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Bethesda Free Church was consitituted, with its present building, in 1845 by Pastor Arthur Augustus Rees. Originally a clergyman of the Church of England who became curate to the Rector of Sunderland in 1841. Poole-Connor writes:


“He was in great earnest to be a winner of souls, and his sailorly vigour in the pulpit alarmed his spiritual superiors, and he was given notice to quit, in spite of fourteen hundred of the parishioners signing a petition that he should stay on… His followers wished to purchase a chapel for him, but the Bishop refused to licence him for it. Later he was offered the charge of Episcopal chapel in Bath; he accepted, filled the church to overflowing, but again the Bishop interfered and refused him permission to continue: he was, in effect, driven out of the Established Church.”


He went on to build Bethesda Chapel with a sum of money he came into on his father’s death. Not desiring to "fly the mast of a denomination" Rees decided to title Bethesda as a Free Church. He began by using the prayer book and preached in a black gown, but gradually became more and more non-conformist in his views, and shortly afterwards was baptised by immersion by George Muller of Bristol.


As well as George Mueller, Rees developed deep friendships with men such as Charles Spurgeon, FB Meyer and DL Moody. It was Rees who coined the phrase for Moody and Sankeys evangelistic campaigns in the UK; "Moody will Preach the Gospel, Sankey will Sing the Gospel".


Bethesda, after the death of their first pastor, was blessed with other well known men such FE Marsh, Graham Scroggie and Sidlow Baxter.


Our pulpit has been blessed by the preaching and testifying of men and women such as DL Moody and Sankey, Charles Spurgeon, FB Meyer, George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Alyward, Richard Wurmbrand, DL Pentecost, DM Lloyd-Jones, J Phillips, Mrs CT Studd and a number of the wives of the Auca Martyrs, including Mrs Nate Saint.


 - Midshipman and the Minister (the story of Arthur Augustus Rees)

 - Bethesda in Focus (the history of Bethesda Free Church, can be purchased through Bethesda)

 - Mended Crockery (the history of Hallgarth Mission of Bethesda)


History of Pastoral Ministry



(Click on any of the names above for a short history and a collection of their books if applicable)                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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