Who we are and what we believes
Christ Church is a local congregation of the United Reformed Church. We are in a 'joint pastorate' with Maidenhead URC, sharing the ministry of the Revd David Downing. This page tells you more about our background and what makes the URC distinctive.
What is the URC?
The United Reformed Church is a family of Christians who meet in local churches across England, Scotland and Wales, part of the worldwide family of Reformed Churches.
The URC has around 47,000 members in about 1,300 congregations with more than 600 ministers. More than 60,000 people worship in our churches each week, and many more take part in the weekday activities of the churches.
The creation of the United Reformed Church in 1972 formally merged the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales. One Member of Parliament at the time described this merger as: “one of the most historic measures in the history of the Christian churches in this country.”
'Reformed' churches are in a stream of tradition that goes back 500 years, to 1517 when Martin Luther launched a movement of challenge in the Church that we call the Protestant Reformation.
The dissenters of Marlow
Our history in Marlow goes back over 300 years. A firebrand preacher called Samuel Pomfret is known to have visited the town in 1693, but there were certainly already "dissenters" here by then.
That term was applied to anyone refusing to accept the state religion with its prayer book and bishops - and many did, despite the repression ushered in by the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Our ancestors had to wait until the 19th Century before they could enjoy full civil liberties.
We are not sure where the early worshippers in Marlow met, but a chapel was built in 1726 at the southern end of our present site (Quoiting Square). In time the congregation outgrew the building and the current church was constructed in 1839-40. It was extensively modernised in 2003.
Originally "Salem Chapel", it eventually became Marlow Congregational Church and then Christ Church URC. If you are interested in the history, you can download much more information from the Resources page.
What we believe
God loves you. And as Christians, we do too.
Regardless of who you are, your background, your family, your past, your present or future, we are in this church because we believe that God is alive and listening to us through prayer, guiding and speaking to us through the Bible, forgiving us for what we have done wrong, and waiting for us in Heaven after we pass away.
Being reformed is part of our DNA. It reflects our continual aim of reforming ourselves to be a Church for the present day.
Being reformed also means that we delight in exploring the Bible, we do not fear change, and we try to run our churches in ways that take everyone’s insight and contribution seriously. We have been ordaining women for over a century and we now offer marriage to same-sex as well as heterosexual couples.
You can download the full statement of the Nature, Faith and Order of the URC by clicking here.
Marlow and Maidenhead
Maidenhead URC, like Christ Church, traces its history back over three centuries. But we had not had many connections as congregations until around 2015 when we were both looking for a new minister. So we formed what is called a 'joint pastorate' and we now share the ministry of Revd David Downing.
Coming together in this way has enabled us to get to know each other better, enjoy shared social activities like church concerts, quizzes and walks, pool our efforts (for example, both churches combined to send a team to help out with refugees in Calais) and worship jointly on some Sundays. During Lockdown, this was a particular strength as both congregations came together on Zoom for worship, something that we are continuing to do once a month.