Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 A Year Of Family History Blogging

A review of the blogging year is usually posted January 1st or December 31st, but knowing me if I left it until then I'd skip it. So here's my review.

Firstly, a few statistics:

1. Most people still check my blog after finding postings on Facebook.

2. "I fell in love with the Nazarene" is the number one google search that leads people to my blog - so Harold's music is still touching people years after he has passed away.

3. "The Hymns of my father" series is still the most popular. That contains the above-mentioned song, but also a few others. It's no surprise, therefore, that people with no connection to my family want to check out the lyrics and tunes to some of the old hymns.

4. February was my busiest blogging month, with 10 new blogs posted.

5. I managed 35 posts throughout 2017. It will probably be less this year but we will see!

Moving on, I count this year of blogging as a success. Back in January 2017 I set myself the goal of blogging once a month, and have achieved it. (Although the August post was an accidental repeat.) I hope you'll excuse that!

So what has been achieved within that year?

1. Finished detailing the life story of my grandfather Idris Davies.

2. Lent a helping hand to people trying to locate a family grave via the find a grave website.

3. Discovered the death certificate for my Dad's unborn sister, Bronwyn Mary Davies, and learned a little about her funeral.

4. Discovered an old archive of Pentecostal magazines which, amongst other things, detailed some of the histories of my ancestor's role in the Pentecostal movement in Britain.

5. Found out the cause of death for my great great uncle, David John Davies - along with some interesting facts about his funeral and ministry.

6. The above mentioned pentecostal archive yielded photographs of both my great grandfather Harold Griffiths, and many other family members. 

7. Discovering information about David John Davies' death lead me to investigate his wife, and I was able to chronicle a few things about her own contribution to church history as well as her immigration to America. 

8. Family member Roy helped me find the grave of my great grandparents, Price and Annie.  This led me to research an intriguing line at the end of their eulogy, "Y Delyn Aur."

9. Started a new series on the life and ministry of my great grandfather, Harold Emanuel Davies.

10. Lastly, I was able to contribute to the honour roll project.

All in all, I'm very happy with the discoveries and research accomplished!

For the coming year I would like to:

1. Once again blog at least one post a month.

2. Start creating a physical genealogy file.

3. Finish blogging about Harold Emanuel Griffiths.

4. Focus on my grandparents, Ernest and May Hilton.

5. Introduce the world to John Hobbs.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Grandparents I Never Knew: Addendum 1

As I worked through the history and stories of Idris and Iris chronologically I  was loath to interrupt it when I found information that slotted into a past post rather than where I was at. I decided to put all the new information I discovered into this post as an addendum to that project. Yes, that is with the full knowledge that I may one day discover even more. There's a reason books have prologues right?

In the mean time, if you wish to catch up on their story you can find all the posts about Idris here.
The posts about Iris can be found here. Unfortunately, I have yet to link all of Iris' stories into one page.

Firstly, I now have a copy of Iris' marriage certificate to William Sargeant.

Though I knew many of these details, I did not have them all and it's always good to confirm sources. I'll transcribe the document here.

1936 marriage solemnized at Wesleyan Chapel, Cheddleton, district of Cheadle in the county of Stafford.

When Married: 19th December 1936

Name and Surname: William Sergeant
Age: 24 years
Condition: Bachelor
Rank or profession: Bricklayer, Journeyman (I believe.)
Residence at the time of marriage: 16 Heaton ave, Milton, Stoke on Trent
Father's name and surname: Joseph  Sergeant
Rank or profession of father: School caretaker (retired.)

Name and surname: Iris Griffiths
Age: 20 years
Condition: Spinster
Rank or profession: Mental hospital ward/maid
Residence at the time of marriage: "Marantha"Barford, Bridge Lane, Cheddleton.
Father's name and surname: Harold Emmanuel  Griffiths
Rank or profession of father: Minister

Married in the Wesleyan chapel, according to the rights and ceremonies of the Methodists. Certificate by me, James William Harrison (?) minister. John ? Steele, Registrar.

The marriage solemnized between William Sargeant and Iris Griffiths, in the presence of us, Harold E Griffiths and Joseph Sargeant.

Personal Observations:
1. The wedding date is the same as my own.
2. This puts William living in the same area as where Harold was ministering, which is no surprise considering the time line. I had previously wondered if William had lived in Wales though.
3. I don't know much about William's father, I may investigate this further in the future, but for now I have a very definite pile of research on other direct family members which  I still need to conduct.
4. Iris is listed as 20 here. This confirms my suspicions of her being born in 1916. Iris always lied about her age, to the point she couldn't remember her own.
5. I never knew Iris worked in a mental hospital. I wonder if her residence at time of marriage was a place very nearby (It would make sense if it was.) and if I might be able to one day figure out which hospital it was. This is of interest to me since my wife works in the mental health industry.
6. Although Harold often worked second jobs, it is interesting that by this point he is definitely listing his full time job as minister, not collier etc.
7. In the early days of my blogging I often put down Harold's middle name as Emmanuel with double M - as it is listed here. It was in fact a single M, Emanuel.

Secondly, here is the marriage certificate between Idris and Iris.

1938 Marriage solemnised at Bethel Gospel Templ, Wardend Road in the district of Bimingham, in the county borough of Birmingham.

When Married: December 24th 1938.
Name and surname: Idris Davies.
Age: 24.
Condition: Bachelor.
Rank or profession: Viewer at Aero works.
Residence at time of marriage: 45 Asquith Road, Wardend.
Father's name and surname: Price Davies.
Rank or profession of father: Coal miner.

Name and surname: Iris Sargeant.
Age: 22.
Condition: Widow.
Rank or profession: General Stores lift operator.
Residence at time of marriage: 78 Morris Road, Washwood Heath.
Father's name and surname: Harold Emmanuel Griffiths.
Rank or profession of father: Minister of religion.

Married in Bethel Gospel Temple, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Union of Gospel Churches by Certificate.

This marriage was solemnized between us. Idris Davies, Iris Sargeant. In the Presence of us
Harold E Griffiths, Edward I/(orJ) Davies.
And in the presence of (W. Myrddinn Lewis ?) authorized person for Bethel Gospel Temple.

Personal Observations:
1. As with many ancestors, they were married on  Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This was often a day off. In this case I believe Harold has to be in Stoke on Trent for the Sunday, where he was ministering at his church.
2. I had forgotten the wedding was in Birmingham, and not Stoke on Trent. Since it is a Bethel church, the likelihood is it was Pentecostal and one that Idris was ministering in at the time. An April 1937 article of Redemption Tidings records Idris as being part of an assembly in Birmingham.
3. I am not sure of Idris' job at this time. I recall a family member saying they thought he worked with planes at one point, and aero works would seem to fit in with this. I am not convinced I translated the word "Viewer" right.
4. It is good to see a confirmation of the fact Iris worked at General Stores, since this was a recollection her family had.
5. I am not sure what relation Edward Davies is to Idris, I will have to look into this. It does seem more likely that he is a relative, rather than just a friend.

The third piece of information I discovered is a small one.

Taken from Redemption Tidings Vol 4 Oct 1958
It is a small announcement celebrating Price and Annie Davies' (My Great Grandparents) 50th anniversary. In it is news of their family and the information pertaining to Idris and Iris is simply this: "Their second son, Idris, has a situation in Southern Rhodesia, and spends all the time he can in missionary work." 

I admit, the wording is a little strange, as it sounds like he is in crisis. As far as I can guess, they probably didn't know how to succinctly describe what Idris was doing in Southern Rhodesia (Now Zimbabwe.) Idris had a job and helped plant churches.

Idris' eldest daughter, Wendy, is also mentioned.

The fourth and final piece of information I gained since writing the blogs, also comes from the Redemption Tidings magazine.

Taken from Redemption Tidings Vol 23 Sespt 1947
In this brief report there is an even briefer mention of Idris sailing for Africa. "On July 15th a farewell service was held on behalf of our dear Bro. I. Davis (son-in-law to our pastor H. E. Griffiths) who sailed for South Africa."

Although they spelled Davies without the E, it is definitely Idris, as is confirmed by the article being about the Assemblies church in Milton and being pastored by Harold E Griffiths.

It does mean I am now going to have to search through all the old Redemption Tidings magazines for any mention of Davis, in case there are any more spelling mistakes in there!

That concludes the additional evidence and sources I have discovered since blogging about my grandparents stories. It's been a great adventure and I feel like I have learned significant things about them.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11th - The Lost Of The War

I thought for this Veterans Day/Remembrance Day I would share a poem I wrote when I was 15. I rediscovered this on my visit to England, it was packed away in boxes in a friends attic. I was inspired to write the poem when our school visited the World War 1 and 2 memorials in France and Belgium. I still vividly remember the row upon row of graves, memorials and headstones.

I thought about editing the poem but decided I would leave it here as my own piece of family history.

There they lay in their thousands,
Each one with a story,
All died for their nation,
Whilst fighting for glory.

Only a gravestone,
With which to remember,
Those soldiers who fought,
To win us our splendour.

Red roses, pink roses,
All of them given,

To each one of those fighters,
Who now live in heaven.

Heads bow in silent respect
Our thoughts on the dead,
Who died for our peace,
Their last days living dread. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lampeter War Memorial - Contribution To The Honor Roll Project

I recently visited Lampeter, Wales. It's just a small town so when I saw a local war memorial I took some photographs so I could add it to the Honor Roll Project in time for Nov 11th (Remembrance Day/Veterans Day) I wanted to make sure that in the future these people could be easily found by all.

The site is well looked after, but it was difficult to get a picture of the whole thing due to the angle and the direction the road took in front of it. This is a view of the main obelisk.

There is a small plaque just as you enter the site, with an explanation of how it was first created and who it was for. Since the town is in Wales, the words are in both Welsh and English.

An overview reads:

"To the immortal memory of the men of Lampeter and of nurse Richards who died in the Great War 1914-1919. Nobly they did their duty and sacrificed their lives defending their homes and the honour of their country.

Mewn angof ni chant fod."  (We will not forget them.) 

Each side of the obelisk then has a list of names. I have provided a picture and transcribed them as best as I can. The last few names on the last image have faded somewhat. I have put a ? where something was too difficult to translate perfectly.

Rsm Watkin Llewelyn Evans - Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Lieut. Denis Noel Tyrrell Creen - Royal Sussex Regiment
Lieut. John Henry Harford - South wales Borderers
A.B Seaman Lewis James Herbert - S.S. Arab
Pte Jenkin Oliver Howells - Machine Gun Corps
Sub Lieut. John Henry Howell - Royal Naval Reserve
Naval-Cadet John Stanley Jenkins - Anson Battalion Royal Naval Division
Cpl David Robert Jones - Pembroke Imperial Yeomanry
Pte James Mayberry Jones - South Wales Borderers
2nd Lieut. John Lewis Jones - Welch Regiment
Pte James John Simon Jones - Manchester Regiment
Cunner Leon Jones - Cardigan Sattery Royal Field Artillery
Pte Thomas Lloyd Jones - Royal welch Fusiliers
Pte William Alfred Jones - South Wales Borderers
Cpl David Lloyd - Royal Field Artillery

A.B Seaman Richard Cray Morgan - Mercantile Marine Reserve
Gunner Arthur Oakes - Royal Field Artillery
Cpe James Pocock - Welch Regiment
Pte Timothy Richards - Lincolnshire Regiment
Pte Thomas Cyril Roberts - Welch Regiment
Gunner David Sturdy - Royal Garrison Artillery
Sgt Harry Sturdy - South Wales Borderers
Pte David Roderick Thomas - Royal Army Service Corps
Pte Evan David Williams - Welch Regiment
Pte Evan Davies Williams - Royal Army Medical Corps
Gunner Rhys Rees - Royal Garrison Artillery

Nurse Ella Richards - ? British Red Cross Society
Sgt Major Anelay - 9th Lancers
Cap/Sgt David John Rees Davies - Australian Expeditionary Force
Pte David Rees Hanlyn Davies - Royal Welch Fusiliers
Pte John Davies - Gloucestershire Regiment
2nd Lieut John Charles Edmunds Davies - Royal Welch Fusiliers
Sapper John Worthington Davies - Royal Engineers
Pte Nathaniel Davies - Welch Regiment
Pte Tom Davies - Welch Regiment
Sgt? - Watkin Jones-Davies - Pembroke Imperial Yeomanry
? William John Davies - Welch Guards
? Mechanic David Clarence - Royal Air Force
Sgt Benjamin Evans - Welch Regiment
? Evan Charles Evans - Welch Regiment
Pte John Walter Evans - Royal Welch Fusiliers

It is my hope that we'll see more blogs about memorials throughout small towns in Britain.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths. Part 6 - The Opening Of Milton Hall

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 4, Part 5.
An earlier post also provides a music sheet for hymn music he re wrote and published.

In mid 1950 Harold is found ministering as a guest speaker in Scarborough. His son David was now the pastor of the Assemblies of God church there. (1)

It's a Whitsuntide service, which means it was often used as an occasion to invite other ministers. I love that it gives an address to write to David. I don't know if it was his actual parsonage, or a church office, but it would not surprise me if it was his actual abode. 1950 was a different time and place. I also find the phone number quite quaint. 33, that was it. There were obviously not many people with phones at the time.

Later, for the summer, Harold is speaking at another Christian camp in the Staffordshire area.(2)

There's not a lot to add to this, but as the latter part of 1950 was entered it became a very big year for Harold Griffiths and his family.

Harold had been working on building a church in Milton for quite some time. It seems they had been renting out rooms and using unused space since the church began in 1931. On Saturday, September 16th, the new church building was officially opened.

In December of that year, the A.O.G. published a short article about the opening of the hall, but the picture from the event made the front cover.

Redemption Tidings Vol 26, Dec 1950 Front Cover.
Far left opening the door is Rhys Davies.
Front center is Harold Griffiths, Front second from right is David Griffiths.
 The caption at the bottom of the picture reads, "Bro. Rhys Griffiths opening new hall at Milton, supported by local and visiting ministers."

Inside the short piece appears.

There's just a couple of points I want to make about the article. Firstly, the "local labour" reference here doesn't go into much detail, but Harold's daughter Ruth explained it. Harold, the family and church members would 'sell' bricks to the public. So any member of the public was able to buy a portion of the wall that built the church. Harold and others would do the actual building. £1,090 was quite a bit of money in the 1950's and it was a great effort to raise the amount.

Secondly, I don't know who many of the visiting speakers were but David and Rhys were invited because they were both ministers and family members.

Thirdly, Ruth also supplied an additional 'leaflet' or 'booklet' that was produced by Harold at the time of the opening. It provides a great many more details.

Page 1 has a picture of the pastor, Harold Griffiths, begins to explain more about how the church was built, what the opening day was like and how the church came into existence. It continues for another two pages. Here is the transcription of page 1.

"This little book marks the end of a chapter - a chapter in the lives of a group of people whose church was situated in an old dilapidated building. Trusting in God and the goodness of their friends, and fired by their own enthusiasm they built a church with their own hands. Now it is finished at a cost of over two years in time and over £900 in money, but their work goes on...."

The transcription for page 2 and 3 is as follows:

   "Saturday, September 16th, 1950, will ever remain a memorable day-the day on which the new building, officially opened by Pastor Rhys Griffiths (Brother of the resident Pastor), became another House of God. 
   What inspiring scenes there were...nearly 200 people singing their hymns of praise... a cold, cheerless day transformed into one of sunshine by the fervour of the Milton adherents...a fruitful and enriching climax to long months of earnest endeavour.
   Unmindful of the restless wind and the occasional showers of rain, the congregation gathered outside the main door for prayers offered by Mrs. Adams. Then there were hymns; hymns of adoration and thanksgiving sung from the heart by young and old. One hundred and eighty voices, some as sweet as the Spring air and others mellowed by the passing years, caught the glory of those inspiring words and sent them soaring- up and over the rooftops. For were not their hearts soaring and rejoicing just as the meadow lark climbs trilling into the heavens.
   Pastor J.Phillips (Secretary of the District Council of the Assemblies of God) told them that the joint Pentecostal movement was founding a new church every fortnight and, he imagined, it was the only religious movement in the country doing anything like that. "Most of them are closing churches; thank God we are opening them."
   Referring tot he 18 churches established in the Potteries during the last few years, he said the buildings had gone up by the sacrificial giving of those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. They had no stunts or jumble sales, dances or whist drives. "We believe the church should be self supporting. We have no right to go to the people outside to keep us inside," he said. 
   It was a day of thankfulness too for Pastor Griffiths. Although his father, aged over 80, was not able to perform the opening ceremony, this long-awaited duty was admirably performed by his brother. And also taking part was his son, David, who is ministering in Scarborough.
   Extra seating had to be provided inside the church for the first service - a service that will long be remembered; a service studded with the wisdom of the speakers (including Pastor C.L. Parker, of London) and a service as beautiful as the lovely golden chrysanthemums that graced a table 'neath the platform.
  A building had become a church.

Pastor H. E. Griffiths

Pastor H.E. Griffiths was converted June 7th 1922, and from that day was characterised with a great fervour of the Gospel. Within a week of his conversion he was singing and preaching in the open-air. During those early years he and his brother Rhys were instrumental in the opening of several Assemblies in their home district (Blackwood, S. Wales). Throughout this period he was still employed as a collier.
   In the year 1928, he received an invitation to take some services in Ireland. Seeing the great need for evangelistic work, he sent for his wife and family (5 children) to join him. They made their home in Ballyclare, then using a Gospel caravan, he itinerated throughout N. Ireland, holding evangelistic services wherever possible. He lived by faith and trusted God for the support of his family, as he did not take up offerings. A box was attached to the caravan into which free-will gifts could be placed.
   In 1930 Pastor Edward Jeffreys was holding a great Revival Campaign in the Potteries. Hearing of Pastor Griffiths, and needing someone to campaign the outlying villages and towns, he sent Pastor Griffiths an invitation to join him. The invitation was accepted. He conducted his first service for Pastor Jeffreys at Silverdale on 3rd. December, when 120 souls were converted. He was a talented singer and musician. Many will remember his unique rendering of "I fell in love with the Nazarene." This proved to the the commencement of 20 years of active Gospel work in the Potteries. He established churches at Milton, Leek, Uttoxeter and Leigh. These churches are now in fellowship with Assemblies of God.
   The Milton work was first housed at 70 Market street. Of recent years they used a humble hall behind the dwelling houses, below the New Inn, Leek-road.
   Under the inspiration of Pastor Griffiths and through the voluntary gifts and labours of the people, they have now erected the new Bethal Hall. Something os his personality and character are seen in this recent achievement. His optimism, born of his faith in God's ability to meet every need, won the whole-hearted, unanimous support of the members. His eager participation in acting as labourer to the bricklayer, created a like eagerness in others to assist in the work. 
   It will be readily seen that Pastor H.E. Griffiths is a practical preacher. He teaches by example." (3)

Personally, this filled in some details I was unsure about and had previously had to guess at. I now know that he was converted June 7th 1922. I know also that it was 1928 when he left for Ireland. On top of that I can now confirm it was 1930 when he joined Edward Jeffreys. In a previous post I could only speculate on the date.

I had not realised he had been involved in planting churches in South Wales, or how instrumental he had been in planting several churches throughout the potteries. From this document I can also confirm that my earlier thoughts about where the church was housed were correct.

For those interested in the particular rendition of "I fell in love with the Nazarene" that Harold sang, I have recorded that in a previous post and provided the music sheets. If you want an image of the music that is easier to enlarge I have provided this link.

So 1950 was a good year. What would the rest of the decade hold?


(1) Redemption Tidings Magazine, Vol 26, May 1950
(2) Redemption Tidings Magazine, Vol 26, June 1950
(3) A friend of my fathers provided the following information on Facebook about this church building. "The building he refers to was demolished and a replacement built. That was sold and is now a nursing home. The congregation moved to a nearby venue which was renovated and they now have a thriving AOG church."
It's good to know the church is still thriving, even if the building is unfortunately not. As for the booklet I have provided pictures of, it is impossible to say if there are many more in existence. I can't imagine more than a couple of hundred were produced, and I find it difficult to believe that anyone outside of family would have kept them. I am thankful I have the pictures and the text.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths Part 5

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 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

In 1946 Harold's church in Milton celebrated 15 years since Harold began his ministry there in the Stoke on Trent area. (1)

I wish I had pictures to go along with this, but unlike later celebrations, there are none with this particular article. The Y.P mentioned here simply stands for young people. It seems that rather than just use the Sunday morning service, they added events to the usual ministry. Visiting missionaries, such as Mrs Boyd and special presentations from the young people rounded out the events.

These services were held in February. I don't know whether this means that Harold's ministry began in the beginning of 1931, or whether this was just the month chosen to honour him. If I find this out from any family member then I will edit this blog to reflect the discovery.

The following year, 1947, Harold is presented as part of the NorthWest Midlands District Council for the Assemblies of God.

The scan quality of this image is not the best since it was taken from an old magazine. Harold is sat on the front left. The picture is taken in Crewe. I've included a link to a pdf version in case it allows for better viewing. (2)

A couple of other events happened later in 1947.

Firstly, a note in the Sept edition of the Redemption Tidings magazine has Harold Griffiths playing piano at the Pentecostal Fellowship Camp. " his own inimitable way, Bro. H. Griffiths guided the meetings into blessing and liberty by his skilful use of the piano." 

It's another reference to Harold's musical ability. One that I love to read about because so many in the family are musically inclined. Even in my own immediate family, Dad sings, so does my younger brother, while my older brother also plays the guitar. (3) 

Finally, in the same month (3) there's a report publishing in Redemption Tidings about what's happening with the ministry in Milton.

"The Lord has been gracious in pouring out his blessings within the past few months. A good number of precious souls have found Jesus as their saviour. God also has been gracious in filling quite a few with His Holy Spirit. (4) Others have been faithful unto God by following him through the waters of baptism. Approximately six young men and six young ladies obeyed God by this act. 
On June 29th was the children's anniversary where again everyone present was blessed, both by the Gospel in word which was given by Rhys Griffiths (S.Wales) and in song which was given by the children.
On July 15th a farewell service was held on behalf of our dear Bro. I. Davis (son-in-law to our pastor H. E. Griffiths) who sailed for South Africa."

There are a few things worth noting in this small article. Firstly, Rhys Griffiths is Harold's brother. He was pastor of a church in Blackwood, South Wales. At some point I will post a few blogs about him and the small amounts I have gleaned about the ministry in Blackwood.

Secondly, I am not 100% sure what is meant by June 29th being the children's anniversary, except that we already know 1946 was the anniversary of Harold's ministry in Milton. Perhaps then, this event in 1947 is referencing the beginning of a children's ministry in Milton.

Thirdly, and most importantly to me personally, Brother. I. Davis is actually "Brother I. Davies", my grandfather Idris Davies, who left for South Africa in 1947. You can read elsewhere on my blog about his adventures.

Next, we'll explore the events of 1950 and the grand opening of a new church building in Milton.

(1) Redemption Tidings magazine VOL 22, April 1946.
(2) Redemption Tidings Magazine VOL 23, July 1947.
(3) Redemption Tidings Magazine VOL 23, Sept 1947.
(4) Pentecostals differ to many other Christian denominations by believing that Christians, though already saved, can receive a separate 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' which enables the believer to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in both the book of Acts and the epistles of the New Testament. It's where Pentecostals get their name from - Pentecost - the moment in Acts when the disciples and followers of Jesus received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Grandfather I Never Knew Part 10

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9 

-- Part 10 was added to on October 21st. It now includes some small corrections and a large part of Norma Davies' recollections, which she has recorded in 'nuggets' and posted to Facebook in the past. -- 

Idris passed away on May 6th, 1984. He had gone into hospital for treatment regarding his Prostrate A nurse made a mistake while he was in the hospital and this ultimately led to his death. (1) Merthyn received a phone call from Tobias - the house cook and servant, a long time friend of Idris - right before he was due to be preaching. He finished his sermon and then began to deal with the emotional aspects of his father dying. 

Glyn, Idris' eldest son, was in South Africa at the time. His wife Norma recalls:

"The year was 1984 and it was early May. We had accepted a post to be missionary educators running a Bible College in Durban South Africa. Glyn’s parents had remained in Rhodesia, living in Bulawayo. Glyn’s mother passed away in May 0f 1982, while we were in the States on furlough. After her death Dad moved to Sinoia where he was the senior Pastor of a congregation, coinciding with the time we were in South Africa. Then the call came saying that Dad had passed away from complications after surgery. Sadly we loaded our car, took the children out of school and set out for the long journey from Durban, South Africa to Harare, Zimbabwe (known to us as Salisbury, Zimbabwe). The deeper we drove in Zimbabwe the more shocked we were at how the country we remembered had changed. Signs of poverty seemed to be the norm; gone were the maize fields, in their place farmland lay desolate and uncared for. Farms that during our day raised large herds of cattle now lay in ruins with no signs of livestock of any kind. We were shaken and saddened by what we saw.

After the funeral service and burial at the Warren Hills Cemetery, we lingered saying our earthly farewell. You see in that sacred place not only was it the final resting place of Glyn's father but also of our infant son, who was laid to rest there in 1974. We did not sorrow though, as those without hope, as we drew comfort in the knowledge that in God’s eternal time we would be reunited in heaven."

Roland Pletts, a friend of the families' and a man baptised in the font that Idris built in his garden, was with Idris just a couple of days before he passed away. Roland recalls.

"He was admitted to St Anne's Catholic Hospital in Salisbury/Harare. This was a private hospital run by the nuns and people and doctors had access to its facilities. It was spacious, clean, and housed in a substantial colonial type building surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The day I called to see him he was resting peacefully near to the time of his departure.

Someone else was there who prayed that the Lord should raise him up because he still had a great work to do.

Knowing all the accomplishments and faithful service he had fulfilled over many years I knew Idris had already accomplished a substantial amount and from what he had conveyed to us I realised that he was not wanting to be raised up but was ready to depart and be with the Lord and to hear those sacred words "Well done good and faithful servant....enter into the joy of your Lord."

He passed away in peace a day or two later, a great Man of God who had faithfully lived for Jesus and impacted innumerable people mine included." (2)

At the time the family thought Idris had been alone in those last few days. It gave everyone great joy when they found out years later that it was not so. Indeed, Roland was led to being a Christian, by Idris himself.

Only Glyn was able to make it back to Africa for the funeral. He found it very strange, for there was only one floral arrangement, flowers that he and Norma had bought as a tribute from Wendy, he and Merthyn.

The funeral service was officiated by A.B, Roberson, the pastor of the A.O.G. church at McClery Ave. Harare.

Glyn also received a letter from one of Idris' cousins., Mostyn Cole. It read:

"You have the consolation of knowing that your father was truly a man of God, whose entire life was devoted to spreading the Word. What pride you must have felt in him and his achievements.  My memories go back to the days when Idris was a dashing devil-may-care teenager, or so it appeared to me. He came to work in my father's iron monger shop at the time that my father was slowly and painfully travelling the road to his own death. Idris, to me, was a tonic (I was about 13 or 14 at the time). He was unfailingly cheerful and conscientious and his exploits climbing the cliffs at Morlais Castle (3) in Merthyr filled me with awe. They still do when I recall them. Idris seemed to have nerves of steel." (4)

There will be future blog posts about Mostyn and his family now that I have discovered them.

Glyn also observed that in Africa the way a funeral is done, you go to the church, then to the grave site, the casket is lowered, you throw dirt on the casket. When Iris died you threw rose petals on the casket. It was just an open grave.

In my first version of this post, I had mentioned that Idris was buried in Warren Hills Cemetery, Harare, next to Iris. (5)

I have since discovered that Iris was buried in Bulawayo, and so Idris was not laid to rest next to his wife.

Besides the obvious loss felt by Idris' death it was difficult for other reasons. Zimbabwe was ruled by the dictator Mugabe by this time and it became very difficult to take anything worth any value out of the country. They managed to smuggle Idris' bible out only due to a close family friend who arranged it.

Later, there was another family heirloom that made it to America by way of South Africa, but many of the family pictures, furniture and the bronze backed paintings had to remain. There was little they could take with them. Norma has again supplied plenty of information and clarity about this.

Following the funeral we met with the government official who was assigned to the Death Estate department, to make arrangements for all the legal paperwork, including the disposal of the contents of Dad’s home.

What a shock awaited us when we sat down with the official, who turned out to be a close friend of ours from our teenage years in Rhodesia. His stunning news was only compounded by the history of our friendship.

He told us that the Zimbabwean government required him to “seal” the house from ANY family members and only he was allowed to enter the house and take inventory of all of its contents.
Once he completed his inventory, then government officials would hold a public auction and sell off the entire contents of the home, keeping the money in the government’s coffers! Not one penny would be given to family members listed in Dad’s Will! 

None of this made any sense to us, as the house was filled with many family keepsakes that would mean nothing to a stranger; such as family pictures etc. Added to that there were legal documents, birth certificates, marriage certificate etc. that Glyn really needed as the surviving eldest son.
Exhaustion and grief had already invaded our emotions and now it seemed the hand of a cruel corrupt government was dealing us the final blow. 

Our friend told us to wipe our tears as he had made “certain arrangements” with a farmer in Sinoia that was an elder in Dad’s church. He instructed us that he would “turn his back for three days” to enable us to go into Dad’s home and retrieve documents and a few items that would fit in the truck of our car. He warned us to be cautious what we took though, to prevent causing suspicion by the Zimbabwe officials at the Beit Bridge border, when we crossed back into South Africa.

We picked up our two children from a friend’s home and headed to Sinoia and the farm of the church elder. When we arrived, Boet, (name changed for the family’s protection), and his wife greeted us with open arms, just as though we were longtime friends. 

Boet suggested we leave the two children on the farm so they would not have to witness the heart-wrenching experience that Glyn and I were about to embark on. He and his wife were the epitome of compassion doing everything they could think of to ease our pain. 

Arriving at Dad’s home, stepping into the silent living room literally sucked the air out of me. I sat on the sofa that had a crocheted afghan lying over the back. I had crocheted it as a gift for my mother-in-law several years earlier. Everywhere we looked were poignant memories of precious happy times we had spent together as a family. By now Glyn and I could not staunch the flow of tears at the great loss we were dealing with. 

Boet comforted us with his presence and then helped us re-focus on the task at hand. Glyn went into Dad’s office and began to collect all the legal documents, like birth and marriage certificates along with family Bibles, including Dad’s personal Bible with sermon notes between the pages. This was a treasure not to be lost!

Boet walked with me from room to room to see if there were any personal items that we could carry in the limited space in our car. I was not aware that in my numbed emotional state, I kept walking back to the dining room and running my hand over a tea wagon that had been handmade in England and given to my In-laws as a wedding present. So it actually was an antique that held many memories.

Another item I kept going back to was a Rhodesian Oak Dining Room dresser that had belonged to my parents and then was given to Glyn’s parents, so it had been in both families’ history.
I kept saying over and over as tears flowed unabated, that I could not believe we were losing these family “treasurers”.

The whole time Boet was a stalwart of compassion and help. Taking care of what to do with the two dogs and the faithful African couple who had been caring for Dad since Mom had passed away. Once we had finished all we could do, was to head back to the farm. Boet suggested that we rest while his wife was preparing supper, which we welcomed as our exhaustion was now more than we could bear.

While we were resting Boet quickly rounded up a group of his farm workers and big farm truck and returned to the house. They loaded the tea wagon and the dining room dresser, along with a large wooden crate filled with tools that Glyn had given his Dad and secretly brought them back to the farm, unbeknown to us. The out-pouring of love that Boet and his wife showered on us was a balm to our shattered emotions. After resting on the farm for one more day, we headed back to South Africa to resume our missionary duties; closing the door on that chapter of our lives and never hearing again what happened to the contents of Dad’s home.

Several months later we received a phone call from Swift Transport Company informing us they had a delivery to make. We had absolutely no idea what it was, so we waited impatiently for the truck to arrive.  Imagine our stunned amazement when we discovered the delivery was the dining room dresser, the heirloom tea wagon and crate of tools! (6)

Hardly able to contain our excitement, we carefully removed the packing from around these tangible family treasures.

Yet we kept asking ourselves, how could this be? We saw on the shipping label the items had come from an unknown person living near Johannesburg. Glyn quickly put in a phone call to try and unravel the mystery. The gentleman that answered explained that he and his wife had been members of the congregation that Dad Davies served and they had just emigrated from Rhodesia to South Africa.

They had to get permission from the Zimbabwean government for every item of furniture they took with them and they were not allowed DUPLICATES.

When Boet knew they were leaving, he asked if they had any of the items that he had taken from Dad’s house. They didn’t; so Boet asked them to transport these items with their furniture and then gave them the money to ship them to us in Durban! So all was not lost; like Ruth of old, God in His mercy had given us some “handfuls on purpose”!"

Norma has done so well remembering the sorrow of the time that there is little left for me to say. I will finish with this picture I have of one of Idris' favourite quotes. It is in his own handwriting and reads,

"A shining face radiant with the love of God is worth more than a ton of logic, rhetoric, and elocution."

I like to believe that as well as the preaching and baptisms, Idris also had one of those radiant faces.


(1) I believe Idris had previously had issues with his bowels and the nurse was unaware of this or had forgotten the fact. The doctor had asked that no one give him an enema, but the nurse did so. He died just a day or so later.

(2) This conversation was over Facebook and I have saved it, along with several other observations that Roland Plett had about my grandfather Idris.

(3) Morlais Castle. A 13th century castle, above the Taff Gorge near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

(4) I was unsure who Mostyn Cole was or how he was related to Idris. (Except the obvious statement that he was a cousin.) After speaking to Roy (Idris's nephew.) I discovered that he was the son of Annie Griffiths' younger sister, Mary Jane Cole (nee Griffiths). This Annie Griffiths was Idris' mother, not to be confused with his mother in law, also named Annie Griffiths (nee Simpkins).

(5) I don't have a picture of Idris' grave. With the current unrest that still exists in Zimbabwe, I am unsure if I ever will, but I am definitely trying to push open doors and see what is possible.

(6) I have personally seen these tools and the heirlooms, as Glyn and Norma still have them at their home in the United States.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths. Part 4 Ministry During The War

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

As previously noted, Harold and the Griffiths family did move house during world war 2. I think they also moved the church a few times as well.

In his book, "The City of Stoke-on-Trent: Protestant Nonconformity" J.G. Jenkins lists "A Bethel mission hall in a room under the Archway, 2A Leek Road was registered by the Assemblies of God in 1941. The meeting may have lapsed or moved in 1944 when the rear of 4 Leek Road was registered as Bethel Hall. In 1950 the group moved to the rear of 2 Leek Road. (1)

What makes me sure that this Assemblies of God church is that which Harold started? Well, firstly he personally planted the Bethel Churches when working with Edward Jeffreys. Secondly, it became an Assemblies of God church and I can easily imagine the name Bethel and A.O.G. churches being interchanged by pastors. Today many churches are of the A.O.G. denomination in England and America but go by a specific name. Thirdly, 1950 is when Harold and the family finished work on their new Bethel Hall building.

I will cover the new building in much more detail in one of the next two blog posts. It is, fortunately, one of the things I know much about with regards to Harold's involvement and life.

Redemption Tidings continues to give a little insight into Harold's ministry during the World War and afterwards.

This is taken from an article in 1940 that listed different campaigns and religious events that were taking place. Here we find H.E.Griffiths of Milton ministering as a guest speaker at the Ball Green "Bring Another" campaign.(2) With this particular name, I can imagine the event revolved around encouraging church members to bring another individual to the church or event with them.

Later, in 1942, there's another campaign occurring in Woodfieldside, Blackwood. Blackwood is where Harold's parents and some of his extended family lived. It is mentioned several times in the Redemption Tidings magazines. For this event, which began on July 11th, 1942, he took his son David(3) with him.

Right below the event in Blackwood we see that Harold's church in Milton had an earlier event on June 27th, where young people from the church and surrounding area went together to Badderley Edge. There was tea, followed by singing and listening to what appear to be missionaries. It's interesting to note that there is also mention of a 12 year anniversary of the birth of the church, which would place Harold as church planting in Milton right around 1930.

In 1943 (4) we find him back on Stoke On Trent (S.O.T.) in Leigh, conducting a camp meeting with fellow minister W.C. Bentley. This short snippet lets us know that the camps contained bible readings and evening talks given by pastors in the local area.

The last bit of news we find out about Harold's ministry during World War 2.

This is a list of church events happening across the A.O.G. It was published May 19th 1944. (5) Harold can be seen speaking at the Whitsun event in Gloucester Assemblies of God. The event took place on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday. His son David joined him once more, this time as a gospel singer. I believe the address of the place is 121 Barton Street, though that is difficult to make out due to the print and scan quality of the image. 

That brings us to the end of what I know about Harold's ministry during World War 2. 


(1) The city of Stoke-on-Trent: Protestant Nonconformity', in A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8, ed. J G Jenkins (London, 1963), pp. 276-307. British History Online.

(2) Taken from Redemption Tidings November 1940. Ball Green is in Gloucestershire. 

(3) Taken from Redemption Tidings August 1942 Vol 18. David, his son, was not a Christian in the early part of Harold's ministry but came back from a revival meeting one day and told his sister Ruth that he 'got saved.' He was then sent to a bible college and entered full time ministry himself. His ministry would eventually take him to Rhodesia where he would connect with his sister Iris again, and then to America before he returned once more to the United Kingdom in the 1990s. 

(4) Taken from Redemption Tidings August 1943 Vol 19. 

(5) Taken from Redemption Tidings May 1944, Vol 20. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Grandfather I Never Knew Part 9: Towards the end

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Idris' youngest son, Merthyn, was married to his wife Christine in the late 70's. Idris and Iris were both able to attend, and it made the newspaper as an international affair. (1)

Recently, Iris' younger sister Ruth was able to share the video below with me. It's the family spending some time together at Ruth's home. There were in fact, several visits back to the motherland during their time in Africa. The eldest man is Idris, the elder woman is Iris, and the younger man is my Dad, Merthyn. 

Iris and Idris may have had many more years together, but both suffered from problematic health issues. Iris passed away in May 1982. After an operation to remove stomach ulcers, an infection set in and Iris eventually died of Septicemia. (More of her story can be read here.)

Idris loved Iris greatly and the engraving on this headstone reads:

In dearest memory. My beloved wife and companion went to be with the LORD on the 8th May 1982. Always remembered by her loving husband, Idris, Children Wendy, Glyn and Merthyn. Called to higher service. We will meet you over there." 

Idris became an official lay minister of the A.O.G. in 1983, shortly before he died, although he had been very active in every church he had ever been a part of, ministering to the congregation in song and deed.

Roland Plett, one of those baptised in Idris' garden font, recalls:

"Perhaps the fondest memories I have of Idris was the way he led the worship. In those days this was mostly the Elim Choruses and Hymns. His rich Welsh voice was strong and he was not shy in using it. Best of all was when he would break into Welsh and sing to the Lord. The whole place was moved. This was often followed by a moving prayer.

He enriched us all with his vibrant personality and strong faith and stamped upon us all something of the great Welsh Revival days. We were truly blessed to have such committed people to lead us." (2)

These ministerial credentials were reassessed on a yearly basis, but it was definitely one highlight of Idris' life. 

While working for the A.O.G. he was given a loose-leaf bible. These were created in such a fashion that sermon and study notes could be inserted into them. This allowed Idris and other preachers to deliver sermons with just their bible on a lectern or in their hands. 

This is a picture of Idris' bible and is currently in the possession of Glyn, his eldest son. It contains quite a few sermon notes, and I will transcribe these at a later date so that this generation can enjoy his insights, thoughts and inspirations.

I find it incredibly joyful that Idris was immersed in what he loved most, the work of God, when it came to his last few years on this earth. In the final post of this series, I will look at his last moments. Afterwards, there will still be space to blog about his favourite songs, his sermons and other facts I have found out since writing the earlier chronological postings. 

(1) The newspaper article is taken from the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. 
(2) Taken from a transcript of a short interview conducted over Facebook with Roland Plett in 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths. Part 3

Annie Griffiths (Simpkins) on the left with Naiomi on her knee. Iris Griffiths(Davies) behind. David, Jack (Harold) Then Annie, and Ruth, Harold Griffiths.
The above photograph was taken in the early 1930's.

Part 1 can be read here.
Part 2 can be read here.

In the late 1930's Harold and his family were well established in what is called "The Potteries", which is an area surrounding Stoke on Trent, in England. It received it's name from the pottery industry that it became famous for.

His name shows up in the Redemption Tidings magazine, published by the Assemblies of God.

Firstly he is received into service as an official Assemblies of God minister. (2)

You can see his name, clearly highlighted in blue to the right. His congregations meets in Milton, Stoke-on-Trent. His daughter, Ruth, confirmed the location of the church, and he built his own church building there in the 1950's. At this point, I presume, he is using an older building, one potentially with dual use.

It is worth noting that in part 2 of this series I mentioned Harold worked with renowned evangelist, Edward Jeffreys. Despite Edward's older brothers helping to found the A.O.G. there came to exist some doctrinal differences between the younger Jeffrey's teachings and the older Jeffrey's brothers. Many of the churches founded during Edward Jeffrey's campaigns were named Bethel. As his teachings began to shift from that of his older brothers there was some fall out and many of the Bethel churches left and eventually joined either Elim or the Assemblies of God.  A summary of the doctrinal issues as well as the life and ministry of Edward Jeffreys can be found here. 

It's possible that it took a few years for Harold's church to be accepted into the A.O.G. He was heavily involved in the Jeffrey's missions of the early 1930's as has been discussed in part 2. (3)

Secondly, in May 1938 we read about his Easter Monday message as part of an Easter convention in the Potteries.

"The Potteries Convention, held in the Queen's Hall, Burslem, on Easter Monday, was attended by a great measure of blessing. In the afternoon, Bro. Dawson Perry, of Belfast, ministered an inspiring word from Joshua 1. "Go forward" was the key note. An ecellent tea was provided on the premises and many sat down. A good open air witness was held on the Market Square before the evening meeting. Brother H. Griffiths, of Milton, ministered at the evening session, from Isaiah 6, followed by Dawson perry, who expounded the "Glory of God" from Ex 33:18."  

For those unfamiliar with the text of Isaiah 6, it is about the time that the prophet Isaiah was given his commission by God and has the famous refrain, "Here I am, send me." 

In July 1938 it is mentioned that H. Griffiths aided a Christian Campaign/Convention that occurred in June.

Since the text is small, the pertinent section reads,  "Bro. H. Griffiths of Milton, and Bro W.T. Guest of Burslem gave much help in the house visitation, assisted by Bro. and Sister P. Currie, and Bro F. Baker of Stoke. Everyone worked with willing hands."(1)

Harold did a lot of door to door work, even during World War 2, which we will look at shortly.

By late 1938 Harold had moved to Birmingham. I am not sure about why this happened, but his daughter Ruth explained that they were always moving about. At first I thought it may have been to help out another minister, or be due in part to moving where there was work. In an interview in 2012 with Harold's daughter, Ruth, she recalled that they had moved to Birmingham and that she did not believe it was connected to a church because while in Birmingham, Harold would still commute to the Stoke for the weekend so he could lead his church.

I know that by Christmas 1938 his daughter Iris was married in Bethel Gospel Temple, Wardend Road, Birmingham, England. Ruth also recalls that she and her parents moved back to Stoke around 1940 to 1941. They took Wendy with them because the roof was blown off their house during the war. Idris and Iris stayed in Birmingham while the Griffiths looked after Wendy.

During the war Harold would always be out at nights during the bombings, praying with people. In the interview from 2012 Ruth recalled, "My Dad never came in the shelter either he was out there praying with people that were dying." (4)

Just because there was a war on didn't mean that Harold stopped any of the ministry he was involved in. Instead, he saw it as a good time to connect with people and minister to them.

(1) Taken from Redemption Tidings Vol 14, July, 1938
(2) Taken from Redemption Tidings Vol 14, March 1938
(3) Taken from Redemption Tidings Vol 14, May 1938
(4) I have the full interview and transcript these memories were taken from. It was conducted over Facebook Messages with Ruth on June 18th 2012. The context of the interview was about Ruth and Iris' family life growing up.