Our Origins

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The United Reformed Church is part of a world-wide family of over 70 million Christians which grew out of the religious changes of the 16th Century in Europe. These changes are now called the Protestant Reformation.

We play a dynamic and challenging part in the British Christian community, despite being one of the smaller mainstream denominations. Sixty-eight thousand people make up 1500 congregations, with nearly 700 ministers, paid and unpaid.

John Calvin


Our roots lie in the work of some of the Protestant “reformers” in particular John Calvin (1509-1664) – a French theologian and pastor who worked for most of his life in Geneva. Calvin’s ideas changed the Church of England, and many of its leading ministers, under the reigns of King Edward VI, Queen Mary (when many of the leaders fled to Europe) and Queen Elizabeth I. His ideas led to the development of, amongst others, Presbyterian, Independent, and Congregational churches.



Nowadays, in the UK, this Reformed tradition is represented in the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland and the Congregational Federation. Four streams of reformed Christianity (the Presbyterian Church of England, the Congregational Church of England and Wales, the Churches of Christ and the Congregational Union of Scotland) united between 1972 and 2000 to become the United Reformed Church.

Reformed Christians developed values that are now part of our everyday lives - freedom of thought, democracy and equality, separation of Church and State and a healthy suspicion of those who govern. Use this section of our website to explore the URC in more detail, at the hallmarks of the United Reformed Church, in particular, and Reformed Christians in general.
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