Plea for Birstall
A lack of committed members has put the future of the Birstall Community Church at risk, but the six members remaining believe God will bless their small, shepherdless fellowship.
The spiritual needs of the local community are considerable and there is not much evidence of other vigorous gospel work going on in Birstall. There is an obvious need for a pastor-teacher to lead the work – a man ready also to ‘do the work of an evangelist’.
Birstall is a small market town of 9,000 people in the old, heavy woollen district of West Yorkshire. It is three miles north of Dewsbury and six miles south-west of Leeds.
The village was the focus of a powerful work of God in the mid-18th century, largely through the preaching of the Wesleys and local man John Nelson. Sadly, little of Nelson’s gospel is known in Birstall today, let alone the power that converted many people in the village 250 years ago.
The community church began in the late 19th century as part of the temperance movement, and has an extensive building near the village centre, the main hall of which seats more than 100. This was redecorated some years ago and furnished with comfortable modern seats. The church also owns a modernised manse nearby.
The evangelical church meets for worship and hearing God’s Word every Sunday morning, and for prayer and Bible study every Tuesday evening.
Small but mighty
Although Birstall’s membership is small – of the six members, only one is male – good fellowship with Morley Community Church and Dewsbury Evangelical Church (DEC) means it has had some leadership since its last pastor retired.
For the past 18 months, DEC has encouraged members to attend Sunday morning meetings there regularly. Most attendees are over 50 years old, although there are younger worshippers – one is a girl in her early teens.
Pastor Graham Heaps of DEC said: ‘A cause for heartache is people who come but do not stay because the work is so small. We need God’s blessing and people with vision and grit!’
However, the evangelistic work is continuing. Pastor Heaps added: ‘We have tried some evangelistic coffee mornings, and had a good carol concert at Christmas. Some more door-knocking is planned for the Spring’.
The pastor/evangelist role at Birstall is pioneer work, and if it does find a suitable leader, the prayer is that more of DEC’s members will be willing to commit to Birstall. (More details from Tony Gray [church secretary], or Graham Heaps, at [email protected])