Discovering: United Reformed Church

Today I went to meet Revd Alan Pooltan of the United Reformed Church (URC) in my area.
We had an animated discussion for about 40 minutes about the history of the URC, the Five Mile Act in 1665, fundamentalist and liberal Christianity, personal callings and feelings about the Churchmanship in the Church of England, and of course, the differences between the URC and the C of E.

Our Differences:
Key: C of E, URC

The C of E has a Synod and Bishops who tell clergy where they need to go. At ordination clergy have to make a personal oath to bishops.
The URC has a huge amount of local power, e.g. they can change services when they want to. The URC is not so much controlled by a state like the C of E.

The C of E uses liturgy and the congregation then have responses to said sentences from the priest. This gets the congregation more involved in services.
The URC does not use liturgy, and the congregation do not use responses as they do in the C of E. For example if the minister was to say, the Lord be with you, they wouldn’t respond like Anglicans do.

In the C of E the priest will wear robes, and when making public appearances e.g. having meetings, they will wear their usual smart wear with collar.
In the URC the minister wears a suit and will not always wear their collar. They will wear their collar for formal services such as baptisms, funerals, or when they are visiting people in hospital or some elderly people in their homes who would expect it.

In the C of E there is an altar.
In the URC, like the Methodist church, there is a communion table.

In the C of E the priests, verger and servers process in.
In the URC there is a mini-procession of the minister and the elder.

In the C of E the priest reads the Gospel from the centre of the church and the congregation stands, turns and listens to them.
In the URC the Gospel can be read in the service by any member of the congregation.

Similarly, like the Methodists, we both believe almost all the same things. But we worship in different ways… so we are seen as very different by a lot of people.
Some churches are more formal, some are less.
Alike the Methodist I couldn’t see the C of E joining with the URC.
But I think at some point we should meet more people, maybe like all the churches in a town come together and praise God together. That might already happen, but I don’t see it happening much!
Both our churches can be quite liberal which surprised me.
I’m liberal and so seems Revd Alan Pooltan. So then maybe I should go talk to a fundamentalist at some point.

I wonder, because I am at a high Anglican church, whether low churches are much different from URCs and Methodists. When I’ve gone to some more C of Es, I think that I’ll understand that better.

I’ve realised that I don’t think I’ve really explained why I’m doing all this discovering.
Basically, amongst the information on Ordination & Ministry which Bishop Robert sent me, I found a list of questions they might ask at a Bishop’s panel.
I started thinking about my own answers to the questions, and I came across the question,
What do you appreciate most about the Church of England?
I had absolutely no idea how to start a response, and I realised that by understanding more about other churches, and to explore the Churchmanship of the Church of England, I could really appreciate it more and understand in more detail why it was the Church of England that I was attracted by when I first started thinking about going to church, and why it was right for me personally to decide that the C of E would be the church for me to go to.
To understand why it’s so special and to see what I appreciate most.

So it’s going well!

L&P,
Rachael Eliz 🙂

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