Welsh Calvinistic Methodism was established as a result of the revival activities of Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland and other Welsh revivalists who during the eighteenth century gave Welsh Methodism its distinctive Calvinistic inclination. The term 'Calvinistic Methodism', adopted in 1811, was replaced in 1923 by 'Presbyterian Church of Wales'.
Contact was made with the English Methodists in 1739 and the first joint association meeting was held by the Calvinists at Watford near Caerphilly in 1743, the year before John Wesley's first Conference. Despite pressure from many within the movement, the early leaders resisted calls for secession from the CofE, and this remained the general policy until the end of the eighteenth century. Uneasy relations between Harris and Rowland reached a climax in the disruption of 1750. Many of Harris's followers joined the Rowland camp, Harris withdrew to Trevecka and the movement suffered a setback for some years.
Following the pioneering work of the early itinerant preachers in North Wales, further advances were made in the area through the labours of Thomas Charles of Bala who joined the Methodists in 1784, but as persecution increased in the 1790s, preachers were forced to seek the protection of the Toleration Act, thus becoming dissenters. Full secession followed in 1811 when ordinations were held at Bala in the north and Llandeilo in the south. A Confession of Faith, based on the Westminster Confession was drawn up in 1823 and the Constitutional Deed was completed in 1826. In 1840 a missionary society was established to work in India; missionaries were also sent to Brittany early in the twentieth century.
Today, the Mission and Unity Board cooperates closely with the Council for World Mission. Colleges for the training of ministers were established at Bala in 1837, Trevecka in 1842 and Aberystwyth in 1906. Theological training is currently conducted at Aberystwyth, while Bala and Trevecka are mainly used for youth and lay activities. In 1919 a reconstruction Commission was inaugurated to streamline and modernize the constitution. A Shorter Declaration of Faith was published in 1921, but the 1823 Confession was retained as an historical document. The 'Calvinistic Methodist or Presbyterian Church of Wales Act 1933' created a legal identity for the church and gave equal standing to the two titles by which it is commonly known. By 1995 it consisted of 939 churches (of which 219 were English), employed 119 full time ministers, and had 51,720 members.
Entry written by: GT
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