Diolch, Llywydd. I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate the Baptist Union of Wales on its hundred and fiftieth anniversary. I speak as a member of Seion Newydd, the Welsh Baptist chapel based in Morriston. Yesterday, I attended an event in the Pierhead to celebrate the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Welsh Baptists, and I’m very pleased that so many Members, including you, Llywydd, were present.
I want to highlight the role that the Welsh Baptists, along with other Welsh nonconformist chapels, played in the continuity of the Welsh language during the early part of the twentieth century. It also played a major role in Welsh politics, and provided many members to the Liberals, Labour and Plaid Cymru. The success of the Baptists’ cause can be seen in the villages, towns and cities of Wales where there were in excess of 1,000 Baptist chapels.
Welsh Baptist ministers have played a major role in Welsh politics at hymn writing. Lewis Valentine was a famous hymn writer, whose most famous hymn was Gweddi dros Gymru, but was also an early member of Plaid Cymru and one of the three who in 1936 set a bombing school on fire. Thomas Price was a leading figure in the political and religious life of Victorian Wales, and a minister at Calfaria Baptist Chapel, Aberdare, whose first job was as a pageboy. Joseph Harris, Welsh Baptist minister—who had ‘Gomer’ as his bardic name—on 1 January 1814 launched the first Welsh language weekly Seren Gomer in Swansea. We, as a nation, owe a great deal of gratitude to the Baptist Union of Wales for what they’ve achieved for the last 150 years.