T he United Reformed Church was first formed in 1972 by a union of the Presbyterian
Church of England and the majority of churches in the Congregational Church in England
and Wales. It was joined later by the Re-formed Association of the Churches of Christ
in 1981 and the Congregational Union of Scotland in 2000.
The oldest churches have a history going back to the 17th century and the Reformation.
Other congregations were formed during the Evangelical Revival in the eighteenth
century or by denominational expansion in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Respect for individual belief and a conviction that majorities are not always right
mean that the Church is not dogmatic and embraces a wide variety of opinions.
The Church sets a high value on individual conscience and the ability of its members
to reach common understanding. Local congregations hold meetings to govern their
affairs, with a group of elected elders having day-to-day responsibility.
A General Assembly meets bi-annually (annually until 2008) and makes policy decisions
after consultation and debate. All these meetings are held in the belief that the
Holy Spirit guides members of the Church in their decision-making.
The formal leadership of the General Assembly is provided by two moderators who serve
together for two years, in an honorary capacity. They are elected by members of the
Assembly. One moderator is a lay person and the other a minister.
A permanent staff, led by the General Secretary, services the Assembly and its committees.
There are thirteen synods, each having their own synod moderators and staff to support
the work of local churches. These are usually grouped together under the pastoral
care of a paid minister, a man or woman, although the Church also ordains unpaid