History

A brief history of Greenacres Congregational Church

Greenacres Congregational Church is in East Oldham, less than a mile from the town centre. The Church has a very long and proud history, a history which spans virtually the whole period of non-conformity in this country.

The beginnings can be traced to the Act of Uniformity in 1662, which set out the beliefs and practices to which all Ministers of the Church had to subscribe. There were many whose consciences would not allow them to do so, and they were summarily ejected from their livings. One of those ejected in 1662 was the Reverend Robert Constantine, the Minister of Oldham Parish Church. In 1672 he began preaching to the people of Greenacres in a thatched cottage. After a short time they moved to a larger building nearby, and in 1699 yet again. In the 1780’s, as the cause flourished, it became evident that those premises were inadequate and a decision was made to erect a larger and better Chapel suited to the requirements of the Congregation and the surrounding community. This was opened in 1785. The Church continued to grow and in 1822 major alterations were carried out to provide larger and better facilities. A Sunday School had been operating in conjunction with the Church since 1812 but had outgrown its premises. Plans were made for the building of a new Sunday School, which was completed and opened in 1851. In August 1853 the Church Meeting decided that a new Chapel ought to be built containing 800 seats and at a cost of £2000. The new building was opened in August 1854, and is the one still in use today. In the 1970’s it became clear that the struggle to maintain two old buildings (the Church and Sunday School) was adversely affecting the health of the Church, and after much heart searching it was decided to sell the School and convert the Church into a dual-purpose building. Ironically, after disposing of the Sunday School it was found that more room was needed for Church activities, and in 1982 a multi-purpose hall was added to the Church. In 1991, a major reconstruction and renovation of the Church premises began after a severe infestation of dry rot was found. The Church was completely renewed, a new first floor was added, a lounge and Minister’s office replaced the old vestries and a new entrance tower constructed.