Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Corner

Last year for Memorial Day I undertook a somewhat momentous task. I transcribed the names of all those names mentioned in Veterans Park memorial, Arlington Texas. This was all part of the Honour Roll project first started by Heather Wilkinson Rojo.

My family and I are away in Rhode Island this Memorial Weekend so I thought there may not be a contribution. As we walked the beautiful neighbourhood we are staying in I stumbled across a small memorial.

It's found on the corner of High Street and Church Street, in Bristol and reads as follows:

Memorial Corner, dedicated to honour the memory of Specialist Michael Andrade.

115th Military Police Company
R.I. Army National Guard
Killed in Combat Zone
During Convoy Operation
North of Baghdad, Iraq.
Sept 24, 2003
Iraqi Freedom Campaign

A quick search online reveals more information on the Military Times website. He was a 28-year-old resident of Bristol, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths Part 13 - A Tribute

If this is the first post you are reading about Harold Griffiths, or if you want to remind yourself about his life and ministry up to and through World War 2, then please take the time to read these older blogs. Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11 and Part 12.
An earlier post also provides a music sheet for hymn music he re-wrote and published.

Harold passed away towards the end of 1967. In 1968 tributes appear in the Redemption Tidings Magazine.

Obituary in January Copy of Redemption Tidings, VOL 44, 1968

Harold Griffiths WITH THE LORD
Brother Harold Griffiths passed away on Thursday December 7, after a short illness. He was 73 years of age. The funeral service was held in Community Hall next door to his bungalow, at Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent. The hall was filled to capacity.
Many ministers were present from the District Assemblies, also Brother Whitehouse of the South Midlands. Two Elim ministers were present; also an officer of the Salvation Army.
There were numerous floral tributes mostly in sprays - Brother Griffiths had expressed a wish that the flowers would be given to hospitals and shut-ins. Brother Charles Harthern officiated, supported by other ministers. Mrs. Griffiths and family had great grace and appreciated the note of victory evidenced throughout the service. The fine company sang "The Lord is my Shepherd," to the tune of Crimond as though they were a trained choir.
Brother B.Dixon, District Secretary, led the meeting in prayer, and was followed by the reading of Psalm 90 by Brother E. Howes, Tunstall. The meeting was rising to a Convention atmosphere as everyone sang so fervently, "What a Fellowship." Sister Margaret Donaldson Currie, who was closely associated in the ministry with Brother Griffiths in his pioneer days, recalled other names of persons who shared the enthusiasm and sacrifices with him in those early days. Sister Currie also ministered at the piano. Brother Webb, District Chairman, also referred to those early days when he shared fellowship with Brother Griffiths, in the Crosskeys and District area.
Another highlight of this beautiful service was when the ministers sang, "The Last Mile of the Way." Brother Harthern has been on the sick list but he rallied his strength and brought the meeting a timely and appropriate message. The meeting closed with the chorus, "I Fell in Love with the Nazarene." The weather was dark and dismal with slushy snow under feet, but a fine crowd gathered at the graveside and sang, "There's a Land that is Fairer than Day." Brothers Harthern, Howes and Whitehouse ministered at the graveside.
Bert Dixon, District Secretary"

I want to unpack this obituary a little more. 

Firstly, the Psalm in question reads as follows:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.

7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hand
Secondly, Brother Webb provides his own short tribute to Harold in the Redemption Tidings which I provide here:

Statement in January Copy of Redemption Tidings, VOL 44, 1968

From the first time that I met our late Brother Harold Griffiths, about 1928, until the end of his earthly pilgrimage, I knew him as one with a great passion for souls. His evangelistic fervour, his piano playing, and his singing, were directed to winning men and women to Christ.
We in the North East Midland District will miss his zeal for the Kingdom of God, his counsel and his bright fellowship. He certainly loved his Lord, and his Lord's work.

J.G. Webb, Chairman of the N.W. Mids. District Council." 

Thirdly, at the time of writing, I have not unpacked the hymns listed in this obituary, but I will be doing so here. The one exception is "I fell in love with the Nazarene" to which Harold penned his own music. 

Fourthly, the Crosskeys district mentioned by Brother Webb also happens to be where my paternal grandfather and grandmother's line first connected, with both sides of the family doing ministry in Crosskeys, Wales. This provided the connection which led to my grandparents Idris and Iris pursuing a relationship later in the 1930's.

Another tribute lands in the February edition of Redemption Tidings. This is provided by Charles Harthern who also attended the funeral and is mentioned in the original piece.

Feb 1st 1968 Redemption Tidings, VOL 44
The West Midlands District has suffered a loss with the "home call" of Harold E. Griffiths. He was truly a Pentecostal Pioneer in the Reieval days in the Potteries. When many pastors denied a good part of the Pentecostal in-heritance, he held fast to the old ancient landmark. How well I remember on Whit-Sunday 1931, at the Milton 7am prayer meeting, I received my Pentecost, "As at the beginning." This was the turning point of my spiritual life. Many people walked nine miles to be at the early morning watch.
Like his master, he went "To the villages," in all weathers, on an old motor cycle. He was very much at home in the old fashioned cottage meetings at Leigh, Wetley Rocks, and many other places.
The Memorial Service was conducted by Pastor Ernest E. Howes, one of Harold's old boys. One lady accepted Christ as Saviour. The musical arrangement were ably handled by Mrs. M. Donaldson Currie. Both services were held in the Barratt Cmmunity Hall, Abbey Hulton, in accordance with Pastor Griffith's instructions. Mr. T. Harthern-Ashley was the steward for these meetings.
Mrs. A. Griffiths and family were delighted to have a letter of condolence from Pastor Edward Jeffreys, from Bournemouth. All flowers were taken to hospitals, shut-ins, and sick people. Another Pentecostal veteran has passed "Within the veil." 
Charles H. Harthern, On behalf of the N.W. Mids. D.C." 

Once again, there are a couple of items I want to address.

Firstly, the reference to many pastors denying a good part of the Pentecostal in-heritance is, I believe, with regards to a 1930's theological discussion within the Bethel church movement that was begun by Pastor Edward Jeffreys. Harold had helped Edward Jeffreys in an evangelistic campaign across the middle and north west of England.(1) I unpack this a little further in the footnote.

Secondly, the reference to cottage meetings is a church meeting that takes place in the home. We would probably call them home groups today, though they were often larger than what is associated with that term and still often followed the structure of a full worship service rather than a small group meeting. Another of my great grandfathers (Price Davies) writes about some of the cottage meetings in great detail, but that is another blog post.

Thirdly, Pastor Edward Jeffreys was quite famous and sometimes controversial in his day. Receiving a letter from him was no small feat and I know meant a lot to the family, particularly Anne.

In the 1968 Assemblies of God Conference, Harold was added to the deceased minister's list along with 5 others.(2)

I would just like to add my own thoughts before I finish this post.

I never knew Harold Griffiths. I don't even recall hearing talk of him when I was a child, though I am sure Dad probably mentioned him from time to time. When I first began to research his life I had no idea how much information I would find. During the course of this project, I feel like I came to know him quite personally. As a man of faith myself,  his passion for God is something I admire greatly. I have friends who attend churches that he pioneered in the 1930's. I have others that I have met simply because of pastors he put in place to lead churches. So, although I never knew Harold, my life, and that of my friends, has been touched by his work in more ways than just being a direct descendant. This is perhaps the biggest tribute I can give.

It will be strange now to focus on someone different, but I hope for as much success in researching my other ancestors as I have had in researching him.
(1) Harold believed that speaking in tongues was a necessary and initial sign that baptism of the Holy Spirit had taken place within a believers life. Edward Jeffreys and many other pastors from the Bethel movement he began, came to believe it was not. This led to a split from the Pentecostal movement, and is, I believe, what led to Harold re-joining the AOG and leaving Bethel in the mid 1930's. This theological difference of opinions has been well documented elsewhere but I don't see the need to unpack it any further in this blog post. 

(2) Redemption Tidings July 1968, VOL 44