Next in chronological order comes Bethel Church, Shipley, formed in 1758. Fifty and more years after Bethel, Shipley. that Shipley was described as "a little out-of-the-way place seldom heard of." It must, therefore, have been a "day of small things" indeed, when Joseph Gawkrodger, of Rawdon, first preached the Baptist faith at the Holt, Windhill.* The covenant of the Church, framed in 1769, is a quaint document, full of that theological definiteness and insistence in which early Baptists delighted. Mr. Gawkrodger, the first pastor, was succeeded in 1769 by Rev. Luke Collins, of Bacup, and Rev. George Haines, of Horsley. There have, during the century and a half of its existence, been seventeen pastors at Bethel.
The shortest pastorate, continuing for six months, was that of the Rev. Robert Gate, who died during an epidemic of small-pox, having contracted the malady while ministering to other sufferers. The longest was that of the Rev. John Bowser, who ministered for thirty years, from 1782 to 1812. The first Sunday School at Shipley was formed at Bethel, in 1822, during the pastorate of Rev. Isaac Mann, M.A., who afterwards became minister of Maze Pond Church, London. In 1866, the crowded condition of Bethel necessitated the provision of further accommodation, and Rosse Street Chapel was built. It was at first intended to terminate the work at Bethel, but the affection of many for the old sanctuary was such that eventually the' work there was continued, 200 members being dismissed to form the new Church at Rosse Street. Of former pastors who rendered good service at Bethel, the Revs. F. E. Cossey, H. C. Atkinson, E. E. Fisk, and D. N. Kentfield are still living. The Rev. E. Hardin, who removed from Wellington, Shropshire, is the present minister. During the 155 years of its existence more than 1,600 persons have been received into fellowship.
* Windhill had been one of John Moore's preaching places, for, on October 8th, 1689, the "Barn of Widdow Hill at Windall in Calverley" was registered for worship. The applicants were "Richard Simson, Willim Garth, Joshuah Sandall, Tim Collier, John Hardacer, John Moore." In the following year, they, with josias Marshall, obtained an order for "Barn in the occupation of Thos. Beeston of Ashold (Esholt), in Otley Parish."