Friday, October 19, 2007

Preaching this coming Lord's Day.

God willing, this coming Lord's Day I shall be preaching at Zion Strict Baptist Chapel, Park Hill Drive, Leicester. This picture is a little deceptive, the building (which used to be a British Telecom workshop) is really quite large.
Zion Chapel was founded in 1873, after difficulties with the status of the building had forced the congregation worshipping in Trinity Chapel to vacate it and construct their own building. Trinity Chapel had been built in 1840 by a Mr. Harrison, and was opened on 25th December of that year by Mr. J.C. Philpot, then minister at Stamford and Oakham. No Church was formed at the time, and it was not until 13th August 1843 that the people worshipping at Trinity Chapel were formed into a Strict Baptist Church. Mr. Grey Hazelrigg was called to the pastorate at Trinity in 1861, but the position of the chapel as the private property of one man led that man to think he had the right to appoint the pastor and dicate to the Church. Thus in 1872 the Church was forced to leave Trinity Chapel and build the old Zion, a huge strcture that held over 600 people. The old chapel was forced to close about a decade ago, owing to vandalism and mounting costs of repairs, and the present structure was bought. The upper part of the pulpit from the old Zion Chapel is used in the present chapel.

Grey Hazelrigg, first pastor of Zion, was born into wealth and privilege at Noseley Hall, near Leicester. Built by sir Arthur Hazelrigg, Baronet in 1729 on an estate that had been in the Hazelrigg family since the Middle Ages (there is still a 13th century chapel at Noseley from an older house), Noseley is still the home of the Hazelrigg family (their website, with pictures of Noseley Hall, is Here ). Grey Hazelrigg, as a younger brother, went into the army as an officer. He was converted while an officer, and attached himself to the Plymouth Brethren. But he got little good among the Brethren when he came into soul-trouble and joined himself to the strict Baptists, with whom he remained all his life. Grey Hazelrigg began to preach, and it caused quite a sensation. While it was not unusual for members of the gentry to become Anglican vicars, and the Hazelriggs were evangelical Anglicans, the idea of a baronet's son becoming a Nonconformist minister was quite a novelty. One of his hearers said of Mr. Hazelrigg, "He ties the sinners up in bundles and casts them into hell, and then calls them back again."
Mr. Hazelrigg had no formal training, but his ministry was anointed by God. He was a man tried by all manner of troubles, inward and outward, and that marked his ministry. At times, indeed, he wondered why he gave up the life he had enjoyed at Noseley for the reproach of the ministry (though his family did not persecute him). The 650 seats in Zion Chapel were needed. About 290 people were baptized at Zion during his ministry, and we can expect that more were converted.
Grey Hazelrigg was pastor at Zion from 1873 until his death in 1912. His favourite hymn was 'The Sands of Time are Sinking'.
His successor was Thomas Robbins, who was called to the pastorate at Zion in 1918. His ministry was greatly blessed, but he died suddenly in 1920, a couple of days after preaching his last sermon.

The pulpit at Zion, then, has been occupied by many great men of God, and it is quite a responsibility to occupy it.



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