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Cathedral marks birth of non-conformity

Date: 11 September 2012
All are welcome to Guildford Cathedral at 6.30 pm on Sunday September 23 to mark a significant but largely forgotten piece of history
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In 1662, the Act of Uniformity came into force. It re-imposed by law the use of the Book of Common Prayer, and outlawed the ‘Directory of Worship’ authorised by Parliament during the period following the execution of Charles I in 1649.

 

Many ministers of Presbyterian and Independent views who had served in parishes during Oliver Cromwell’s ‘Commonwealth’ period could not in conscience use the Book of Common Prayer. As a result they were forced to leave their parishes and make way for Anglican clergy. Many suffered hardship as a consequence, and the Church of England lost approximately one-fifth of its ministers.

 

This became known as The Great Ejectment but it also marked the arrival of non-conformity and the birth of non-conformist denominations.

 

Earlier this year, ‘A Service of Reconciliation, Healing of Memories, and Mutual Commitment’ was held at Westminster Abbey, bringing together representatives of the Church of England and the United Reformed Church (URC).

 

2012 also marks the 40th anniversary of its inauguration when Congregationalist and Presbyterians - the lineal descendants of some of those who quit the Church of England in 1662 - came together as the URC.

 

Celebration of collaboration

 

Bishop Christopher’s invitation to clergy and members of the United Reformed Church to join him at the service in Guildford Cathedral is to do something very positive. The service will celebrate the collaboration of the Church of England and the United Reformed Church in Surrey and North-East Hampshire.

 

“The service will include reflection on the sad divisions which have divided us, and express renewed hope for the future,” says Canon Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Acting Dean of Guildford Cathedral. “The preacher will be The Revd Elizabeth Welch, Minister of Clapton Park United Reformed Church, and Co-chair of the CofE/ URC Bilateral Dialogue.

 

“We hope that there will be a good representation from the parishes of the Diocese as we welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ to this service of penitence, reconciliation and hope.”

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