Kirklees church set to toast 110th anniversary

Birstall Community Church. (d21111107)

Birstall Community Church. (d21111107)

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Birstall Community Church is putting the finishing touches to a special celebration later this month.

The church, situated on Smithies Lane, will toast its 110th anniversary.

The congregation and friends will be celebrating the original opening banquet in 1906 with a celebration buffet.

Church Secretary Tony Gray said that thousands of Birstall residents had attended a host of regular activities organised at the church over the years.

He said: “Youth clubs, Boys Brigade, Sunday School, women’s meetings, Band of Hope Clubs and much more had met the social and spiritual needs of several generations in the village.

“The church has played a key role in the history of Birstall and continues its activities today.”

Local historian Andy Dalton has been delving into his archives in the build-up to the 110th anniversary.

And he recalled a varied 
past for the long-standing church.

He said: “Birstall Community Church has had a presence in the village for over 180 years and has an unusual history.

“It can trace its origins back to the first half of the 19th century. 

“In 1832, missioners from the Leeds Temperance Society held meetings in the National School in Birstall.

“The result was the formation of the Birstall Temperance Society.

“This was part of a wider national movement which sought to counter the evils of drunkenness in the new growing urban communities resulting from the Industrial Revolution.

“They were supported by members of local churches and civic leaders.

“Members signed ‘The Pledge’ to abstain from all alcoholic drink.

“The new Birstall Temperance Society quickly established an alternative social programme to the public house and In 1848 they set up a Band of Hope for children and in 1867 even established a temperance Friendly Society (a local branch of the Independent Order of the Rechabites).

“The years of our current generation have not been easy. 

“Like many churches it has not escaped the negative effect of wider national influences. 

“The impact of two world wars, the seduction of materialism and consumerism on local people, the hypnosis of mass entertainment, industrial decline, social mobility, theological vicissitudes and the changing nature of community life have taken their toll. 

“Change and contraction have been salient features.

“Nevertheless regular services, children’s missions, school assemblies, gospel calendar distribution, popular social events and other outreach events have been organised.

“The history of Birstall Community Church is both unusual and fascinating.”

All are welcome to the church’s celebration evening, which takes place on Saturday, November 19 (5pm).