Powys Digital History Project

Church and chapel 2
Ripe for the Gospel

Familiarity with the bible
The spread of new church and dissenting schools meant that many of the poorest households had one literate family member who could read the Bible and other works to assembled family and friends, and the resultant familiarity with the bible and awareness of new religious ideas meant that Wales did indeed become, as John Wesley claimed, ‘ripe for the Gospel’.

The Church of England clergy in Wales in the first half of the eighteenth century was a clergy divided by wealth and culture. The bishops were often English or Scottish, with a reluctance to visit their dioceses and an antipathy or indifference to the Welsh language. They tended to appoint like-minded clergy to the more affluent livings, who would then turn over the running of the parish to poverty- stricken clergy who could not carry out their duties effectively. This also affected the poorer mountain livings where clergy struggled to make ends meet.

Uncaring clergy
Many of the clergy appointed by the bishops were not Welsh speakers. This caused much resentment in north Wales, and there grew across Wales a general feeling that many Church of England clergy were uncaring of the needs of their parishioners. The discontented and newly-literate Welsh rural population became exposed to the force of three dynamic personalities which were the engine of revivalism in Wales. These were William Williams, Daniel Rowland and Howell Harris of Trefecca in Breconshire. All three saw themselves as a part of the traditions of the established church, but sought to energise the church and directly involve individual parishioners in an awareness of the gospel message.

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