Colne's Bethel


We know that many lovely old chapels in this land have been converted into homes or business premises, as the culture has shifted away from spiritual truth towards the pursuit of material wealth and comfort. Most of them retain a certain attractiveness, but I came across one in Colne this year which is rather unappealing. It stands empty, which is the essential reason for its lack of appeal, yet it casts a rather forbidding presence on Burnley Road where it has stood for over a century.

Written above it is the word Bethel, a typical nonconformist chapel name, which means ‘house of God’. The windows are covered over and a stout, locked door with security grill bars entry- to both curious pastors and local users of illicit substances. In Jeremiah 7:12, the Lord invites His people to inspect a place where once He dwelt, but now does not:

“But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.”

Even Biblical Bethel, the place where Jacob beheld the staircase to heaven, became a scene of horrid idolatry a few centuries later. Though these stones in Colne have barely altered since the day the chapel was built, there is foreboding, ominous look to its shell. Where once was proclaimed the beautiful mercies of Christ, is now but an ugly skeleton. It is a beth, not a bethel. Therein lies a warning.