Bruce D. Hales (1953–)

Bruce David Hales lives with Jenny, his wife of more than 40 years, in Sydney. They have six married children and fourteen grandchildren.

Bruce is the most senior leader in the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and travels and serves extensively within the Church. Some of his gospel preachings have been printed in tract form and are available for all.

Bruce was born in Croydon, Sydney, in 1953. He is the third son of John S. Hales and Helen Hales (née Dietrich). He attended Croydon Park Public School and Canterbury Boys High School where he gained the Higher School Certificate with high levels in English, Mathematics, Modern History, French and Science. He then studied Accountancy while working in the city for a reputable accounting firm before joining his father’s small accountancy practice in 1972. He qualified as a Registered Tax Agent, Public Accountant and Company Auditor at the end of 1976. He went on to manage the practice with a number of highly qualified staff.

In 1983 he completed the sale of the accountancy practice but continued on as a financial advisor and auditor. He then bought an office furniture business which he managed up to the early 2000’s. This business was then taken over and he resigned from all active and direct involvement.

From an early age, Bruce set himself to help others and has used his means and resources to that end. He takes great care and interest in young people’s schooling and tertiary education in order to develop their potential.

Many from within and outside the Church can testify to his generosity and willingness to pass on his knowledge and experience. Those who know him are inspired by his leadership, his administrative ability and his capacity to attend to detail and see matters through to completion.

Having been born into the PBCC, Bruce had a very strong Christian upbringing. His commitment to the Church, and its Christian values is unwavering. He spends a lot of time sharing his views and his Christian faith and values with younger members of the PBCC.

John S. Hales (1922–2002)

John Stephen Hales (J.S.H.) worked energetically amongst the Brethren in ministering, teaching and preaching for over sixty years. He visited almost every gathering of Brethren globally.

His integrity and committal to righteousness in every sphere of his life were a source of inspiration to those who knew him. His grasp of the truth of Scripture, as well as history, economics, government, and business principles helped many, both inside the Brethren church and in the wider community.

J.S.H. was born on 14 January, 1922, in Thirroul, now a suburb of Wollongong, NSW. He was the second child of William and Grace Hales. His father died in 1931 at the age of 35. His mother and her four children then moved to Croydon Park, Sydney.

After sitting for the Leaving Certificate at Canterbury Boys High School, he worked for an accounting firm in Sydney while studying Accountancy through the Metropolitan Business College. He came first in Australia in the intermediate and final exams. At the same time he studied Economics at night through Sydney University and gained a Bachelor of Economics degree.

J.S.H. was called up for military service in 1942. After basic training in Wagga Wagga, NSW, he was sent to Canungra Jungle Warfare Training Centre near Brisbane. He was then deployed to New Guinea where he joined the 10th Field Ambulance but was later transferred to the 3/14th Field Ambulance. During his four years in the army, he served twice in New Guinea and five months in Darwin.

After the war, while still in New Guinea, he studied History 1 and 2 by correspondence through Sydney University.

On completing his military service, he worked for Commonwealth Industrial Gases (C.I.G. now B.O.C.) in their head office in Alexandria, Sydney, in management positions, both in Finance and Sales.

J.S.H. married Helen Dietrich of Orange, NSW, in August 1949. They lived in Croydon, Sydney, and had four children.

In the 1970s J.S.H. left C.I.G. and bought a small accountancy practice in Campsie, Sydney. He was later joined by his son, Bruce. After selling the accountancy practice they bought an office fit-out business in Ryde, Sydney.

During the early 1990s, J.S.H. was instrumental in starting a school in Sydney for Brethren children.

Mrs Helen Hales died on 18 December, 2001, aged nearly 82 years, and Mr John Hales died 25 days later on Saturday, 12 January, 2002, two days before his 80th birthday.

James H. Symington (1913–1987)

Mr James Harvey Symington (J.H.S.) grew up on his family’s farm six miles south and west of the town of Neche, North Dakota.

He was the second son of Lyle and Ida Symington (née Hughes) in their family of eleven children: five boys and six girls. From his early youth, J.H.S. was engaged in physical labour, working with his hands and building up a strong constitution physically. He also committed himself from a young age to set aside time to read the scriptures and ministry methodically.

J.H.S. was born at home in rural Pembina County, North Dakota, on 28 August 1913. His primary education was at the ‘Duprey School’, a one-room country school near his parents’ farm. Most boys left school at 8th grade but J.H.S. continued his education at Neche Public School, riding his horse the six miles to and from his home and the school. Although he received a scholarship to go to College after four years of High School, he turned it down and worked with his father and brothers on the farm.

In the late 1930s J.H.S. bought a sawmill and used the lumber for floor joists and rafters in building sheds and his own house on the farm.

In 1940 he married Beatrice Main from Regina, Canada. She had also grown up on a farm and was used to a simple way of life.

While bringing up a family of five boys in the 1950s and 1960s, J.H.S. travelled long distances by car to serve the brethren in the mid-west of the U.S.A. and Canada. Two of Mr and Mrs Symington’s sons served in the U.S. military at time of the Vietnam war. In the 1960s through to the mid-1980s, they made many flights around the world, visiting gatherings of brethren, both large and small, in many countries. His spiritual ‘family’ finally included an entire global community.

J.H.S. was a very efficient and effective manager of his farm and was greatly respected by all who knew him for his integrity and practical righteousness.

Up to the last few years of his life he continued to serve universally in ministry, in spite of great weakness and excruciating suffering from diabetes which caused him to become blind. Poor circulation resulted in his leg having to be amputated.

J.H.S. died in hospital in Minneapolis on 23 April 1987.

James Taylor Jr (1899–1970)

James Taylor Jr. (J.T.Jr.) was a senior leader in the church before his father died and he subsequently came into increased responsibility in the church. He was born in 1899 in Manhattan, New York, and was the fifth child of James and Estelle Taylor (née Garrett). His mother died in childbirth in 1901 when he was just two years old.

J.T.Jr.’s education was comprised of eight years at elementary schools and four years at Manual Training High School in Brooklyn. At the age of eighteen he was awarded his high school diploma along with the New York State Regents Diploma, having passed the State examinations with higher scores in all the required major subjects which included Comprehensive English, Mathematics, Science, Global history, United States History and another language – German. He also appreciated music and loved to harmonize when singing.

Upon graduating school he was employed as a salesman for Amory Brown & Co., a cotton dry goods firm. In 1920 he started a cotton and linen textile business with his father’s guidance; this developed into Taylor Linen Company after his father entered into partnership with him, and the business prospered even during the depression of the 1930s. He was known to both suppliers and customers as a man of honesty and integrity, and those within the Church community could testify to his kindness and generosity, both with his time and with his money.

In December 1921 J.T.Jr. married Consuelo Johnson of Minneapolis. They had six children, two of whom died at birth. Consuelo died of an intestinal illness in 1950 and the following year he married Eveline Irene Stevens of Plainfield and they had one daughter.

J.T.Jr. travelled world-wide and served within the PBCC for over thirty years. Some of his gospel preachings are available in tract form. In the last year of his life he travelled more than eighty thousand miles, ministering in almost fifty cities in four continents. Physically exhausted, he died in October 1970 at the age of seventy-one.

James Taylor (1869–1953)

James Taylor (J.T.) was one of the senior leaders of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church in the early 1900s.

Born in Coolaney, Ireland, in 1869, to Philip and Maria Taylor (née Coulter), J.T. had five brothers and three sisters. He finished his third year of high school at the age of fourteen, and in 1883 travelled to Paisley, Scotland, to be an apprentice as a linen draper.

J.T. emigrated to the United States in September 1889 and settled in New York. In October 1891 he married a young widow, Estelle C. M. Hindman (née Garrett) from Baltimore. They had five children, but in June 1901 his wife was taken in childbirth, along with their sixth child. After his bereavement he brought up his family alone, with the help of his sister and several housekeepers, until his marriage to Georgina E. Brown of Barnet, in 1913.

For about thirty years he worked for the trans-Atlantic textile firm of Mills & Gibb, eventually becoming manager of the linen department in New York. He was known to spend time with his customers, helping them develop marketing strategies. After the firm ran into financial difficulties in 1916, it was found, however, that the linen department was prospering, and as a result he was promoted to manager of the entire New York branch and he helped to turn the company around.

In 1921 he left the firm and joined his youngest son, James Taylor Jr., in his recently started textile business. It was soon renamed Taylor Linen Company and other relatives were eventually included as it grew.

There are those still living who can recall J.T.’s interest and care in their welfare and how he used his means to help out many in need, in all walks of life. During the air raids of World War II he helped arrange for church members in New York to send financial aid and food parcels to Great Britain.

The outline of the Plymouth Brethren in the U.S. Census of Religious Bodies was contributed to by him, and this was later included in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many of his addresses on the Holy Bible are available in tract form.

Mr James Taylor died in March 1953, at the age of eighty-four, having travelled globally and served within the church for over sixty years.

Frederick E. Raven (1837–1903)

In 1865, at the age of 28, Mr Frederick Edward Raven (F.E.R.) left the Church of England and came into fellowship with the Plymouth Brethren.

F.E.R. ministered extensively amongst the Brethren in the British Isles. He visited assemblies in France and Germany and sailed to North America twice. He stood faithfully by the truth of Scripture, as taught by Mr J.N. Darby.

Those who knew and loved F.E.R. described him as ‘a man of sterling fairness’ and that the impression you had in his company was that, for him, ‘it was the next world that mattered.’

F.E.R. was born on 9 September 1837 in Islington, North London, the third child in a family of four. He was baptised in the nearby Church of St Mary.

From the age of 13, F.E.R. was educated at a private school, where he studied Greek, Latin, English, Mathematics and Geography. He started his working life as a temporary clerk at the Admiralty in 1856 and 1857 and passed the advanced examinations with honours to become a Grade 3 Clerk.

In 1873, F.E.R. (36) married Miss Kate Wallis Glenny (22). In the year of their marriage they moved to Greenwich for Mr Raven to take up a Royal Naval College official appointment as Senior Clerk and Secretary. He reported to the Admiral President of the College.

Britain was at the height of its naval power and F.E.R. had to do with the education of young naval cadets, sub-Lieutenants, Naval Architects, Marine Engineers, and the examination of the Navy’s Captains, Commanders and Lieutenants. His duties included writing letters to be signed by the Admirals and collating reports from the Commanders and Captains for presentation to the Lords of the Admiralty.

Mr and Mrs Raven had nine children who followed their own careers.

After retiring from the Naval College in 1897, F.E.R. and his family moved to a house at the bottom of Crooms Hill, Greenwich.

F.E.R. made two visits to North America, in 1898 and 1902, teaching and preaching in many places including Montreal, Toronto, Rochester, Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Plainfield, Boston, Knoxville and New York.

On his return to England after the 1902 visit to America he was noticeably unwell. His health deteriorated very rapidly and he endured much discomfort and suffering.

F.E.R. died on Lord’s Day, 16 August, 1903, aged 66 years, and was buried in Nunhead cemetery in London.

John Nelson Darby (1800–1882)

J.N.D. was born at Westminster, London, on 18 November, 1800, to John and Anne (née Vaughan) Darby who were members of the Church of England. He was baptised on 3 March, 1801, in St Margaret’s Church, London. Both his parents were from wealthy families and the Vaughans were also acquainted with influential U. S. political leaders.

At eleven years of age J.N.D. entered Westminster School, London, as a boarder. After three years he enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, which was closely linked with the Anglican Church in Ireland. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree and won the Classical Gold Medal, the highest honour awarded in classics, when he was only eighteen. He was also registered at King’s Inn, Dublin, and was destined to have a distinguished career in law.

However, although he was called to the Irish Chancery Bar in 1822, there is no evidence that he ever practised as a lawyer. He felt he had been called to serve Christ and was ordained as a deacon in the United Church of England and Ireland in 1825. He preached the gospel to the poor Irish Catholics living in the mountains of the district of Calary in County Wicklow, south of Dublin.

In 1827 J.N.D. was laid aside after an accident and through occupation with the Scriptures he received light in his soul that Christ in heaven was the Head of the church and the Holy Spirit was here to unite Christians to Christ, and to each other in His body on earth. This was not possible in a national church. He also saw that the Christian had nothing to wait for save the coming of Christ to take believers to be with Himself in glory. Thus the truth in Scripture and especially in Paul’s teachings which had been lost or disregarded for centuries was recovered and many believers rallied to it.

Towards the end of 1827, Mr John Nelson Darby (J.N.D.) met with four others in one of their houses in Dublin and held the Lord’s Supper in the simplicity with which it was set on in the early days of Christianity, with no officiating clergy.

This was a bold step as it involved a complete break with the established churches of that time. Yet from this simple beginning in Ireland, persons with the same conviction came together to ‘break bread’ in London and other cities throughout England. Having no official name, they became known as ‘Brethren’.

In the 1830s J.N.D. was asked to Plymouth to preach and large numbers gathered there. As most of the early publications of Brethren originated in Plymouth, the name ‘Plymouth Brethren’ became the name by which Brethren were known.

From simple beginnings in Dublin, largely through the extensive travels and work of J.N.D., the light of Christ and the assembly spread throughout Europe and to the Americas, the West Indies, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Some of J.N.D.’s writings are preserved in thirty-four volumes of his ‘Collected Writings’ in which he opened up the truth of Scripture while meeting erroneous teaching. His uncompromising stand for the truth of separation from the world and the religious bodies of the day aroused opposition to his ministry throughout his life. His letters bring out his deep feelings for persons experiencing sorrow and loss in their lives and his hymns are a rich source of comfort and inspiration.

J.N.D.’s translation of the Bible from its original languages was an enormous task but appreciated by believers and students of Scripture today.

J.N.D. died on Saturday 29 April 1882 at Bournemouth and was buried there on Tuesday 2 May.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

John 21 v 25