Our Church is run as a Congregational Church but what is “Congregationalism”?
Congregationalism is a way of being Church that is different from what most people think.
We operate without hierarchies and complicated ritual, each Church formed of members who commit themselves to one another and to their community, and share their individual gifts and their finance to run a community of believers sustained by the Spirit and proudly independent of centralised power structures.
As a family of Churches guided by their members, Congregationalism has always proclaimed the Gospel freely and has historically been an agent of change both in Britain and beyond (see below).
Today our Churches still follow the original ideals, as they move forward dynamically by always listening and doing what the Spirit moves us to do. The Congregational Federation empowers and supports them through training and other resources.
The Congregational Way
When described to people who are not churchgoers, they are amazed – that Christians can operate without hierarchies or elaborate ritual. ‘If all churches were like that’, they say, ‘I might go!’ By trusting God, and trusting the members whom God has called together in a covenant relationship, congregational Christians open the door to the power of God’s Spirit. The Bible describes the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and we expect to see these in action, through the members of the church.
– Congregationalists challenged the might of a corrupt State in the 17th century, and changed the face of the nation
– Isaac Watts gave birth to modern hymnody in the 18th century, and the London Missionary Society carried the gospel around the world
– In the 19th century, a congregational minister helped to overthrow slavery in Guyana, because he treated the slaves as people called by God, able to become church members as much as anyone else
– Congregationalists were at the heart of political reform in Britain
– A hundred years ago, a congregational church was the first of the mainstream churches to ordain a woman to its ministry (Video)
– Around the millennium, Congregationalists played their part in placing diversity at the heart of the ecumenical movement in Britain and Ireland
Today, congregational churches in Britain and around the world uphold the same principles. It is something to be proud of and it is hoped that this range of resources will enable you and others to get to know it better, and give you the confidence to share it!