Rehoboth Chapel, Gwaenysgor
This history of the chapel features in the brochure: “Rehobeth, Gwaunysgor” Our thanks for allowing it to be reproduced here.
Methodism was established in Gwaenysgor thirty two years before the Chapel was built. It owed its inception to a godly woman named Jane Wynne (wife of Thomas Wynne), who was converted by the preaching of John Bryan, one of the founders of Welsh Methodism, on his second visit to Prestatyn. Having opened her heart to receive the gospel, she opened her home, Ty’n-y-Caeau, in the year 1803, to receive the preachers of the gospel, and also the little company of people who desired to join “the new sect”, as the Wesleyan Methodism was then called.
It was in her house and by her influence that the first sermon by a Methodist preacher was preached in the village. He was Edward Jones, a lay preacher from Halkyn. Following him, other lay preachers and prayer leaders came from Halkyn and other places to hold religious services in her house. Her removal to Prestatyn a few years later was a distinct loss to the little community of Methodists that she had formed in Gwaenysgor. There is no record of their doings for the next twenty years and more: but we have evidence that in the year 1832 that they were wont to gather to hold their meetings in Bryn Eglwys, the home of Henry Griffiths. He was converted in one of the preaching services held in his house, when the preacher, William Williams, of Marion-y-Cwm, made an earnest appeal for decision.
The Long Parlour
From Bryn Eglwys they removed to the house of Elizabeth Brookes. Where they were not long allowed to remain. The landlord threatened to turn her out of her home if she continued to have the meetings there. Rather than see the good woman lose her home, they decided to discontinue their meetings in it, and so the little flock was left without a fold. Seeing their plight, David Ellis, of Ty Draw, opened his door to receive them, and to allay any misgivings, he said that no landlord would have the power to turn him or them out of his house. The “long parlour” of Ty Draw, which had been a tavern, remained as the home of the cause until the Chapel was built. The room became too small to hold the growing company.
The Old Chapel
In 1833 the members were formed into a regular Methodist Society, and the name Gwaunysgor was placed on the plan of Holywell Circuit. The superintendent of the circuit at this time was the Rev. Samuel Davies (A)., the father of Dr Twiston Davies and of Mr W.T. Davies, who was a founder of a well known firm in Chester. He was renowned in his day as a valiant defender of the Armenian faith. Under his inspiring leadership, the faithful few of the Methodists, who had been wandering for years in the wilderness, like the children of Israel, without a permanent home, gained sufficient strength and courage to erect a chapel. They secured part of the common land for the purpose, and, in order to save expense, the miners and farmers gave their labour freely in raising and carrying the stones and other materials for the building.
The Chapel was opened in June 1835, and by the day of the opening, sixty pounds had been raised- a goodly sum for a few poor people in those hard times.. The debt owing to the guarantors-there was then no North Wales Chapel Fund to give assistance- was repaid in forty years, and the occasion was celebrated by a special day of thanksgiving in 1877. Tea was provided in the afternoon and a public meeting in the evening, and between the two feasts, games were played in an adjoining field.The chapel was sorely damaged, and the greater part of its roof blown away by a violent storm which swept over the country in the spring of the year 1895.
A New Chapel
It became necessary to build a new Chapel. This was completed in March 1896, and appropriately called ”Rehoboth” for it was larger, and built better than the one it replaced, and the friends felt their prospects were brightening. They therefore inscribed the relevant Scripture text on the top stone of the new Chapel: “Rehoboth, for now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land” (Gen. 26, 22). The chapel was opened March 15 and 16, 1896, the special preachers being the Revs. Dr Hugh Jones, Edward Humphreys, Moses Roberts (resident minister, D. Gwynfryn Jones, and Mr D.H.Davies. The District Chapel Committee promised a grant of £40 and a loan (without interest) of £100 on condition that the church raised £184. In due course these conditions were fulfilled.
The next undertaking was the new building of a schoolroom and the setting up of a heating apparatus. With the aid given, once again, by the Chapel Committee, the members of the Church, by a self-sacrificing and united effort, raised the necessary sum, and so cleared the debt. This event was duly celebrated by a tea and public meeting held in December 1906. At this meeting, Mr Thomas Macdonald, the secretary of the Trusteed, stated that in the course of twelve years, this little Church of no more than twenty-seven members, had raised the sum of £650, including £20 for the Million Guinea Fund. This surely is an eloquent testimony to the spirit of sacrifice and service which characterised the Gwaunysgor Church. It is gratifying to know that it is still inspired by the same worthy spirit.
This little Church is a notable example of the high value and noble influence of our village Churches. It’s transforming, leavening influence upon the inhabitants from one generation to another is beyond all calculation. It has raised up a succession of men and women who have not only kept the sacred fire burning brightly on the altar of their own Church, but who have also carried the inspiration there received into other churches, where many of them have become leading lights.
It is said that the village has raised three ministers of the gospel, six circuit stewards, six lay preachers, one member of Parliament, together with many class leaders and Church Officers. Most, if not all, of these, were moulded in their youth by the gospel preached from the pulpit of the little Methodist church, by the sound teaching given in the Sunday School, and by the high example set by the saints and stalwarts, who served the Lord in His Sanctuary and in their daily life.
In this 150th year, as we look back and think of the wonderful faith and works of the fathers, and as we wistfully look forward to the future and its unknown possibilities, what can we do but thank God and take courage.