On Sunday 19th October 2008 a service of thanksgiving was held at Salem Chapel, Forest Coal Pit, near Abergavenny to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Rev. W. K. Sharman who had been minister of Heath Church from 1954 to 1961.
Known to all as ‘Jack’, he and his wife Pegi had served as missionaries in China between 1937 and 1950 and had founded a church at Chenghsien before they were forced to leave. After ministering at Heath (1954-61) and then serving for several years at the London offices of OMF, the Sharmans returned to Wales when ‘Jack’ became pastor of Whitefield Chapel in Abergavenny, which included responsibility for Salem.
It was, therefore, fitting that the service—led by Rev. Jonathan Hodgins, the present minister at Whitefield—should be held at Salem where ‘Jack’ loved to preach and where he and Pegi are buried. The small church was filled to capacity to hear Rev. Phil Stead of OMF in Scotland preach a challenging message from Jeremiah 29:11-13 and to learn that the church in Chenghsien has survived down to the present, despite years of oppression.
To help in training men to continue preaching the Gospel in Far Eastern countries, a scholarship named after Mr. Sharman has been set up to provide an annual sum of £850 to pay the fees of a student at the Asian Theological Seminary in Quezon City in the Philippines. Further information on the scholarship can be obtained from Rev. Jonathan Hodgins, Alandale, Pen y pound, Abergavenny, NP7 5UD, to whom contributions towards the fund can also be sent.