Two items appear below:

1   Godly messages from long-departed ancestors!

2   John Churchward

Godly messages from long-departed ancestors!

Bob Potter

(Investigator 141, 2011 November)

On 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!

As a third generation 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).

Personally, 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’.

Marigold’s paternal 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.

According to many 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 circumstances’.

Marigold 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!]

Rev John Varteg Jones is still alive – speaking to those who listen!?

A few 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.   

Frank’s 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!

Some 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!

The congregation was 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”.

Driving home, alone, 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.

Australia proved a 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”.   

Attached to Frank’s 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’.

[Presumably, Frank Churchward is no longer with us – after all, he was born 101 years ago!]

Should we give the late Reverend a fair hearing!?

Should 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.

[1] It must be a mistake 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?

[2] Could it be many ‘non-religious’ readers are too impatient or critical of fellow contributors to the Investigator, just because ‘the believers’ have 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 from our 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.

[3] Like Frank – every 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?

[4] The greatest 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.’

One 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)

One doesn’t have to be a child to believe in the spirit world of Christianity – but it surely must help!

Ref:  Frank Churchward spiritualism:


Bob Potter e-mailed his article Godly messages from long-departed ancestors! to John H Williams of Adelaide who replied:
 Dear Marigold and Bob

What a coincidence! I know Frank Churchward well, and we've been corresponding. He often phones and repeatedly invites me to his home.

You're correct, he's in his 101st year, and was last December featured in The Advertiser, with 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!

 I finally met him by accident at Myponga's Sunday fair. He's eminently unmistakeable!

 I 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.

 He's FULL of energy, a bit deaf, and uses a very strong voice over the phone!

Have wanted to write him up for The Investigator, having originally written to him about a big half page Advertiser ad of his, titled, WHY IS THE WORLD IN SUCH A MESS? Because it's a 45 minute drive for me I have not followed through.

Frank would be DELIGHTED at the connection you've discovered! I'll phone Frank and snail mail your piece to him.

As you might assume, I've 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.