receiving God’s Spirit – to confess sin, remove anything doubtful from one’s life, surrender to the Spirit, and publicly admit to being a follower of Christ. Those present felt a move of God’s Spirit, which escalated into months of packed meetings throughout the valleys, in North Wales and in
The reporting of these events in the Western Mail and by newspaperman W.T. Stead (who later drowned in the Titanic) tended to focus on 26-year-old Evan Roberts. Born in 1878, this earnest young man had worked as a miner from the age of 12 and as a blacksmith’s assistant, before embarking on training at Newcastle Emlyn for the Christian ministry. In September 1904 during a Seth Joshua mission at Blaenannerch, Cardiganshire, he had an experience of God which led him to return to Loughor and seek permission to hold prayer meetings. Evan Roberts never sought the limelight, and whereas the 1859 Welsh Revival had been led by outstanding preachers, he had no illusion of being an inspiring orator. Though he toured the country and addressed many meetings, the strain of publicity and expectations led to his breakdown the following year, and withdrawal from public life, moving initially to
A memorial column to Evan Roberts stands outside Moriah Chapel in Loughor. Mal Pope’s 2005 musical “Amazing Grace” gives a good idea of what occurred, and the fierce opposition encountered, even from certain ministers.
So on 31st October I prefer to thank God for what happened on that date in