'A moving act of faith and witness'
A Hebden Bridge Baptist church flooded over Christmas rolled back the years to hold a baptism in its garden on Easter Sunday
As with many businesses and homes in the town, Hope Baptist Church suffered major damage in the Boxing Day floods when the whole ground floor of its chapel was submerged. The damage came on top of major problems that have occurred with previous repair work.
Shocked, but determined to bounce back to live out its 'Christ-Centred - Community-Focused' strapline, Hope has operated as a ‘pop-up’ church around Hebden Bridge in the New Year.
It’s held regular Sunday services in the White Lion pub, midweek prayer and reflections in the Town Hall, and prayer walks and songs of praise around the town.
With Terry Ward and Roz Goodwin seeking baptism, the church organised another pop up event on Easter Sunday. Members set up an outdoor baptistery in the public garden space alongside the chapel. The morning recalled open air baptisms on Yorskhire hillsides in times gone by, as this photo from 1896, shared on the Hope website, shows.
‘You may have thought outdoor baptisms were a thing of the past - not at Hope Baptist Church,’ said administrator Gerard Liston.
‘Having the chapel flooded has created an amazing opportunity to share this symbolic and moving act of faith and witness.
‘It was a wonderful way to celebrate Easter Sunday, and it certainly got the attention of people waiting at the bus stop!’
‘A service of believer’s baptism is always a highly symbolic and moving event,’ added Terry Ward, one of those being baptised.
‘This time, as well as being a public statement of personal commitment, it is also a statement about the life and purpose of this church,’ he told the Hebden Bridge Times.
Gerard said the fellowship has been encouraged by the support of many since the flood, both in the town and beyond. the flood. Other churches within our Union have sent cheques and notes of encouragement.
‘Having worked for many years to create a sanctuary space and unique venue for this town, this is not where we had expected to be right now.
‘We remain a 'Christ-Centred - Community-Focused' church and have been open to exciting possibilities. We are hugely grateful to our friends at the White Lion and all the support we have received.’