Our History

In 1972 most of the Congregational Churches and all of the Presbyterian churches in England UNITED to form the URC.  In 1981 most of the churches of Christ joined.  The URC aims to be the catalyst for greater union. We trace our roots to the REFORMATION in Europe in the 16th century when Christians tried to get ‘back to basics’ in the faith.  The URC is part of the world wide REFORMED Church. We are one of the mainstream Christian CHURCHES sharing the same faith as the other Christians in following Jesus Christ, but our worship and organisation maybe different. This church tends to have a more informal evangelical worship.  Our organisation is democratic recognising the reality of the priesthood of all believers. Here is some history: Christianity spread after the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost.  It eventually came to Britain through missionaries.  The Medieval church grew strong, but tended to loose sight of the true faith. From 1548 there were secret meetings worshipping with the intense belief in the Bible as the living Word of God and the only authority for the church. Various independent Puritan groups were formed and their history is intermingled with the great events of the time.  Oliver Cromwell was an independent; the settlers on the Mayflower who went to America were Puritans. The non-conformists were a diverse group who kept few records, as they were illegal.  In the 16th century the Reformation greatly affected religious life and was fundamental to the origins of this church.The reformers reacted against the church of the time and wanted to start again, to re – form more closely to what they felt Christ would have wanted. 1662 was a decisive date, as a law was passed which many didn’t feel able to abide by. It was the ‘act of uniformity’ which called upon every clergyman and schoolmaster to conform to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.  Those who would not were non-conformists. In that year, the Act of Uniformity was passed; insisting that all clergy gave assent to and conformed to the (Anglican) Prayer Book. Amongst those ministers who found that they could not do this was a certain Fellow at Oxford called Thomas Risley, a man of deep conviction who joined the ranks of ‘the nonconformists’. He therefore had to leave his living and return to his estate in the country. For a while, all ‘Dissenters’ or ‘Non-conformists’ were persecuted and forbidden to preach. But a small group met in secret, often in the fields around Risley. Thomas devoted himself to visiting the sick, and ‘applied himself to the study of physic’ (medicine) – this practical, pastoral care becoming the basis of relationships that led to an ever-growing congregation. As Toleration increased, Richard Jackson’s barn was licensed, in Thomas Risley’s name as a ‘Chappell’ for the ‘dissenting interest’. Then in 1706 a permanent chapel was built on Cross lane – five miles from Warrington and five miles from Leigh (according the ruling of ‘The five mile act’).  This long,…