Dwindling congregation causes Padiham Baptist Church to close after 167 years (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Dwindling congregation causes Padiham Baptist Church to close after 167 years
A BAPTIST church has closed its doors after 167 years in Padiham.
Padiham Baptist Church first formed in 1840, and in 1846 the chapel in Pendle Street was built, where Padiham’s baptists have been worshipping ever since.
The church started its life as Mount Zion Baptist Church – at one point Padiham had two Baptist churches and a Methodist church, but when Burnley Road Baptist Church closed in 1970, Mount Zion was renamed Padiham Baptist Church. The Methodist church also closed around three and a half years ago.
The chapel was forced to close last week because of dwindling numbers and a shortage of funds.
Around 80 per cent of the church-goers were aged 80-plus and the young families needed to keep it going were not joining the congregation.
The church also faced problems with rising maintenance and insurance costs, which meant it was no longer financially viable.
Geoffrey Hartley, 67, was the minister at the chapel for 12 and a half years, and conducted the final service on Sunday.
He said: “It’s a very emotional time. There’s sadness but also the reality that we have to face.
“Those who came certainly enjoyed the service, it was a fairly upbeat, positive service, not one of sadness. As far as God is concerned the church is the people and not the building, and the memories will still be there.”
Mr Hartley also said that churches often struggle to survive if they are not attached to schools. He said: “The more successful churches have schools attached.
“It’s very difficult when you have no immediate young families coming in.”
Padiham resident Jean Cunningham attend the final church service. She said: “I went to the last service on Sunday.
“It’s a shame. My daughter Debra was rose queen at the church 37 years ago. I’ve still got her dress and crown.”
Mr Hartley has now retired and plans to spend more time with his wife Ruth, and their family.
The congregation will attend other churches in the area.
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