About the United Reformed Church (URC)

The United Reformed Church (URC) is a family of Christians who meet in local churches across England, Scotland and Wales.  The URC has around 37,000 members in about 1,250 congregations with more than 600 ministers.  More than 50,000 people worship in our churches each week, and many more take part in the weekday activities of the churches.  It is part of the worldwide family of Reformed Churches.

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), with 230 member denominations in 108 countries, together claiming an estimated 80 million people, is the fourth-largest Christian communion in the world after the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.

Our roots go back 500 years.  In 1517 Martin Luther launched a movement of challenge in the Church that we call the Protestant Reformation.  Changes came quickly.  Bibles were translated and printed in languages everybody used, not just in Latin.  There was a new emphasis on the importance of the whole church and everybody in it – members and ministers together.  Some have called this a ‘democratising’ movement. 

Some distinctive strands acquired labels reflecting their particular emphasis.  An indicative (over) simplification is that those who prioritised consultation of members became known as Congregationalists and those whose leaders consulted together, Presbyterians. 

In 1972 the Congregational Church of England and Wales united with the Presbyterian Church of England to become the United Reformed Church.  The denomination expanded when Churches of Christ joined it in 1981, followed by Scottish Congregationalists in 2000.

The URC is a non-conformist Church. This means that we are not an ‘established’ Church, with a formal link to civil authority like, for example, the Church of England.  However, the URC is committed to working closely with Churches of all traditions, in prayer and social action, and many of our local churches are now united with local churches from other traditions (Baptist, Church of England, or Methodist to name a few).

Being reformed means that we delight in exploring the Bible, we do not fear change, and we try to run our churches in ways that take everyone’s insight and contribution seriously.  Being reformed reflects our continual aim of reforming ourselves to be a Church for the present day.  A lack of hierarchy, and a respect for individual principles, means that the URC is not rigid in the expression of its beliefs, and embraces a wide variety of opinions. At the same time, in the words of the URC’s Statement of Nature, Faith and Order, together we are committed to ‘God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the living God, the only God, ever to be praised.’

As Christians, we believe that God is alive and listening to us through prayer, guiding and speaking to us through the Bible.  We believe that each and every one of us can find contentment through loving and following the example of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We try to develop that spiritual perspective through worship and to express it in the ways we participate in our communities.