Making a Start.

The story of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Edgeside, is the story of ordinary hard-working men and women, who took God at His word. In face of adversity and opposition they persevered, with a sublime faith in the promises of God, and with a simple trust in His protecting care. This record is simply a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles, the record of these " who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions . . . out of weakness were made strong." (Heb. 11 : 33, 34).

The history of the Church at Edgeside as an independent cause begins in 1853. That is the date we are marking in the Centenary Celebrations. But for five years before 1853, a little band of stalwarts was trying to get a footing in the district. Their first attempt broke down ; their second was made possible only by their being sponsored by another Church and its minister. At last, however, they stood on their own feet by undertaking the rent of a room by themselves and calling their first pastor. From that point, the cause has never wavered.

In 1848, William Proctor, of Burnley, and Isaac Stocks, of Shore, both came to live in Waterfoot. They were both General Baptists—that is, they were Baptists who believed that Christ came to die for all men, and that General Redemption was His will. The term, " General Baptist" can be seen on the Chapel front now. The old distinction between the " Generals" and the " Particulars" has gone, mainly because the old " Particulars" have modified their views, and to-day nearly all Baptists believe that Christ died for all men, that Salvation and Eternal Life is offered to all, and not just a. chosen few. But in 1848, Isaac and William would not have felt able to join up with any sect of " particulars," and so they set about founding a cause of their own. At that time the nearest General Baptist Church was at Bacup.

Miller Barn Lane was the first meeting-place. A bedroom in a cottage there was rented ; books, forms, and a preacher's desk were borrowed or begged, and the two men, with six others-—four men and two women—started regular worship. Mr. Stocks received some help from his old minister at Shore, who came over in January 1849, to baptise three adult believers, James and Betty Greenwood, and Alice Heyworth. The baptism took place at Bridge End, and the ice had to be broken before the candidates could go down into the water. This minister, Rev. W. Robertshaw, was also responsible for forming the little company into an independent church, and receiving them into his own Yorkshire Association on May 21st, 1850.

The new church did not last long, however. A few months after it was recognised by the Association, Mr. Stocks moved to Bacup. He and his family must have formed a majority in the place, and seem also to have supplied most of the money ; for when the Stocks family went, there were not enough to continue independently, and very soon the room had to be given up. Worse still, Mr. Stocks claimed that the forms and books now belonged to the " Church," and that he and his family formed a majority of the church, so that when he moved, the church and its property moved with him ! The result was (to quote the old record) that " the little church, like that in the wilderness, proved to be migratory in character. It took up its tents, and pitched again in Bacup."

The few who were left behind continued to keep in touch with one another, meeting over a blacksmith's shop at Hollin Bank. By themselves, however, they could not pay the rent, but fortunately they found a new friend in Rev. James Maden, pastor of a struggling little church at Gambleside, afterwards Clowbridge. He and his church guaranteed the rent of another room and supplied the little cause with preachers for many months, and when the Gambleside church got new hymn books, the old ones and a pulpit Bible came to Edgeside. Mr. Maden himself baptised the converts and presided at the Lord's Supper for nearly two years. Here is his own account of it :-— "

We have missioned a small village called Edgeside, about four miles away (from Clowbridge), and have succeeded in raising a small Church of eight members, with a Sunday School of nearly 100." The room at Edgeside belonged to a Mr. Tattersall, who charged a rent of 26 per week. It shows the poverty of the eight members that they could not find this amount between them. After twelve months in the new quarters, they moved to a larger room in Mr. Munn's cottage. This time the rent was 3 - per week, but they were adding a few to their numbers. They prayed now for a leader of their own. They wanted to be independent again. In 1853 they once again stood alone, and called Elijah Gladwell to be their first pastor. The hundred years continuous story of Edgeside Baptist Church had begun.