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Reform Magazine | April 23, 2024

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The view from Wales - Reform Magazine

The view from Wales

Leaving the URC to join a Wales-wide body remains a possibility, says Robert Pope

It is sometimes claimed that the United Reformed Church, having 13 synods, has at least 13 ways of doing things. That said, there appears on the surface to be much held in common throughout the denomination. People are transformed by the good news, faithful folk live lives of witness and service, there is room for enquiry and a desire for inclusion, and there seems often to be a common worship style. Much of what might be observed in Welsh churches will look similar to churches in England. But there is difference too.

In 1973, there were 172 URCs in Wales. Only three had belonged to the Presbyterian Church of England: one in Swansea and two in Cardiff. All three were identified in their respective localities as ‘Scottish churches’, maintaining traditions appropriate for expatriate Scots even to the second or third generation. The overall picture for the URC was approximately five former Congregational churches for every one former Presbyterian church; in Wales the ratio was 56 to one.

Such figures point to the differences between the two denominations: Presbyterianism was scattered throughout England but flourished among expatriate Scottish communities drawn to burgeoning industrial towns during the 19th century. Meanwhile, Congregationalism had a strong base in the countryside as well as in some of the bigger towns…

Robert Pope lectures in Church History and Doctrine at Westminster College

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

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