Upton Methodist Church History

The Birth of Upton Methodist Church

The dwelling house of Joseph Elyott situated in Upton in the parish of Badsworth in the County of York was set apart and appropriated as a place of Religious Worship of Almighty God for dissenting Protestants (commonly called Methodists) and registered by an Act of Parliament on 25 October 1798. This may be the earliest record of a Methodist church, even though it was in a private house, in Upton.

Methodists continued to meet wherever they could find room and it was not until the 18th of June 1863 that the first chapel, standing on the opposite side of the High Street to the present one, was opened. For the next 71 years this chapel served the needs of Upton Methodists and also those of neighbouring North Elmsall and Wrangbrook. In those days these villages were low wage agricultural communities with a combined population of less than 500. Yet when the chapel opened it did so free of debt, so unusual was this that when the accounts were first audited in February 1864 the auditor remarked. "This is the only chapel in the Pontefract Circuit built free from debt."

The cost of building now appears trivial but was very substantial then. The total came to £172 8s 6p.At first count the funds fell short of this and seven of the members needed to contribute £1 each and one other 10s to make up the short-fall.

 

With the coming of the colliery in the mid 1920s and a huge increase in the size of the community it was decided to build a new chapel as a centre for the worship, work and witness of the people called Methodists in Upton. The Pontefract architect Mr Pennington was himself a Methodist, and on 3rd of August 1933 a stone laying ceremony was held. Sixteen stones were laid, each representing a gift of £5 or more toward the cost of the building. To understand the value of £5 in 1933, the minimum wage for an agricultural labourer working a 50 hour week was £1.50. Sunday School Children laid 70 bricks, each representing a gift of at least 2s 6d. In a cavity near the main door the minister placed a time capsule.

Like many other churches, there was a time when numbers dwindled to not much more than a handful. Much reduced financial resources meant the building could not be kept in proper repair. But those few who remained grew to depend more on what prayer could do and to love and care more about one another.

Over the years the church has grown and is now a larger, livelier family whose aim is to keep Jesus at the centre of its life and worship and to be a place where people are welcomed. Improved resources mean the church is now in better repair and in 2004 an access ramp and disabled toilet were installed by volunteers. In 2010 a decision was made to redevelop the church further, funding sought and plans passed. Work began in March 2011 and was completed at the end of June 2011. As well as level external access to the church we now have level access throughout internally as well. Again most of the work was done by voluntary labour.

Internal pictures showing changes made prior to the 2011 redevelopment

Before choir stalls removed

After stalls removed- musicians' area provided

General view before the lights were renewed

 

 General view after the lights were renewed

At the stone laying ceremony over 78 years ago, one of the speakers spoke about getting back to Jesus Christ as the one foundation on which to build, about the need for people to read the Bible and rule their lives according to it, and that the secret power of the church is prayer. We would like to believe that these are still our ambitions today.

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