United Reformed Church 50th Anniversary Service – Live streamed – 16 October 2022 – 6 pm

A separate video feed of the choir will be available here during the service.

We are proud to be hosting this special commemorative service for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Reformed Church (URC). We shall be welcoming Revd Geoffrey Clarke, Moderator of the East Midlands Synod of the URC, who will be preaching; Revd Lisa Kerry, the new Regional Minister and Team Leader of the Central Baptist Association; and Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. Father James is representing The Bishop of Northampton. URC members from throughout the East Midlands will also be coming.

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A Celebration in Word and Song of the 50th Anniversary of the Formation of the United Reformed Church


The life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me.
Galatians 2: 29

This is the purpose of God for all, now disclosed to his people: Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1: 26–27

Music: Adrian Boynton

Introit: From all that dwell beneath the skies

Isaac Watts (1674–1748)
Psalm 117

[Choir] From all that dwell beneath the skies
let the Creator’s praise arise;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
let the Redeemer’s name be sung
through every land by every tongue
Alleluia! Alleluia!

[All] Eternal are the mercies, Lord;
eternal truth attends thy word:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
till suns shall rise and set no more.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Call to Worship

Led by Revd Geoffrey Clarke, Moderator of URC East Midlands Synod

We gather to worship and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
We celebrate and praise our God for the Year of Jubilee.

We declare good news to the poor.
We declare freedom to the captives, release for the prisoners and the binding up of our broken hearts.

Those who mourn will be comforted.
Instead of ashes, the oil of joy will flow.

Put on praise instead of despair.
We will delight in the Lord. We will rejoice in our God.

Let us worship the Living God together.
We will give glory to God, our faithful God.

Hymn: Great God, your love has called us here

Brian Wren (b. 1936)

Great God, your love has called us here
as we, by love for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed;
we come, with all our heart and mind,
your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined,
yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name,
and then receive us as your own,
not through some merit, right or claim,
but by your gracious love alone;
we strain to glimpse your mercy-seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.

The take the towel and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends;
suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free
your life to live, your joy to share;
give us your Spirit’s liberty
to turn from guilt and dull despair
and offer all that faith can do,
while love is making all things new.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

Led by Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

Assurance of Pardon

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Deuteronomy 7: 7–12

Read by Revd John Reardon

(Read at the Uniting Service in Westminster Abbey, 5 October 1972)

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But

those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
    he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors.

Sung Psalm: I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath

Isaac Watts (1674–1748)

[Choir] I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;
and when my voice is lost in death
praise shall employ my nobler powers:
my days of praise shall ne’er be past
while life and thought and being last,
or immortality endures.

[All] Happy are they whose hopes rely
on Israel’s God! He made the sky,
and earth and sea, with all their train:
his truth for ever stands secure;
he saves the oppressed, he feeds the poor,
and none shall find his promise vain.

[Choir] The Lord pours eyesight on the blind;
the Lord suports the fainting mind;
he sends the labouring conscience peace;
he helps the stranger in distress,
the widow and the fatherless,
and grants the prisoner sweet release.

[All] I’ll praise him while he lends me breath;
and when my voice is lost in death
praise shall employ my nobler powers:
my days of praise shall ne’er be past
while life and thought and being last,
or immortality endures.

Luke 1: 46–55

Read by Father James

Mary’s song

46 And Mary said:

‘My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants for ever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.’

Anthem: God of the pilgrim way

Colin Thompson
(Winner of the new hymn set to existing melody in the URC 50th Anniversary Worship Resources competition)


God of the pilgrim way,
guide of each generation,
through ever-changing years
our sure and firm foundation:
we turn to you, the source
of all that’s good and true,
the never-failing store
of treasures old and new.

We praise you for the lives
of those who went before us,
saints honoured, saints unsung,
the witness which they bore us;
for those who took to heart
the prayer of Christ the Son,
that all who bear his name
should be in Christ as one:

One Church, a house of peace,
where people long surrounded
by walls built to divide
meet, held in Love unbounded.
The suffering of our world,
the sorrows of our earth
cry for your healing touch,
long for a second birth.

And when the way grows hard,
and will and purpose fail us,
when dreams and visions die,
and doubts and fears assail us,
let wisdom from on high
our troubled spirits raise,
walk with us on the road
and set our hearts ablaze.

United for your sake,
by grace a new creation,
grant us the strength to serve
the work of your salvation:
hope for a world unsoiled
by terror, lies and greed,
faith in a future blest
where Love’s commandments lead.

Poem: Always trust the star that guides you

Read by Revd Lisa Kerry
Regional Minister, Central Baptist Association

‘Let them be, as we are; one,’ we hear you say.
Those treasured roots do not have to cling so tight.
Always trust the star that guides us on the way.

In this aching world your dreams can be the prey:
Ignored; forgotten; fading out of sight.
‘Let them be, as we are; one,’ we hear you say.

Set sail. Become an answer to what you pray.
Risk open ocean where storms can reach their height.
Always trust the star that guides us on our way.

Sail on. Discern all the Spirit has in play,
Set course by sacrament and word. Know what’s right.
‘Let them be, as we are; one,’ we hear you say.

Defensiveness, fear, might seem to rule the day,
This is why our love, hope, faith must shine so bright.
Always trust the star that guides us on the way.

Fifty years; our life always yours, come what may,
Pilgrim servants sailing still. Travelling light.
‘Let them be, as we are; one,’ we hear you say.
Always trust the star that guides us on the way.

Revd Neil Thorogood
(Winner of the poetry category
in the URC 50th Anniversary Worship Resources competition)

Hymn: The church is like a table

Fred Kaan (1929–2009)

The church is like a table,
a table that is round.
It has no sides or corners,
no first or last; no honours;
here people are in one-ness
and love together bound.

The church is like a table
set in an open house;
no protocol for seating,
a symbol of inviting,
of sharing, drinking, eating;
an end to ‘them’ and ‘us’.

The church is like a table,
a table for a feast
to celebrate the healing
of all excluded-feeling,
(while Christ is serving, kneeling,
a towel round his waist).

The church is like a table,
where every head is crowned.
As guests of God created,
all are to each related;
the whole world is awaited
to make the circle round.


By Revd Geoffrey Clarke,
Moderator of URC East Midlands Synod

Hymn: Together through the Father’s love

Stephen Newell and Naomi Sharp
(Winners of the hymn set to a new melody category in the URC 50th Anniversary Worship Resources competition)

[Choir] Together through the Father’s love
we are one family.
His love in us, our love for him
holds all in unity.
Let us praise and sing
for he’s good and true;
love and mercy flows.
From him all things are made new.

[All] Together on the Jesus road,
we learn his servant heart,
discovering that humility
is where true blessing starts.
Let us walk his way
raise our voice in song
to the Love, whose love
is our joy and makes us one.

Together when the Spirit leads,
her whisper like a dove,
resisting our complacency
she kindles gifts of love.
Let the breath of life
spark in us a flame
for a hurting world
to find comfort for its pain.

We stand together on this day
and make our pledge in faith,
with hope for all the future holds
and trusting in your grace.
We will journey on
guided by your Word;
voices, hearts and lives
singing “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
singing “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Statement of the Nature, Faith and Order of the United Reformed Church

Led by Revd Jenny Mills, Revd George Mwaura and Revd Jo Clare-Young

With the whole Christian Church
the United Reformed Church believes in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The living God, the only God, ever to be praised.

The life of faith to which we are called is the Spirit’s gift
continually received through the Word, the Sacraments
and our Christian life together.
We acknowledge the gift and answer the call, giving thanks for the means of grace.

The highest authority for what we believe and do is God’s Word in the Bible
alive for his people today through the help of the Spirit.
We respond to this Word, whose servants we are with all God’s people through the years.

We accept with thanksgiving to God
the witness to the catholic faith
in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
We acknowledge the declarations
made in our own tradition
by Congregationalists, Presbyterians
and Churches of Christ
in which they stated the faith
and sought to make its implications clear.
Faith alive and active: gift of an eternal source, renewed for every generation.

We conduct our life together according to the Basis of Union
in which we give expression to our faith in forms which we believe contain
the essential elements of the Church’s life, both catholic and reformed;
but we affirm our right and readiness, if the need arises,
to change the Basis of Union and to make new statements of faith
in ever new obedience to the Living Christ.
Our crucified and risen Lord,
who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection.

Held together in the Body of Christ
through the freedom of the Spirit,
we rejoice in the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts
and uphold the rights of personal conviction.
For the sake of faith and fellowship
it shall be for the church to decide
where differences of conviction
hurt our unity and peace.
We commit ourselves to speak the truth in love
and grow together in the peace of Christ.

We believe that Christ gives his Church a government
distinct from the government of the state.
In things that affect obedience to God
the Church is not subordinate to the state,
but must serve the Lord Jesus Christ,
its only Ruler and Head.
Civil authorities are called
to serve God’s will of justice and peace for all humankind,
and to respect the rights of conscience and belief.
While we ourselves are servants in the world
as citizens of God’s eternal kingdom.

We affirm our intention to go on praying and working,
with all our fellow Christians,
for the visible unity of the Church
in the way Christ chooses
so that people and nations
may be led to love and serve God
and praise him more and more for ever.
Source, Guide, and Goal
of all that is:
to God be eternal glory.


Reaffirmation of the Cornerstone Covenant

By the Regional Church Leaders

Believing that the unity of the Church is the will of God, we, the members and ministers of the congregations at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone, hereby covenant upon the foundation of the recognition that we have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; for we share a Gospel which effects reconciliation between God and humankind and between nations and peoples.

Travelling as pilgrims on a journey that has already started and which will lead we know not where, we are pleased to place our trust in God, in whose hands the future lies, and to be led forward by Him.

In order to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the community and the world, and in obedience to God’s call, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we therefore joyfully covenant with one another:

to work together in love;
to pray and care for one another and for our neighbour;
to serve together the community based in the City Centre,
and to live together in fellowship
to the greater glory of God.

Choral reflection

Based on John 15; music by Adrian Boynton

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Honour my Commandments, abide in my love, and if you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will love one another as I have loved you.

I am the vine, you are the branches. They who abide in me will bear much fruit! You did not choose me, but I appointed you, that you should bear fruit, a fruit that will endure for ever!

Prayers of intercession

Led by Revd Ruth Maxey

Hymn: God who spoke in the beginning

Fred Kaan (1929–2009)

God who spoke in the beginning
forming rock and shaping spar,
set all life and growth in motion,
earthly world and distant star,
God who calls the earth to order
is the ground of what we are.

God who spoke through people, nations,
and events long past and gone,
showing still today his purpose,
speaks supremely through his Son;
God who calls the earth to order
gives His word and it is done.

God whose speech becomes incarnate
– Christ is servant, Christ is Lord! –
call us to a life of service,
heart and will to action stirred.
he who uses our obedience
has the first and final word.


By the Regional Church Leaders