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Reform Magazine | May 21, 2024

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The churches that make us: From Reading to New Guinea - Reform Magazine

The churches that make us: From Reading to New Guinea

One thread links churches from Berkshire to the Pacific, discovers Stephen Tomkins

This is a story of several churches. One of them would become Trinity URC, Reading. Christopher Fowler was a puritan minister in the town, ejected from the Church of England in 1662, along with hundreds of other ministers, having been denounced by a local dignitary as ‘the author of most of the evil in the town’. His Dissenting church met for worship in Broad Street. He was succeeded by a Mr Juice who once had to hide from would-be assailants in a pile of bark before preaching. Various Dissenting churches in Reading were destroyed in riots in 1715.

A later minister at Broad Street, Archibald Douglas, was in 1795 a founder member, and later director, of the London Missionary Society (LMS). In his time the church was rebuilt, becoming the listed building now shared by Waterstones and Accessorise. There was also a split over ‘the increasing use of hair-powder’.

Under Douglas’s assistant, then successor, William Legg, in 1845, a larger split occurred. At least 48 members left – they were called the Left Leggs. They bought a wheatfield, and built Trinity Congregational Church there…

Stephen Tomkins is Editor of Reform

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This is an extract from an article published in the September 2022 edition of Reform

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