It is no wonder that George Jeffreys became
the founder and leader of the Britain’s Elim Pentecostal
Alliance. He was arguably the most influential and most gifted
preacher that the British Pentecostal Movement has ever produced.
Donald Gee’s record of him is revealing: ‘He had
a voice like music, with sufficient Welsh intonation to add
an inimitable charm. His platform personality at times was
magnetic. His face was appealing. Although lacking academic
training he possessed a natural refinement that made him acceptable
in all circles. He presented his message with a logical appeal
and a note of authority that was compelling. With all that
he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.’
He was converted in the Welsh Revival on
Nov. 20th 1904, with his brother Stephen, under the evangelistic
ministry of Glassnant Jones. It was the provocation of Stephen’s
son, Edward, who first received the Spirit and spoke in tongues
that caused him to seek God for a deeper experience. Soon
afterwards he received a personal healing from extreme physical
frailty, a speech impediment and a developing facial paralysis.
He was also baptised in the Holy Spirit and was soon preaching
the Gospel publicly.
At Cecil Polhill’s instigation he resigned
from his job at the Co-operative Stores in Maesteg, and began
a period of training at the Pentecostal missionary college
in Preston under Thomas Myerscough’s leadership and
was set apart for the ministry by the Independent Apostolic
Church known as Emmanuel Christ Church, Maesteg, on the 13th
He helped his brother in a mission in Jan.
1913 and began to conduct small campaigns in Wales with increasing
success. Attending the Sunderland convention in 1913 he was
given opportunity to preach for Alexander Boddy and an Irish
visitor immediately invited him to Ireland, offering to pay
the fare. Unfortunately, when the owners of the hall in Monaghan
that was secured for the series of meetings, learned that
he was a Pentecostal, they cancelled the booking! During a
further invitation in 1915 to minister in Monaghan, Northern
Ireland, George met a group of zealous young men and they
joined together forming the Elim Evangelistic Band, registering
it as the Elim Pentecostal Alliance. The members were Margaret
Streight, R. E. (Ernest) Darragh, William Henderson, and
Initially they worked exclusively in Ireland,
establishing his first church in Belfast in 1916. After this
he accepted many invitations in England planting churches
there from 1921. With Stephen he conducted highly successful
crusades in London and Hull before entering London in 1922.
In this year the headquarters of Elim were moved to Clapham
in S.W. London. "Elim Woodlands" was purchased and
it also housed the Elim Bible College, with other local properties
added for administration of the growing movement.
George spent the next ten years in sustained
evangelistic activity with remarkable success. During this
time his ministry enjoyed a fresh anointing causing a meteoric
rise to fame across the land. His evangelistic and divine
healing campaigns soon filled the largest public halls in
the country. There were thousands of converts, scores of healings
and dozens of churches planted. In Birmingham 10,000 converts
were recorded. British Pentecostalism enjoyed a quantum leap
forwards during this time.
In mainland Europe he was also a great success,
seeing an astonishing 14,000 converts in Switzerland in the
years 1934-36. He visited Sweden several times and was the
main preacher at the European Pentecostal Conference in Stockholm
in June 1939.
He set up an Elim ministerial conference
in 1933 but throughout the late 1930’s George was struggling
with various methods of church government, making one change
after another, until he found himself at variance with the
governing conference in 1939. He finally resigned and left
the Elim movement he founded in Nov.1940 and began the Bible-Pattern
Church Fellowship based in Nottingham.
George’s health began to fail, and
his public ministry began to decline in effect, never achieving
the success of the former years. He became increasingly isolated
and eventually died in January 1962 at the age of 72.
His funeral drew a large congregation to
the Kensington Temple, and it was a disappointment to his
many friends in all sections of the Movement that the ceremony
was kept exclusively within his own circle. In spite of the
clouds that dimmed the evening glory of his years, George
Jeffreys remains a stirring memory as the greatest British
evangelist since George Whitefield and John Wesley. For a
time his brilliant gifts helped the whole Pentecostal testimony
in the British Isles, and we salute him as one of our great
pioneers and a notable gift of Christ to His Church.
Bibliography: Donald Gee, 'These Men
I Knew' 1965; Desmond Cartwright art. 'International
Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements'