Gareth Davies 1927-2005
Gareth Davies a notable Welsh Calvinistic Methodist preacher died on March 4 in Cardiff. On his best days, and he enjoyed many of these, he preached with theological discernment, earnest longing for the salvation of men and women, unavoidable application and a Welsh warmth of spirit. Two memories come back to me. The first is from 1960 and a student conference in Aberystwyth in one of the halls of residence on the promenade. Gareth gave some addresses on the biblical doctrine of adoption and his own fresh discoveries of the blessing of this truth were absolutely contagious. I remember going home and talking to members of my family about the wonders of being adopted into the family of God. No one had told me to do that. The other sermon of Gareth’s was a decade ago when he was the preacher at the Aberystwyth Conference. The morning and evening addresses had been worthy but uninspirational. I was the chairman and praying, “Kindle a flame of sacred love on the mean alter of our hearts.” Then on the Thursday night he was to preach and I welcomed to the stage of the Great Hall “our beloved brother Gareth Davies.” He warmed the whole conference with a message on the text, “Behold a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42). It was Calvinistic Methodist preaching at its best. It showed the influence of the fathers of the denomination and of our mentor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Gareth Davies was born in 1927. At the age of 14 he left school to begin work in the coal mines where he remained until the age of 23. He came under the influence of H.H. Williams and felt he should go to Trefecca College to prepare for the ministry – though still unconverted. There, through the witness of his close friends John Thomas and Hugh Morgan, he became a Christian. He was soon himself speaking of his Saviour to others and Sulwyn Jones, who preached at his funeral service, was one of the many he led to faith in Jesus Christ. Nine years working underground and seven years of theological study and he was ready to enter the ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Wales at the age of thirty. He ministered in three pastorates, Pontardawe and Gwaun Cae Gurwen from 1957-1968; Llanelli (1968-1981); Ammanford (1981-1994). The Pontardawe period began with marriage to Eunice followed by the birth of their four children Mari, Siriol, John and Catrin who were all to profess faith.
The funeral service, on March 10 in Heath Evangelical Church in Cardiff, was held entirely in the Welsh language. Gareth had preached for the last time in that church a few months ago. An English translation distributed to the many non-Welsh speakers present at the service supplied us with this information:
“Gareth Davies was used to the conversion of many and the comfort and building up of Christians young and old. As a pastor he was approachable and understanding and could equally rebuke with love as console. The period in Llanelli was marked in particular by his influence over a group of young people with whom he met regularly in his home on a Saturday evening, in fact he ever remained young in spirit. He was still able in his seventies to speak persuasively to teenagers.
“He was very much a Welshman, proud of the history, tradition and language of Wales and much burdened for the spiritual state of the land. He was in the first Welsh Conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales in the early fifties and was one of its most influential leaders, especially on the Welsh language side. He remained on its main committees to the very end. He made, over the years, contribution to camps, campaigns and conferences, writing articles for the Welsh magazine as well as composing the occasional hymn. For a number of years he was a member of the Bryntirion College council. After retirement to Cardiff he exercised a wider ministry as he was able to preach in many English speaking churches as well. There was unanimous appreciation of that ministry.
“He will be greatly missed, undoubtedly by his wife and family, also by the Welsh Evangelical Church in Cardiff where he was a member since his retirement eleven years ago and also by the larger family of faith in Wales. We give thanks to God for all remembrance of him. Above all he was a man of faith, of firm and unshakeable faith in his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
“Gareth gave instructions for his funeral, choosing some of the hymns and allowing his family to choose others, and prefaced what he wrote with these remarks – “When the day comes (not if it comes) for me to leave this world to face God in the day of judgment, my only hope will be that the one who will judge me is the one who died for me and that I through grace received faith to trust in Christ’s finished work in giving himself as the sufficient propitiation for my sins. So will you, my family, arrange a service that will be a means of uplifting the Saviour and hiding me, as my sins were hid for ever from the presence of a righteous God?”
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