Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pushing Open Doors

I haven't blogged in about 10 days. I haven't had a lot of time, but I've been busy behind the scenes. My Uncle Michael sent through information on my Grandad's funeral. I was unable to make it back to England to attend so I read the list of those present with great interest. At the bottom it mentioned members of Haverstoe Bowling club. I remember watching my Grandad play bowls when I was younger. I ran a google search but couldn't find anything about it. At the last minute I decided to contact the Grimsby bowling club. My Grandad lived in Cleethorpes, which is right next door to Grimsby where I was raised.

The manager of the club said that Haverstoe bowling club had closed but that he knew some of the ex members. I explained that I was looking to see if anyone remembered my Grandad and could tell me a little more about his experiences at the club playing bowls. I had heard once that a trophy was named after him. To cut a long story short, through a series of conversations the Grimsby manager was able to contact an elderly member of Haverstoe who remembered my Grandad. I received this email earlier in the week.

"I've seen the Haverstoe people again. They have a member called Mr Alderson who knew your grandfather well. He's going to compile a report and either send it to you direct or via me."

I am currently looking forward to receiving this report. 

All of this started with me sending out a questionnaire to my family. Here's a copy.

General Information

Name of person answering:

Relation to ancestor:

Name of Ancestor:

Name of ancestors parents and siblings:

General Facts

Birth Date:


Date of death:

Physical appearance


Hair colour:

Eye colour:

Anything else distinctive?


What was their favourite food?

What was their favourite pastime? (Do you remember anything significant about this.)

What did they like to read (If anything)?

What is your favourite memory of them, when did it happen?

What are some things you did together and when?

Can you share one funny story?

Can you share one serious story? 

What was your favourite thing about them?


Do you have any photographs of them or memorabilia you can send back?

I have received a lot of other information with more on the way. Birth certificates, death certificates, photographs I had never seen before. All this to say, I've not been idle while not blogging, but I am also awaiting some information on my other grandfather, Idris before attempting to blog about the end of his life story. My questionnaire template can be modified if I think of other questions but I like the way this jogs people's memories and I've found it really useful in finding out more about family I knew and family I never met. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Julia Edith Davies' Contribution To Women In Church Leadership

Julia Edith Davies. According to my first cousin once removed she was born 9th June 1890, in Manordeifi, Pembrokeshire, Wales. 

Married in Merthyr Tydfil, 11th June 1905 to my great great uncle David John Davies. 

Sometime between 1911 and 1917 they began leading a church together. At that time it was in the Ystrad, Rhondda and they met at a Baptist Chapel. Today it is called Mount Zion Pentecostal Church and has moved to Gelli but is still in the Rhondda Valley.

Whether or not Julia Edith preached earlier than 1926 is not known for sure, but she was definitely preaching at the church by the period of the late 1920's. 

Article in 1926 July edition of Redemption Tidings (The official magazine of the Assemblies of God, Great Britain.) 

The above article was written in July 1926 by Julia's husband. The first paragraph is of note. It reads:

"I am taking the pleasure of writing to you a brief account of our Whitsuntide Convention. Although owing to the present coal crisis[1], we had to cancel our expected speakers, yet we carried the meetings on locally, the other Assemblies rallying with us, and from beginning to end the Lord caused his face to shine upon us. Those who ministered the word were Bro. Dan John, Clydach Vale; J Crew, Tumble; Miss A. Meredith, Treorchy; Mrs. E. Davies, Ystrad."

What conclusions to draw from this? Firstly, at least some and perhaps all of these, were not the intended speakers for the convention, but the general strike made it impossible for the original speakers to make it to the Rhondda and the church in Ystrad.

Secondly, Julia Edith is referred to here as Mrs. E. Davies. This was not unusual. She often went by Mrs. J. E. Davies and Mrs. E. Davies. 

Thirdly, there was more than one woman speaker at this convention. Miss A. Meredith also spoke. 

Later in 1926 both Mr. and Mrs. Davies traveled for an evangelistic campaign in Ramsgate.

Article from the 1926 Oct edition of Redemption Tidings

In this case it's a simple announcement that "This Assembly, too, is having a Special Gospel Campaign during September-October, when they expect Mr. and Mrs. Davies, of Ystrad, Wales, for a Soul-saving Campaign." 

It's not definitive proof that she preached, but it was not unusual for her to do so. Another article from Redemption Tidings in June of 1929 is recalling a miraculous healing that one of the congregation experienced. The full article is provided here.

Article in 1929 June edition of Redemption Tidings
I won't transcribe the entire article, but the bit in question is a paragraph in the middle which reads;

"I went to our mission at Ystrad, where I was a member, and that night our dear sister Mrs. Davies (the pastor's wife), was delivering a message from the Word of God. She said how we people believed in God for everything, yet when we were taken ill we run for the doctor.[2] I was drinking in every word she was saying." 

Julia. E. Davies was a preacher, and in the early days of the Pentecostal movement it seemed that no one batted an eyelid. 

Julia's husband died in 1931. Julia herself was sick when his death occurred and the church initially called David John's brother to lead them for a few months. I've written about this here.[3]

When Julia recovered from her sickness she took over the leading of the church. 

Article in the February 1934 edition of Redemption Tidings
"Time has passed since the homecall of our late pastor, Mr. D. J. Davies of the Ystrad Assembly, to be with Christ, but we can truly say that the Lord has been very faithful in watching over His flock and providing for them another leader, viz, our late Pastor's wife, Mrs. J. E. Davies.
The Lord has granted times of refreshing in our midst; souls have been saved, many of whom have received the Holy Ghost, and many bodies have been healed, Hallelujah."

The 1935 listing of the Assemblies of God churches in Great Britain list Julia Edith Davies as the official leader of the church in Ystrad. 

1935 Jan Redemption Tidings listing of Assemblies of God Churches, Great Britain and their leaders.
This is just the lower half of the listings, but you can see Mrs. E. Davies listed in the bottom right hand corner next to the Ystrad church. She wasn't the only woman leader in the listing. Miss N. Shearman leads in Gloucester, and Miss J. Curtis in Hull.

Price Davies (Julia's brother in law) records in his memoir that there were 700 people sometimes in the congregation at Ystrad[3], which met at the Nebo Baptist Church until the Mount Zion church building was built. This wasn't a woman leader in some church of 20-30 congregants tucked away in the middle of nowhere. The Assemblies of God church in Ystrad was significant. David John (Her deceased husband) was the former secretary of the Assemblies of God in Wales and a member of the national executive board that led the Assemblies of God in its early days in Great Britain. 

I see Julia Edith Davies as a pioneer of women in leadership within the church. 

[1] Unlike the same time period of time within the United States, there was no roaring 20's in Britain and the 1920's were a time of social upheaval and strikes. The 3rd May 1926 to the 13th may 1926 was a General Strike where none of the coal miners worked and non essential railways shut down. Any visiting speakers from outside of the Rhondda would have been unable to visit during this period. This article is written in July 1926 but it is about the May Whitsuntide Convention which would have been affected by this. 

[2] To my knowledge neither Julia Edith Davies nor her husband David John Davies believed it was wrong to visit a doctor. They did however believe in divine healing and often preached on such. The denomination of which they were a part, the Assemblies of God, also believes in divine healing. The denomination does not believe in avoiding doctors and believe that God uses doctors to bring about healing. While this is the teaching of the church, the lady writing the article, a Mrs. Chinn, obviously decided that in her current case of cancer there was nothing more the doctor could do and so she would trust in divine healing instead. 

[3] I am fortunate that my Great Grandfather Price Davies recorded his own memoirs of his involvement in the birth of the pentecostal movement in Great Britain. Mentioned within them is his time at Ystrad assembly in the Rhondda Valley.