A day to dance
Stephen Tomkins revisits the day the URC was born
The sun shone on London for 5 October 1972. Three thousand people, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, gathered to become the United Reformed Church, celebrating the fruition of nine years’ work and full of hope for the future. Leading churchmen danced in the aisle. They did not rejoice for the creation of a new Church, they hailed the dawn of a new age of the reunion of Churches.
First, they gathered in Methodist Central Hall Westminster for business, where it took them all of seven minutes to vote to join together in the URC, to loud applause.
Then they crossed the square to Westminster Abbey for the service of union, which began with a nine-trumpet fanfare. John Huxtable, the Congregational leader who had done perhaps more than anyone to make this moment happen, and was now the Right Reverend Moderator of the General Assembly, preached: ‘We rejoice with full hearts that the goal we set ourselves nine years ago has been reached.’ Then he corrected himself: the union of just two Churches was not the achievement of their goal, it was ‘but the beginning of a larger coming together’…
Stephen Tomkins is Editor of Reform. This article is an edited extract from his book That They May All Be One: The story of the United Reformed Church, available from urcbookshop.co.uk for £7.99+p&p
This is an extract from an article published in the October 2022 edition of Reform