Pre 1863 roots
To trace the story of our church we must go back to well before the date of our foundation. Our roots are in the 'Rossendale Church' which consisted of a large group of 'Independent' congregations who were scattered along the length of the Rossendale valley. In time this Church became of the Baptist persuasion, and its individual congregations became separate churches by about 1720. Of the Yorkshire congregations belonging to the Rossendale Church those at Rodhill End and Stoneslack became separate churches by 1717 and they had an offspring in 1743 at Salendine Nook. Salendine Nook in turn helped to establish churches at Blackley, Pole Moor and Lockwood between the years 1789 and 1795.
The early part of the 19th Century brought a quickening of the tempo of change that was to change Britain from an agricultural nation to the first great industrial empire in the world: every part of the country was affected in one way or another. At Elland Edge there was an unprecedented demand for building stone to build factories and houses, and of stone for the construction of roads and railways.
This period of industrial expansion and activity was accompanied by an agitation for better working and living conditions and better standards of education; to meet this demand Robert Owen founded the first Sunday Schools in which men undertook to teach young people the basic knowledge necessary to an educated, enquiring mind, and at the same time gave a good grounding in the teaching and practice of the Christian faith.
Thus at Elland Edge there was founded in 1837 a non-sectarian Sunday School and in 1841 the first school was built.
About the same time there were living in the district a small group of devout men and women of the Baptist persuasion who attached themselves either to the church at Blackley or the church at Salendine Nook, and were baptised there. Undeterred by either bad weather or rough roads they made the journey whenever possible to attend communion in the mother church and in the intervals held services and meetings in each other's homes. For a time the upstairs room of a house in Banks End Road was the regular meeting house, and later the upstairs room of the house occupied by Mrs Zilpah Mitchell was used.
Such was the devotion that by 1862 it was felt that there was sufficient support to establish a church at Upper Edge and, after a long period of prayer and preparation, on October 19th 1863, the Baptist Church at Upper Edge was founded in the presence of the ministers of the mother churches at Blackley and Salendine Nook.