United Reformed Church
By Alex Barnfather
Origins - History
In October 1997 the United Reformed Church celebrated its 25th anniversary. Formed in 1972 by the union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England, the United Reformed Church has continued to express its deep commitment to the visible unity of the whole Church. In 1981 it entered into union with the Re-formed Churches of Christ and in the year 2000 with the Congregational Union of Scotland. The United Reformed Church is in frequent dialogue on unity with other traditions and has more than 400 local churches united with other denominations.
The churches with Presbyterian traditions in the United Kingdom have the Westminster Confession of Faith as one of their important confessional documents.
In addition to these, there are also other churches with smaller flocks, notably in Northern Ireland.
Organization - Structure of the Church
The United Reformed Church comprises 150,000 adults and 100,000 children and young people in 1750 congregations spread throughout England, Scotland and Wales, served by some 1100 ministers, both women and men.
Though one of the smaller of Britainís Ďmainstreamí denominations, the United Reformed Church stands in the historic Reformed tradition, whose member denominations make up the largest single strand of Protestantism with more than 70 million members world-wide. Along with other Reformed churches the United Reformed Church holds to the Trinitarian faith expressed in the historic Christian creeds and finds its supreme authority for faith and conduct in the Word of God in the Bible, discerned under guidance of the Holy Spirit. The United Reformed Churchís structure also expresses its faith in the ministry of all Godís people through the structure of democratic Councils by which the Church is governed.
There are about 700 representatives, mainly appointed by District Councils. Half the members are lay persons, mostly elders, and half are ministers. Decisions are taken about the general policy of the church, and committees appointed to carry it out. Each year a Moderator of Assembly is elected, either lay or ordained, who then becomes the national representative of the URC.
The URC is a Union of the
The URC is composed of about 1800 local congregations;
Central Beliefs - Worship
The URC stands in the Reformed tradition of Christian faith, believes in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; finds the supreme authority for faith and conduct by the guidance of the Spirit in the Word of God in the Bible; looks to be continually renewed and reformed so as to fulfill its mission of witness and service in the name of Jesus Christ;practises both infant and believer's baptism and celebrates the Lord's Supper;recognises the ministry of God's people: all the members serving in the world and through the church, in particular: ministers of Word and Sacrament, elders, lay preachers, church related community workers (CRCWs), and workers from partner churches.