Cornerstone Church Brighouse
Brighouse is a small West Yorkshire market town (population 30,000) with a strong sense of history and community pride. It is part of the beautiful District of Calderdale and has parks, open spaces and is near to attractive countryside. Located just off the M62, there is easy access to the city of Leeds and both the East and West coasts. It is also well placed for visits to York, Ilkley Moor, and the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. Transport links are good, with bus, coach and rail services all within a mile of the town centre. Regular train services run to London and most neighbouring towns and cities.
The town centre has a good range of independent shops, a small market and the larger supermarkets are all accessible. The River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal both flow through Brighouse centre and a small marina has narrow boats regularly moored there. Although Brighouse is generally regarded as an economically strong town (and many of the small businesses seem to have weathered the economic downturn since 2007) there are pockets of deprivation in the town which can be identified.
There are slightly more older people and young families with children in Brighouse, than other parts of Calderdale.
The area round the church’s Café 139 is one of the more densely populated parts of the Town and is an excellent location from which to reach into the community.
There is a small Chinese community in the town and a few families from different ethnic groups but probably due to the pattern of surrounding industries there are not the larger communities of African Caribbean people or those from an Asian background of neighbouring towns.
Families who live in Brighouse (and the surrounding areas) send their children to a wide number of schools including maintained, academies and a couple of smaller independent schools which offer both primary and secondary education. The vast majority of these are currently deemed as at least ‘good’ (by Ofsted), and in some cases there is pressure on places, especially for primary aged children. Like most local authorities, Calderdale Council operates an admissions policy that ranks proximity to the school just behind the priority for children with special educational needs and/or disability, and children with a sibling already in a school. There are number of options for post-16 education, including easy access to both school-based sixth form colleges and a couple of straight sixth form colleges with good reputations. The towns of Halifax and Huddersfield also offer post-16 colleges that provide both academic and vocational courses. Beyond that, the neighbouring town of Huddersfield boasts a highly regarded university.
Historically a ‘Methodist’ town (John Wesley preached here), there were many large Methodist churches built here. They have now amalgamated and the one large remaining church in the town centre, ‘Central Methodist’, is the result of that. The other claim to the Christian religious heritage is heralded on a plaque outside a former printing works, ‘William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, preached here’.
The Church of England, with its Parish Church and a number of satellites, the Roman Catholic Church, Baptist Church, Community Church, Christian Brethren, Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses all have a presence in the town.
Originally known as Brighouse Evangelical Church, the church was established in 1977 and met in a former Co-operative Society premises, whose purchase was arranged by the group of three families who felt called to start an independent gospel work in the town. The Church affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and FIEC Ltd acted as Trustee.
A Pastor was called in 1979, on a part time basis, and eventually became the full time Pastor. Steven Bowers was appointed and has continued to serve the church as Pastor until this point when he leaves with the blessing of the Fellowship to take up a senior post with the European Missionary Fellowship. The last decade has seen many changes and clear direction from God in a number of ways. Needing more space, the church moved out of the building it owned into the newly refurbished Civic Hall in the town centre, for Sunday morning services and special events. The church’s name was changed to ‘Cornerstone Church, Brighouse’, and after the move to the Civic Hall a decision was taken to use the ground floor of the owned building to set up a church café. Café 139 is a 30 seat café open Tuesday to Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday 10:30am-2:30pm. This is managed by a paid manager and a team of 24 enthusiastic and committed volunteers.
Cornerstone Church Brighouse has a growing membership, currently standing at 57 and regular Sunday morning attendance of 80-120 people. A varied Sunday evening programme has approximately 25 people meeting at Café 139 for media ministry, prayer and communion, as well as the ‘This Time Tomorrow’ – an opportunity for someone to share what their Monday looks like and encourage prayer for the ‘frontline’ activities of the church’s people. To aid contacts outside the church and develop fellowship within it, there is a ‘flexi-Wednesday’ (no meeting) and ‘hospitality Sunday’ evening every month. Mid-week there are six small groups who meet twice monthly in homes and Café 139. Approximately 70% of the church attenders are involved in these groups, which offer Bible Study, prayer and pastoral support from small group leaders.
A highly committed fellowship is actively involved in the well-established church ‘teams’ structure. Many practical tasks including catering, setting-up, communications, Communion and welcome, ensure essential functions are completed every week. The music team leads the church in sung praise and worship, using a range of instruments and encouraging the use of both modern and older hymns to help the church engage with the teaching, and to encourage responses to its application. The Publicity Team produces an extensive range of quality publicity used to advertise church events and keep the fellowship up-to-date, and maintains and updates the website. The Junior Church Team co-ordinates the children and young people’s teaching on Sunday mornings and provides a crèche facility. The Youth Team runs clubs for children and young people on a Thursday evening in a space above the Café. Some of these young people now regularly attend the main services. A weekly ‘Tots and Toys’ runs (in the same space) on a Wednesday morning providing a well-attended and much appreciated get-together for young children and their parents/carers. The Café Team – besides producing freshly filled paninis and home-made cakes, and working through a lot of washing up and cleaning (!) – use the opportunities of contacts in the community to offer good Christian literature and serious discussion on spiritual matters. Many mums from Tots and Toys enjoy using the Café facilities.
The Café is also used by the CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Team who run money courses aimed at the general public and also support CAP debt clients from Brighouse who attend the nearest Debt Centre.
Cornerstone Memory Café meets in the Civic Hall twice monthly to offer friendship support and compassion over tea and cake, to people suffering with memory problems and their hard-working carers.
The vital Building and Finance Teams do what they ‘say on the tin’!
All the team leaders are church members but the membership can include any born-again Christians who attend the church and agree to the church’s Statement of Faith.
The main Sunday morning teaching programme focuses on God’s Word applied for us today, through preaching, reading, singing and audio-visual aids. The aim is to be contemporary and relevant, whilst maintaining the timeless truths of the Faith. In the last year we have followed series on a range of Bible books and topics. We explored foundational truths through the early chapters of Genesis, which was followed by a series through the book of James, entitled ‘Faith in Action’. We then moved into some of the key themes in the book of Proverbs to pursue the issue of Godly wisdom further. After a short summer series in selected Psalms we explored the riches of teaching about Jesus and the resurrected life of the Christian in the letter to the Colossians. We concluded the year with studies in the Life of Elijah and some focused Christmas themes in December. In 2016, we have begun with ‘Studies in the Gospels’ and will move on once again to have a balanced diet of Old and New Testament.
Our preaching aims are clear: our goal in Bible ministry is to teach God’s word with integrity, clarity and in dependence upon the Holy Spirit seek to apply it to our lives. Our view of Scripture is clear in the Statement of Faith and we aim to reflect that in the church’s regular ministry, worship, teaching and evangelism.
A series of evangelistic events under the heading ‘Real Lives’ have been run at intervals. The format of testimony and talk is used to show the impact of the Gospel on real people and explain what it means to live for Christ.
Christianity Explored is run at intervals through the year both with individuals and small groups of interested people.
The mid-week ministry, as well as taking place in small groups, has a Pastor led ‘Bible School’ session when more in-depth study/discussion takes place. Paul’s letter to the Romans is the current topic.
A range of training and introductory courses are also run at intervals. These include ‘newcomers’ events to explain what the church believes and teaches, a baptismal course, and for people who express an interest in joining the church membership, a membership introduction course.
The church is committed to the Biblical model of elders and deacons, and currently has two serving elders and one deacon. A volunteer church administrative assistant provides some support for administrative and organizational functions.
The small group leaders and team leaders provide vital additional pastoral support and work in coordinating the work of the church.