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 short history of Moortown Baptist Church: Part 1 – In the beginning…

2 February 2012

Moortown Baptist Church came into being on Friday April 22nd 1955 in a service at South Parade Baptist Church in Headingley.  At that service forty-nine men and women shared in an act of worship and Communion each covenanting: “with God our Father and with one another to be a gathered Church for the worship of God, the preaching of the Gospel and the observance of the Sacraments of Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

The Order of Service for the official opening of MBC. Just one day later, Sunday 5th June 1955, the church was already running a Sunday School

However, although 1955 saw MBC first open its doors it was almost twenty years prior to that that a group of people had met to talk about the possibility of setting up a Baptist church in the rapidly expanding suburb of Moortown. That was in 1937 and that group became the “Moortown Committee.”

Two years later, with the outbreak of war, that committee ceased to function, but in 1943 F. W. Dawson of Blenheim Baptist Church managed to breathe new life into the idea by persuading the Leeds District Council to buy MBC’s current site for the princely sum of £600 (that was 22½p per sq yard).

Phase one, how MBC looked when it opened in 1955

A further eleven years then elapsed before on March 14th 1954 Rev Henry Bonser, then President of the Baptist Union, cut the first sod and officially launched the building project.

Four months later more than three hundred people gathered to watch as Dr W.S. Flowers (then Vice President of the Leeds District) led representatives from the Yorkshire Baptist Association, the Moortown Committee and the Baptist Union in the laying of six window sills.

June 4th 1955 - the official opening of Moortown Baptist Church

Of course we all know that bricks and mortar don’t make a church, so as the building work progressed not only did the committee begin the job of transferring memberships it also started to look for a minister.

Rev F.W.Bond

So it was that on a grey, misty morning in November 1954 that Rev F.W Bond and his wife Connie travelled up from Halstead, Essex and toured a building site.  Following a time of prayerful discussion the committee were delighted to hear that Winsor Bond – a former RAF Chaplain – was willing to accept their call and would begin his work as minister of Moortown Baptist Church in April 1955.

A Sunday School began on June 5th – just one day after the official opening of the building; in 1955 “the building” consisted simply of a vestibule, what we now refer to as the Old Church Hall, cloakrooms and a kitchen/care-taker’s store.

Throughout that summer a Secretary, a Treasurer and six deacons were elected and by the autumn the first of five yearly house-to-house campaigns was in full swing; first in the Carr Manors and then throughout the whole of the Moortown estate.

By 1956 a Cub pack had been started, this was soon to be followed by Scouts, Brownies and Guides.  A Women’s Meeting was set up, a choir was formed as was a young people’s group. In fact such was the rate of growth that by its second anniversary Moortown Baptist Church had 106 members and 188 children in its Sunday School.

When asked how such growth had been achieved so rapidly, Rev Bond’s reply was: “Firstly by faith and prayer, secondly through hard work and thirdly by the deepening fellowship amongst the members of the church and congregation.”

The Old Church Hall - until the completion of the sanctuary the church's main place of worship

Rev Bond with MBC's first team of deacons

Next week, amongst other things, we will look at how the second phase of MBC’s building plan saw the addition of a new “two way hall” (our present sanctuary) and the construction of a temporary baptistry (still in use today).  We will also explain what lays beneath the mysterious brass stud that’s set into the centre of the sanctuary floor, why following five years of spectacular growth Rev Bond still felt the need to commend a “Christian Living Week,” and we’ll look back to the days when MBC sent out its first overseas missionaries.

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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