A small group of Christian believers met together in Hebden Bridge in Dove Chapel which in 1839 was constituted as "The Strict and Particular Baptist Church". By 1882 they had moved to the newly built Zion Chapel where they were encouraged by a period of growth. Over the many years that followed a number of factors contributed to a slow decline until by 1963 only one member was left.
Faith & Vision
One lady of faith kept the Chapel open, paid for electricity to be installed and eventually called a Pastor. By 1980 Zion had a membership of 10. The Church embarked upon ministry and evangelism in the Town of Hebden Bridge and soon they were joined by some members from Sowerby Bridge Chapel which closed in 1985. At about this time concern was expressed for the Town of Halifax, situated 8 miles away. A number of the church members lived there and gradually the concern grew into a vision for planting a Reformed Baptist Church in Halifax.
Planting a Church in Halifax
By 1994, ten mature members with a special burden for Halifax were set apart by the church in Hebden Bridge to plant the new church in Halifax. The first service was held in rented accommodation in October 1994.
The Church at Hebden Bridge faced major decisions regarding the church building and the problems of location and accessibility. In the providence of God the membership of Zion was increasingly being drawn from Halifax. In June 2001 the church reached a decision to close and sell Zion Chapel and relocate all of the work to Pellon in Halifax, with a view to purchasing appropriate land and building a new church building. The last service was held at Hebden Bridge in September 2001, with rain pouring down the interior walls into strategically positioned buckets! From September 2001 the Sunday services and youth clubs were held in the community centre at Pellon and other meetings were held in members' homes.
Stepping out in Faith
In January 2002 an invitation was extended to Peter Stead (Pastor at Grace Baptist Church Warboys, Cambridgeshire) to take up the Pastorate in Halifax. He and his family moved to Halifax in July 2002, and Errol Hulse conducted the induction service in September. During those months the purchase of a piece of derelict land in the Norton Tower area was completed and a planning application submitted for a new church building. Planning permission was granted in late September for the newly named Grace Baptist Church Norton Tower, Halifax and the church members committed themselves to regular sacrificial giving.
Building for the Future
A new retaining wall at the end of the site, remedial work on the boundary wall and permanent security fencing were all completed as the enabling works to allow the rest of the project to proceed. The building fund began to grow but the membership became more concerned about the disadvantages of using several locations for our meetings and in order to beat soaring and prohibitive costs the members decided to reduce the size of the project. The updated plans were offered to some building contractors and the church were delighted to accept an offer from Cyprus Construction to build the new building in line with our budget and in February 2006 building work finally began.