Rev. John Wesley preached in Halifax in 1748. Some of the people from Illingworth and Bradshaw who heard him started having services and meetings in their homes. They decided to build a chapel and this was Mount Zion 1773. John Wesley, then aged 86, last preached at Mount Zion in May 1790 (he died in 1791).
A group decided to leave Mount Zion and build a new church on Illingworth Moor. They bought the land in 1799 and finished the building in 1800. This is a photo of a painting of the first church, the original in colour can be seen in the current building:
Further land was purchased in 1817 and the first Sunday School was built in 1820. The remainder of the land was set aside for burial purposes.
By 1875 a new, larger chapel was needed because there were 220 people coming to services. This was started in February 1876 and opened on Good Friday in March 1877 by Rev. Benjamin Hellier.
This was the building used until 2004. It had gas lighting, and the name Wesleyan Methodist could still be seen in the apex of the front wall. The organ was added in November 1888. The first tune played on it was called “Sarah”, so the organ was always called Sarah after that.
On Whit Sunday in 1890, 34 teachers and 160 scholars from the Illingworth Wesleyan Sunday School attended the last of the “Jubilee Sings” in the Piece Hall, Halifax. The photos below show the Sunday School inside and outside in 1895 or 1896:
By 1900 a new school was needed and this was opened in December of that year. This is the building which forms the bulk of our new -2005- Church. The new building was spacious, having a large assembly hall with a gallery over two classrooms, six other classrooms and a kitchen.
In 1933, the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist churches all became “Methodist”, but it was too difficult to cross out the name on the building.
In 1952, the gas lights were replaced by electricity. Then by 1958, the outside toilets were so unpleasant, and new drains were being put in the main road, so some indoor toilets were built. The Sunday School was altered, the stage was moved from the west end to replace the gallery at the east end and a new room (called the Upper Room) was built over the toilets and opened in 1959.
Later wooden classrooms were added at the rear, but after a fire in 1995 these were demolished. The concrete base remains. In the Chapel, room was made for the piano at one side and for the font at the other by taking out some side pews. The first pulpit was a large one, raised up and with stairs to it. This was replaced by the smaller one used until the closure of that building. About 1995 the room under the stage was remodelled and became the “Good as new shop”
In 2004 the closure of the original buildings took place and work to demolish the chapel and remodel the Sunday School into an all purpose building began.
The current church building was dedicated by Reverend Will R Morrey B.A. on Sunday 27th February 2005. The First Anniversary was celebrated on Sunday February 26th 2006.