THE site of world-famous supernatural happenings is set to be restored to its former glory – and turned into a centre of healing, a museum and coffee shop.
Bowland Street Mission, nestling between a taxi firm and a takeaway food shop, in Manningham, in Northern England, is where the extraordinary “people’s preacher” Smith Wigglesworth had his base.
Now news that the building is to be restored and used to continue his ministry has believers around the world buzzing with excitement – and booking flights for Bradford.
Brian Holland, of Idle, with his wife Kathryn, and international preacher and broadcaster Terry Quinn are founding members of the Smith Wigglesworth Foundation which has agreed a long-term lease on the building.
Brian said: “I have been studying Wigglesworth for nearly two decades and while only a select number of Bradfordians know about this guy, he is big news around the world.
“Wigglesworth was a catalyst for the charismatic revival of the church and one of the fathers of the Pentecostal church.
“So, we have literally had inquiries from everywhere wondering if the rumours are true and wanting to know when they can come.”
The plan is to restore the building back to its original 1889-1919 design, the heyday of Smith and his wife Polly’s ministry in Bradford.
On January 26 there will be a dedication service which heralds the official start of the project.
Three separate television crews have already booked with the foundation to film the opening up of the floor.
Underneath is the baptistry, where local people were dunked under the water to signify a fresh beginning as they chose to follow Christ.
All the building work will be funded by public donations from around the world – especially the USA where Wigglesworth’s fiery meetings are the stuff of legend.
The group plans to open at the end of April 2011 with the original purposes: to show God knows and loves people through a healing touch alongside preaching from the Bible.
They will hold ministry weekends, conduct heritage tours and hold one-day lectures.
Terry said: “We aim to hold Saturday night meetings enabling people to attend their own churches as well as visit the mission.
“We are not a church and don’t intend to become one.
“Wigglesworth belonged to the wider church, taking Holy Communion in the Church of England, serving alongside the Salvation Army and of course ministering with the revivalists.
“Smith was a poor lad from Menston who moved to Bradford with his family to work in a mill and later established himself as a plumber.
“He really was a straight-talking lad, very much one of the people and, like him, we will welcome everyone in who wants to see what goes on.
“We are preparing to see visitors from across the globe.”
Brian, who met Terry when he moved to the Bradford district from Scotland, said: “The enormity of this is awesome, especially for Bradford. This is a vision I have carried for many years.”