Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rev E Rees Davies

The Rev E Rees Davies was one of the pioneers of the Rand, and possessed a great deal of the pioneering spirit that was ever alert to prospect for new mines of spiritual riches which might be developed.
Born in South Wales of farming stock, he was early brought into contact with mining enterprises there, and in the United States. Hearing the call to the Ministry he returned to Wales to study at Aber Avon and then at Manchester Baptist College. To the end of his life his ready memory could draw with accuracy on the stores gathered there. The great influx of Welsh people to the coal mines of the Transvaal attracted him to South Africa, and he came out to the Rev W Kelly of Johannesburg in 1890.
After a period of depression which necessitated his maintaining himself by the labour of his hands he started a church at Boksburg in an iron building, that is still in use. From this centre the work spread to other towns on the East Rand, Springs, Benoni and Brakpan. Work was also started at various gold and coal mines such as Apex, Angela and Largo.
His sympathies were early aroused by the spiritual needs of the Black mine workers, and though he knew little of their languages he sought to send the Gospel to them, through a band of preachers. In this way a large African membership of scattered Baptists was created along the Reef and away into the back veld of the Transvaal.
Most of his work was eventually taken over by our Missionary Society, and the European work in the three other towns has now developed into three separate churches. But it was due to Mr Davies’ enterprise that the foundation for all this work was laid.
His devotion to the land and language of his birth gave him a ready access to his compatriots, many of whom he aided in times of distress. He became a frequent and welcome preacher at the monthly Welsh services held in Johannesburg, and a prominent figure in all Cambrian functions.
He died at the age of 78 years.
Written by: Syd Hudson-Reed

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