The idea of a ‘Keswick in Wales’ was conceived in 1902. Conceived, not cloned … for a variety of people were prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray, think and plan along the same lines, thus demonstrating that where the Spirit is there is unity. One such person was Jessie Penn-Lewis, the Neath-born wife of the Treasurer of Leicester Corporation who was already involved in a worldwide prayer network for revival in the nations. Her mentor, Rev Evan Hopkins, was at that time one of the prime movers in the Keswick movement. She approached Dr F B Meyer and Charles Inwood. Dean Howells of St David’s encouraged her by writing, “… that such a convention, if it could be held here, would be of incalculable blessing to Wales.”
Then, some Carmarthen ministers, especially the Congregational philosopher/preacher Keri Evans, had already been prepared by experiencing a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit during a town mission led by Reader Harris QC, founder of the Pentecostal League of Prayer.
Keswick, Cumberland was already the rallying point for many earnest Christians that longed for a deeper personal communion with God and a transformation in society. Two such men were the Rev Rhys Davies of Newquay Cardigan, originally a Presbyterian evangelist who became a Baptist pastor, and his friend Rev Wynne Evans of Chester. At the 1902 Convention, Davies is quoted as saying: “This convention has to go to Llandrindod next year, and in August, for all Wales is represented at Llandrindod in August. Ministers, teachers and deacons will be there.”
As Rhys Davies was joint secretary with Mrs Penn-Lewis until 1911, and was assisted in that role by others until 1921 we must accept his minute as accurate. Llandrindod Wells, a spa town, was the holiday centre of Wales at that time. Being at Llandrindod was the quickest way to reach the largest number at one time. Literally, it was from the heart of the country to the heart of the nation.
More local to Llandrindod was J O Jenkins of Llwynmelyn, Penybont who invited the Anglican revivalist Haslam to hold ‘Keswick type’ meetings. A E Morgan who became secretary from 1903 until ill health forced his retirement in 1921 and Rev H D Phillips, who acted as the local secretary, aided him.Many were the ministers and evangelists who wanted to reach the whole of the nation with their preaching missions and tent campaigns, among them the Presbyterian evangelist Seth Joshua and the Baptist preacher R B Jones. The invitation, published in all the Christian papers, drew a superb response from Church leaders including over 40 evangelists from the Forward Movement, the home mission department of the Presbyterian Church in Wales.
There was no set timetable of meetings or speakers for the first Convention held in the Albert Hall. The decision as to who would preach and in what order was decided prior to the meeting, but Evan Hopkins, J S Holden, F B Meyer and Charles Inwood developed their themes in planned sequence. Albert Head as chairman of the closing meeting gave opportunity for those gathered to respond in an act of heart-surrender and dedication to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Many a preacher returned home with new confidence, hope and vision. One of the consequences was the number of local conventions that began all over Wales.
An extract from Keswick in Wales 100 Years Llandrindod Wells Convention
Authors: Geoffrey Fewkes and Oswald Penry