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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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The churches that make us: Messy Church

The churches that make us: Messy Church

A series covering the breadth of church life in the United Reformed Church. This month Reform visits Desborough in Northamptonshire

If ever a small church punches above its weight, Desborough United Reformed Church does.

The congregation, originally Congregational, boasts a sizeable 100-year-old building but with a membership that is small, and getting smaller. An average pre-Covid congregation of 10 to 15 is now down to six or seven on a Sunday. In some ways, it’s a familiar tale of decline, exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet, this church that has helped make the lives of many generations of members is now helping to re-make the life of this former industrial town.

The current building was always designed to offer a space to community as well as congregation – and it is still an ideal venue for school concerts and large events. But as Sunday worship attendance dropped, long discussions were held about the need to do things differently; to make the church a different kind of community hub. Two related initiatives emerged that between them are helping Desborough URC make exciting new connections within the town. The first was the decision to begin a Messy Church.

Messy Church is a huge success story all of its own. Originating out of a desire by one moderately-sized Church of England near Portsmouth to reach more children through a varied programme of ‘creativity, celebration and hospitality’, the idea was taken up by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship). There are now approaching 3,000 Messy Churches in over 30 countries…

Laurence Wareing is Content Editor for Reform


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

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