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Taken from The Baptist
Magazine - Page 193
The Baptists were first
introduced into Keighley by a Mr. John Town, who was a member of the
Baptist church at Haworth, Tinder the care of the venerable and Rev.
Keighley was at that time beginning to be a large and
populous place. The clergyman in the establishment was an irreligious
character, and the Independent church and congregation were nearly
extinct. At first the ministers were permitted to preach in the
Independent meetinghouse ; but after some time a Mrs. Sunderland offered
her house, until Mr. Town could fit up a room for constant worship.
ministers who kindly assisted in the formation of the infant cause were,
Messrs. Steadman, D.D., Shuttleworth, Trickett, and Shaw. In the year
1809, or 1810, four persons were baptized by Mr. Shuttleworth, pastor of
the church at Cowlinghill: and on the third of June, 1810, a large upper
room in the house of Mr. Town was opened for worship by Mr. Shepherd,
from Bradford, who preached on this occasion from Solomon's Song, vi.
The congregation increased; others were baptized; and in the year
1812 the church was formed. In 1813 it was deemed necessary to erect a
chapel. A piece of ground was provided by Mr. Town; and on Easter
Monday, 1813, the first stone was laid; but the chapel was not opened
until the 29th of March, 1815; when Mr.Lister, of Liverpool, Mr.
Stephens, of Rochdale, and the venerable Dr. Steadman, of Bradford, were
engaged'. At this period the church consisted of eighteen members. The
chapel cost something more than £990; and will seat about 615 persons.
The first pastor of the church was Mr. Joseph Shaw, who came to Keighley
in 1814. During the years 1816, 1817, and 1818, little is said: but in
1819 the members amounted to 33; and some uneasiness originating with a
part of the church and the minister, a separation took place, and a new
chapel was erected by the party attached to Mr. Shaw, at Slacklane, from
two to three miles from Keighley.
This circumstance left the church at
Keighley very small, and greatly diminished the congregation. In 1820
Mr. Thomas Blundell took the oversight of the people in the Lord. The
members again numbered 32. In 1824 a large portion of the debt was
removed; soon after which, the pastor was taken ill, and on July 1st,
1824, resigned his spirit into the hands of Him who gave it. During this
year four members were also removed to the world of spirits ; among whom
were Mr. Town and his wife, who died within ten days of each other; and
whose remains were deposited in the burial-ground adjoining the chapel;
and to whose memory a handsome tombstone has been erected by the family.
These strokes of mortality appear to have been sanctified—a spirit of
prayer has been excited—and a morning prayer meeting established to
seek divine direction in the choice of a pastor. And on Sunday, Aug.
15th, 1824, the present pastor, Mr. Abraham Nichols, then under the care
of Dr. Steadman, and a member of the church at Rawden, under the care of
Mr. Hughes, preached his first sermons at Keighley, and baptized two
persons at Turkeymill. From this time his visits to Keighley became
frequent; and on the first of November, he received an invitation to
become pastor. On the 30th of January, 1825, he accepted the invitation,
and preached from Rom. xv. 30, to the end. Things now began to wear
rather an animating appearance. Some gentlemen were at the expense of
fitting up a baptistery; and Mr. Jos. Town, youngest son of the
above-mentioned Mr. Town, presented the minister with a Bible and hymn
book for the pulpit. This gentleman is a deacon of the Baptist church at
Leeds, under the care of the Rev. J. Ac worth, A.M. A subscription was
also entered into for the liquidation of the debt upon the chapel; and
on the 25th of December, 1825, the friends, at the close of two sermons
by Mr. Stephens of Rochdale, realized the sum of £166 Os. 6d.,
including £'30 each from the two Mr. Towns, £15 from a sister, and £10
'from a brother-in-law; with many other equally noble sums, according to
the ability of the parties. On the 15th.of August, 1826, Mr. Nichols was
ordained, when Mr. Mann, late of Mazepond, London, stated the nature of
a gospel church; Mr. Hughes offered the ordination prayer; Dr. Steadman
delivered the charge, from 2 Sam. x. 12; and Mr. Godwin addressed the
church, from 1 Thess. v: 12, 13. In 1829 the singing gallery was
altered, and the bottom of the chapel pewed; alto, a very substantial
and convenient house was built for the minister, which cost about £260,
towards the expense of which there was £188 (duty off) left as an
endowment by J. Holmes, Esq., of Stanbury, near Haworth, and which could
be appropriated to no purpose but for the advantage of the minister.
1830, the burial-ground having been enlarged on each side, a portion of
the debt was removed. In 1834 and 1835, the ground was again enlarged,
by the addition of 312 yards; and a new school-room erected, towards
which, including a grant through the British and Foreign School Society,
the subscriptions and, collections, &c, have amounted to about £220.
The Sabbath-school contains near 100 children; the congregation,
including 91 families or parts of families, will average from 300 to 400
; the number of members, near 70. The following persons have been
deacons of the church, viz.: John Beadley, who died July 20th, 1827;
funeral sermon from 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30. Jonas Rhodes, who died Oct.
11th, 1832. Samuel Clapham, who died March 24th, 1833. (There is a short
account of each of the two latter in the Baptist Tract Magazine, for
1833.) Joseph Milner, who died April, 1834 ; and who had been deacon
from the formation of the church. The present deacons are,—Mr. John
Town, Turkey-Mills; Mr. Joseph Laycock, Knowl; and Mr. Joseph Hall,