ELSWICK MEMORIAL UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
From the writings of John Clarke
1699 - The adapted 'Chapel-in-the-field' is still a place of worship, though hope and faith is high that soon a new one will be built. Worship is regular and more attend, and a permanent pastor lives locally.
- A new worship building - 'Elswick Congregational Chapel' - is built
with it's own small burial plot alongside the village road. A time of
1800 - For the next 41 years the fellowship at Elswick will be ably led by Rev. David Edwards, who will guide Elswick into becoming a founding member of the Lancashire Congregational Union. This period ends with the ministry of another of Elswick's "greats"- that of Rev. Joshua Armitage.
1844 - For the next 36 years Mr. Armitage ministers, seeing the country roadways improve, the horse and trap become more commonplace and church membership increase to a point where a larger, better appointed worship building is felt desirable. Much planning, much labour and much generosity bear fruit in 1874 when -
ELSWICK MEMORIAL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
- comes into being as the essential structure of today's building, with surrounding ground and additional grave space. Sunday School is strengthened as is the weeknight fellowship.
1900 - Times of great change in the land and in the church where a pipe organ and electricity are installed. A three department Sunday School and full range of youth interests are catered for, with some great youth leaders. Church members now play a full role in local denominational life, as well as their own village communities.
Each Whit Thursday an 'Anniversary & Reunion' day are held in a marquee behind the church. Generally there are afternoon and evening services, conducted by a notable preacher. Landscaping around the church and another graveyard extension are features of this time.
1949 - "Be Your Best & Carry On" - These words come from two worthy men of the past era who could never have imagined the distraction that believers in the 'Word' would daily face in the coming 50 years.
Like all other churches, Elswick has tried to adapt to the situations and needs of the times without ever surrendering the Faith of it's founding fathers. In 1972 it joined in the union of the English Presbyterians and Congregational Churches, and so became the
ELSWICK MEMORIAL UNITED REFORMED CHURCH.
2011 - Possibly now there is one half of the membership and one quarter of the youngsters of former days. Yet like an oak tree it stands. Four square and deep-rooted, offering the fellowship of it's shade to all who would stay or to those who would pass on in a moment. Coming through many a storm, its acorns are not now just in its own vicinity, but sometimes in places far a-field.
John Clarke - May 1999