What is the United Reformed Church (URC)?

    Our denomination, the United Reformed Church, has a fascinating history for we are a coming together of four different denominations.  In 1972 the Congregational Church of England and Wales joined with the Presbyterian Church of England; in 1987 we were joined by the Churches of Christ and in 2000 by the Congregational Church of Scotland.  You can see that being ecumenical (working with the whole household of God’s people, the church) is part of our very nature.  We are still passionate about working with other churches and, around the country, there are many local URCs working in union with the Methodists, the Church of England, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Salvation Army and others.

    You might not even have heard of the URC until recently; we are a relatively small denomination in this country.  However, we are part of a worldwide group of churches of the Reformed tradition which is the second largest group of churches in the world!


    We worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, believing that Jesus Christ has redeemed and called us all to be his body on earth as the one universal church.  We believe in the resurrection of Jesus through which God offers us the promise of eternal life and grounds our hope in a future in communion with him.  We know we are all human beings who get things wrong, but we trust in God who forgives us and, through the Holy Spirit, continues to strengthen us to serve him on earth.

    We celebrate two sacraments, believing them to have been given to us by Jesus – Baptism that welcomes all into the family of the church (whether of infants or of believers of any age), and Holy Communion (the sharing of bread and wine which we understand as a gift from God to draw us closer to Jesus Christ).

    The Bible is very important to us, for we believe that God continues to speak to us through Scripture, which is the highest authority for all we believe and do.  At the time of the Reformation the phrase sola scriptura (scripture alone) became important in the whole protestant (non-Roman Catholic or Orthodox) tradition.

    That might sound as if we just look back to the past, but nothing could be farther from the truth!  We have another great phrase reformata semper reformanda – which means ‘reformed, always reforming’.  In other words, we are a denomination committed to engaging with people and our context in the modern world wherever we find ourselves, and letting the world’s changing needs speak to us as God continues to unfold his mission for the church and his world unfolds before us. 


    We are a diverse and inclusive church passionate about justice issues around the world.  For example, the URC was at the forefront of the Jubliee 2000 Drop the Debt Campaign and, more recently, is leading the way as the churches seek to engage with the reality of climate change and how we respond to it. 


    Reception at Church House, Tavistock Place London