Moortown Baptist Church, 204 King Lane, Leeds LS17 6AA. Map Tel: (0113) 2693750 A member of the YBA. A registered charity No 1128960. Terms of use

A Coal Board shed, a grand detached house and a change of minister: A Short History of Moortown Baptist Church – Part 2…

9 February 2012

Phase two of Moortown Baptist Church’s building work was officially opened on October 19th 1957.  This brought into service the present sanctuary and a vestry. However, as further “temporary” accommodation an annexe was built at the rear.  In truth this was an ex Coal Board shed that ended up being used for no less than five years.

By 1960 the rapid growth of the first five years had begun to level off and Mr Bond found himself talking more and more about the need for the church to grow in “quality” as well as “quantity.”  To this end, in October of that year, he initiated what he called a Christian Living Week.  During this period all other activities were suspended as the fellowship came together to focus on such themes as: our faith, our worship, our Baptist heritage and our mission in Moortown.

Not that mission in Moortown was the church’s exclusive area of calling and concern; 1960 was also the year that saw the first of a stream of MBC members set off to serve God overseas.  First in line were June and Michael Flowers who through their work in the Chandraghona  hospital in the Chittagong Hill Tracks not only helped bring immediate support to a BMS medical project but established links that continue to this day.

The draughty annexe mentioned above was eventually replaced when in 1962 MBC bought Stonegate House.  A grand, detached property set in 1.25 acres of garden Stonegate House came complete with a grass tennis court and enough internal space to provide not only a caretaker’s flat but office accommodation for the Yorkshire Baptist Association.  It remained MBC property until 1973 when it was sold to the Jewish Housing Association – the sale raising sufficient funds to not only pay off all existing debts but also to fund further extensions.

Stonegate House

As the sixties moved on the church remained active and busy.  By its tenth anniversary (1965) membership stood at over 200 of which 72 had joined through Baptism.

However, in January 1966, Mr Bond – never one to let the church sit back and shirk its responsibilities once more felt the need to remind members to take their commitment much more seriously: “We all need to examine ourselves,” he wrote in the January newsletter, “and to ask God to show us where we are failing, and what more we should be doing… We must not let ourselves drift into becoming a pleasant little self-contained fellowship… oblivious to the fact that the purpose of the Church’s existence is mission, in the biggest sense of the word”.

Sadly, in October of that same year Mr Bond, who by now had Parkinson ’s disease, announced his retirement plans.  He spoke of the church’s need for a younger pastor and his own need to take “a few months rest.”

Rev Ralph Drake

MBC’s second minister was Rev Ralph Drake who together with his wife Barbara and their three young children moved to Leeds in the summer of 1967. For Ralph, a Yorkshireman by birth, MBC was his fourth pastorate having previous served in Wrexham, Coventry and Wigan.

From the outset Ralph Drake stressed that the on-going task of the church was: “To serve people and to introduce them to the love of God that we have experienced…  First we must be a friendly community, welcoming people, treating them as persons and sharing our faith with them.”

In this respect it could be argued that Rev Drake was preaching to the converted as Moortown had always had a reputation for being a friendly community.  But this is only partly right because what Ralph was hinting at here wasn’t a break with the past, more a new approach.

Next week as Rev Ralph Drake settles in we’ll find out about the introduction of House Groups, of Day Care and of Family Church.  We’ll also recall the arrival of a large wooden cross and a giant, self-assembly organ.

A fixture list for the MBC cricket team of 1963 and a membership card for the Men's Circle 1957/58

The programme of events for the 1957/58 Men's Circle

Mr Bond at a MBC coffee morning in 1959

And finally… last week we said we would reveal what lies beneath the small brass disc that’s set right in the middle of the sanctuary floor.

The brass disc in the sanctuary floor

The answer is that the disc marks the exact place where beneath the parquet floor there lies a copper plaque bearing the names of MBC’s 49 founder members.


If you miss any of the articles in this series, or if you want to read them again you can now find them all by going to the Home Page of the MBC website and clicking on the link to A Short History of MBC.


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