A free, online book of photographs has captured life over the last decade at Hope Baptist Church in Hebden Bridge
Nonconformists Now documents a period that has seen the church undergo renovation, suffered flooding and open its doors when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014.
It is a photographic record of the ‘chapel’s restoration, revival and its people,’ explains author and photographer Gerard Liston, who arrived in the Pennine town 10 years ago and originally believed the chapel to be closed.
‘But we found a small group of church members determined to keep the place open and relevant to the needs of the town,' he said.
‘Founded in 1777, Hope Baptist Church continues to provide a place of worship and prayer, but the doors are open for music, spoken word and other events that also contribute to the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our community.’
‘The journey has included many ups-and-downs for the church but now leaves Hope Chapel as a community venue for performances and activities that help to develop spiritual and emotional wellbeing in inclusive and relevant ways.’
The book’s publication coincides with the launch of the town’s annual arts festival, which has the theme of ‘Nonconformism’ this year.
Hope Chapel is one of dozens of nonconformist chapels built in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. With many of the old chapels now closed or converted, Hope Chapel has received an investment of over £1m, bringing the building back into original condition and making it useful to the town’s residents and visitors.
One of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival events features world-famous photographer Martin Parr talking about his book The Non-Conformists, which recorded life in the town during the mid-1970s, including declining life in many chapels. Martin’s book inspired Nonconformists Now.
The book can be downloaded free at http://www.objective.uk.com/nonconformists_now.pdf
On 30 June the church is running an open-door event to show what nonconformism means in a Baptist church in 2018.