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from long-departed ancestors!
1 Godly messages from long-departed ancestors!
2 John Churchward
17th March 1839, in
the Church of St Nicholas, parish church of Brighton, East Sussex,
United Kingdom, my great grandfather, James Potter married Elinor
Marten. Early the following day, the newly weds (and relatives)
travelled to London to board a ship destined for Adelaide, South
Australia. On arrival, they purchased land in Barossa Valley, but soon
scattered over various regions, in or near Adelaide. The ‘newly weds’
eventually became licensees of the Horseshoe Inn (Noarlunga) – which
some Investigator readers might have visited!
Australian, born in Adelaide, my early childhood was spent on a small
farm in the Kangarilla region of the Adelaide Hills. I came to Europe
in 1951 – never to return (permanently) to my native land! After a
decade in London, marriage followed…and entirely ‘by chance’, on a ‘day
trip’ to the seaside, we found ourselves putting a deposit on a house
in Brighton. Although I knew my ancestry originated in both England and
Germany, I had no inkling the house we were buying was a twenty minutes
walk from the church my great-grandparents had married in, more than a
century ago. Only when a family friend from Adelaide visited us, did we
discover my Potter ancestry came from nearby Lewes, eight miles inland
from Brighton; in those days Lewes being a small industrial town (James
Potter and his father were ‘coach makers’ by trade).
I have never
been greatly interested in family history. Given current
research findings indicating that in many local communities a third of
children have DNA not matching both parents, my enthusiasm for
genealogical research is limited and sceptical. My wife, Marigold, does
not share my pessimism and over many years has devoted much free time
researching both our ancestries. She insists it is never permissible to
work on the ‘best guess’ methodology; without documentation from
relevant record offices, no ‘findings’ are judged ‘valid’.
ancestry is Welsh; her father born in Cardiff, his childhood spent in
Egypt, but when a teenager his family returned to Pentwyn, near Tintern
Abbey in the Wye Valley, near Chepstow. She has amassed documentation
of several centuries of her Welsh ancestry amongst which, I was always
vaguely interested in the brother of her great grandfather, a Reverend
John Varteg Jones of Carnarvon, who died, aged 47 years, of syphilis
(death certificate declares ‘bone caries’), in Varteg in 1888.
contemporary press reports, he was outstandingly popular as an
itinerant preacher, raised in the Calvinistic/Methodist tradition and
eventually serving the English Presbyterian Church. He attracted much
attention, especially at chapel services which were ‘thronged Sunday
after Sunday during summer months’ due to his spectacular performances.
Obituaries refer to his close relationship with his mother (he
remained, of course, unmarried) and his ‘bodily afflictions being very
severe’; never a hint of the cause of these sufferings, rather they
were viewed positively in that, ‘his mental powers were brightest and
some of his best sermons were thought out and preached under these
and I have spent
many enjoyable and interesting days visiting villages and
churches scattered around South Wales, relevant to her Welsh forebears,
examining and copying documents, reading (and photographing) graves and
memorials on church walls; including the Calvinistic Chapel Garden in
Garndiffaith, where Rev John Varteg Jones lies at rest. [Interestingly,
his ‘middle’ name was inserted by deed poll, to avoid confusion amongst
the congregations with another vicar named ‘John Jones’, then serving
the Varteg area. Needless to say, the name ‘Varteg’ does not appear on
his birth certificate!]
John Varteg Jones is
still alive – speaking to those who listen!?
days ago, seeking
further information on the internet relating to the late Reverend
Jones, we stumbled upon an autobiographical site presumably posted by a
relatively recent immigrant to South Australia; Frank Churchward, born
in Cardiff in 1910, who moved to Christies Beach in 1988. His mother
had been a spiritualist (at a time, he says, when it was ‘illegal’!)
and, following army service, Frank decided to join a spiritualist
church to explore its teachings.
six month old
daughter became seriously ill, was examined by four doctors, three of
them ‘specialists’ at Cardiff Hospital who informed the anxious father
his daughter was dying; no ‘treatment’ could save her! Frantic with
worry, Frank approached his church head, a Mrs Thomas, who, as a
‘trance medium’, contacted a spirit ‘guide’, who promised all would be
well if each night he placed his hand over the child’s heart and then
‘left it to God’. The child’s miraculous recovery was immediate — Frank
knew he’d joined the right congregation!
years later, Frank
and his brother attended a small village church, newly established just
six weeks previously. On his second visit, the ‘chairlady’ approached
him to say although a clairvoyant was present for part of the service,
there was no preacher for the final session. Could he, Frank,
preach the sermon? Although totally unprepared for such an eventuality,
Frank agreed. When called to make the address, Frank ‘lost
consciousness’ – until, thirty-five minutes later, when the chairlady
asked Frank to ‘sit down’; he had just preached a brilliant sermon!
stunned, but Frank was left ‘trembling all over’: “it appeared that a
Welsh Minister had taken me over and said that he had been in the
spirit world nearly a hundred years and when he was on the earth plane
had preached Hellfire and Damnation as only a Welsh Minister could and
that when he passed over had no idea where he was owing to wrong
teachings when he went to his College for training…it had taken nearly
a hundred years to learn the truth of Christ’s teachings and to find a
vessel to work through”.
Frank yelled at the spirit-person who had temporarily ‘possessed’ his
body: “Who the Hell were you, with me tonight? I was awakened at
three o’clock in the morning and wrote down, ‘The Rev John Jones,
Abersychan 1888.’” Frank later obtained the death certificate of the
late pastor and visited the church where he is interred. As
his own life approached its end, following ‘the loss of his second
partner’, Frank’s ‘guide’ informed him he’d ‘not end his days in his
homeland’. He had a son in Adelaide, visited him in 1988 … and never
returned to Wales.
disappointment in a spiritual sense – Frank wrote to five Adelaide
churches, sending them tapes and writings proving ‘life after death’,
explaining those who ‘passed over’ were able ‘under spiritual
conditions’ to return – “but the seed fell on stony ground”.
three-page ‘biography’ (on the internet – see below) is a verbatim
account of exactly what John Varteg Jones told him during his car
journey home that earlier evening, although, in six paragraphs, it
provides no additional information about Rev Jones’ earthly life
additional to what is inscribed on his gravestone or from church
records. The deceased vicar admits ‘taking complete control’ of
Frank’s body for preaching purposes, emphasizes the need for all to
truly understand the message of Christ — an understanding he has only
achieved following much thought and study during a century of
post-mortem existence. Rev Jones warns all: ‘Your religious teachers do
not teach Christ teachings, they are teaching what they were taught
which is incorrect – (perhaps their teaching) is the work of the Devil,
no wonder your world is in a mess’.
Churchward is no longer with us – after all, he was born 101 years
we give the late
Reverend a fair hearing!?
we ponder deeply
on these ‘revelations’ from the world to which we are all destined?
Having read, carefully, so many articles submitted to the Investigator
by sincere and deep-thinking Christians, surely we should ‘take on
board’, with an open mind, these messages from the
spirit-world? Several considerations spring to mind.
It must be a
to simply dismiss Frank’s accounts of his own experiences with the
spirit world. I can hear the ‘statisticians’ shouting, ‘You have no
independent witnesses regarding the miracle cure of Frank’s infant
daughter’ – a valid criticism, of course. Or is it? One is
reminded of those who criticize today’s Pauline disciples (and/or
gospel writers in general) who insist there were ‘hundreds of
witnesses’ of the risen Christ; why should we reject Paul’s evidence,
simply because it’s anecdotal and yes, it is indeed the case, there are
no independent witness statements? In the case of Frank’s documents,
surely we can safely assume there were many congregation members who
could have provided affidavits regarding his daughter’s miraculous
cure, or related to other similar ‘cures’ he refers to (but gives no
detail). Why must we automatically assume our opposing informants are
unreliable, or even just telling lies – simply because their evidence
cannot be tested by modern scientific research methods?
Could it be
‘non-religious’ readers are too impatient or critical of fellow
contributors to the Investigator, just because ‘the believers’
difficulty ‘making sense’ of passages of their Scripture, or produce
contradictory arguments, or admit they are themselves unsure of the
‘true meaning’ of Christ’s message, even after years of dedicated study
and prayer? Listen to the message of the long-departed Rev John Varteg
Jones, who admits it has taken him almost a hundred years of post
mortem study and reflection to fully comprehend the message of
Christ. Surely we should be more forgiving of the
occasional nonsense we find in the pages of the Investigator
Christian fellows – remember their disadvantage, they haven’t even died
yet, let alone had the opportunities enjoyed by Varteg Jones for a
century in the spirit world.
Like Frank –
one of us might one day be privileged to become a vessel for a ‘spirit
guide’, spreading the message of Christ’s Kingdom. As one who had grown
up in a Calvinistic family, Frank appreciated the ‘mystery of
election’; some being pre-ordained, selected as God’s tools for
propagating his will. The tragic consequence of this, it seems to me,
is Frank himself has little to offer us for helping us discover the
true meaning of the Christian message. He seems to have been
disadvantaged within his own congregations, for although, thanks to
him, his enthusiastic audiences heard the inspiring messages from the
departed John Varteg Jones, Frank himself ‘lost consciousness’, only
learning afterwards what he had just preached! Sceptics in our midst
will tell us that ‘God’s messengers’ are reduced to being mechanical
instruments, rather like a gramophone! Surely, no Investigator reader
will stoop to such sarcasm?
disappointment is that in spite of Rev Jones’ emphasis of his hundred
years of confusion, misunderstanding and learning, he gives very little
indication as to what he has finally discovered about Christ’s message.
In just three small paragraphs, we learn that all life (not just human
life) has a spirit form and that all development is due to Christ’s
teaching. ‘We must do unto others as we would want for ourselves’, and
that ‘we must decide whether we will go to Heaven or Hell’ – God does
not judge us, we will be our own judge and jury. He summarizes his
message in his final paragraph: ‘Christ’s teachings are spiritual, seek
and you will find, knock and it shall be opened, ask and you will
receive and the truth will make you free, which is you cannot die.’
can imagine the
ridicule sceptics might pour on these recent revelations regarding the
spiritual meaning of our earthly lives. As I read those three
paragraphs from the spiritual world above, I was reminded of the
teaching of Jesus: ‘….except ye be converted, and become as little
children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt:
18 v 3)
doesn’t have to be a
child to believe in the spirit world of Christianity – but it surely
Potter e-mailed his
article Godly messages from long-departed ancestors! to John H
Williams of Adelaide who replied:
a coincidence! I
know Frank Churchward well, and we've been corresponding. He often
phones and repeatedly invites me to his home.
correct, he's in
his 101st year, and was last December featured in The Advertiser,
a picture of him looking VERY 'natty' in front of his sporty car,
appearing to be not even 70, as one of two S Aussies who still drive
cars while over (I think) 90!
finally met him
by accident at Myponga's Sunday fair. He's eminently unmistakeable!
have all his Advertiser
rants, as well as copies of replies (Frank
doesn't use a
computer). Have heard ALL his stories, eg about his sick daughter,
several times, as if three specialists being wrong was absolute proof
of his beliefs, which are VERY strong.
energy, a bit deaf, and uses a very strong voice over the phone!
wanted to write
up for The Investigator, having originally written to him about
half page Advertiser ad of his, titled, WHY IS THE WORLD IN
MESS? Because it's a 45 minute drive for me I have not followed through.
at the connection you've discovered! I'll phone Frank and snail mail
your piece to him.
you might assume,
tried to help him produce better worded and proof-read ads (e.g.
prophet instead of "profit"!). They cost him a bomb, about $10,000 for
a full page, and about half that for a half page. That help hasn't gone
anywhere, since he never warns me/shows me before it becomes fait
accompli. Then I write him pointing out this and that, and he's been
known to get a bit testy with me.