In the early spring of 1867, some of the Welsh people who lived in the area known as Edwardsville began to hold prayer meetings and Sunday School from house to house. Occasionally, a sermon was preached by a visiting minister. The inhabitants of the district consisted chiefly of Welsh and Irish miners with a small colony of Scots on Pringle Hill, sometimes called Scotch Hill.
In the spring of 1868, a company house was secured for the purposes of holding Sunday services and week night prayer meetings. The congregation was made up of Welsh, Cornish, Americans, and Germans - all representing several denominations. Ministers of the various denominations were invited to preach at various services. The house soon proved too small, and on November 28, 1868, the formal organization of the church was begun.
Thus was organized the Welsh Congregational Church of Kingston with some two dozen members. Isaac Jones (Pittston) and William L. Roberts (Plymouth) were elected deacons and David Isaacs (Pittston) was named secretary of the new church. The ministers present and officiating at the organization of the church were Rev. David Davies of Pittston (formerly of London) and Rev. John Pentyrch Evans of Plymouth.
The congregation held meetings in several places such as homes and school houses. In May of 1872, arrangements were made with Rev. T. C. Edwards, then preaching in Wilkes-Barre to supply the pulpit one Sunday a month on Communion Sunday. This continued until August of 1873, when the church members decided to call a Minister of their own. Rev. D. Dyfri Davies, who was serving a church in Hyde Park, was called. Rev. Davies was ordained at the old Church of Llanybri, Carmarthensflire, Wales. During his successful ministry was erected the first church building (1873) at a cost of about $5000.
In December of 1874, Rev. Davies accepted a call to minister to the 11th St. Welsh Congregational Church of New York City. Again the pulpit of the church was supplied by nearby ministers, the Rev. T. C. Edwards again giving one Sunday a month and attending to funerals, marriages, etc. In September of 1875, Rev. J. Gwawrfryn Evans was called to the pulpit, leaving, however, in 1877 on account of poor health.
In 1878, the Rev. T. C. Edwards assumed pastoral charge of both the Edwardsville and the Wilkes-Barre Churches. This joint pastorate continued until 1879 when the Edwardsville Church secured the full time services of Rev. Edwards. By 1883, the church rolls reflected a membership of 373. During these years, the church prospered. On Friday, November 9, 1888, however, fire destroyed the church building.
The present building was completed and dedicated in August of 1889. During the three days of Dedication Services, no collections were taken. There were provisions for voluntary contributions. By the close of the services, the pastor announced that enough money had been received topay all debts. In May of 1905, the church was dynamited and badly damaged. The building was one of the most substantially built in the Wyoming Valley and thus was able to survive a blast which would otherwise have completely demolished the building. The building was repaired at a cost of $5000. The perpetrators were caught and punished. Some improvements were made, and the two side balconies were installed. The rededicatory services were held on October 29, 1905.
The first Gymanfa to be held in Edwardsville occurred in September of 1878 and was held on a shady hillside on what is now Grove Street. A second was held in 1888 and a third in 1897. The fourth Gymanfa held in Edwardsville was the 45th Annual Gymanfa of Welsh Congregational Churches in Pennsylvania and was held on October 9, 1914. It was termed well attended, and a spiritual blessing by those who were in attendance.
From the beginning of Welsh life in Edwardsville there has been a degree of interest in literary meetings, debating societies and the Eisteddfod. Until 1880, the first of March was the usual date for the Annual Competitive Meeting. Then the 17th of March became the Eisféddfod day. This competition since 1891 has been called the "Cynonfardd Literary Society Eisteddfod." In recent years, the date has been changed - the 94th Cynonfardd Eisteddfod was held on April 30, 1983. This is the last Eisteddfod currently in existence in the United States.
The first church organ was purchased in November, 1877. It was a small Mason & Hamlin pedal organ. If a piano was required, it had to be borrowed from the neighbors or hired for the occasion. A second organ was purchased for the Sunday School. When the present building was erected, a larger Mason & Hamlin organ was purchased; after that, a two manual Vocalion with pedals and electric motor was purchased. It was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Edwards. In 1918, Mrs. Newell, Mrs. Teter, and Mrs. Cobleigh, daughters of the late Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Edwards, gave an Austin Organ Company pipe organ to the Church. This organ is still in use, and its original 630 pipes have been enhanced over the years.
The church continued to prosper over the years and in 1927 showed a membership of 808. While in recent years the membership has declined, the church is still a strong Christian influence in the Wyoming Valley. Some of these early influences continue to survive as the 94th Cynonfardd Eisteddfod held in April of 1983 indicates. In the early 1900's, this was considered to be the largest Welsh Congregational Church in the United States.
The names of the church pastors are given here in the order of their pastorates: The Rev. D. Dyfri Davies, Rev. J. Gwawrfryn Evans, Dr. T. C. Edwards, Rev. Owen Lloyd Morris (during Dr. Edwards' two year pastorate in Wales), Rev. Enoch Hughes, Rev. A. Rees Morgan, Rev. John C. Wetzel, Rev. J. Stuart Maxwell, Rev. J. Edgar Edwards, Dr. Irvin C. Wise, Rev. Alan Hipkiss, Rev. Porter E. Wright, and Rev. Louis Falcone, Rev. Shawn Walker, Rev.Dr. Robb Henderson and Rev. Wayne Morgan..