History of the Old Baptist Chapel
The Pastorate of Andrew Pope 1738-1747
In 1738 the Bradford church called Andrew Pope, a member of the church at Broadmead Bristol to come as assistant to Thomas Chapman. In fact Chapman died a few months later in August 1738. One year after this Pope was ordained sole pastor.
That year would seem to have been one of considerable encouragement. Not only was there a new pastor but the church reported that it had 70 members, an increase of 20 since the previous year.
In 1739 the Association met at Bradford and the church was represented by Andrew Pope, Anthony Pyard, Richard Taylor and John Fernwell. The Association expressed a concern for the children of the various congregations, 'as we would wish that our Children should walk in the truth so we recommend it as a very necessary duty highly Obligatory on Parents to learn them the Scriptures and our Catechism published by Mr. Benj: Keach'.
The reports for the next few years indicate about 65 members but in 1744 after a number of deaths the figure had fallen to 57. In 1747 Andrew Pope received a call from the church at Melksham and was dismissed to them in May.
Before the arrival of the next pastor the church again had to grapple with the issue of singing. It would appear that the resolutions of 1730 had not solved the problem as in 1749 the Church Book recorded,
'Whereas there has been singing set up in our meeting latterly, and not agreeable to some of the members, and difference has ensued; we being willing all of us to be reconciled, so earnestly desire, wherein either of us have offended the Lord, the manifestation of his pardoning mercy, and wherein we have offended each other to forgive and be forgiven. And we do hereby declare, we do, from our hearts, forgive each other, passing by all that has been said or done amiss; and we do hereby declare that we do unite in hearty friendship to each other; proposing to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless, as the Lord shall assist us. And this union or reconciliation is on the following conditions:
The extract suggests that the division about singing in worship had seriously affected relationships in the church.
- That singing be dropped on one Lord's Day in a month, Sacrament or not, for Church affairs to be transacted, without any going out or coming in again.
- That those who do not approve of the singing shall have liberty to go out, and no reflections cast by any member, or encouraged in them by any non-member.
- To sing but two parts, bass and tenor.
- That there shall be no singing at any private meeting, if there be any person there that disapproves of it.
- None of the members shall encourage any to sing at the table of the Lord that are not members.'