Links to other SPACE Churches

Longcauseway Church
Norristhorpe URC
Ravensthorpe with Hopton URC

We’re part of the Yorkshire Synod of the URC

URC Heckmondwike
High Street,
WF16 0DY

A member of the Spen and Calder Enterprise

Worship: Sunday 10.30am  4th Sunday Communion

For weddings, baptisms and funerals contact the secretary

Minister: Vacants

Church Secretary: [email protected]

mob: 07756 869893

Church Treasurer: [email protected]

Organisations and Groups

Blue Gems
Blue Gems are a local team of majorettes. To find out more about them click here!

Church Meeting
The Church Meeting meets quarterly and has the opportunity through discussion, responsible decision and care for one another to strengthen each other’s faith and to foster the life, work and mission of the church. The exact duties of the church meeting are set out in section B of the Manual of the United Reformed Church.
The Church Meeting is open to all members and friends of the church but only those whose names are on the membership role of the church are eligible to vote.
For more details contact the Church Secretary.

Elders are elected by the church members and serve for three years after which their term of service ends unless the church members re-elect them. In the United Reformed Church, Elders  have a recognised ministry to which they are ordinaed, which is different from but complementary to the minister’s.
Elders help to support the Minister in the pastoral care for the congregation. They meet on a monthly basis to discuss internal Church issues as well as wider reaching activities. They make recommendations for discussion and approval at Church meetings (which are usually help quarterly). Each week two ‘duty’ Elders greet and support the ministers or visiting lay preachers who are leading worship. Representatives from the Elders attend various events such as Synod, Churches Together, Spen and Calder Enterprise (SPACE) meetings. Their witness and mission within the church organisation is to spread the Good News of Jesus and His teachings.

Junior Church
The classes are mixed age dependent on numbers. There are crèche facilities for parents wishing to accompany their very young children. Young people worship with adults at the beginning of each service. The person leading worship usually speaks to the children as part of the worship. At a point in the service they then go out with Junior Church leaders into a classroom where they have a time of prayer, singing, fellowship and learning. A structured programme is usually followed, and in material is used from publications such as Roots, Scripture Union and other publications as appropriate. Teaching is always up to date and relevant and is both Old and New Testament driven, although the majority is the teachings and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. All Junior Church staff have had full DBS disclosure checks.

Spen and Calder Enterprise
The Spen and Calder Enterprise (SPACE) is the name chosen by the four United Reformed Churches working in the Spen and Calder valleys of West Yorkshire. The churches are Longcauseway (Dewsbury), Norristhorpe, Heckmondwike and Ravensthorpe with Hopton. All these churches are served by Rev Janine Atkinson). Representatives from the churches  meet together regularly to discuss issues of common interest and to co-ordinate the use of resources etc.


Worship starts at 10.30am and follows the traditional non-conformist pattern known as a ‘hymn sandwich’. The first part of the service is all age in nature and serves to set the scene for the work done in Junior Church and in the rest of the service. Except during the summer and in special services the young people leave for their class part way through the service. The church uses Rejoice and Sing and Mission Praise as its main hymn books but draws on other resources as required. The minister leads worship according to the SPACE preaching plan, and at other times worship is led by visiting ministers or lay leaders. The sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of the Month. Baptisms, funerals or weddings are by arrangement with either the Minister or a member of the Eldership team.


In the beginning 1674 – 1701       

After the 17th century English Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians many supporters of the parliamentary cause became Nonconformists, refusing to accept the Anglican Prayer Book and some of them adopted the Calvinist doctrine and worshipped as Congregationalists or Independents.

In 1662, in an attempt to restore the authority of the Anglican Church, an Act of Uniformity forced all clergy to accept the Book of Common Prayer.  As a result over 2,000 clergy were rejected from their livings, mostly Independents.

In 1672, King Charles II proposed an Act of Indulgence which would allow freedom of worship for Roman Catholics but would include other “nonconformists”.  Although the Act was blocked by Parliament, it encouraged those with Calvinist beliefs in Heckmondwike to consider forming a congregation.

So on 29th July 1674, 13 people solemnly covenanted together in the presence of representatives of the churches of Topcliffe, Morley and Horton, Bradford, to form a church.

The Independents were not isolationists; it was to be formed by an agreement between individuals but with the collective approval of the members of the congregation making its decisions.

Rev Josiah Holdsworth, a Cambridge graduate and an ejected minister who had settled in Heckmondwike was admitted to membership on 24th August and ordained minister on 5th November 1674.

The church worshipped in Naylor’s farmhouse at the Swash, Heckmondwike, (which was pulled down when the railway was built under High Street) off the road and hidden by cottages, a secluded place suitable for services in the days of persecution.

The Upper Independent Chapel Heckmondwike was founded in the year 1674. The following is a list of the ministers who have occupied the position of Pastor.

  1. Reverend Josiah Holdsworth was the first pastor of the first church formed in Heckmondwike, July 29th He died July 29th 1685, in his 11th year of ministry
  2. Reverend David Noble, was ordained pastor May 12th He died November 26th 1709 in the 22nd year of his ministry
  • Reverend John Kirkby was elected pastor July 5th He died February 16th 1754 in the 44th year of his ministry
  1. Reverend James Scott was recognised as pastor June 30th He died January 11th 1783, in the 30th year of his ministry
  2. Reverend WM Booker succeeded after an interval of 2 years but only retained the office a few months. There has always been something of a mystery surrounding the departure of Rev. Booker. The 1924 history tells us that he left the pulpit on April 12th 1786 just before the sermon. He didn’t leave the ministry though because he, and some of the congregation, went on to found the Lower Chapel in Heckmondwike which became Westgate
  3. Reverend Obadiah Bennett, became pastor in October 1786, and remained upwards of 5 years leaving in April 1792
  • Reverend Thomas Hale, commenced his labours as pastor, August 1794, he died May 17th 1821 in the 27th year of his ministry
  • Reverend Henry Bean undertook the pastoral charge in March 1825. He died very suddenly March 7th 1862 in the 40th year of his ministry.
  1. Reverend Charles Allan Mines accepted the call of the church April 24th 1864 and after a successful ministry of 14 years resigned on account of the health of his family
  2. Reverend Frederick Hall commenced his ministry on June 3rd During his faithful pastorate a new Chapel was built. He resigned on November 26th 1893
  3. Reverend William Riley was inducted on May 29th 1895 and resigned on May 28th 1904
  • Reverend Matthew Stanley became 12th minister on May 7th 1905 and retired from the ministry on April 28th 1929
  • Reverend James Stewart succeeded to the charge on March 29th 1931 until July 31st 1946 when he resigned to become tutor in Old Testament studies at United College Bradford. He served as chaplain to the Royal Air Force from August 1942 to September 1945
  • Reverend William Owen Cole began his ministry October 1st He resigned the pastorate on September 4th 1960 on accepting a call to Goole
  1. Reverend Arthur Henry Tebbet commenced his ministry on April 21st 1963 and died in office March 4th 1976
  • Reverend David James Hudston commenced his ministry on May 20th He accepted a call from the South Sheffield group of Churches moving there on September 30th 2000

It is interesting to note that Heckmondwike didn’t join the United Reformed Church until 1978 some six years after the denomination came into being.

A fuller history of the church and its ministers can be found on the PDF available please contact

[email protected]   

 During the vacancy period created by Rev Hudston’s departure, discussions were held with the other United Reformed Churches in the area to review future patterns of ministry in the locality. URC churches in the Wakefield and Dewsbury District had already been divided into Eastern and Western Clusters, and it was now considered prudent to bring together the churches from within the Western Cluster to form a team pastorate.

The seven churches were Longcauseway and Highfield (both in Dewsbury), Grove  Gomersal, Norristhorpe, Hopton, Ravensthorpe and ourselves in Heckmondwike. It was decided that the team pastorate would operate under the name “Spen and Calder Enterprise”, based on its geographic location, and this name was soon abbreviated to SPACE.

It was agreed that this new pastorate would function with three ministers, and once the churches had all revised their individual church profiles a comprehensive document was compiled, and with agreement from the URC’s District Council a vacancy was declared for one new minister to join the existing two ministers in post within the churches, thus completing the team. Rev John Mackerness  joined in 2003 and left in 2010  to work as chaplain at Heathrow airport. The Rev Alison Termie came to SPACE in 2005 and left to go to 2014.  Rev Mark Robinson came in 2011 and left in September 2018 to take up a new pastorate in Southampton. Rev Janine Atkinson came in 2016 and currently serves four churches (as Hopton church and Highfield both closed and joined with Ravensthorpe and Longcauseway respectively)

The church family continues to meet weekly for worship, occasional bible study, participation in SPACE activities and local ecumenical projects. Membership numbers may have reduced since the glory days when the old Upper Independent Church building was regularly filled for worship, but the current community stays faithful to God, and loyal to each other.

The Junior church continues to teach children and young people each week, and Pilots still serve 6-14 year olds with their weekly meeting of fun and education within a Christian setting.

Organisations who make regular use of our building are the Karate Club and the Blue Gems Majorettes.

So where do we go from here? That was the question that faced Rev Tebbet at the end of three hundred years and it is the same question that faces us now. There is no doubt that the intervening years have been ones of decline in membership and in the numbers attending Sunday worship. Money will always be an issue as is trying to keep up with the changes in legislation regarding health and safety, fire regulations, safeguarding, data protection and listed building status. The links with ministerial education started by Rev Scott in the 18th century are still maintained.

Despite all the changes in and around Heckmondwike God has still more work for the church to do and God will provide the people and resources to enable us to continue the work begun by those faithful few who met in the name of the Lord three hundred and forty four years ago.

To see what is going on at Heckmondwike URC, click here

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