Clayton Gospel Hall.
"God cares for you" 1 Peter 5:7
 
Read Our History...

The Complete History of
Clayton Gospel Hall
 

Since 1927 God has preserved this hall in Clayton and kept has His people there to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the community. Here those involved tell the history of the hall, and of the two Christian fellowships who have or continue to use it faithfully.

Chapter One 

The “Gospellers” fellowship, 1927-1978.

Mr. Douglas Hartley 

Chapter Two

Merger with the Kensington fellowship,1978-2008.

Pastor Peter Benn

Chapter Three

2008 - date.

Appendix

Brethren history.

 

Chapter One.

The “Gospellers” fellowship 1927-1978

This chapter is taken, with thanks, from The History of Clayton Gospel Hall, written in 2001 by Mr. Douglas Hartley for Clayton_History_Group. The author wishes to acknowledge his debt to Mr. Arthur Storey for information, particularly about the building work 1927-28.

The Village School.



Church service, 2011.

The history of Clayton Gospel Hall is bound up in part with that of The Village School, which is now Clayton_Library and stands on land given in 1819 by the, then, Lord of the Manor, Richard Hodgson. The school was erected by public subscription. The population at that time numbered some 600. Maintenance and use of the school were overseen by an elected committee of villagers.

Before this time the inhabitants of Clayton had no place of worship or day school, although a building called The Poorhouse had been used for preaching. The Poorhouse stood, by the roundabout, on the site of the former Gatehouse Working Men’s Club, which has been a Co-operative convenience store since Boxing Day 2006. The nearest churches were at Great Horton, Thornton and Queenshead (Queensbury). For many years Anglicans, Baptists, Independents and Wesleyans preached in the Village School but, in time, each denomination was enabled to build its own place of worship. Clayton now has five church buildings: Anglican, Baptist, MethodistRoman_Catholic and Independent.

The “Gospellers”.

The scene at a children's event, 2000.

It has been told that a preacher, travelling on horseback, came to Clayton and spoke at the Wells, the village place of assembly (now the roundabout). This visit could have been in the early 1870s. Subsequently a Christian group began amongst working class villagers, known locally as “the Gospellers”. At first, they had no recognised meeting place but met in members’ houses. At one such meeting in a house in Town End a young man seated on the staircase was much moved and experienced a great change of life. This young man, Richard Stammers, later became the senior elder in this local “Gospellers” church, or “assembly” as members preferred to call it, taking to themselves the English translation of the New Testament ‘ekklesia’ - although they would not have wished to be known as an ecclesiastical body.

Minutes of The Village School Committee (August 1880) record that the “Gospellers” were allowed to use the school room on one night a week and on Sundays at a rent of nine pence a week. Minutes for January 1887 record a list of elected Village School Committee members, among whom Mr. Richard Stammers is named. Later that year “the Gospellers” were the only religious body in regular occupation of the School, although secular groups made use of it. A succession of village schoolmasters taught there, parents of pupils paying for their children’s education in “school pence”. The school room was last used as a day school in 1898.

Over the years the “Gospellers” increased in number. However in 1906 a difficulty arose. Bradford_Metropolitan_District_Council proposed to use The Village School as a public library. The “Gospellers” tenancy of their place of worship was in jeopardy. They had not the resources to build a place of their own, nor perhaps the ability to present a convincing defence of their position to officialdom. But God’s help was at hand. A young gentleman had recently come to lodge in the villageMr. Ransome Cooper.

Mr. Ransome Cooper.

Clayton Gospel Hall, re-roofed in 2013.

Mr. Ransome Cooper was a qualified industrial chemist in the field of textile dying. He came for a while to work in Bradford, where the expertise of the Bradford Dyers Association was known worldwide. He was a linguist, widely travelled on the continent. More importantly, for the “Gospellers” at The Village School, he came from a flourishing Brethren Assembly in the south of England. He was to act as their advocate.

In order to arbitrate on the issue of the continued occupation of The Village School by the group known as the “Gospellers”, representatives of The_Charities_Commission presided over a public inquiry held in the schoolroom on 16th July 1906. The following statement, on behalf of the “Gospellers”, was prepared and read by Mr. Cooper at this inquiry:

"A stone built into the wall of the schoolroom above the original entrance states that the building was erected by public subscription in 1819 to be a weekly Sunday school for ever, and an occasional preaching House for all denominations who acknowledge the Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This was occasioned by lack of any suitable accommodation for the various religious communities then to be found at or around Clayton; and each being too poor to erect its own chapel or meeting house, this schoolroom was erected by public subscription and used in turn by the various religious bodies.

By degrees, however, each was enabled to build a more convenient and exclusive place of worship, with the exception of those simple Christians who now meet, and for the past quarter of a century have met each Sunday and during the week for the worship of God. They have been and are still too poor to erect a building for themselves, and whilst in no wise claiming exclusive right of use, they pray to be allowed to use this schoolroom in the manner intended by the original subscribers to its erection.

That the need for which this schoolroom was erected has not passed away is evidenced by the fact that over 50 persons come more or less regularly to the Sunday morning meeting, and 80 or 90 on average attend the evening Gospel meeting, whilst the Sunday school, held twice on a Sunday numbers more than 120 scholars. Such a congregation and school is drawn almost exclusively from the poorest classes of this village.”

In the summing up it was stated that the local authority had gone beyond its strict legal rights in attempting to appropriate The Village School for the sole use as a library. The original declaration, setting out the primary use of the school, had swung the judgement of the commissioners in favour of the “Gospellers” case.

A library was subsequently opened in the building but the “Gospellers” remained in occupation for many years. The memorial tablet, still to be seen at the present library inner wall, records in stone the legality of their claim.

For many years after leaving Clayton, Mr. Cooper kept in touch with the assembly there, each Christmas time sending a supply of scriptural calendars to be distributed among the members he had known.

The Gospel Hall - Building.

The framework of Clayton Gospel Hall is built (1927).

After the alarm of 1906, it was thought wise to begin a building fund. Twenty years of, what must have been modest but sacrificial, giving to this fund resulted in the purchase from the local council of a plot of land, formerly allotment gardens, where Back Lane joins Bradford Road.

Plans would be drawn up, probably by a member of an assembly at Bolton Woods who had a building contractor and who took a continuing interest in the work. No doubt through his offices some building material would be acquired. It was thought that a mortgage was taken out, trustees and guarantors having been appointed. Building began in 1926-1927.

Trenches were dug and foundations laid, the majority of the work from beginning to end being done by the members of the assembly in the evenings or on Saturdays. Wood was obtained, some of it second-hand from the Great_Yorkshire_Show ground of that year. A timber frame was raised. A local joiner, then based in Town End, was called in to construct the roof. Only a limited amount of brick and stone work was incorporated. The concrete and pebble-dash walls stood the test of time, not being replaced until 2014. Inner walls, ceiling and floor boarding were fitted. The installation of gas-lighting, plumbing, coke-boiler and heating pipes was overseen by a tradesman member of the assembly. A pulpit was built and pine seating provided.

Memory recalls the wives and sisters of the assembly regularly bringing refreshments to the men-folk who laboured so long and devotedly. A more dramatic recollection is of a night in 1927 when, during a violent storm, a thunderbolt fell on a nearby building and telegraph poles in Bradford Road were struck and split apart. By the grace of God, not a window of Clayton Gospel Hall was broken.

Eventually, after painting and decorating and scrubbing of floors, the building stood ready for occupation. The opening ceremony was held on Saturday 10th March 1928. It was snowing that day! Leaflets had been printed for the occasion and had been sent out to other Brethren assemblies in the Bradford area - at Girlington, Wyke, Odsal, Bolton Woods and Shipley. In the mid-afternoon of that Saturday a procession took place ‘from the free Library to the new Gospel Hall’.

The Gospel Hall - Church.

Whitsuntide Walk, led by Mr. Charlie Firth and Mrs. Nancy Clayton (1950).

Mr. Richard Stammers, by this time aged 72, ceremonially opened the door of Clayton Gospel Hall and welcomed members and guests. Later a festival tea was served in the Baptist schoolroom. The evening meeting was addressed by a local leader and by two visiting speakers.

During the 1930s the Gospel Hall continued to make its contribution to the spiritual life of the village: communion service each Sunday morning for the baptised; Sunday evening gospel meeting, open to all, conducted by lay speakers from other parts of the city and sometimes further a field; morning and afternoon Sunday schools, with never fewer than 60 or 70 children on roll; monthly distribution of Christian tracts in the Town End and Bradford Road areas of the village; occasional evangelistic campaigns which from time to time have seen the hall filled to capacity. Conference weekends were held occasionally, at which members gathered from Bradford, Leeds and Halifax assemblies to be addressed by speakers drawn from distant parts, even from the metropolis, or by missionaries at home on furlough.

Older villagers may remember special weeknight children’s meeting featuring “magic lantern” displays; Sunday school Christmas parties and prize giving, with homely entertainment; the Whitsuntide Walk, followed by games and races in the field at the top of Middle Lane, with mugs of tea and Halford’s long-buns served to refresh parents and children.

Sadly, as years passed, membership dwindled through deaths, removals and other eventualities until in the early 1970s the situation appeared uncertain. However, there came a time when the congregation was reinforced through a merger with a like-minded group from Girlington who had lost the tenancy of their own meeting place. The ensuing part of the history of Clayton Gospel Hall is told in the following chapters.

Mr. Richard Stammers.


Mr. Richard Stammers, seated on the foundations of Clayton Gospel Hall, with his grandson Douglas Hartley - aged 4 (1927).

Mr. Richard Stammers, senior elder of “the Gospellers” and the man who ceremonially opened the doors of Clayton Gospel Hall, died in August 1928. He had lived to see the conclusion of the building enterprise.

Mr. Stammers was not a native to Yorkshire but came as a young man from Norfolk, probably around 1875. He would be part of the movement of labour from agricultural to industrial England. He found work at Beck_Mill ("The Old Mill”, Reva Syke Road) which has been leased by J. Benn and Co., advertised as ‘worsted spinners’. He worked not in the spinning sheds but in the stables across the cobbled lane. He was the waggoner and in charge of the horses. He married the eldest daughter of Isaac England, farmer at White Acre, Baldwin Lane. In later life they lived in part of Holme House, Reva Syke Ro
ad, now demolished. Before its division into three houses Holme House had been the dwelling of Alfred Wallis, who moved from there to the newly erected Glenholme.

To the end of his life Mr. Stammers remained a humble working man but known and respected in the village. A cutting from the local newspaper Telegraph_and_Argus of 12th August 1928 records:

The attendants in Clayton fairground stopped the whole amusements and stood with uncovered heads whilst the funeral cortege of Mr. Richard Stammers, a well known religious worker, passed the fairground on its way (from the Gospel Hall) to the parish Church.

A memorial headstone still stands in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist's Parish Church. It was erected by Mr. W. H. Benn in recognition of 50 years’ faithful service to the firm.

Chapter Two

Merger with the Kensington fellowship, 1978-2008.

This chapter has been produced, with thanks, by information provided by Pastor Peter Benn and brings Mr. Hartley’s history up to date, completing the history of Clayton Gospel Hall and the church fam that have occupied it.

Mr. Charlie Firth’s Offer.

Church event, 2003.

At the time of the merger with the Girlington fellowship, the congregation at Clayton Gospel Hall had whittled down to that of just one family plus a friend of theirs, led by Mr. Charlie Firth. Mr. Firth’s father, Mr. Samuel Firth, was one of the hall’s original trustees - alongside Mr. Richard Stammers, Mr. Luther Watson, Mr. Herbert Crossley and Mr. Arthur Clayton. A conveyance of the land, dated 20th August 1925, was made between these men, Mr. Charles John Vint and the two elderly ladies who owned the land previously (Ruth Cluderay and Ada Patchett).

The Firths, hearing that another Brethren assembly in the city had lost their tenancy of Kensington_Hall, decided to offer Clayton Gospel Hall to this assembly as its maintenance had become an increasing burden and the future of their own assembly seemed uncertain. Minutes of Kensington Hall Brethren’s meeting, March 31st 1978 record that:

An offer, from the assembly at Clayton, of the gift to the Kensington Hall assembly of the hall at Clayton, was considered in detail. Brethren considered that, on the whole, the offer appeared to be acceptable, but the feelings of the whole assembly should be sought and, above all, there should be the certainty in all our hearts that such a move is the Lord’s will for us. The matter is to be put before the assembly fellowship meeting on Sunday April 2nd.

The whole assembly accepted. This blessing had followed a rejection of their application for permanent tenancy in Kensington Hall and the selling of “the tabernacle site”, which had also been considered. The Firths were assured that the hall would continue to be used for the purposes for which it was built and the group from Girlington had assurance of a permanent place of worship. The handover took place in April 1978 and a new era, in Clayton, began.

Mr. Charlie Firth was welcomed into the incoming group and remained in attendance at the Gospel Hall until his death the following year. The words With Christ - 3.2.79 mark his passing, simply, in the register of church attendance. Following his passing, Mr. Edward Hessey continued Mr. Firth’s duty of visiting Oakleigh Nursing Home on a monthly basis to administer communion to Mrs Myra Muff. Just as Mr. Stammers had lived long enough to see Clayton Gospel Hall opened so had Mr. Firth lived to see that its future was secure.

Kensington Hall

Kensington elder, Mr Hessey.

The incoming church family began in the late 19th century when a group of believers broke away from a church that met somewhere near the bottom of Thornton Road to form an independent assembly. They were permitted to rent Kensington Hall from 1896 to 1978 and could boast of similar activities to that of the brethren assembly in Clayton.

One of the most prominent ministries that the church supported was the missionary work, in Zambia, begun by its member, Mr. Barry Haigh, and his wife, Mrs Rachel Haigh. The church commissioned Mr. Haigh, a one time resident of Girlington, to go out to Zambia as a missionary in the 1960s. Upon their return to the United Kingdom, in 2006, Mr. & Mrs Haigh joined a church family in the Midlands, native to Mrs Haigh. Their work in Zambia is still being continued by others today.

As with most church families, membership declined due to the change in British society after the Second World War but as many as 75 members can be recorded as late on as the early 1960s. 24 members were in attendance in 1978, when the move to Clayton occurred - a number that would not be surpassed until current new growth began in 2008.

Kensington Hall, situated on the corner of Kensington Street and Willow Street in Girlington, was also used as a dancing hall and library. Only the library still remains and little of the promised refurbishment has taken place. Instead, a new community centre was built further up Kensington Street. A few brethren assemblies, similar to those which met in Girlington and Clayton, still exist today at Bankfoot and Rebecca_Street Gospel Halls, as well as in Shipley at Westcliffe_Chapel.

A New Era.

The text above the pulpit, inside the hall.

On 2nd April 1978, the group from Girlington took possession of Clayton Gospel Hall and immediately closed it down for refurbishment, prior to re-opening on Sunday 22nd October of the same year. The initial intention was for the building to be re-named “Kensington Gospel Hall, Clayton” but this never materialised. The baptistery was modernised, central heating and fluorescent lights were installed, wooden panelling was placed on the inner walls and both the insides and outsides of the building were painted.

The new trustees appointed were Mr. Edward Hessey (chair of trustees and elder emeritus), Mr. David Jowett (secretary), Mr. Peter Benn (treasurer) and Mr. Trevor Hughes. As a result of Mr Hessey's move to Southport in 1981, Mr. Jowett's removal to Bradford Cathedral in 1988 and the death of Mr. Hughes in 1991, Mr. Benn eventually became known as “the continuing trustee”. As sole leader of the church family, he became known as “Pastor” in the early 1990s.

The minutes of 28/1/1980 record that It was decided to have a text at the front of the hall: ‘He cares for you.’ This text, from 1 Peter 5:7, still remains as a summary of what Clayton Gospel Hall stands for and can be read by every person that enters into the hall. The aim of the church family is to show the love of Christ to the community of Clayton.

The new church family continued previous services, such as the Sunday morning communion and evening evangelistic service. Tuesday's bible study was originally held at the home of Mr. David Jowett and later moved to the hall itself. Women began to contribute to services in spoken prayer from the early 1980s and a women’s prayer meeting began on Wednesday afternoons. This was originally held at the hall but the illness of life-long member, Miss Enid Bower, led to the women’s meeting being held at her home so that communion could be brought to her. After Miss Bower’s death, in 2004, it was decided to continue holding the women’s meetings in homes, rather than return to the hall, and so Miss Margaret Sinclair became the new host. A men’s prayer meeting was also started at the home of Pastor Peter Benn. These have since been encorparated into rehular prayer meetings for the whole church family back at the hall itself. Various musicians have played at Clayton Gospel Hall over the years and the ladies organise an annual retreat, each summer.

Children’s ministry.

Children's Group, 2013.

From the arrival in Clayton, Children’s work took place on Wednesday evenings and a youth night for teenagers was begun by Mr. Peter Benn, on Thursday nights. Youth night was moved to Wednesdays in 1983, to follow on from the younger “Sunshine Special” meeting. These two groups were combined into one in 1999 and the mixed age children's group has continued strongly as such ever since.

The former Sunday schools were ended in September 1983, an alternative crèche being provided in members’ homes to enable parents to attend the Sunday morning service. During the 1990s the children of members and visitors would be taken into one of the smaller classrooms during the sermon. This developed into the current Sunday school system when non-Christian children began coming to the services, often without their parents.

In 1997, following the success of the “Riding the Wave” mission the previous summer, the children’s work was extended to the running of summer holiday clubs every weekday morning for a few weeks each summer. These lasted until 2012, when it was decided instead to partner with activities at the estate communtiy centre.

Pastor Peter & Mrs Lyn Benn.

Pastor & Mrs. Benn, 2006.

Mr. Trevor Hughes, a much respected and long-standing member of the Gospel Hall who was renowned for his devotion to prayer, died in November 1991 shortly after introducing a close family friend into the fellowship. Often Mr. Hughes would open meetings with prayer and it was once recorded that ‘It was pointed out by Trevor that we need to watch how we pray, that we do not use prayers for an indirect method of criticism of each other’. His affectionate “niece”, Lyn, immediately became useful within the church, prompting the quip from Mr. Tom Foster: “I hope this one stays, she’s a worker!” Not least of these efforts was praying with a five year old Christopher Rushton that other children would come to the church again. The children’s ministry has continued to prosper ever since.

Pastor Peter and Mrs Lyn Benn married on 24th November 1993 and together they embarked upon a dual ministry that saw many lives changed by the gospel, particularly amongst former drug and alcohol addicts within the city, to whom they opened their home. In 1997 they became involved with the Gambian_Morning_Star_Mission and a visit from Pastor Modou Sanneh, in 1998, saw the conversion of Mrs Benn’s mother, Evelyn Duckett - the lifelong best friend of Mrs Mary Hughes, Trevor’s wife. In the final years of her life Evelyn was cared for at home by Pastor and Mrs Benn, at times alongside addicts. In 2005, after her mother’s demise from cancer, Mrs Lyn Benn suffered a stroke, due to post traumatic stress, but she gradually made a remarkable return back into ministry within the church before the couple’s eventual retirement and emigration to Canada in 2009.

Pastor Peter Benn had been joined, for the last fifteen years of his leadership, by a great encourager who took after her “Uncle Trevor” in faithful service and devotion to prayer. The inside of the hall was again transformed from near degradation, children’s work took on a complete new lease of life and the church became more accessible to the lowest members of society. Mrs Benn, herself, was a former alcoholic and the eldest of nine children in a gypsy family.

Throughout all of this, Pastor Peter Benn continued to provide the direct and inspirational teaching for which he is best known. For 47 years he taught the fellowship, first as youth leader then as a joint elder and eventually as pastor. A dwindling congregation, the departure of co-elders, continually short funds and an unkempt building never deterred him from preaching God’s word in its fullness. Two sermons, a Bible study and a prayer meeting every week is a lot for anyone already in full time employment to undertake!

The first experiences of public speaking for a young Mr. Peter Benn was when the men who led him to Christ encouraged him, aged 16, to stand on a soap-box in Bradford city centre and share his testimony. From that point, up until his retirement aged 62, he was responsible for much inspirational and challenging teaching. Retirement from research science in the late 1990s allowed for entry into full time ministry. Half of the money received from the sale of engineering company Eldon Ltd. was put into the church and the other half lived on. In 2008, Pastor & Mrs Benn announced that they would be moving to Canada to be closer to Lyn's daughter. Clayton Gospel Hall was to be left in the loving care of a new pastor, Rev. David Jackson.

Peter and Lyn Benn are now continuing to serve the Lord faithfully over in Canada, where they pastor a new church plant and lead eccumenical bible studies. Leaders of the local church families are reported to be huge fans of Peter's English accent!

Giants of the Faith.



Communion service, 2000.


Clayton Gospel Hall has been blessed with many giants of the faith, too many to record individually in detail. One of the most remarkable examples of this is the humble and faithful service to everyday church family life of Miss Enid Bower. Brought to Kensington Hall by her auntie in 1927, six month old baby Enid never left. She passed away, aged 78 in 2004, leaving behind the current record for the greatest length of service to the church family. Throughout her years Miss Enid Bower distributed many tracts and leaflets, supported the work of missionaries and, at one time, acted as the treasurer of Clayton Gospel Hall. Her example is paralleled by that of Mrs Edna Whittingham, who was known as Pastor Peter Benn’s “spiritual mother” and served for 71 years, until moving in 1998 to be cared for in Scarborough until her passing in 2005.

In 2008 [the time of writing] two similar beacons, Miss Margaret Sinclair and Mrs Edith Foster, tenderly continue their many years of dedicated service and encouragement, numbering over sixty and over forty years in the church respectively.



 Chapter Three

2008 to date.

This chapter is currently being produced! Why not be part of it?

Continuation.

Baptisms of Tricia Tomlinson and Chris Jackson, 2008

Despite the sudden and unexpected passing of Rev. David Jackson on 4th May 2014, the church family at Clayton Gospel Hall is continuing to seek to minister the love of God to the community. From 2008, we have adopted the mission statement ‘others’, given to us by Pastor David, because we seek to reach and to serve "others" within our community. 

The current trustees are
Mrs Nicola Johnson, Mr. Christopher Rushton and Mrs Christine Tomlinson. We have recently had disabled access installed, as well as an indoor play-pen for babies and toddlers, new central heating, double glazed windows, a new roof and replacement pebble dashing. God has provided for us in the most amazing way!

In 2010, we became part of Clayton Churches Together, participating in joint events such as monthly visits to a local nursing home, Lent study groups and Christmas carol singing - as well as proudly taking our first ever turn at hosting the United Good Friday Service in 2012.

Several members of our church family  are also involved with the neighbouring Clayton_Estate_Community_Action_Group and together we help  to organise and support wider community events as part of Clayton_Umbrella_Partnership, such as the village's annual Summer Funday and 2012's 'Pride of Clayton' award ceremony. We also have a collection box
for Bradford_Metropolitan_Food_Bank.

We hope that you will feel at home with us
during this new chapter of church family life!

The Complete History of Clayton Gospel Hall
was researched and compiled by Mr. Christopher Rushton. I would like to thank all who helped me with this work; especially Mr. Douglas Hartley, for the use of his history, Pastor Peter Benn for all his information / archives and Mr. Stuart Downey, for the use of some of the photographs. God bless you, C.R.

~

Appendix

The denomination of Clayton Gospel Hall.

This appendix gives the history of the Christian Brethren movement and explains why the current fellowship would be recognised as 'independent evangelical', rather than as a Brethren assembly, despite continued adherence to some Brethren tenets. 

Brethren History.
Mr. Douglas Hartley explains that The spiritual awakening which had taken place among the ordinary villagers of Clayton was not an isolated phenomenon. During the early part of the 19th Century, in various parts of England and Northern Ireland, similar movements sprang up apparently spontaneously and, at first, unconnected with each other. These gatherings of people began to be called “Brethren”. One such group prospered in the Plymouth area. The name “Plymouth Brethren” later came to be applied to all, although the term “Christian Brethren” was preferred by members.

Nor was the Brethren membership confined to the more lowly. Some early Brethren had aristocratic connections, being Anglican by upbringing, and maintaining at first loyalty to the established Church while holding in private meetings for prayer and Bible study, as followers of Wesley had done a century before. Indeed, few of the prominent early Brethren came out of non-conformity. One was a distinguished scholar and theologian, a fellow of Exeter_College__Oxford. Another, also a classical scholar, produced his own translations of the Bible into English, German and French. Yet another was called into missionary work, spending twenty-five years without a break in Central Africa, sharing his Christian faith with the native people of that land, who were almost his only companions. For his research and writings he was awarded a fellowship of The_Royal_Geographical_Society. In later years barristers, surgeons, senior civil servants and business leaders were pleased to be known as “Brethren”. For a number of years after the Second World War the Rylands Professor Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at University_of_Manchester was a member of the Manchester assembly.

The tenets and practices (key principles) of the Brethren - sometimes individual in nature but certainly putting them within the mainstream of Western Christendom - may be summarised, one hopes fairly and without presumption, as follows:

  • The Bible, not tradition, as the supreme authority and source of teaching.
  • Adherence to the Gospel, according to New Testament records.
  • Serious pursuit of Bible study by members.
  • The complete independence of the local assembly; no central organisation.
  • Ministry entirely lay, the need for ordination not being recognised.
  • The baptism by immersion of adult believers.
  • The centrality of communion, or “breaking of bread”, celebrated each Sunday morning.
  • The preaching of the Gospel through Sunday evening services, evangelistic campaigns and Sunday school work.
  • No missionary society exists but there are ways in which individuals or assemblies can fund workers in the mission field. (A Scottish publishing house associated with the Brethren produced a magazine with news of missionaries welfare and progress.)
  • The finances of each assembly depended entirely on contributions from the faithful, given privately.'

Scripture, not tradition.

As they stand, the church family at Clayton Gospel Hall still adheres to these tenets but throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries styles of worship changed, taking the hall away from what is traditionally recognised as Brethren. The introduction of new musical instruments at most meetings, the acceptance of women contributing to services through prayer and the adoption of leadership by a pastor, in addition to any recognised elders or assistants, all contributed towards bringing practises in line with biblical instruction as opposed to Brethren tradition.

The church family continues to support three missionary organisations with regular prayer and financial assistance: Didi & Mimi Kanjahn, working for Wycliffe_Bible_Translators in Cambodia, Teen_Challenge drug / alcohol rehabilitation in the UK and Bradford_Scripture_Display, who place bible texts upon billboard posters within the city. The only collection box to be seen in the 1930s was in Sunday School on behalf of a pre-NHS Bradford Hospital Fund (now Sovereign Health Care).

Church activity remains free of charge and predominantly self-funded.
As the name of the building suggests, the centrality of the gospel message is of paramount importance for us. As new members join us, we desire to continue to share the love of Jesus within the community of Clayton.