A Bradford church will close its doors at the end of the month after serving its congregation for almost two centuries.
Heaton Baptist Church, on Leylands Lane, will hold its final service on Sunday, March 30, after providing more than 190 years of continuous worship.
Husband and wife Tony and Sue Newnham, who have served as Reverend and Pastor respectively since 2003, are retiring from their duties and will not be replaced, partly due to the cost implications involved in keeping the church open.
“We looked at the position of the church, and finances were an issue,” said Mrs Newnham.
“Unfortunately, the obvious answer was that the church should close. There is a lot of sadness, as there has been records of Baptist worship in Heaton since the late 1600s.
“Numbers attending services had gone down, but we do have an elderly congregation. Most of our loyal parishioners have already decided upon a different church to attend, and others will do so in due course.
“Sometimes things have to close and finish before something new can start, and we’re sure God has something exciting and new planned for Bradford.”
Margaret Gray, who runs the Heaton Graveyard Project at the church, said that while that initiative, which aims to restore the graveyard to its Victorian splendour, would continue, the church would be a “sad loss” to the local community.
“It is a real, real shame, but that is the situation of the world we live in,” she said. “We are unsure what will happen to the building, which is a great concern. It was a big thriving church in its day, and real hub for Heaton.”
The original Baptist chapel was built at a cost of £770 in 1824, before foundations for a much larger Victorian church were laid in 1895. This building was then demolished in 1987, and services transferred to the manse, or clergy house, which is owned by the Yorkshire Baptist Association.
“It is not a traditional church building, it is very homely and has all sorts of possibilities,” said Mrs Newnham. “We’re hopeful that it will remain as a Baptist building for a long time to come.”
No-one from the YBA was available for comment on the closure.