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A moving service marking 124 years of life and witness at Bolster Moor

By Joolz Walker

The hills around Bolster Moor were alive with the sound of singing at the weekend.

Norman Harries But there were tears as well as smiles when the crowds turned out to give praise and thanks for the life and witness of Bolster Moor Baptist Church, Huddersfield, over the last 124 years.

Members of churches from various denominations joined the present congregation for a moving service which marked the day the building closed for public worship.

Pastor Norman Harries (pictured) said it was a special occasion but extremely sad. It was a time of bereavement, a time of sadness but we needed to remind ourselves that the Church is not a building, the Church is the people – people who are still maintaining the life and witness and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God had blessed Bolster Moor Baptist Church in various ways over the years but the village was the greatest loser in all of this – Bolster Moor had lost its Christian focus.

Pastor Harries, who is originally from Caerphilly, said he had always felt at home at Bolster Moor and not a “comer-in”. “That’s how it should be – we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Yorkshire Baptist Association’s Regional Minister for Ministry, the Revd Graham Ensor said Pastor Harries had served faithfully over the last 27 years as Lay Pastor.

'Today is a sad day but I want to say we don’t mourn as a people who have no hope – rather, in Christ we have one who can turn our grief into joy,' he said. 'We believe that today, even though it is sad, it is filled with resurrection hope because we believe in a resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.'

It was about entrusting to God all that had taken place in the building and believing that He can use it for good and for His glory.

Graham urged people to 'Remember, Reflect  and Rely on God.' In reflecting, it was a time to ask significant questions – how do we turn the tide and reverse the steep decline in church life? He spoke of the Yorkshire churches which had closed in the last decade - Charlestown at Shipley, Primrose Hill in Huddersfield, West Vale near Halifax, Hawksbridge and now Bolster Moor.

'A relevant Gospel needs a relevant Church – are we engaging with people in our communities? People are spiritual today – it’s just they are not looking to the Church for their spiritual questions to be answered.'

He said we needed to learn to talk about Jesus and take risks – to reach out and engage with people who are part of our community.

In relying on God, he said, 'We believe the Church is His Church and even in choppy waters He will not let his Church go. We can trust in Him and rely on Him.'

He said birth and death co-existed and we should not forget that God is at work today. He spoke of the new shoots of life in Yorkshire, for example a new style of church working with bikers; a new congregation planted in Whitby by a Scarborough church – people there were being baptised in the sea and the congregation’s Friday night cafe was proving hugely popular.

'As this building is coming in to shore, others are about to launch from the harbour,' he said. 'We should not be dismayed because Jesus is able to turn our grief into joy.'

Readings were given by Mrs Sylvia Shaw and Pastor Harries. The minister of Scapegoat Hill Baptist Church the Revd Glenn Cannon and his wife Chris performed a duet : “How lovely is Thy dwelling place” and a special choir convened by Mrs Margaret Laycock sang an anthem: “God so loved the world” from Stainer’s “Crucifixion”.

Mrs Ann Norton was the accompanist. The organist was Mr Arthur Daker and the pianist was Mrs Margaret Burrhouse.
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