J. Meirion Lloyd was born on 4 May 1913 in Corris, Merionethshire, the eldest of six children of David Richard Lloyd, a quarryman, and his wife Ruth (née Ellis). He attended primary school in Corris, but his father decided to move to London and set up a business selling slate in Bow, with an office in Corris. The family became faithful members of the Mile End Welsh Chapel, and it was there that Meirion and his siblings were nurtured by their father as a Sunday School teacher.
He was educated at Fairfield Road School, London, and graduated in engineering at the University of Wales, Cardiff, going on to study theology at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He also studied at Trefeca College and Selly Oak College, Birmingham, and later gained an MTh degree from the University of Wales.
He was accepted as a missionary by the Presbyterian Church of Wales in September 1940 and ordained in Swansea in November 1941. Due to difficulty in getting a ship, he was content to fulfill the position of Secretary to the Students' Christian Movement (SCM) in south Wales, and from April 1942 he was minister of the denomination's English Chapel in Catharine Street, Liverpool. There he met the girl who became his life partner, Joan Maclese (1923-2017), and they married on 28 October 1944. A few days after the wedding he sailed to India on the Stirling Castle, in the company of other missionaries from Wales including Gwen Rees Roberts. He arrived in the town of Aizawl in Mizoram in December 1944. His wife was not able to get a ship until November 1945. Three children were born to them in India, Eirlys Ruth, Alun Meirion and Hywel John, and when they were old enough they were sent back to England for their education.
He immediately saw the educational needs of the town of Aizawl and the leaders of the Mizo Church agreed with his vision. He established the first high school in Aizawl in 1946, which was taken over by the Government by 1951. He then became the first principal of a theological college, located initially in the vestry of the Veng mission church. The college followed the syllabus of Serampore College which was founded by the famous missionary, William Carey. For some years, it collaborated with a teacher training college, and was supported by a scholarship from the World Council of Churches. In September 1964 Meirion Lloyd was succeeded as principal by the Reverend C. Pazawna, who had been under his tutelage.
Meirion Lloyd learnt the Mizo language fluently and served as leader of a group of scholars who were responsible for translating the Bible into the language, completed in 1955. He took great interest in the history of the Welsh Mission to India, and wrote about the early pioneers in Ar Ben Bryn Uchel, published in 1952, with an English translation, On Every High Hill, coming out in 1956. He also wrote about the missionary David Evan Jones (1870-1947) under the title Arloesydd Lushai (Pioneer of Lushai) published in 1958.
In 1964, he returned to live in Allerton, Liverpool and took up a post as representative of the Bible Society in Merseyside, Wirral, West Lancashire and the Isle of Man. He became a member of Heathfield Road Welsh Chapel, where his brother, Reverend Dr R. Glynne Lloyd had been minister from 1942 to 1948 before emigrating to Utica. In 1974 he was accepted as a minister with the United Reformed Church and was invited to serve the denomination's church in the town of Rhyl. He was there from 1975 to 1978 before retiring with his wife to the town of Prestatyn.
He was active in his retirement. He had the opportunity of seeing Mizoram once more and he prepared a video on the visit that took place in 1994. He wrote the history of the Mission in Mizoram in Bannau Pell: Cenhadaeth Mizoram (1989) and in English, A History of the Church in Mizoram: Harvest in the Hills (1991). He edited Nine Missionary Pioneers: The Story of Nine Pioneering Missionaries (1989).
J. Meirion Lloyd died on 30 September 1998 in Prestatyn, and he was buried in Christ Church cemetery, Prestatyn.
Published date: 2023-05-25
Article Copyright: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
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