Church History
The Few and the Faithful

The Few and the Faithful


William and Sara Griffiths (far right) with other members of the Varteg Branch.

In the early 20th century, immigration to areas with Latter-day Saint majorities began to decline. Welsh members increasingly assumed leadership roles and worked to build up the Church in Wales. In and around the village of Varteg, a small branch remained in spite of years of emigration. Spread over a large area, the members were rarely able to meet together. In 1924, the William Griffiths family from Abercarn chose to hold meetings in their home rather than make the arduous 10-mile journey over mountainous terrain to Varteg. One meeting was attended by the daughter of a prominent member of the village. Impressed by the messages she heard, she expressed interest in joining the Church.

Her father, a leading member of another faith, was unhappy to hear of her interest. He immediately began a coordinated effort to discredit the Church and its members. Reports were circulated that accused the Latter-day Saints of kidnapping and other crimes. The village council threatened to evict the Griffiths from the village-owned housing if they did not discontinue holding meetings.

The Griffiths sought the counsel of the mission leadership. They were told to obey the law and that the mission would provide them with additional assistance. The Griffiths complied and began making the journey to Varteg each Sunday.

In an open letter to the village council, David O. McKay, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and president of the British Mission, drew public attention throughout Great Britain to the Griffithses’ situation. Shortly after the letter was published, William Griffiths was invited to address the local chapter of the British Women’s Legion. In his address to the legion, he shared the story of his conversion and his faith in the restored gospel, recounted the negative responses of his neighbors, and advocated for religious freedom in the area. Before the meeting concluded, the legion’s chairwoman motioned that the group submit a petition to the village council on the Griffiths family’s behalf. The motion carried unanimously. The village council soon rescinded their threat of eviction.

Today, the Church in Wales, with nearly 10,000 members, continues to advocate for the freedom of worship for themselves and others. In August 2015, a meeting of the Interfaith Council of Wales was held in the Cardiff meetinghouse. Together, representatives of several faiths met to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that marks the conclusion of Ramadan.