50th Anniversary service of Thanksgiving and Celebration

Around 1,200 people attended the rail strike-postponed celebrations at Methodist Central Hall Westminster, the same place that English Congregationalists and Presbyterians gathered on 5 October 1972 to vote the URC into being. Led by the Revd John Bradbury, General Secretary of the URC, and the Moderator and Moderator-Elect of the URC General Assembly, the Revds Fiona Bennett and Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, the service reflected the denomination’s past, present and future, as well as its place in the world Church

The Revd Richard Church, former Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship) who four years ago helped to start conversations about how to celebrate the URC’s 50th anniversary said: “It’s great to be here and it’s great to see that it’s actually happened and I’m massively admiring of the people who have gone through two false starts to get us to this point, but then the URC is a church that’s used to false starts.

“We thought we were being set up for the unity of the wider Christian body in the country and it hasn’t quite worked out that way. So, this is a good 50th birthday party.”

Former General Secretary the Revd Dr David Cornick, URC and Council for World Mission (CWM) scholar Victoria Turner, and the Revd Professor Jooseop Keum, CWM’s General Secretary, each delivered a sermon, and a specially formed Jubilee Choir sang ‘Always trust the star that guides us on the way’, Neil Thorogood’s winning poem in the 50th Anniversary Worship Resources Competition, in a setting by Scott Stroman

Other music in the service also included Colin Thompson’s competition-winning hymn, ‘God of the Pilgrim Way’.

The range of those leading worship reflected all generations within the URC, both lay and ordained, including Church Related Community Workers and leaders of the URC Youth Assembly.

Lundie Memorial Award winner Poppy Thorpe and trainee minister Joe Amoah read from scripture, while Karen Campbell, URC Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, performed her own poetic cry of welcome – ‘A table for all’.

The Revd Margaret Ali, Minister of Islington and Rectory Road URCs, said: “It’s a pleasure to be here. I think I am adding colour to the URC because it’s a diverse church and I represent diversity. That’s what I am here for and praising God, and I’m able to do ministry wonderfully.”

Two hundred and forty people also toured Church House, the URC’s London office and Lumen URC to experience the wide-ranging life of the URC, represented by different ministries, exhibitions, and creative and learning opportunities for all ages

Philippa Osei, URC Youth Moderator 2023-2024 said: “It was brilliant. It was really nice to see different facets of Church in one place.”

Heather Moore, URC Youth Moderator-Elect 2023-2024, added: “There was so much more there than I thought there was going to be and so much more that I didn’t realise happened at Church House; you have Greenbelt, Trussell Trust, Commitment for Life, It was really good to see all of that at one time in one space.

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