Hundreds of years of Baptist worship in Rawdon



NON-CONFORMIST worship in Rawdon has a long history – dating back to before the construction of the first Baptist church in 1715.

In a time when nonconformity was forbidden, the Secret Service stood in the shadow of Buckstone Rock. Worshipers risked breaking the law to worship in any style they chose rather than following Church of England doctrine.

These early underground meetings were then commemorated each year with an annual outdoor service at Buckstone Rock, which is now dominated by the Rawdon Golf Club clubhouse.

A glimpse into the history of the Rawdon Baptist Church can be seen in these photographs and information from the archives of the Aireborough Historical Society.

Rawdon’s first Baptist chapel was built at Cragg Wood in 1715, but it was demolished when a larger building was needed. Today we can get an idea of ​​what it looked like from an old drawing.

Stone from the first building was used to build a second chapel, known as the Buckstone Chapel, on Micklefield Lane in 1765.

This in turn was demolished and replaced by another chapel, on the same site, in 1892. Two years later, a school hall and adjoining meeting rooms were added.

Although the posts and walls were demolished during World War II, the chapel continued in use until the early 1970s, when Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists combined to form Trinity Church.

The site of the original chapel was later used by a world famous orchid nursery, Mansell and Hatcher.

A sundial was erected on the site of the second Baptist chapel to be built in Rawdon.

A message read: “This sundial is on the site of the pulpit of the old Cragg Chapel which was demolished and the new school and adjoining chapel erected during the ministry of Rev. AP Fayers” The Lord has done great things to us, of which We are happy AD 1902 “.

Reverend AP Fayers, seen in the portrait photograph, was pastor of the chapel from 1883 to 1904.

The group portrait was made in 1915 and shows a group of elders or deacons from the chapel.

Baptisms are said to have been originally performed in the River Aire, but pollution has caused ceremonies to be moved from the river to the “Floating Well” near Knott Lane. Subsequently, the baptisms took place within the chapel itself.

In 2015, the 300th anniversary of the Rawdon Baptist Church was marked by a weekend of celebrations at Trinity Church.

The first Baptist congregation appeared in Holland in 1609 – when Church of England minister John Smyth was baptized by pouring water over his head. He also baptized fellow reformer Thomas Helwys and members of the congregation.

Congregations quickly formed in England and throughout the 17th century members suffered persecution for their beliefs. They argued that Jesus Christ – and not the monarch – was the head of the church.

The movement experienced impressive growth in the 19th century – and huge crowds numbering thousands of people flocked to see great preachers.

Today, Baptist churches can be found in almost every country in the world – and it is believed that there are around 40 million members worldwide.

Over 2,000 churches belong to the Baptist Union of Great Britain, with a total membership of around 150,000.



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