THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
What are our beliefs and practices? How are we organised?
The URC nationally and locally: more about Mid Somerset - see side menu
The United Reformed Church is a mainstream Christian denomination, formed in the union of the Presbyterian and Congregational Church in 1972. The national organisation (General Assembly) produces leadership and guidelines, which are interpreted locally in regional Synods. The Mid Somerset Group is part of the South West Synod, which covers Cornwall, Somerset and Devon. A General Moderator is the senior guiding hand at General Assembly and moderators lead the regional synods.
Local churches may be individual if they are large enough, but more commonly form part of Groups of churches. Usually one Minister would be appointed (democratically by the Group) by a church or a group, and for worship purposes much reliance is placed upon local lay preachers (some of them retired Ministers). Ministers are paid partly through Synod funds and donation quotas from churches in a group.
Currently a mid-layer of organisation exists - the District, which covers a smaller area than regional synods, but this is currently under review.
The URC is a non-conformist denomination - not established as a state church and has an established tradition of independence and democratic decision-making, based upon scriptural principles.
BELIEFS: We worship one God, three in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ was God's Son, sent to redeem the world. He lived, suffered and died on our behalf. We beileve that he defeated death at the Cross and was raised again on the third day. This resurrection gives us hope for ourselves and the world He created. We believe that He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us at Pentecost and through this Spirit He gives us strength to carry on His work of spreading the good news of His great love for us we beleive that we should live our lives in such a way as to witness to Him and bring glory to His name. Membership of the URC is by profession of faith as above.
Rituals: the URC practices infant baptism and adult baptism on request. Membership of a local church depends upon profession of faith in Christ as Saviour, King and Redeemer on the part of individuals in the presence of the church. Elders are appointed within the local church to administer funds and assist in the sacraments (Holy Communion) and decision-making, although some churches have Councils consisting of members and adherents (attending non-members).
The URC considers Holy Communion as a vital act in which bread is broken and eaten and wine poured and drunk in response to Christ's command to remember Him in this way. An 'open table' and invitation for all who love Christ to take an active part in Communion.
The URC considers the Bible to be its over-riding source of authority for teaching but is not fundamental in its insistence in the literal understanding of every passage, believing that the Scriptures contain poetry, rhetoric, advice, allegory, metaphor and parable in its attempts to describe the Christian faith.
Worship: Styles of worship depend upon purpose - 'new' music and worship songs are often sung with more traditional hymn forms, as well as chant and Taize music, to name a few. Written liturgy is sometimes used but freer forms are common too. Most services contain prayers of confession and intercession as well as praise and request but this will depend upon the tradition from which worship leaders emerge (eg Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Free Church etc).
The URC considers that working together with other Christian denominations is vital, and considerable efforts are made to be involved the local 'Churches Together' groups. The Mid Somerset URC group is involved with Glastonbury Christians Together, Street Churches Together, Somerton Churches Together and Langport Area Churches Together.
In our group worship we use the Lectionary and the ROOTS materials across the churches. For more information log on to www.rootsontheweb.co.uk
For more information log on to www.urc.org