From Grammar School he entered the University College of Wales, Cardiff, where he gained his B.A. He then entered the Congregational Memorial College, Brecon, for his theological training. It appears, however, that he accepted a call to his first pastorate at Maesteg before completing his college course. However, he did complete his course, and gained his B.D. during his first year as a minister. It was during that period also that he married Mair Arfona (or Fona as he called her) from Tremadog. Her amiability and cheerfulness and the strength of her great faith in no small measure contributed to her husband being able to accomplish his work so effectively. It was a heartfelt pain for him to lose her in 1993, after a brave and hard fight against cancer, when they were living in Swansea.
Ieuan was ordained as a minister at Seilo Church, Nantyffyllon, Maesteg, at the end of July 1943. He and his wife moved to Bethesda, Arfon, in 1947. It was there that their son, Gwynedd, was born. Later, the church at Bethmaca, Glasinfryn, was added to the pastorate. During his time in Bethesda, Ieuan became an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Hebrew texts of which he had been working, and he gained his M.A.(University of Wales) in 1951 for his textual study of the Dead Sea Scroll of St. Mark's Monastery. He was the first person in Wales to publish articles on the Scrolls and the significance of their discovery. The family moved from Bethesda in 1955, and Ieuan became the minister of Salem, Colwyn Bay, and Deganwy Avenue, Llandudno. After two years they moved again in 1957, this time to Caernarfon, where Ieuan became the minister of Salem Church in that town.
In 1968, he was appointed the Mission Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents, following the retirement of the Rev. R.E. Edwards (1901-1971). This involved living in Swansea. He travelled extensively within Wales visiting different associations and churches. He travelled overseas visiting such places as Madagascar, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, South Africa and Bangladesh. And he was invited to preach in the churches of some of those countries. He had some strange experiences from time to time, like the experience he had upon arriving at Bangladesh, and finding that there was no one there to greet for him, and how he spent the night in a monastery where all the monks had made a vow of silence! Upon his return, he had much to relate about his experiences and impressions of the churches and countries, and being a keen photographer, he would have so many photos to display. He would report constantly about his experiences in Y Tyst, and the detailed diaries of his travels have been safeguarded in the Missionary Library which he built over the years at Tŷ John Penri. He was proud of the fact that it was the best Missionary Library in Wales, a library that not only included several books, but also the letters and notes of different missionaries who had served in different parts of the world. Ieuan was held in high esteem by members of the Council for World Mission (CWM) worldwide.
He served on many of the Council's committees and sub-committees, at times as chairperson. He accompanied the Revd. Emlyn Jenkins to the important discussions at Singapore over the New Year of 1975. Those discussions paved the way that eventually changed the London Missionary Society (LMS) to become the Council for World Mission (CWM). It was Ieuan himself, more than anyone else, who was the important link that enabled the Presbyterian Church of Wales to become a member of CWM. To Ieuan the mission work was one - at home and abroad. In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, he was the secretary of ‘Yr Ymgyrch Newydd yng Nghymru,’ (The New Campaign in Wales), and I often heard him mention its activities. In the words of Dr. R. Tudur Jones: ‘Preparations were made to establish prayer cells in different places and to hold evangelical campaigns when the opportunity came.’
He was also, years later, appointed the first secretary of the Wales for Christ movement, which came into being following the call by the Rev. T. Glyn Thomas (1905-1973) in his presidential address at the Annual Assembly of the Union of Welsh Independents at Nantlle Valley in 1968. The movement's first chairperson, the Rev. Morgan Mainwaring, wrote: ‘For the very first time in the history of religion in Wales representatives from all the Christian denominations met to discuss together, and determine together their response to the call to win Wales for Christ.’ Ieuan's greatest desire also was to see Wales turning to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Welsh Independents formed Gweithgor y Genhadaeth Gartref (The Home Mission Work Group) with Dr. R. Tudur Jones as chairperson and Ieuan as secretary. As part of its activity, pamphlets were published on various themes. Ieuan himself wrote one in 1988 under the title, Bod yn Aelod (On Being a Church Member). Ieuan published Y Gair ar Gerdded as study material for Sunday Schools in 1982. He edited Gweddïo (the Welsh Prayer Handbook) for seventeen years. A lecture he prepared appeared in Y Cofiadur in May 1955 entitled, ‘Two Centuries of Mission.’
He was a man of vision. He was primarily responsible for the setting up the external study courses which the Bala-Bangor College, at Bangor, and the Memorial College at Aberystwyth arranged. It was that initial experiment that in time paved the way for more mature students to become ministers. Ieuan retired from his post as Mission Secretary in 1984. He was chosen to be the President of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1985-86, delivering his presidential address at Seion, Aberystwyth, on the theme, ‘Gan Brynu'r Amser’ (‘Redeeming the Time’). In introducing him at that Annual Meeting, reference was made to his many different gifts, as a hymn writer, and not least as an artist. Some of his landscape paintings were seen at various art shops in Swansea. He had an exhibition of his works in March 1998 at Seion vestry in Aberystwyth (catalogue at the National Library of Wales). His portraits of the Rev. E. Curig Davies and Mr. Brinley Richards at Tŷ John Penri will not be forgotten.
He spent the last nine years of his life at Aberystwyth, and it was there at Bronglais Hospital that he died on 23 October 2004.
Ioan Wyn Gruffydd, Pwllheli
Published date: 2011