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 new “Outlook”, a huge self assembly organ and our response to the Charismatic Renewal Movement – Part 3 of a Short History of MBC

16 February 2012

Rev Ralph Drake took over as minister of Moortown Baptist Church on 1st July 1967, and straight away through a new-look magazine, ‘Outlook’, Ralph was speaking of the need for “Christian education to give a reason for the faith that is within us.”

The first such initiative was the setting up of House Groups.  Initially these were planned as six, monthly meetings (to be held between November 1967 and April 1968) with the hope that: “extending fellowship in an informal atmosphere might help us to think and pray about our faith.”

Another innovative project took place during the Summer of 1968 when Ralph and Barbara Drake led 22 of our young people to Germany.  During this visit they holidayed and shared fellowship with the young people of Langenfeld Evangelical Church; the following year the roles were reversed as 21 youngsters from Langenfeld travelled to Leeds.

This was also a time when MBC’s sanctuary underwent something of a change in appearance. Firstly, in May ’68, a large wooden cross was donated. For many years this was attached to the “front” wall of the sanctuary, now of course it is suspended above the baptistry.  And secondly, just a couple of months later, came the delivery of quite literally hundreds of pieces of panelling, piping and tubing which when assembled became a grand pipe organ that took up almost the entire height and width of our rear platform.

Floor to ceiling and wall to wall, MBC's pipe organ which arrived in dozens of boxes and hundreds of bits

Now don’t let me give you the impression that under Ralph Drake’s leadership MBC adopted the maxim: “out with old and in with the new.”  On the contrary, many tried and tested programmes were in fact either modified to engage the ever-changing world we lived in or, because of their effectiveness, were simply repeated.

For instance in April and May 1969 more than 400 houses in the Carr Manor area were once again visited, whilst throughout the Autumn a second “Christian Living Course” was held – this time focussing on Using the New Testament and on Prayer and Devotional Life.

An early 1970s House Group

However, one area of our ministry that did undergo root and branch reform was replacing the existing Sunday School set-up with Family Church. In effect this meant an end to the 10am -10.45am Sunday School (prior to an 11am start to the morning service) in favour of an all-age service beginning at 10.30am which after half an hour or so would then divide into departments by age. This system began on May 2nd 1971 and continues to this day.

In May 1972, Ralph Drake gave the church a report on the first five years of his ministry.  In this he said he was encouraged by “some clear signs of encouragement.”  Specifically he cited the newly formed Venturers group for 11- to 14-year-olds, the growth of House Groups, the Cross-Roads Club for teenagers and the Ladies’ Morning Prayer and Bible Study Groups.

Ralph Drake with MBC's youth leaders and young people

However, very much as his predecessor had, Ralph also spoke of the need to share the work of the church more effectively: “We are a church of gifted and capable people,” he wrote, “but much work falls on too few members and the burden leaves them sometimes frustrated.”

MBC from the air.. Phase 3 was completed in June 1974

The period from 1972 to 1975 has often been described as something of a turning point for Moortown Baptist Church.  In part this could be attributed to the Charismatic Renewal (a new awareness of the person and work of the Holy Spirit).  In house this phenomenon prompted some vigorous and often quite heated debate but unlike some other churches which split on the issue, Moortown not only stayed together but through careful and prayerful guidance used charismatic influences to build on much of what was already happening.

In concrete terms this meant: the start of Thursday night is Church Night… a series of mid-week meetings which drew up to 40 all-age regulars for prayer, bible study and discussion; a move by the Saturday Young Peoples’ Coffee Bar towards hosting “Festivals of Jesus” which through films, gospel music and drama saw many young people give their lives to Christ; in ’75 there was the first of many Green Gables weekends, a residential project that again led many young people to conversion and baptism; and to the formation of the Otley Road – later Rose Lea House Fellowship which under the leadership of Michael and June Flowers ran for more than 13 years and quite often saw anything between 60 and 90 people gather to hear notable speakers.

The fact that the period from 72 to 75 was indeed a turning point is perhaps demonstrated most effectively by the number of people who during that time came forward for baptism: just 1 in 1971, 10 in 1972, 14 in 1973 and 13 in 1974.

Last week we told you about Stonegate House, the grand, detached property that MBC had purchased in 1962. In 1973 this was sold off which meant that following years of living in what we now refer to as “financially challenging times” (in those days the word was… debt) the proceeds could fund Phase 3 of our building plans.  In terms of space this gave us pretty much what we have today.

Next week we’ll looks at how some of this extra space was used – for instance by the introduction in 1974 of a Playgroup and a year later by Day Care.  We’ll also move towards the end of Ralph Drake’s time with us and examine how after 14 months of interregnum MBC went about calling its third Pastor.


Phase 3 is complete - those were the days: no hedge and a car park full of Avengers, Cortinas, sporty Escorts and even a lovely old Morris Traveler

If you have missed any of the earlier articles in this series 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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