Pastor, preacher, theologian, historian, lecturer and hymn writer all describe the diverse gifting and abilities of Noel Gibbard. The wealth of his learning and multifaceted skills were all rooted in his personal experience of the saving grace of his Lord and Saviour. A recent collection of his hymns expresses the deep and rich experiential convictions of his faith. Many are grateful for his translation of John Elias’ hymn, And was it for my sin.
For those of us growing up as young Christians and training for ministry, especially through the medium of the Welsh language, Mr Gibbard introduced us to our protestant, non-conformist heritage. In a lively way, he rehearsed the wonderful works of God from the early 16th century reformers, Welsh puritans, 18th century revivalists and into the 1904 revival days. In teaching and prayer, he would always convey his longing for such days and reviving, awakening grace to again flood the nations. Noel Gibbard documented the exciting contribution of Welsh missionaries to the global purposes of the Lord writing of pioneers to Madagascar and China. I was privileged to present his biography on Griffith John to the pastor of the church in Hankou, China.
After ministering in Dowlais and Bynea, Noel Gibbard moved to Barry where he became church history and doctrine lecturer at the South Wales Bible College. Generations of students are grateful for his teaching and personal encouragement as they trained for ministry. He wrote the history of the college, Taught to Serve, which includes the relocation to Bryntirion. With others, he saw the merging of the Barry college with the Evangelical Movement of Wales as a positive step for theological study and ministerial, mission training here in Wales. His unassuming, humble character helped the new venture though some were wary and even sceptical of such a move. After retiring he became the president of the college.
Noel Gibbard was a founder member, elder and preacher of the Welsh Evangelical Church in Cardiff with a strong desire to reach Welsh speakers in the city and beyond for Christ. From his early days as a student in Bangor he had connections with IVF, UCCF, TSF and the EMW, appreciating the evangelical gospel unity that was expressed through these agencies. He wrote the official history of the EMW, The First Fifty Years, where he relates the thrilling story of gospel witness through conferences, missions, magazines and camps in a way that shows us how indebted we are to those, including himself, for their courageous and consistent stand and sacrifice to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people’ (Jude 1:3).