There’s been quite a lot written about Dr Lloyd Jones and John Stott in the infamous meeting at the Westminster Central Hall in 1966 , however the more significant anniversary is that of Aberfan. 50 years ago today, at 9.15am on Friday 21st October, the last day before half term, there was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery slag heap just above the village, 40,000 cubic metres of coal slurry slid down the hill and Pantglas Junior school was engulfed, 116 children were killed and 28 adults. The word Aberfan is indelibly etched onto the conscience of people in South Wales in a similar way that Hillsborough is to Liverpudlians. There have been many moving programmes this week on TV and Radio, it is so,so tragically sad.
One of my elders Graham Weeks was talking to me this week about Aberfan and said that he had been at Westminster Chapel the following Sunday evening (23 October 1966) and how Dr Lloyd Jones preached a remarkable sermon on Acts 7:2. Dr Lloyd Jones knew that village and had preached there and he addresses the tragedy – I’ve managed to track the sermon down and you can listen to it here – Acts 7:1-2 – ‘The God of glory visits Abraham’. He begins to speak about Aberfan at the 29 minute mark and it is a remarkable sermon. He speaks with such power, insight and authority into the crisis. The sermon has been published by the Banner of Truth in DMLJ’s series on Acts ‘Authentic Christianity’ specifically pages 44-46. Graham has written up his sermon notes from the occasion here.
Dr Lloyd Jones’ association with Aberfan was to continue in 1967 when he was asked to preach at the 1 year anniversary of the disaster and I’ll let Iain Murray take up the story….”there were many visits to Wales in 1967. One of these engagements he was to describe as the most extraordinary service he had been in…….
“Dr Lloyd Jones was asked to preach on the first anniversary of this disaster, November 15, 1967 in the Welsh Presbyterian Church, Capel Aberfan. All denominations, however, gathered for these services on the afternoon and evening of that day. In the evening the Welsh Baptist Chapel, Smyrna, across the road was also packed for worship and to hear a relay of the sermon. The evening message was one of glorious comfort for believers from the words of Romans 8:-23, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us….’ At the conclusion of a profoundly moving service, the Rev Wilfred Jones, the Vicar of Aberfan came forward to tell the preacher that this was the message for which Aberfan had been waiting. Two years later a woman wrote a postcard to say she would never forget those services at Aberfan and many others confessed the same. ‘I have heard the eminent preachers of all the churches,’ said one Anglican hearer, ‘but have never heard a sermon or address to compare with what I heard at Aberfan.’ A letter written to’ ML-J by one of the ministers present, the Rev John Phillips of Merthyr Tydfil, on November 19, 1967, gives a vivid impression of the effect which this preaching had upon the community:
‘Your visit was eagerly awaited at Aberfan and has been the subject of all our prayers over the past weeks. Once again our prayers have been answered, praise His Name, for I know that, through your messages, inspired by Him, we have all received, not only a wonderful blessing, but renewed courage and determination. After the services I saw mothers, who had lost little ones, and fathers also, smile with renewed hope in their faces. I know they will face the future now with more confidence. God bless you, for all you have done for these dear people here and indeed for us all.