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

Part 4 of A Short History of MBC charts the start of Day Care and Playgroup. It also brings faith face-to-face with politics

25 February 2012

The launch of Day Care - March 1975

By the middle of 1974, in terms of its outside appearance, MBC looked pretty much as it does today.  This increased capacity inevitably led to new groups starting up. The first of these, in October 1974, was Playgroup followed six months later by Day Care.

At the same time Rev. Drake and the Leadership Team were making further attempts to encourage people to make some new step of commitment.  In 1975 for instance an inaugural meal for a project called One Step Forward was well supported but history recalls that whether or not it actually saw many people commit to extra: “prayer, bible study, visiting, financial support, or involvement in Family Church” seems doubtful.

1975 was also the year in which the first of a series of annual MBC Conference Weekends took place.  However, with the exception of the 1978 gathering these too appeared to generate little in terms of cohesive commitment.

However, despite what might appear to be two rather negative undertakings, it would be wrong to view MBC in the mid-to-late seventies as anything other than a strong and united church.  This was aptly demonstrated when in the Autumn of 1976 Ralph Drake was granted a well-deserved sabbatical term at Ruschlikon Baptist Seminary in Switzerland.

Rev Ralph Drake "on the door"

On his return Ralph readily threw himself into leading the church into a number of new challenges. In 1977 it endorsed The Whole Story, a campaign led by Rev. David Watson that not only brought new converts to MBC, but so whetted the church’s appetite for evangelism that it became heavily involved in the so-called Evangelism Explosion system of visiting and personal evangelism.

This was also the period in which MBC expressed a growing interest in the serious application of faith to social and political issues.  A conference entitled Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger was held, and for a time this became such a major issue that in an attempt to “live more simply so that others may simply live” some in the church actually began sharing domestic appliances and cars.

It was shortly after this, in March 1979 and much to the church’s surprise, that Ralph Drake announced that he was leaving MBC, having accepted a call to ministry at Loughton Urban Church in Essex.  In summing up his 12 years in post Ralph wrote: “The church has known so much change; people have come and gone; the youth work has grown wonderfully; families have been added to the fellowship; financially we have moved out of the years of struggle and debt; we have developed our community involvement; and all-in-all the church is maturing into a balanced and loving family of God.”

Between July 1979 and September 1980, MBC had no paid pastor.  Instead two of its members – Rev. Norrie Carpenter and David Wilson, together with the Deacons, did all they could to ensure business as usual.  This must have been a very demanding task, for records show that during that period the church had more than 350 members, that in 1979 there were more baptisms than in any other year in its entire 25-year history, that work with young people was consistently breaking new ground and that the Charismatic Renewal that we read about last week was still continuing to refresh, equip and stimulate new ideas in worship and outreach.

So it must have been with a huge feeling of relief that on September 27th 1980, Rev. Michael Caddick took up the post of Minister of Moortown Baptist Church.

Rev Michael Caddick, his wife Elizabeth and their two sons arrived in Leeds in September 1980

Both Michael and his wife Elizabeth were trained Religious Studies teachers.  Following spells working in Cornwall and in Hong Kong, Michael began ministry training at Regent’s Park College in Oxford.  MBC was Michael’s third pastorate having previously served in South Oxford and Reading.

Michael Caddick came to Moortown with the firm belief that one of the first things he needed to do was build a ministerial team: “of pastorally qualified people who would support him in his existing work and provide a think-tank for further spiritual initiatives.”

In that respect he couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate time, because as Michael set about the building up of the church community he discovered that its leadership team was already hard at work processing more than 140 completed Baptist Union questionnaires specifically designed to identify and harness skills and gifts.

In 1981 Joan Hill became MBC's first Secretarial Assistant working just one morning a week.

Next week we’ll see how the BU’s questionnaire led to MBC developing its own Survey of Interests and Skills, how it celebrated its Silver Anniversary, how overcrowding caused disagreement over sitting “in the round” and how in 1981 the appointment of a ‘Lay Assistant’ paved the way for a succession of Youth Pastors.

If you have missed any of the earlier articles in this series you can find them all by going to the Home Page of the MBC website and clicking on the link to A Short History of MBC.

Previous post:

Next post: