On 15 January the induction of the Rev Wyn Hughes took place to the pastorate of the Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff. 800 people were present from all over Wales and England, North and South Wales being united on this happy occasion. There were apologies for absence, one from the daughter of the first minister of the church John Thomas (1903-1905). She is 94 years of age.
Heath Evangelical Church is one of the congregations to have seceded from the modernist-dominated denominations in Wales during the 1970s. It was built as one of the Forward Movement halls on the outskirts of Cardiff a century ago. Amongst its former distinguished pastors was Glyn Owen of Canada. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached there each year at meetings which will not be forgotten. The most recent pastor for forty years has been Rev. Vernon Higham, and he had the honour of preaching at the funeral services in Newcastle Emlyn of Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and also of his wife a decade later. Vernon Higham retired in September 2002. The Heath Church is the largest congregation in Wales and it is important as a flagship for Calvinistic Methodism in the capital city and throughout the Principality.
Wyn Hughes is a Welsh speaking bachelor, and was not raised in the Christian faith. He was converted while a student at Aberystwyth and then studied at the London Theological Seminary.
Rev Graham Harrison, the interim moderator, was the chairman and carried out the induction. Rev Gwilym Roberts, the former pastor of Caergwrle Evangelical Church read 1 Corinthians 2 and led in prayer. Mr. Richard Akrill, secretary to the elders in Heath, gave the history of the call. Because 40 years had passed since the church had needed to call a pastor none of the elders had any relevant experience. The congregation was invited to suggest names of possible ministers, and from a long list five men eventually preached during the summer of 2002. Two of the five were invited to preach again one of whom was Wyn Hughes.
During the following year there was no unanimous conviction which man should be called, and there was blessing received from the various ministers who preached in the church. By January a year ago many members were asking that Wyn Hughes be reconsidered and after two further occasions of preaching the elders unanimously called him to be their pastor supported by a large majority of the congregation. In August last year the call was accepted.
Wyn Hughes responded telling the congregation at the induction service that he had at first resisted, but eventually was convinced that he should accept when "providence fitted what subjectivity felt." Mr. Jeff Pugh gave a gracious commendation on behalf of the church at Caergrwle where Mr Hughes has had his first pastorate for the last five years. "No half gospel has been preached here. The wrath of God as well as his mercy and grace has been declared. The need today was not for new methods or ideas but for trust in the sovereignty of God, and prayer for revival on a personal and church level."
Rev Dafydd Morris of Carmarthen Evangelical Church was the man asked by Mr. Hughes to bring the Word of God. His text was the last part of Acts 20:24: "to testify the Gospel of the grace of God".
Kerry Orchard, the Heath Church Secretary outlined his message thus.
The Gospel is the Gospel of God but Paul can also say it is my Gospel and can thus speak with conviction. But the Gospel is from God and is Trinitarian. The Father chose, the Son came, lived, died and rose again and the Spirit seals it to us. God delights in us. Who but God could bring blessing out of our rottenness? The preacher urged us to remember that as it is the Gospel of God, we must not "horizontalise" it. Don't forget the supernatural. Look for the intrusions of Heaven. The Psalmist panted not for orthodoxy but the living God.
The Gospel is the Gospel of Christ. It is not just ethics or theory and it is not just the Bible. Rather it is Christ preached from the Bible. Religion is man trying to jump up to God. The Gospel is all about God sending Christ down. Diana did nothing for the Ephesians but look at Christ's generosity! His was a clean life. He paid the price. He was damned for us. God's double amen was the resurrection and the ascension.
The Gospel is the Gospel of peace. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring this message. Peace! Thank God for this in this troubled world.
He concluded by speaking of the Grace of God. This is the free favour of God to Hell-deserving sinners. It is the "warp and woof" of the Gospel. The Gospel must be preached graciously. Grace is utterly realistic, coming to where we are in failure. Jacob's life illustrates this. Jesus Christ caters for us where we are. He does not say "clean up your act". It is a Gospel to bad people. We can come as we are and be honest. Grace is defiant. It defies the moralist and the religionist. The prodigal's father was willing to lose his dignity and run to his son. Grace is free. Tautology it may be but inveterate legalism is our problem! Christ has done it all. Grace is incongruent. There's much more of it than there is of sin! We sin as men but He forgives as God! Finally, grace demands a response. Mephibosheth had to accept David's free bounty. We have to continue to take! We need to live on Him, rejoice in Him and then embrace Him once more.
So the day closed with a buffet, and their Bookshop across the road from Heath Evangelical Church remained open for a long time subsequently.