Saturday, 22 November 2014

Marks of the URC

I was recently asked to speak on the question: what's the point of the United Reformed Church?  I thought a good starting point might be the paper presented to this year's General Assembly by the Faith and Order Committee entitled 'Affirming the URC's Future'.

That paper offered a list of nine things that we can identify as key characteristics shaping our identity as a church.
These are:
a) Semper Reformanda – openly and intentionally stating our readiness to change in light of experience of the Holy Spirit;
b) our particular interpretation of the priesthood of all believers;
c) elders – ordained and set apart for shared leadership;
d) the church meeting, in which people together discern the leading of the Holy Spirit, and through which power is shared;
e) the ability to develop policies that embrace diversity, e.g. in recognising both infant and believers baptism, but not re-baptism;
f) upholding the rights of personal conviction;
g) the strong sense of social justice and action;
h) freedom in worship, centring on Scripture;

i) valuing the local church.

There is no doubt that all these things are to be found elsewhere within the Church universal.  However, like any church, we blend things in a unique way and offer that to the wider community.  Of course, the church would survive without our denomination, but we do have something distinctive to offer - though, like others, we don't always offer our gifts to the wider church as well and as generously as we ought.

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