Centenary stone laying service – Saturday 18th May 2013

An excellent celebration of 100 years worship of God in the current building with a nearly full church. Members of the church were joined by friends from a number of other churches, both local and from across Yorkshire. The service was organised and Chaired by Mrs Jean Bradley suitably attired in period dress, she unveiled a wonderful piece of artwork by Jane from Gainsboro, representing the original stone laying ceremony and based on newspaper articles. Although the foundation stone cannot be identified, the theme of the day was ‘a firm foundation’.

In front of the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Vickie Priestley and her Consort, the church was honoured to hear from Rev. Malcolm Muir, the Immediate Past President of the Congregational Federation (or his preferred title of retiring President only last Saturday) and Betty Bentham, the Chairperson of the NE Area of the Congregational Federation. Candles specially prepared for the centenary year were presented to the mayor and guest speakers.

The Lord Mayor informed the congregation that she had only been installed last Wednesday and spoke warmly on the many functions she will be expected to attend during her term of office and why she had chosen to attend the church.

Rev Muir gave a potted history of Congregationalism and referred to the bravery of those dissenters who gave their lives many years ago. He spoke on the 1972 split of Congregational churches and the formation of the United Reformed Church (URC) but referred to the ethos of those Congregational churches who did not join the URC, run by the members led by the Holy Spirit through the Church Meeting. Those independent churches coming together in the Congregational Federation which consists of 300+ independent churches such as Tapton.
Rev Muir took a small wooden flame from the communion table in the church and explained that the previous weekend he had attended the Congregational Federation May Assembly in Tunbridge Wells. The flame is one of eight forming a larger Flame sculpture representing the fire of the Holy Spirit, created for the 2011 May Assembly and circulated around Federation churches. He explained that Tapton had been granted special permission to retain the flame and it was the only flame missing from the overall sculpture at this year’s annual Assembly but the need for Tapton to retain the flame for their centenary service was recognised.

Betty Bentham gave an interesting view of her early years attending Sheffield Wednesday football matches with her boyfriend. She went on to relate a story of an Australian football team which following years of struggling with small crowds and no financial certainty started to win all their games. The crowds started to turn up and tickets were like gold dust. One day the cameras were at one of their biggest games of the season and as they panned around the crowd at yet another sell out match, they picked on one youth carrying a banner. ‘I was here alone when we were struggling, where were you?’ Betty said it can be easy when things are going well but remember Our Lord is always available to support in all circumstances.

Organist John Silverton played a wonderful piece of music on the pipe organ which although not installed in 1913 is integral to the services at the church.

Mrs Pat Seedhouse gave an emotional account of how her family had been involved in the life of the church and how she had come into possession of three silver trowels given to her relatives at the original stone laying ceremony.

Mr Darryl Lomas explained his roots are in the church, with many family connections. His grandparents had attended the church, his parents were married at the church, he had been Christened at the church before getting married there, his son was Christened at the church and latterly also married there. He stated the congregation was like a large family, not always in agreement, but united together in Christ.

The service concluded with a splendid church tea!

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