Rev’s final service as recession bites

Hope Baptist Minister Rev Marcus Bull
Hope Baptist Minister Rev Marcus Bull

AMBITIOUS £1m plans to renovate a 127-year-old church have fallen victim to the recession.

Hope Baptist Church, Hebden Bridge will also lose the services of full-time minister Rev Marcus Bull, who the church can no longer afford to employ.

The £1 million community hub – The John Fawcett Centre – will also have to be scaled back.

They had hoped to secure the money through grants and the sale of the neighbouring manse – the house formerly lived in by the minister.

Rev Bull’s final service will be on Easter Sunday at 10.30am.

A £138,000 grant from English Heritage will remain to fix its leaking roof.

Rev Bull, who has been minister since 2008, said: “The credit crunch has affected all of us, including the church.

“Even with a substantial grant from the Baptist denomination, the members of Hope Baptist Church are no longer able to pay a minister.

“I’m lucky I’ve got a teaching career I can fall back on, but it’s sad for the church. All of our futures are in the air.

“I have been here nearly three years and the congregation are devastated it has to come to this.”

Rev Bull brought Celtic-style reflective services along with the traditional Sunday morning services as well as helping to set up Hebden Bridge Street Angels.

Future plans to develop the John Fawcett Centre will still go ahead, but the details are not yet known.

The scheme involves developing a social housing area and community garden and bosses at the church have said what happens next with the project all depends on the sale of the historic 19th Century manse.

Sheila Shackleton, one of the church deacons, thanked Rev Bull for his hard work over the last three years.

“Seeds have been sown which in due time we trust will bear fruit for both the church and wider community. We’re awfully sorry that it’s come to this, but we simply can’t afford to pay a full-time minister,” she said.

The service starts from 10.30am.