A Service of Reconciliation, Healing of Memories and Mutual Commitment for the Church of England and the United Reformed Church was held at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 7th February 2012 at 6.15 pm.
The service marked the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of the United Reformed Church and the 350th anniversary of the ‘Great Ejection’ when Church of England clergy who could not accept the 1662 Act of Uniformity left their ministries.
The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: ‘We bring into this moment what has preoccupied us today, in our Christian discipleship and our work, and in our engagement with God’s world. We also bring memories of the past. We bring glad memories of the service here forty years ago that brought Presbyterian and Congregational Churches into unity as the United Reformed Church. We bring sad memories of the deep pain and tragic division of our Nation in the seventeenth century, and especially of the events of the Great Ejection 350 years ago.’
He was joined by Ms Val Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church who read from Isaiah 35.
The Address was given by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan.
The Act of Penitence was led by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan; and The Reverend Dr Kirsty Thorpe, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.
Geoffrey Streatfeild read from The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (1615-91) and The Reverend Dr Michael Jagessar, Moderator-Elect of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church read from A Farwell Sermon by John Oldfield (c1626-82) a Presbyterian ejected from his living in Carsington, Derbyshire.
The Venerable George Howe, Chaplain and Chief of Staff to the Bishop of Carlisle and Diocesan Director of Ordinands, read An Historical Testimony in the words of The Right Reverend Brian Duppa (1588-1662) Bishop of Salisbury (1641-60) and Bishop of Winchester (1660-62). Mrs Margaret Swinson, Vice-Chair of the Church of England Council for Christian Unity, read Ephesians 4: 1-16. The Reverend Dr David Cornick, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, read St John 17: 20-23
Testimonies were given by The Reverend Keith Hitchman, Pioneer Minister for River in the City, Diocese of Liverpool; The Reverend Timothy Meadows, Liverpool City Centre United Reformed Church; and The Reverend Ruth Whitehead, Minister, Whittlesford and Pampisford Local Ecumenical Partnership and Duxford United Reformed Church.
The Act of Recommitment was led by The Right Reverend James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle; The Reverend Elizabeth Welch, Co-Chair, United Reform Church/Church of England Study Group; The Venerable Joy Tetley, Co-Chair, United Reformed Church/Church of England Study Group; and The Reverend Roberta Rominger, General Secretary, the United Reformed Church.
The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell. The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub-Organist. The organ was played before the service by Andrej Kouznetsov, Organ Scholar.
The Order of Service (PDF, 659 KB)