Hope Baptist Church, Hebden Bridge
Home Mission Project Grant enabled the church to celebrate the life and legacy of an inspirational Baptist, through the The Fawcett 200 project
Building closer links with the community, particularly through the local history group
Developing a 'Find Fawcett' trail with a longer-term aim of growing engagement with local schools
Hope Baptist Church in Hebden Bridge applied to the YBA for a Home Mission Project Grant1
to help them practically mark the bicentenary of the death of the church’s founder - Baptist theologian, pastor and hymn writer (‘Blest be the tie that binds’) - the Revd John Fawcett.
John (left) started his ministry at Wainsgate Chapel in Old Town and moved to Ebenezer Chapel in the heart of Hebden Bridge. When it outgrew that building, the congregation built Hope Baptist Church further along the road.
Ann Liston, of Hope Baptist Church, takes up the story: “The Fawcett 200 project presented an opportunity to work jointly with the Friends of Wainsgate and the local History Group. It was also an ideal opportunity to publicise the re-opening of the chapel space after 15 months closure following the collapse of the ceiling.”
Various community activities have taken place as part of Fawcett 200, including a celebration service, led by the minister the Revd Gaynor Hammond. Ann adds: “We were joined by many friends who have walked with us in recent years. After the service, the chapel was open for the afternoon, allowing local residents and visitors to see the building.”
Last September, as part of the national Heritage Open Days, the church hosted the local History Group talk 'The Revd Dr John Fawcett and England's 18th-Century Evangelical Corridor', which was well attended by local people and later the same day, the chapel was opened to visitors, teas were served and the new children’s trail 'Find Fawcett' was launched.
Further Open Days, linked to the South Pennine Walk and Ride Festival, were held later in the same month and there was also a History Group event for the Fawcett Family Name Group, which included three local history talks. Another celebration service was held with the Revd Dr Keith Jones, followed by lunch, and a new tour guide to the building has been produced by local historian David Cant.
Ann (right) continues: “Our approach to outreach is based on building relationships. These events enabled us to work closely with other groups, particularly the local history group and encouraged members of our local community to visit our building.
“It is important that we provide a range of vibrant activities supported with professional materials. Virtually all the materials we needed for these events will support future outreach activities. For example, the catering equipment will serve other purposes such as future open days, dementia club and use by other groups hiring rooms.
“We have a longer-term intention to work with schools locally, so we will develop a presentation on Baptist life past and present, for use in church or in a classroom. The 'Find Fawcett' trail and the dressing-up box outfits will form part of this.
“As part of our publicity, we commissioned a Fawcett cartoon (left). This was used for posters, publicity material and some giveaway items, which proved extremely popular. Only the bookmarks were specifically branded for Fawcett 200 so most can be used into the future.”
Ann concluded it had been a challenging year and there had been several positive outcomes.
“We have re-built our confidence in meeting and greeting people and have had encouraging conversations with members of our community and visitors to the town,” she says. “We have achieved a great deal in re-opening our building – some parts of which have not been in use for over 10 years.
“There is still work to be done, but we have shown our community that we are open for business. The Fawcett 200 project was a real opportunity to open our doors and we believe that we have used our resources wisely.”
1: Churches with financial constraints can apply for a Home Mission Project Grant
, which is awarded in order to enable and encourage Baptist Churches to respond to the mission needs of their community as part of their ongoing work and ministry. A church wishing to apply for a grant will need to have discussed the project with a Regional Minister, who can then signpost on elsewhere if needed, before the application is submitted. Also, grants will normally only be awarded to churches where they give at least the recommended amount to Home Mission.
They are normally one-off grants of up to £2,000 for new projects or new initiatives. The project must have a mission focus so that its main aim is to benefit people from the community or network which the church is seeking to witness to. There is an expectation that the project will be part-funded by the church.
Click here to read more stories about how the money you give to Home Mission is being used to bring the love of God to communities around the country.