A fiercely-independent Bradford church is celebrating a major milestone this year.

Allerton Congregational Church marks its 200th anniversary in 2014 and the church is going all out to make it a birthday to remember.

Along with events running throughout the year, a special group has been formed to produce a booklet spotlighting the church’s history. This will complement a 1914 publication which marked the church’s first 100 years.

“We are going to town with this,” said Pastor Trevor Kershaw. “It is a great opportunity to publicise the church and, hopefully, encourage people back who have lost touch.

“We are marking 200 years, but we also want to build the church for future generations.”

Allerton is one of the last remaining independent congregational churches in Britain. While many congregational churches became United Reformed Churches in the 1970s, Allerton charted its own course, managing its own affairs in association with an umbrella church council.

Today, it offers Sunday worship at 10.30am and, between Easter and Christmas, at 6pm; fellowship groups and social events for the whole community. It also maintains close links with the adjacent primary school.

Celebrations started in March with a matinee concert. Future plans include a Sunday School reunion in June, which former Sunday school members are urged to join, and a Gang Show by local Scouts for the harvest weekend in September.

The actual birthday is on October 12 and there will be a gala dinner on the 11th – with, again, an invitation to people with any kind of connection to the church.

“That will be a very big day,” said Mr Kershaw.

Commemorative items are being sold and there will be painting depicting the three buildings the church has occupied over the last 200 years. Its present ‘home’ was built in 1888.

Details of special services and events to mark the anniversary will be on the website and noticeboard and a monthly newsletter will also keep people updated with what is being planned.