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Reform Magazine | November 29, 2023

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I remember it well: Memories of 1972

I remember it well: Memories of 1972

Stephen Tomkins interviewed scores of people for his book That They All May Be One: The story of the United Reformed Church. These are some of the memories they shared of the founding of the URC in 1972

It was all very exciting. I was quite passionately in favour of ecumenism. There were some things that were a bit niggling. I remember writing a letter to the first issue of Reform, making fun of the idea of the Moderator being called Right Reverend.

The first assembly was a great occasion, but terribly formal for those of us who had been used to going to Congregational assemblies. A group of us from the office were standing in the doorway at the City Temple and all of a sudden somebody came up behind us who we’d not seen, dressed very formally in black, and bawled out, ‘The Moderator!’ It was all quite nerve-wracking.

John Sutcliffe was the United Reformed Church’s Secretary for Christian Education from 1972 to 1974

On the evening of the service of union in Westminster Abbey, because we had already been working together, we took over the City Temple – the biggest church in London of our denomination – and filled it with an amazing youth production. I’ll never forget seeing John Huxtable and Kenneth Slack [General Secretary and Minister of City Temple] dancing in the aisle.
It was a fantastic occasion.

We had the Presbyterian Church headquarters at 86 Tavistock Place, then we had the invasion, the entire staff from Livingstone House [Congregational Church House] descended upon us and life changed! It is nothing short of miraculous actually, that we blended in so wonderfully. There were points of conflict. We had a row over the car park and things like that. But it was really, really good. You felt the Lord was moving and this was right. Those early years were really exciting.

The late Michael Davies was Youth Secretary from 1972 to 1978


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

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