What is the United Reformed Church?

The United Reformed Church (URC) came into being on 5th October 1972 when, in the first union between major denominations for many years, the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church in England came together. A few years later, in 1981, they were joined by the Reformed Association of the Churches of Christ, and then, in 2000, the Congregational Church of Scotland became part of the URC.

How is it organised?
To help in its work the URC is organised into a four part structure.

1. The Local Church
The basic unit is the local church. Here the Church Meeting, which is made up of all the people who are members of the particular local church, comes together to discuss such things as worship, the work the church is doing locally and how the church cares for people. The Church Meeting elects some of its members to be Elders. They give leadership to the congregation, making sure that services take place, that members are cared for and that the church buildings are looked after.

2. Area Groups
Local Churches are grouped together in areas called Area Groups. One or more representatives from each church, together with the ministers in the area, make up the Area Group. The Area Group acts for its member churches and has a pastoral role regarding them, seeking to visit each church at regular intervals to review the total life of that church.

3. Synod
Area Groups are grouped together into Synods, there being thirteen such within the URC. In each Synod representatives of both local churches and Area Groups meet together twice a year. The Synod deals with matters of wider concern, including relationships with other Churches, training policy. Each Synod has a Moderator, a minister who is not in any local pastoral charge but who has a pastoral role towards ministers and churches in the Synod. We are part of the Thames North Synod.

4. General Assembly
This is the policy and decision making body and the final earthly authority for the URC. It usually meets just once a year.

And then there is FURY……….the Fellowship of United Reformed Youth.

FURY is all young people aged 11 to 25 in the URC. The URC has a National Youth Resource Centre at Yardley Hastings near Northampton.

What about other Churches?
Burnham URC is a member of CTBTC (Churches Together in Burnham, Taplow and Cippenham).

What about the Sacraments?
The URC recognises two sacraments – Baptism and The Lord’s Supper (which is also known as Holy Communion, the Eucharist or the Mass)

1. Baptism
This is the means by which people are initiated or received into the Church, It can take place in infancy in which case those responsible for the child will make promises on his or her behalf, or when a person is older and able to make the promises on his or her own behalf.

2. The Lord’s Supper
When they share bread and wine together Christians remember and celebrate the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The URC has no understanding of the bread and wine as being (or becoming) the physical body and blood of Christ, but it is nevertheless held that he is present in the sharing to offer spiritual nourishment