Salem: Oldham & Out

I was on the skirts of Oldham recently enroute to a preaching place. My eye was drawn to a sign for a Moravian Church. I found a place to park and walked back a quarter mile to inspect it. It looked somewhat forlorn with decaying signage but the building was still in a respectable state of repair. I could not decide if this was a church that had recently closed, or a church that was about to.

Some basic online research revealed that it actually closed in August. On behalf of the British Province of the Moravian Church, one Sister Roberta Hoey wrote:

The Provincial Board would like to commend Salem Moravian Church as they celebrate and give thanks for nearly 200 years of work and witness in the east side of Oldham. Although the building will now close, the congregation is not ceasing and will join and merge with Royton.

Today is a day of mixed emotions and one of many blessings. Salem Church was called into being by the Holy Spirit and has been a living stone on which God has been building his Kingdom here on Earth. For each of the lives this Church has reached, God has rejoiced and so shall we.

Br Philip Cooper’s message today reminded the congregation that as they go from this place, the Lord goes with them and He will be there to welcome them at Royton as they come together to journey onwards.

The building was constructed in a late art deco style suggesting the mid-1930s, but a congregation with a 200-year-old heritage clearly had former premises from which they had moved on. They have now merged with another Moravian Congregation at Royston, and so, in a sense, this closed church lives on still. Several churches which helped to establish our own back in 1816-17 have now closed, including Dockray Street Chapel in Colne and Horton-in-Craven Chapel (which still stands but lacks a congregation), and to which we may add Tosside Chapel, which functions in a similar condition. Though these places no longer exist for weekly worship and gospel preaching, they live on at Martin Top. Perhaps one day we shall be led to go back to those old fields which are grown dry and barren, and there re-plant.

And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Genesis 26:18