The Church at Keighley has attained its centenary, having been founded in 1812. That the Baptists were active in the town a century earlier than this is evident from a complaint of the vicar, in 1713, that "for want of knowledge some were seduced by yt vile sect of ye Quakers, and others by yt wicked crew of ye Anabaptists." * In 1805, Mr. John Town—residing at Keighley, but a member at Haworth—arranged for worship in the house of Mrs. Sunderland, and this resulted in the baptism of four persons. The worshippers removed to a large upper room in Mr. Town's house, and in 1812 a Church of about twelve members was constituted. Mr. and Mrs. Town received their dismission from Haworth, and it is a matter of delightful interest to know that the present secretary of the Keighley Church is a great-grandson of its founder.
A chapel was opened on March 29th, 1815, seating five hundred people and costing £990. Its first pastor was Joseph Shaw, who removed to found the Slack Lane cause in 1819. He was followed by Thomas Blundell (1820-4), and Abraham Nichols (1825-36). Mr. Nichols assisted his slender income. by conducting a private school. In 1835, trouble arose from a political cause in which the pastor seems to have played a manly part, for he says "he will honourably resign his situation. Right he cannot, principles he dare not, sacrifice." The present writer would willingly linger over the pages of the volume published as a souvenir of the Church's centenary, but space only permits him to refer the interested reader to that engaging volume.
Successive pastors have been :—Daniel Crambrook (1839-42); Joseph Stuart (1844-7); Wm. Howieson (1848-9); James Harrison (1850-2), and J. P. Barnett (1853-7). In 1858, Rev. W. E. Goodman commenced a ministry extending to 1886. The Albert Street chapel was opened in 1865, the total expenditure being £3800. In 1869, Benjamin Brigg was sent as a student to Rawdon, and in 1875 an organ was installed. Mr. Goodman, who retired from his long pastorate with many expressions of esteem, was succeeded by Rev. James Alderson (1887-1903), "the influence of whose quiet and upbuilding labours abides." In 1904, Rev. A. H. Sutherland accepted the call of the Church, but removed to Hull in 1910, to be followed at Keighley by Rev. T. G.. Hunter. The Church celebrated its centenary by the establishment of a "New School Fund," the cost of the anticipated undertaking being £3000.
Reference must be made to the mission station at Worth, which had its beginning in 1872, with a Sunday school of four scholars. In 1874, a school-chapel was opened, costing £1200, and this was enlarged in 1894 by the expenditure of a similar amount. In 1897, Rev. Wm. Hughes became co-pastor at Keighley with the oversight of Worth, where he continued his ministry until the beginning of the present year.
* These Baptists met at the house of "John Wright, Kighley," whose house was registered under the Toleration Act, at Wakefield, 1695. The application was signed by John Holmes, Michael Pighells, and Robt. Merall.