A Baptist-Methodist Community in Ramsbottom


Christ Church is a joint Baptist and Methodist church. This is how the 'coming together' came about.

It was discovered in 1971 that the Baptist Church, situated on Bolton Street, Ramsbottom, had a problem with the roof . Surveyors were called in and the roof was examined. It seemed that over the years, because of the weight of the roof, and through vibration resulting from passing traffic, the vibration had caused the walls at the top of the building to push outwards and the stonework to crack.

The advice of the surveyors was that the building was in a dangerous state and that it would be unwise to use it for public worship.

The congregation worshipping at Market Place Methodist Church, heard about the plight of the Baptists, and invited them to share their building until something was sorted out, and invited the Baptists to use their church for the Sunday School Anniversary services in May 1971, which the Baptist Church accepted with thanks.

At a Baptist Church meeting on the 14th May 1971 the Pastor told of the proposals made by the Methodist Church for the amalgamation of our two fellowships and after a lengthy discussion it was resolved that a special meeting of the Church and congregation be held in the near future to discuss the whole future of the Church. This took place on the 23rd May 1971.

As a result of this meeting and a subsequent one on 18 th August 1971, the following proposal was put to the Baptist members:

“That the Baptist Church here join the Methodist Church on the Methodist premises at Market Place Ramsbottom. To share the Building under the “Sharing of Building Act 1969” and that we do together what we are not required to do separately.”

It was envisaged that we should commence worshipping at Market Place Church on April 23rd 1972.'

On the 24th November1971, it was recommended that there be an official opening service of the new Christ Church on January 22nd, to commence at 3-30.pm. with a service, followed by tea at 5 p.m. And that the first joint services be held on January 23rd 1972

The old Baptist Church in Bolton Street was sold in 1974 for the sum of £2,852. And the money put into the Building Fund.

At the time of the coming together of the two Fellowships the Minister of the Methodist Church at Market Place was Rev. John Palmer, who together with Rev. Harold Saunders deserves great credit for the contribution that they made and the manner in which it was done.

When Rev. Saunders left the Church it was decided to look for a more suitable house [manse] for the next incumbent. The manse in Bolton Road was sold in October 1978 for £10,500 and the next manse in Chiltern Close was purchased.

The next Minister was the Rev. T. R. McLaren who came to the Church from a pastorate in South Wales. Under his leadership the Church prospered and the membership increased. After a ministry of over eight years Mr. McLaren left to be Pastor of the Baptist Church at Redditch.

In 1988 because of the cost of ministry, it was decided that we approach the Baptist College in Manchester for a student pastor, as this was becoming more prevalent in the denomination. It provided experience for the student, whilst at the same time providing a leader for the church. It must be remembered that the system at Christ Church was that we had two ministers, the Methodist Circuit, which Christ Church contributed to, paid one. Also a Baptist minister who was wholly provided for by Christ Church. So, in effect, we had to find funds to pay for two ministers.

In student pastor Edward (Ted) Kelly, we were fortunate to have a man who was diligent in his work for the Church and also in his studies. Mr. Kelly had been employed as a lorry driver before he was called to the ministry. He enrolled at the College in Manchester for a four-year course as a church based student. He came to us in 1988 and left in 1992. After finishing his training and being ordained. He took up a post as pastor at Leigh Baptist Church.

At the end of Mr. Kelly's term of office it was agreed by the two denominations that because of the cost of ministry, in future there would be only one minister for the Church. First, there would be a Baptist minister and then alternating, a Methodist and so on.

The first Baptist Minister was the Rev. Barrie Petterson. He came to us from a Baptist Church in Scarborough. He had been brought up in the Rossendale Valley.

He was a very gifted man in many ways, including Music, Drama and Painting. He was very interested in counseling and took a number of courses on the subject. He was a very efficient organizer. Rev. Petterson stayed at Christ Church for 3 years, leaving in 1995.

Because the Methodists could not provide a minister at short notice on this occasion, it was decided that another Baptist minister should be called. In the meantime, we were fortunate to have Ruth Shoreman to look after our pastoral needs.

In 1996 the Rev. Gordon Hornblower came to us from Leeds Road, Bradford. Gordon was a very determined man and since he came to the Church, it became more active in many ways. He started house groups which met at the Manse every Monday afternoon, Tuesday evenings for prayer, Thursday evenings for Bible Study, and once a month a Saturday morning prayer breakfast.

The ‘curse of the roof' strikes again:

During Barrie Petterson's ministry the Church in Market Place, Ramsbottom, was found to have dry rot in the roof beams and also in the walls. A large amount of work was done repairing the beams and putting new end plates in, this work plus a new central heating system which had been installed, not long previously, had cost the Church many thousands of pounds. It was later discovered that this was not the end of the damage, because in the course of some work being done it was found that the dry rot had spread to other beams and these would have to be treated in the same way as the others. In fact were in such a bad state that they had to be jacked up to support the roof. As the upstairs was now out of use, the area was hidden from view by what looked like a marquee roof, and our period of time under the ‘Big Top' started.

The Organ, (which came from the Baptist Church, and was brought to Market place in 1972 along with the Communion furniture, which had been bought and dedicated to a former Deacon, and worker, Mr. Harry Shepherd) had to be dismantled so that the work to the roof could be done.

In addition, all the plaster had been knocked off the walls in large areas of the church to establish the extent of the dry rot. The outcome of all this was that the Church had no money to repair the damage, and the Methodist Property board was not prepared to spend money they thought was not warranted on an old building. The decision was made by the Property Board to sell the building.

Various possibilities were looked into as to where we could go, as temporary measure, until we could get something permanent after we had to vacate the Church.

The Council was approached for the use of the Youth Club on Carr Street, and they agreed that we could rent the building on Sundays and at other times when necessary.

Eventually the Church building was sold to a Developer for the sum of £117,000. It was intended to turn the building into 14 luxury flats. This now called Adderstone Apartments. The fellowship moved into the Youth Club in June 1997.

This is where Gordon came into his own, very determined and having been through a similar situation before, the Church started to look into the possibility of building a new church building. Through the sale of the old Methodist building and assistance from the Baptist Building Funds and Methodist Circuit, and by wringing funds out of various sources known only to Gordon, we had a total of £340,000 to build with. The right man in the right place at the right time - Coincidence?

After a search, a plot of land, off Great Eaves Road, was purchased from Bury Metro.

On a Sunday morning in February 1999, Mr. Arthur Isherwood, who was the oldest member of the Church, cut the first turf. This took place after the normal service in the Youth Club


The contractors commenced work at the beginning of May 1999.

The work took twenty-seven weeks to complete

The Architect was Mr. Gerry White a local man who lived in Bury New Road and had offices in Manchester.

The name of the contractor was Carefoot Ltd.

The cost of the building was around £500,000.

The building was completed in November 1999.

The Inaugural Service was held on Sunday morning 5th. December 1999.

The official opening of the Church was on Saturday 8th January 2000 at 2-30 in the afternoon.

There were more than seventy visitors present including the Mayor and Mayoress of Bury, former ministers of Christ Church, including Rev's Alan Skipsy, Ronald Maclaren, Leslie Dawson, Edward Kelly and Ruth Shoreman.

Also present were representatives of the local and district Baptists and Methodist Circuits and Churches, representatives from within Ramsbottom, and visitors who have donated to the Chair Fund.

Taking part in the Service were:

Rev. Gordon Hornblower. (Minister) (centre)

Professor Graham Ashworth (Vice President of the Baptist Union)

Rev, Nigel T. Collinson M.A. B.A. (Secretary of the Methodist Conference)

Rev. Keith Hobbs B.A. B.D. (Baptist Area Superintendent)

Rev. David Clowes B.A. (Methodist Superintendent Minister)

The Rev. Gordon Hornblower left Christ Church in July 2005, and the search for a new Methodist minister started, resulting in the arrival of the Rev. Christine Jewitt in September 2006.

During the time when Gordon left and Christine arrived, Christ Church was well supported, both practically and spiritually, by Rev David Burton from Holcombe Brook Methodist church.

Around this time, due to the costs of upgrading the manse in Chiltern Close, [and the impending arrival of our new and current minister, the Rev Christine Jewitt and her family], it was decided to look for a more suitable house to use as the manse, and the current manse on Ripon Hall Drive, was purchased and the old one sold.

Christine came to us from Brighouse in Yorkshire and only then did we find what a good deal we had. Steve, Christine's husband, is a lay preacher and latterly, one of their sons, David, has also qualified as a local preacher too – bargain – three for the price of one!

Christine left in August 2011, after being called to move to Lincolnshire, to be with her family. The work, that Christine worked so hard at here at Christ Church, continued, with the appointment of Claire Nicholls, a student minister from September 2012 to August 2015, and after her ordination in September 2015, Claire is now the full time Baptist minister of Christ Church.

The right person, in the right place, at the right time!

And so, the story continues........

With special thanks to Mr. Henry [Harry] Allen


History - The Coming Together