The Opening Service

The opening service was held on the morning of Thursday 7th October 1897, the dedication address being given by the Rev. Joseph Wood of the Unitarian Church, Birmingham. He based his address on Ephesians chap. 5 verse 27 “a glorious church” and spoke of “freshening that living community, that spiritual building, called a Church. Whatever consecration a material building receives, it receives from the character and aims and ideals of the living souls to whom it gives shelter.” After the opening Sir Philip, entertained visiting clergy and a large number of friends to lunch in the Upper School Room. In the afternoon Lady Manfield invited a “large number” to tea and in the evening there was a large public meeting in the Church.

Two days later, on 9th October, the Northampton Daily Reporter published a letter, signed by a certain “NONCOM”, drawing attention to the fact that “ the so called leaders or pastors of the Nonconformist Churches were so conspicuous by their absence”, with one notable exception” The rest of the letter is worth quoting in full. “On the other hand you could not fail to notice, the number of persons from the various chapels who were present to show their sympathy and interest in the work that is to be carried on there. Is it not a sign that people are getting tired of the continual worry and jealousies belonging to denominationalism, sad that they are in advance of their ministers in wishing for a broader and more catholic spirit than the narrow theology of the past and yearning for a larger hope where all are one who are true to the truth they know, and who try to do the will of our Father in Heaven here upon earth? Trusting that the time may soon come, when these dissensions may be things of the past, and all may work together in the name of Him whose name is Lord, for the benefit of mankind here upon earth.”