Before the commercial business and industrial developments cut across the
romantic agricultural tranquility of the Ogwr Valley in the years 1860 - 1880,
by opening its doors to a flow of people from every corner of the country, it
appears that to the old, respectable church of Paran, Melin Ifan-Ddu, that the
outspread Baptists of the valley went to worship and contribute to the Lord
It is only fair to note that the church in Paran, and its laborious minister,
the Venerable Hopkin Jenkins, fulfilled their office energetically and
indefatigable by providing
spiritual refuge and nourishment for the simple worshippers in days of
loneliness, long travel, encouragement, light and instruction in days of great
adventure and swift
It is difficult today to realise the difficulties and obstacles, as there were
no convenient rooms, except the
Long Room in the pub, or in a poor cottage, to hold a service, and no
convenient travel to ease their efforts. The Venerable Hopkin Jenkins worked
tirelessly to spread the Baptist principles in the Valley, and to secure new,
cosy and happy homes for the Baptist stingers. Dr. Ed. Roberts, Pontypridd,
would relate to the many brethren of Saron, how he co-preached with the
Reverend Hopkin Jenkins in Blaenogwr dairy on a Sunday afternoon in early 1865.
According to evidence from old inhabitants of the valley, he was again, in the
same year, debating the claims of the gospel with fearless energy in a barracks
on a mountain slope, to a number of miners who worked in the coal seams.
The Reverend Hopkin Jenkins saw a teeming harvest of souls for the Lord in the
audience of the plain barracks, and huge developments in recent years in the
levels on the bare mountainsides. It is appropriate to note that it is to him
we, as a denomination in the valley, are indebted to him for facing the
hardship and the years of struggling to begin the cause.
In the book of Paran Church, in 1866, there are a list of names of the brethren
of Nantymoel, namely, David Lewis, John and Mary Wilks, Elizabeth Phillips and
Mary Edwards who all lived in Nantymoel Row, and one Margaret Phillips of
Blangarw. Whatever the relationship of the people to the cause of Saron, it
’s easy to see that they were the first-fruits, and they were in emphatic (positive; firm) connection with the church at Paran.
1867-1868 were important years in the history of the Baptists in the valley. New
families settled in the area weekly, both English and Welsh, and it was felt
there was great difficulty to prepare for the spiritual needs of the people.
Some of the most ardent and enthusiastic supporters of the cause, under the
direction and inspiration of the Reverend Hopkin Jenkins, saw that there was a
special demand for them to extend the tent and to stretch the ropes, (
I take this to mean the Baptist community rather than the literal) and they worked with non-stop zeal.
At this time, there came to live in the valley, many brothers and sisters with
their positive conviction, their clear vision and enthusiastic spirit.
In the history of Saron, by the kindly David Evans, Beehive (father of Mrs. Hugh
Jones, Bethel, Llanelli), one of the pioneers and a brother greatly cared for
by the brethren because of his wisdom, his care and his generosity, there is
“I came to Nantymoel in October 1867. There were a few Baptists meeting in the
of Blandy, Tynewydd (Ogmore Vale). I went there some Sundays, and on the other
Sundays, I went across the mountain to Pontypridd, and arrived at Tabernacle at
This is a good example of the zealousness of the fathers (brethren; members)
“In June 1868, I moved my family to live in Nantymoel, and there I settled. Soon
after I settled in Nantymoel, we as Baptists, were given permission by Masters
Brogden, Tondu, the works owner, to hold a Sunday school at No. 3, Nantymoel
Row. At the beginning of 1869 (or according to another historian, the end of
1868), prayer meetings and preaching were held. At this time two sisters came
to be baptised, namely Ann Bowen (the mother of David Bowen, our present
singing conductor), and Hannah Charles. Their wish was granted and the
ordination was administered by
the Reverend Hopkin Jenkins, Paran.”
Some say that in a branch of the river near Nantymoel Bridge is where the
baptism took place, and the ice had to be broken to carry out the ordination.
At this time, the
families who followed (came to watch) associated the place and the cause were Thomas James and family, Evan
Griffiths and family, John Jones (father of Reverend E. K. Jones, Cefnmawr),
David Thomas (father of Reverend E. G. Thomas, Cwmparc) and many others.
David Evans’ writing quotes:
“After the baptism of the two sisters, William Waite and David Bartle wanted to
be baptised and they had their wish.
Unfortunately David Evans does not say where, by whom, nor when they were
“After the baptism of the two brothers, we were invited down to Paran to a
communion on Sunday morning and about twelve of us went down. From then on a
communion was held every month in Nantymoel. It
’s easy to imagine the sweetness (delight) of the journey from Nantymoel to Paran on this Sunday morning:
“Some praying Some singing on the journey.”
it was important for the congregation of Nantymoel to maintain a relationship
with Paran, until it became strong enough to go its own way independently.
Also at this time a substantial addition to the cause was the arrival in the
area of a number of strong and ardent Baptist families, as John Jones and
family, Richard Griffith, John Bowen, William Gronow, Noah Rees and David John
’s good to think that the descendants of these enthusiastic pioneers, stand in
’s columns today. (May refer to name lists). From 1871, the year Bethlehem, Tynewydd was incorporated?, until 1878, the
year Saron was incorporated?, a relationship between the two existed, and for
assembly purposes, the count (
total) of Saron was added to that of Bethlehem, but for practical and ecclesiastical
purposes, the cause at Nantymoel
continued independently, by treating their matters (business) as their own like a church body. It’s interesting to notice the names of some of the giants who contributed to the
Word of Life to the blessed families, namely Hopkins Jenkins; Owen Michael,
Penybont; R. Hughes, Maesteg and Anthony Williams, before his acceptance to
college. In July 1872, the Reverend J. B. Jones took ministerial care of the
Bethlehem Church, Tynewydd, and in November of the same year, we see the cause
in Nantymoel agreeing to accept part of his service and his ministry.
David Evans relates the circumstances:
“When the Reverend J. B. Jones became the minister at Tynewydd, it was agreed to
share his ministry between us until the opening of Saron in 1878. That’s how the
Reverend J. B. Jones became the shepherd of the Nantymoel flock, and he
fulfilled his position faithfully. He was a lively and charming preacher and a
wise and careful minister. The cause strengthened so much that it had to build
a purposeful and settled building for it.
A piece of land was bought where the present chapel stands and in 1873-4 a
convenient and proper schoolroom was built costing
£214, under the supervision of John Jenkins, a brother from Pontfaen. The opening
ceremony of the schoolroom was performed by the Reverend Hopkins Jenkins; John
Thomas; John (Gomer) Lewis; D. Davies, Penybont; Dr. E. Roberts, Pontypridd and
J. Pugh, Tredegar. Successful and happy times were spent in the schoolroom.
The upbringing (establishing, nurturing) of the deacons was undertaken faithfully and ardently by the brothers David
Evans, Thomas James and Noah Rees.
T. G. Evans was elected, supported by Henry Lee, to take care of the singing;
also an instrument was bought for
£25, and Mrs. T. G. Evans was chosen to play it.