'From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us!'
The 17th century poet John Taylor wrote those words about Halifax in his poem 'the beggar's litany'. It was a phrase that was well known by Yorkshire folk in the 17th century - such was the reputation of the town at the time. Beggars were afraid of Hull because they were likely to be press ganged into the navy, of Hell for obvious reasons, and of Halifax because of the Halifax gibbet - a decapitating machine where anyone caught stealing goods over a certain value was beheaded! There may not be beggars of the 17th Century variety in Halifax today, but there is still need for the prayer 'From Halifax, Good Lord deliver them!'
Like much of the UK there is a real need for more gospel work. Yorkshire was once known for its preachers and missionaries, from Hudson Taylor to Wycliffe and Wilberforce - Yorkshire has produced men and women filled with passion for the Lord and His church. Sadly that is not the case any more. Yorkshire has the lowest church attendance of any place in the UK - Halifax does not buck this trend. Today Halifax has a large muslim population, and an even greater percentage of residents who profess to having no religion at all. There is gospel work still present in the town, but nowhere near enough for the number of people who need to be reached.
Halifax has been identified by the FIEC as a priority for church planting. A few years ago the FIEC conducted a survey of every town and city in the UK to identify the top 50 places in need of more gospel work and Halifax was identified as one of those places - not much has changed since then.
The driving force behind our vision is that God has called us to make disciples. There are men and women, boys and girls in Halifax, who have never heard the gospel - who have never heard about Jesus. How will they hear if we do not go and tell them? There are faithful Christians in Halifax who desire to see their neighbours saved. One local pastor told me that he and his congregation have been praying for a new church to be planted in the town for the past seven years - we believe God is calling us to be a part of the answer to that prayer.
We are so convinced that the only hope for Halifax is the church - not our church - but Christ's church. We believe that the church is the front line of mission and as Christ’s body is the agency through which God is at work in the world, and that Halifax needs more Gospel-heralding churches.