Members of Keighley New Church recently (1970) took part in a rally organised by the Yorkshire Provincial Council of the New Church to mark what has been described as the 200th birthday of the new Church. The new church derives its doctrines from the writings of the Swedish scientist and theologian Emanual Swedenborg, whose last great work, True Christian Religion, was first published in 1770, two years' before the writer's death.
Swendenborg's True Christian Religion, like all his theological works was first published in Latin and was translated into English five years later by an Anglican parson, the Rev. John Clowes, of Salford.
Meanwhile in London, a translation by another Anglican clergyman of another, of Swedenborg's works - Heaven and Hell - was in the hands of the printer when it was read by a young mannamed Robert Hindmarsh.
Young Hindmarsh was so impressed by what he had read that he dashed off to discuss it with his father, James Hindmarsh, a Methodist minister who had formerly served in the Great Haworth Round and Keighley Circuit.
The Hindmarshes took steps to form a separate sect and the first New Church chapel was opened in the Great East Cheap, London, in 1788, with James Hindmarsh as the first New Church minister.
Illingworth, who later founded Grove Mills at Ingrow, followed the example of his father-in-law and withdrew from the Methodist cause to become one of the first members of the Keighley New Church which was formed in September of 1789.
In 1791, Illingworth formally the society's first place of worship in a house in Beckside which was then situated in green fields.
The most well known minister of Keighley New Church was the Rev. Joseph Wright who was ordained as the third minister of the New Church in 1790 - the other two being Hindmarsh and Samuel Smith.who had also served in the Great Haworth. Round.
In 1805 the society built its first chapel in King. Street. This building still stands today as a mill warehouse. The premises in. Devonshire Street were opend in 1891.
The Keighley New Church has a very special interest in this year's celebrations (1970), for, while it was not the first New Church in the world, it is, in fact, the oldest. Earlier societies have either merged or gone out of existence, but the Keighley New Church has existed continuously since September 1789 and is not very far off its own bi-centenary.
The New Church has never attracted as, large a number of folowers as Swedenborg's writings have. Indeed, there are only five New Churches in Yorkshire. But the Keighley New Church contanues to flourish and plays an active part in the life of the community that it serves.
Its present minister (1970), the Rev; L. P. Russell Lacy, who came to Keighley about six years ago; also has charge of the Embsay. New Church.
Keighley has become the Yorkshire centre for the traditionalist Catholic organisation the Society of St Pius 10th.
Members of the 80 strong congregation travel as much as 100 miles to take part in weekly celebrations of the Latin Tridentine Mass at Keighley New Church building in Devonshire Street.
The premises have been bought by the international society set up in the 1970s by Catholics opposed to the introduction of worship in modern languages. And though the society is firmly opposed to links with Christians of other denominations the sale is helping two other churches.
The New Church, which grew from one of Keighley's first Sunday Schools in 1791, can now afford to buy the smaller St Matthew's Church at Braithwaite. The building was redundant to the Anglicans, who will benefit from the sale.
The St Pius 10th group has been using the New Church since last Easter while the home congregation has held its services in the hall on the floor below.
But Preston-based Father Brendan King, who leads the Keighley worship (1995), admits the steadily-growing society is not well regarded by the rest of the Roman Catholic world. The St Pius organisation does not answer to the church's bishops and has its own training seminaries.
"We find we have to do this for Catholics who want the old ways." says Father King. "The church as a whole has made a major change of direction in the last 20 years but we don't like that. In being prepared to keep to the tradition and customs which were followed until recently we have come up against the official authority of the church."
The Latin mass is held each Sunday at 4.30pm. For information on the St Pius Society ring on 01772 885990.