Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Church of England and the United Reformed Church

The following is adapted from the latest Council for Christian Unity Bulletin, June 2011.

1662 – the restoration of the episcopate in the Church of England, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Act of Uniformity represented a great reversal after the Commonwealth for those who remained loyal to the Church of England as it was before the Civil War. But for 2000 members of the clergy who could not accept re-ordination and conformity in worship it meant expulsion from their livings – victims of the Great Ejection – and a rift in the English Church which has continued into the present. The United Reformed Church has its origins in the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches which were founded after the Great Ejection.

HEALING THE PAST – BUILDING THE FUTURE: The report of the Church of England – United Reformed Church Joint Study Group has recently been published. (The URC Co-Chair was Elizabeth Welch, and for the Church of England the Venerable Joy Tetley). It traces some of the history of the relationship and areas of agreement and continuing difference between our two Churches. 2012 sees the 350th Anniversary of the Great Ejection, and the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the United Reformed Church. The report proposes an event in 2012 which would enable the Church of England and the United Reformed Church to express publicly their penitence for the divisions of the past, their mutual recognition of each other in the present as churches belonging to the one Church of Jesus Christ and their commitment to working together to develop a closer relationship between them in the future.

The report has already been received by the United Reformed Church Mission Council, and will be debated at the General Synod on Monday 11th July.

One of the important tasks is to explore new ways of developing this relationship at local level, along with Methodist Colleagues under the Anglican Methodist Covenant.

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