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

As MBC passes 50 it’s time for a ‘Fresh Start’: the final part of A Short History of MBC

30 March 2012

In 2005 Moortown Baptist Church celebrated its 50th anniversary. Between the 22nd and the 24th of April an exhibition of more than 800 photographs, a Barn Dance, a very special Sunday morning service and a splendid buffet lunch all ensured that this important milestone was well and truly noted.

Rev Gordon Hindmarch, Rev Michael Caddick and Rev Ralph Drake

As our pictures show the anniversary weekend saw many old friends return to MBC. Former ministers Michael Caddick and Ralph Drake were there as were Youth Workers Jonathan Hayward and John Hawksworth and there were even three founder members: Ronnie Payne, Stan Robson and Lois Smith on hand to enjoy a slice of anniversary cake.

Joan Baxter with founder members Ronnie Payne, Stan Robson and Lois Smith

In some respects the events of that weekend seem like only yesterday; in other ways a lifetime. Either way the period between 2005 and 2012 has been anything but dull.

It was in 2007 that Gordon Hindmarch announced that he was leaving Leeds to take up a post as Regional Minister for Pastoral Care and Development in the West of England. This meant that once again MBC had to begin the search for a new minister. On this occasion however expert help was on hand from a certain Rev Graham Brownlee one of our own Regional Ministers who immediately agreed to mentor the church through its interregnum.

Val Boyd, Beth Gawthorpe and Claire Taylor pictured at the 50th Anniversary Saturday evening Barn Dance

Of course as we all now know our mentor became our minister. Graham who was brought up in Northumberland first came to Leeds as a university student to read chemistry. However, after graduating and spending just two years working as a science teacher a call to ministry led him back to college – this time to Oxford to read theology and to prepare for Baptist ministry.

On leaving Oxford Graham spent the next thirteen years working as the minister of two urban churches, one in Aston, Birmingham the other in South Bank near Middlesbrough. Throughout the whole of this time but particular during his stay in the North East Graham worked tirelessly at the challenge of developing community and civic partnerships and on ensuring that the church had its say in such important areas of society as education, housing and regeneration.

Although a move to the Yorkshire Baptist Association saw Graham move away from the day to day pastoring of a particular church it certainly didn’t dampen his passion for community action.  On the contrary, now working to a new brief, Graham lapped up the opportunities his new job gave him to encourage mission and evangelism, to advise fellowships on church planting and to re-imagine the way we do church.

Graham's Induction Service: left to right Rev Ernie Whalley, Rev Ashley Hardingham, Graham, Roy Searle and MBC Leadership Team Secretary Bob Corrie

On his arrival at Moortown one of Graham’s first initiatives was to organise Fresh Start, a church wide conference. In fact such was his enthusiasm to get things started that this took place on Saturday 28th March, the day before his formal induction.

Graham addresses the Fresh Start conference

Fresh Start drew together more than a hundred church members and friends to do two things; to give thanks for the past, and to prepare for the future. This they did by engaging in one of seven imaginative pathways. These included: “Talk talk” a conversation group;  “Picture this” a team that provided an opportunity to explore creative arts and crafts; “Walk walk” a group which gave people chance to take to the streets and take a fresh look at the church’s immediate surroundings and “Time alone” an area set apart, a space for meditation and prayer.

Graham joins in one of the seven Fresh Start groups

Since Fresh Start much of MBC’s day to day ministry has benefited from beeing given fresh impetus. As a result our three Toddler Groups are bursting at the seams, Day Care is frequently oversubscribed, at his Friday morning study group Norman Hiley now provides sound bible teaching to people from a number of different churches, the new Thursday afternoon Drop-In session is growing in popularity…

Meanwhile our Youth Ministry continues to go from strength to strength with, at the last count, at least twelve groups in its portfolio. With Glenda at the helm each of these provide a bespoke programme of meetings, events and residentials through which dozens and dozens of teenagers not only have loads and loads of fun but are given the time, the space and most importantly the teaching and the encouragement to explore the currently counter cultural concept of Christian discipleship.

Similarly MBC’s Children’s Ministry. From that very first class in April 1955 right through to today scores of people – both paid staff and volunteers – have dedicated themselves to: Sunday School, Family Church, Ventures, Treasure Seekers, J-Zone, Elements, Holiday Bible Club, Live Wires, Rewind  etc. etc. all with just one intention… introducing children to the love of God.

The What Matters? photo installation

In recent times perhaps MBC’s most high profile outreach project has been What Matters? I was very close to What Matters? and I have to say that although it never quite soared to the heights I had hoped what it did do was to show our friends and neighbours in North Leeds just how serious Moortown Baptist Church is about community.

The Kenya Team

Of course this year the emphasis is more on foreign mission with the time fast approaching when Graham and Glenda will lead a seventeen-strong team of people to Kenya. There they will bring their enthusiasm and their expertise to three very different projects.

As I draw this series of articles to a close may I just say that from the outset I never intended them to be a definitive history of Moortown Baptist Church – more a potted guide through fifty-seven years of development. And it’s in that spirit that I apologise if you think something close to your heart should have been mentioned but wasn’t.

Let me close then by going back in time to April 22nd 1955 and to the words read out to those 55 members of a brand new church, “You, Moortown Baptist Church, are Christ’s church, you belong to him, you are not just a voluntary association, responsible to yourselves alone… What kind of church Moortown is in the future generations depends on what you are now; how you worship, work and live.”


Below you will find a gallery of photographs taken at either the 50th Anniversary celebrations or the Fresh Start Conference  – to view a larger version simply click on the image.

Previous post:

Next post: