4The LORD said to me, 5"I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations."
6I answered, "Sovereign LORD, I don't know how to speak; I am too young."
7But the LORD said to me, "Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
9Then the LORD stretched out his hand, touched my lips, and said to me, "Listen, I am giving you the words you must speak. 10Today I give you authority over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."
All through my Ministry, and even before, People have said that the church is dying and it will not survive another 20 years! I was hearing that as a teenager nearly 40 years ago. Of all the Churches, The United Reformed Church is often seen not to have a lot of life left in it. I am glad to say that people are wrong to say this, because this year The United Reformed Church is Celebrating 50 years since it was formed, but the history of the Churches that formed it goes back to the reformation, and also 1662 when many ministers was ejected from the Anglican Church for refusing to use the 1662 prayer book.
The United Reformed Church was formally merged in 1972, when the Presbyterian Church of England, and the Congregational Church in England and Wales united to become the church. One Member of Parliament at that time described this merger as: "one of the most historic measures in the history of the Christian churches in this country." The Church expanded when The Churches of Christ joined in 1981, followed by Scottish Congregationalists in 2000.
One driving force behind the union of the Church was to form one united Christian Church, even though this has not happened we still work very closely with Churches of other traditions, and have joint Churches with Methodists, Baptists, Anglican, Moravian and many other traditions use our buildings.
Throughout this year United Reformed Churches throughout the country are hoping to hold events to mark this anniversary, and in Stowmarket and villages we hope to mark it at the Stowmarket Anniversary service in March.
The year Culminates with the United Reformed Church's 50th Anniversary Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving. On the afternoon of Saturday 1 October 2022, at Methodist Central Hall , Westminster, London, where the Uniting Assembly of the United Reformed Church took place in October 1972, a chance to give thanks and to celebrate the five decades of the United Reformed Church.
Happy Birthday to the United Reformed Church and here's to the next 50 years.
Rev'd Robert Sheard
United Reformed Church Minister of Stowmarket, Debenham, Stowupland, Mendlesham & Haughley