By Wayne Adams

In the History of the Welsh Baptists J. Davis says: "In the year of 1701, he (Thomas Griffiths) and fifteen members of the church went to America in the same vessel. They formed themselves into a church at Milford, in the county of Pembroke, South Wales, and Thomas Griffiths became their pastor in the month of June, 1701. They embarked on board the ship James and Mary, and on the 8th day of September following, they landed at Philadelphia. The brethren there treated them courteously, and advised them to settle about Penepeck. Thither they went, and there continued about a year and a half. During that time twenty-one persons joined them, but finding it inconvenient to abide there, they purchased land in the county of Newcastle, and gave it the name of Welsh-tract, where they built a meeting-house, and Thomas Griffiths labored among them as their pastor, till he died on the 25th of July, 1725, aged 80 years. He was buried at Penepeck." 1

Notice that Davis stated that "they formed themselves into a church." We often find this statement in Baptist history. Then in The American Baptist Heritage in Wales by Joshua Thomas the following account of the "extracts" translated into English by later members of that congregation, from their records which were kept in Welsh until 1732:

"In the year of 170l, there was a number of the members of the Baptist churches in the countries of Pembroke, Carmarthen, and Cardigan inclined to emigrate to Pennsylvania. Having consulted among themselves, they laid the case before the churches, who agreed to grant them leave to go. But the churches considered that as they were sixteen in members and one of them a minister, it would be better for them to be constituted a church in their native land; they agreed and did so. Being thus formed into a church, they gave them a letter of recommendation for their reception as brethren, should they meet any Christians of the same faith and practice. They sailed from Milford-Haven in June that year, and arrived in Philadelphia in September." 2

Brethren, this practice is very consistent with the belief of the "chain link succession."

This puts a whole new light when we read in history about people constituting themselves into a church. Here it is, brethren, it was practiced in history.


1. Davis, J., History of the Welsh Baptists (Pittsburgh, Pa.: D. M. Hogan, 1835), p. 72.

2. Thomas, Joshua, The American Baptist Heritage in Wales (Lafayette, Tenn.: Church History and Archives Affiliation, 1976), pp. 106,107.