Four decades have passed since church-goers with differing beliefs combined to keep the faith in south Leeds.
Beeston Hill United Free Church (BHUFC), in Malvern Road, Beeston, became just the second combined church of its kind in Leeds, when Mint Methodist Chapel, Beeston Hill Methodist Church, Beeston Hill Congregational Church and Beeston Hill Baptist Chapel joined forces in 1973.
With lessening congregations adding to financial woes due to aging and expensive church buildings, residents with United Reform Church, Baptist and Methodist beliefs united.
Its diverse attendees will celebrate 40 years since the new church was established on Sunday, through a service of thanksgiving, a historical picture display and lunch from 10.30am.
From the age of three up until the mid-70s merger Pauline Peacock, who is a Methodist steward at BHUFC, attended what was Beeston Hill Methodist Church.
The 70-year-old told the YEP: “Without the merger we would have all closed and we wouldn’t have been able to afford the buildings. We would have to have gone elsewhere. The old churches were very big and expensive to keep, the Baptist church particularly suffered from houses being pulled down around it and we all lost congregations.
“We were all struggling, we couldn’t afford the buildings and we hadn’t enough people to fill the churches.”
Now a thriving community church, it sees more than 100 young people come through its doors every week from groups such as the Scouts, Brownies and the Boys’ Brigade.
The church is funded by regular collections as well as its weekly Friday charity shop, which takes place in its church hall from 9.30am to 11.30am.
Ms Peacock said: “It’s never been a problem, we all worship together and we are now Beeston Hill United Free Church. It shows how the community came together all those years ago. The elders of the churches were extremely knowledgeable people who could see the way forward.”
Following the merger three of the churches were demolished including the old Beeston Hill Methodist Church, in Malvern Road.
A modern alternative was built on the site although the original church’s hall was retained.
Rev Jacqueline Owen, the church’s minister, added: “At that time it was a very new thing for communities to come together, particularly from different denominations – they were trailblazers in their own way.”
For further information on the church’s 40th anniversary celebrations on Sunday, call 0113 3075116.
Methodism is a group of related denominations of Protestant Christianity and is inspired by the teachings of John Wesley.
Baptists are Christians that believe baptism should be done only for professing believers and that it must be done by immersion.
The United Reformed Church came from a union of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches in England and Wales.