FARSLEY: Farsley Baptist Church History up to 1912.
FARSLEY BAPTIST CHURCH
Our interest at Farsley arose through the work of Rev. William Crabtree, of Bradford, whose occasional preaching visits resulted in several becoming members of his Church. The first chapel was built in 1777, but no Church was formed until March 27th, 1780, and in the interval Rev. William Roe was called from Sutton-in-Craven to take charge. He continued his ministry until shortly before his death in 1795. The work prospered, for, in 1784, an enlargement of the building was necessary. In 1795, Rev. John Whitehead—a student under Dr. Fawcett—settled, but sustained the work for only a very few months, and died in March, 1797. He was followed by Rev. J. Ashworth, from Gildersome, who remained from 1797 to 1801, when, with a number of members resident in Horsforth, he left to form a new interest there. For some years the cause languished — the pastorate was vacant, no additions were made, and the Church was almost extinguished.
A pastor was secured in June, 1807, in the person of Rev. J. Sharpe, formerly an Inghamite preacher, but then a member of the Baptist Church at Halifax. So impoverished were the people that he had for some years to work at a carpenter's bench which he set up in a building adjoining the chapel. The records shew only thirteen baptisms during his pastorate of fourteen years. In 1823, various improvements were made in the chapel, including the provision of a baptistry. In February, 1824, Mr. Jonas Foster, from Horton College, entered on a long and successful pastorate. At his coming the membership numbered only sixteen, but his settlement was the commencement of a new era. The congregation increased, and, in three years, more than fifty additions were made to the Church. Increased accommodation had to be provided by internal alterations in 1830, and in 1836 and in 1844 the chapel was enlarged.
In 1835, the building still in use as a school at Rodley was erected, and in 1850, the chapel and school at Pudsey were built, largely by the efforts of the Church at Parsley. Mr. Foster closed his ministry in 1858, and passed to his rest in January, 1865, amidst many manifestations of sorrow. In April, 1859, the Rev. Edward Parker was called to the pastorate. His coming was followed by abundant blessing. A spirit of zeal and holy harmony prevailed. In 1865, the need for increased accommodation was felt to be urgent. After prolonged consideration it was decided to build a new chapel, and by the close of 1867 half the estimated expenditure, £4,000, had been promised. At the close of the opening meetings in October, 1869, the chapel was declared free of debt.
In the course of a few years a new organ was required, and this, with the decoration of the chapel, cost £1,600. A bazaar in 1876 for this purpose realised more than £2,000. The Church celebrated its centenary in July, 1877, and, in the following October, Mr. Parker accepted the Presidency of the Baptist College at Manchester. Subsequent pastorates have been : Rev. J. Naylor (1879-82); Rev. J.R. Fawcett (1883-87); Rev. H. Ellis, M.A. (1890-8); and Rev. J. W. Ford, D.D. (1903-05). The present pastorate of the Rev. A. V. Thomas, A.T.S., dates from September, 1906. On the opening of the new chapel, old "Rehoboth" was employed for Sunday School purposes, but in 1898, a movement was initiated for new premises. After much devising of ways and means, the new school was opened in 1906, and before the close of the School's Centenary year the entire cost of £4,000 was defrayed.
from the "Present Churches" section of
The Baptists of Yorkshire
by Rev. J. Brown Morgan
and Rev. C.E. Shipley