The Welsh In Oneida County, New York  |  Evans  |  The Welsh Churches  |  13

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The condition of the Sunday school would indicate this particularly. Its sister church, Penymynydd, a few miles to the north, had suffered from the same causes, deaths and removals without the infusion of new blood. It numbered at the time but fifty members and had a small congregation and Sabbath school. The details of this steady progress of dissolution cannot be told from the available facts; the same causes have continued at work with a fatal result. Penymynydd has now given up its services, save in the summer, when a few sermons are preached in English. Capel Ucha has done better but is now with little prospect of continued existence. For the last twenty years the church has centered around one old lady, Dr. Mary H. Everett, the daughter of the former pastor. It was her effort and support which built the new church when in 1904 the old stone structure had to be removed because of undermined foundations, and it has been her effort that has kept it still alive. When she is able to attend, the preacher who supplies also in Peniel, the Congregational church in Remsen village, holds service in Capel Ucha. A handful are gathered to attend and when the support of Dr. Everett fails, there is little chance of the church continuing. Services have always been held in Welsh there.

Peniel, the Congregational church in the village of Remsen has dwindled from a congregation of well over a hundred in the time of Morris Roberts between 1840 and 1870, to a handful at present. They are supplied on two Sundays in the month by the same preacher who serves at Capel Ucha. None but Welsh is used in these services. The difficulty which the Welsh have always shown in combining for religious purposes is well exemplified here. These two churches belonging to the same denomination, situated within a mile of each other, drawing their members for the most part from the same village or its immediate surroundings and served by the same preacher, have yet been able to unite their weakness to procure some strength. They have preferred to maintain the church of their fathers and of their childhood, though it has meant fewer services, than to abandon either edifice and to unite in common meetings.

Better than any of the other Welsh churches in the vicinity, the Calvinistic Methodist church of Remsen village, Capel Careg, has maintained itself. It has felt the same influences that have brought the others so low, but being in the village has been better able to resist them, and is still able to support a regular pastor. Its persistent refusal to allow English services has been its greatest weakness. Though the majority of the members have not continued the use of the Welsh in their homes nor educated their children in it, yet they have not felt that they could properly carry on their church services in the English. The young people have protested and many have joined the English Methodist church, and even some of the middle aged members, those who have been born in Welsh homes in this country and yet have gained but an imperfect knowledge of the language, have felt the inconvenience of the Welsh services. This has been true only recently, however. Dr. Evans, their pastor for a number of years before 1910, came to America as a young man, was educated in American schools and, like many other Welsh Americans, used the Welsh language in a form corrupted by a large infusion of English words. He could thus be understood by many whose knowledge of the Welsh was imperfect. Very recently Capel Careg has called a new pastor, a man born in Wales and educated in the pure language of that country. His sermons have been couched in the strong Welsh of Christmas Evans and have made no concessions to limited knowledge of that speech among some of the hearers. Several of these have had some difficulty in understanding, but naturally can make little complaint. But though his services are more thoroughly Welsh than before, the new pastor has appreciated the needs of the church and, though against the will of many of the old members, some of whom have refused longer to attend, he has in the last six months introduced English services in a portion of the meetings. (33) The morning service is always in Welsh; the pastor preaches in the evening only every other Sabbath, but that service is always in English. It is too early to tell whether this will have the effect of keeping the young people in the church. It seems probable that it will be but a few years when all of the services will have to be conducted in English.

None of the Calvinistic Methodist churches in this district have retained as much life as Capel Careg. Nant, or Cobin, which in 1872 had forty-six members (34), has lost many with but few recruits. It is served by the pastor of Capel Careg, who gives one Sunday a sermon in the afternoon and the next Sabbath one in the afternoon and another in the evening. Services have been conducted there in English for the last three years. (35)  French Road and Pen-y-graig, two other Calvinistic Methodist churches, a short distance apart northwest of Remsen, are in hardly as favorable circumstances. These two in the early days had the same pastor, but for forty years have had to be content with supplies. French Road, never very strong, has had no regular services in eight or ten years, and now is open only during the summer. Recently Pen-y-graig has combined with the Congregational church, Bethel, to support a supply for the two churches. If the preacher is a Congregationalist, he will give two sermons at Bethel and one at Pen-y-graig. If he is a Calvinistic Methodist, Pen-y-graig will get the two sermons and Bethel but one.

Similar reports come from the churches to the east and south of Remsen. Enlli has still a few members and combines with the two other Calvinistic Methodist churches nearby, Pen-y-caerau and Prospect, to support a supply. The Congregational church at Ninety-six has been abandoned for nearly thirty years. The Welsh Wesleyan church there is still open. It had been given up for some years when about fifteen years ago the last member, a wealthy farmer's wife, had the church repaired. This was completed only in time for her funeral. The people present at that service resolved to keep open the church and since that time services in English have been held there on Sunday afternoon by the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church in Remsen.

So of all the twenty churches in this district of Steuben and Remsen but two, Capel Careg and Nant, have a settled pastor and these have combined to support him. All but the two Congregational churches of Capel Ucha and Peniel have compromised with the young element to have a part of their services in English. That these country churches have weakened and that some of them have disappeared is not surprising;  it is remarkable that in spite of their diminished numbers and failing resources, they have so long kept up, and that against all inducement of circumstances, they have retained their original independence and have refused to combine either within or without the bounds of denomination. How much longer this spirit of independence can exist against continued adversity from which there appears no escape, it is only for the future to tell.

The story of the Welsh churches in Utica is not so sad. Circumstances have aided rather than opposed them. They have benefited by that movement from country to city which has transfused the blood so sorely needed in the rural chapels into the veins of the city church. They have not felt, as have their country sisters, the drain on their resources by the westward movement and, above all, they have been able to recruit the ranks made vacant by losses of young members to English churches from the numbers of those newcomers from the old country who no longer seek the country but are content to settle in the city.

We are not surprised, therefore, to find some of these city churches prosperous. The record of the Calvinistic Methodist church, the Moriah church, has been one of almost unbroken prosperity. Its numbers have constantly grown and its strength increased. Twice it built new church buildings to accommodate the growing numbers and at present, with a membership of six hundred, its church building can accommodate but five hundred of them. Arrangements are even now being made to take care of the surplus. (36)

The Congregational Church, Bethesda, has also had in the main a prosperous career, though it has met with some reverses from which the other has been free. Their ministers after 1811, with one exception, were brought from Wales, and the vacancy of usually two years incident to this change caused frequently a falling-off in the number of the communicants. The church was torn also by a schism in its body when in 1862 about seventy of the members left the old body to establish a second church. This rent was healed with the reunion of the two bodies in 1869. Since that time the church has grown in numbers and increased its strength. (37)

In both of these churches Welsh has always been the language of the services. New members from Wales have been continually arriving to add to the supporters of the Welsh services, and little strength appears ever to have developed in the demand for English. The young people born in this country have been continually dropping out and going to the English churches, but, sure of continued support from Wales, these churches have found it unnecessary to introduce English into even part of their services.

It has not been so with the Baptists, for though their church was founded before the other two, it was soon overtaken and out-distanced by them in its work for members. There have never been as many Baptists among the Welsh Non-Conformists as Calvinistic Methodists and Congregationalists, and, as no larger proportion of them have come to this country than of the other two denominations, they have always been weak in the United States. The history of the Welsh American churches has been one of a fight for life and the weak have been pushed to the wall. So it has been with the Welsh Baptist church in Utica. Its growth was not large in the fifty years after its establishment. Jones estimated in 1850 that there were about one hundred communicants as compared with the three hundred in the Congregational church at the same time. (38)  Its services were all in Welsh, as they have been since the withdrawal of its English members in 1819. They gained their share of the large numbers of incoming Welshmen in 1850 and following. But after that unusual influx it appears to have been stationary and this in a Welsh church was decline, for meantime its old members were dying and its young people were growing up in the English. Before 1875 even its prospects were dismal and prophesies freely made of its speedy dissolution. (39)

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