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,The Rhondda Nonconformist League Inception of Important Movement. Enthusiastic Proceedings at Porth. An important and enthusiastic confer- ence of ministers and laymen represen- tative of Nonconformist Churches in tho Rhondda was held at the Welsh Congre- gational Chapel, Porth, on Tuesday evening, November 27th, convened for the purposes of considering the advis- ability of forming a Nonconformist League for the Rhondda, and the pro- ceedings were characterised with a un- animity and an earnestness which augur well for the future of the proposed new Nonconformist organisation. I Mr. Tom John, Llwynypia, was un- animously voted to the chair, whilst Mr. Edgar Jones, M.A., Wattstown, was elected secretary pro teiru The Chairman, in a rousing speech, ex- plained the objects of the meeting, to which the following resolution would be submitted as the subject of discussion: — That this conference of delegates, autho- rised by the Nonconformist churches and congregations in the area of the Rhondda District Council, hereby determine to form a, Nonconformist League for the said district, with the object of protect- ing and supporting the special social and political interests of Nonconformity." Proceeding. Mr. John said that there was no doubt but that the present moment marked a crisis in the history of Noncon- formity. They all knew very well that never had Nonconformists been ignored by the House of Lords as at the present day, where Nonconformist principles were being utterly disregarded. They had a House of Comons which was based upon democratic principles very much as was the case with all Nonconforming Churches, and therefore it was full time that, if they were to enter into the inheritance vouchsafed them as the result of the General Election last January, they should, as Nonconformists, support the Government and give it every possible stiffening" in the present crisis (ap- plause). He intended speaking a word or two to inflame them if he could- (laughter and applause)—in regard to the action of the House of Lords with refer- ence to the Education Bill. Last January the country had declared with a un- animity exceptional in the history of the nation for the principles of popular con- trol and no religious tests for teachers. The Bill which had come back from the House of Lords was not Mr. Birrcll's Bill —it was not their Nonconformist Bill. Some of them had found fault with Mr. Birrell's Bill that it was not adequate-- that there was too much of compromise in it; and they thought that the Lords had played false with the country. When he was a. boy in Aberdare, at the election of Mr. Henry Richard of glorious memory —(applause)—the Nonconformists were taunted with being absolutely in the hands of the preachers. But what about the Lords Spiritual? (laughter). Who dic- tated the terms of the Lords' amend- ments but the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops ? (Laughter and applause). The Prelate referred to had stated that the House of Lords had frankly accepted the principle of popular control. Either the Archbishop of Canterbury was a very dense man or something else which he (Mr. John) would not like to say- (laughter)—else he would see that was not so. The Education Bill as drafted by Mr. Birrell conditioned that every school in the land should be subject, to popular con- trol in 1908. The Lords postponed the agony for six months—(laughter)—and this on the condition that the Local Edu- cation Authority and the Board of Edu- cation agreed, but the latter had been overruling the former, and where, there- fore, was the frank admission of the prin- ciple of popular control which the Arch- bishop alluded to. According to Mr. Birrell's Bill, it was optional on the part of the Local Authorities to provide reli- gious education, but the Lords' Bill com- pelled them to do so. Mr. Birrell's Bill gave a free hand to Local Authorities to take over the Voluntary Schools, but the Lords made the transference compulsory. Under Clause 4, which would be opera- tive only under exceptional circumstances, Local Authorities were empowered by Mr. Birrell's Bill to allow teachers to give religious teaching, but the Lords com- pelled them to do so. The State teacher was to be subject to no religious tests under Mr. Birrell's Bill, but, the Local Authorities, by the Lords' Bill, had to satisfy themselves as to the fitness of the teacher to give religious instruction. Then 'the Welsh "Council was gone. That was he (Mr. John) thought, quite enough to I make them determined that there should' be an expression to the Nonconformist opinion of the Rhondda (applause). The Rev. E. Richards (Tonypandy) moved the resolution suggested by Mr. John, and remarked that the House of Lords, which had always opposed all pro- gressive measures, were bent upon turning the hands of the dial back scores of years. What was the good of a General Election to ascertain the voice of the people if the Lords, who were responsible to none and who only governed because they happened to be the sons of their fathers, rode rough- shod over all ? He was a pastor of Eben- ezer, Tonypandy, because the church there had given him a call, and the same remark applied to Dr. Morris as pastor of Noddfa, and to every other minister but it was the Prime Minister, whatever might be his views on religion, even if he were an infidel, appointed the Bishops. The Edu- cation Bill, as amended by the Lords, compelled Local Authorities to teach reli- gion, but that was impossible (applause). There could be no compulsion. It had been stated that an ounce of compulsion would ruin Heaven (laughter). And what was meant by religious education? Not Biblical instruction, but the Catechism which taught lies. He controverted Mr. Balfour's statement that there was- no civilised country without a second cham- ber, and instanced Greece as a case in point. Mr. D. A. Thomas was not so sound as he (Mr. Richards) thought, but even Mr. Thomas was subject to the will of the people. At the last General Elec- tion, Mr. Thomas was asked if he would be willing to join the Welsh Parliamen- tary Party. Yes," was the answer to the electorate, if it is your wish." That was the wish of the people, and Mr. Thomas had joined the party (applause).. The Rev. T. J. Richard (Porth). in seconding, remarked that lie understood they were come together, for the purpose of doing business and to build up the machinery of the organisation, and not for the purpose of speaking, for they were already not only fired but "inspired," otherwise so many would not have come ogether (applause). Mr. Hugh Williams (Bethlehem) moved an amendment that the present was not an opportune time to establish the League. He was not against the principle. They already had had three organisations. One had not half finished its work, and the last one had not even commenced it. Some of the churches had not even sent delegates to the meeting. Mr. Wm. Griffiths (Treorchy) seconded. The Rev. Dr. Morris (Noddfa) thought perhaps there was some misapprehension in regard to this matter of organisation. It was true there had been three organ- isations called into existence, and in con- nection with one he had been working day and night in the direction of gather- ing evidence (hear, hear). He was sorry for the constitution of the Church Com- mission, and for the woful ignorance of the members; but they were face to face with the Disestablishment and Disendow- ment of the Church in Wales, and it was the provision of machinery in connection with these great question that they were endeavouring to get. More than that, to have a permanent organisation was a consummation that was much to be desired (applause). He was, personally, prepared to go further than the motion; they had been long enough on the defen- sive, and it was now time for them to assume the aggressive (applause). A division then took place, but only about four voted for the amendment. The Rev. Mr. Edwards (Pontygwaith) then moved another amendment to alter the title of the organisation to that of The Rhondda Conference of Free Churches." Whilst they were all proud of the great names of the past-Puritans and Nonconformists, as Nonconformists they could have a positive name, and this was very much better than a negative one. In Welsh the name would have quite a rhythm about it, Cynhadledd Eglwysi Rydd y Rhondda." This amendment, however, found no seconder. Exception was then taken to the in- clusion of the word social in the reso- lution, and Councillor R. S. Griffiths remarked that the wording of the reso- lution did not appear to him to be per- fectly clear. He was not there to sup- port the establishment, of any organisation which would in any degree cause a mis- understanding in the future. He was in full sympathy with the movement to establish a League, but questioned the wisdom of including the word "social." The Chairman suggested the substitu- tion of the word national for social. Mr. Thomas suggested that it should be an instruction to those drafting the constitution of the League to see that the rules did not clash with those of any existing organisation. Councillor Griffiths would accept the proposal provided that the word social would not interfere with existing organ- isations. The Rev. Dr. Morris then suggested the passing of the resolution expressing determination to establish the League only, leaving the definition to the Com- mittee, and this was then unanimously agreed tn. The Chairman said that having gone so far, they would require a representative General Committee, say, of 20 for each Ward, to meet about the beginning of the year to draft the constitution of the League as soon as possible for submission to another conference on the basis of the one held that evening. Mr. R. R. Williams (Clydach Vale) moved a resolution to the effect indicated by the Chairman. Mr. D. T. Jones (Pentre' moved that ten members from each Ward form the General Committee. Mr. J. Treharne (Porth) seconded. Mr. Edwards (Bodringallt) moved an amendment to the effect that the Com- mittee consist of one member from each denomination in each ward. Mr. D. W. Davies, J.P., seconded. Messrs. Jones and Treharne having withdrawn the original resolution, the amendment was agreed to as the substan- tive resolution nem. con. j-iie following were appointed to act as conveners in the respective Wards for the purposes of selection of representa- tives to act on the Committee —Treher- bert, the Rev. Mr. Evans, Blaenycwm; Treorchy, Mr. Roderick Morgan; Pentre, Mr. J. Meggit; Ystrad-Rhondda, Mr. Edwards, Bodringallt Llwynypia and Clydach Vale, Mr. R. R. Williams; Tony- pandy, Mr. D. H. Thomas; Penygraig, the Rev. Mr. Pearce; Tylorstown, the Rev. Mr. Edwards, Pontygwaith; Fern- dale, and Mardy, Mr. Tom John. It was agreed that, the General Com- mittee meet on Tuesday evening, January 8th, 1907. The following resolutions having been carried with acclamation, the proceedings concluded with a hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman: — (1) This meeting, held at Porth Welsh Congregational Chapel, on November <27th 1906, representing 139 Noncon- formist Churches throughout the Rhondda Y Urban District area, wishes to congratu- late the present Government on the legis- lation of the first Session as a, sincere attempt to secure unto us as Noncon- formists our just rights in the great ques- tion of national education; and it most earnestly calls for the wholesale rejection of the changes effected in its chief mea- sure by the House of Lords, and to restore it to its original form as it left the House of Commons, so as to enlarge our liberties and not add new and in- tolerable bonds to our present position. The clear and determined declaration recently made by the President of the Board of Education and his colleague, the President of the Board of Trade, that the Education Bill as mutilated and trans- formed by Bishops and Peers in the Upper House, is of no earthly use, gave us pro- found satisfaction." "(2) The meeting would further very respectfully call on the Welsh Parliamen- tary Party to co-operate most heartily for our common welfare at such a crisis in our history, and give material help to the Welsh Church Commission so as to urge that body to render its report in time to enable the Government to bring its proposed measure on behalf of reli- gious liberty and equality in the Princi- pality before Parliament during its great and undiminished strength. Wales is rioe for Disestablishment." (3) The meeting desires also, to ex- press its gratification at the universally recognised success of one of our number as statesman of the first rank in the great Council of His Majesty—the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George."

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