What is Congregationalism?



The root of Congregationalism began in1662 and was known as the great eviction. The Church of England declared that all clergy must use the Prayer Book of 1662, those that refused were evicted and formed independent churches, and they also rejected the hierarchical structure based on the scriptural passage (Acts chap 2) where the Holy Spirit descended on the entire gathered congregation at Pentecost. We thus accepted the declaration of the priesthood of all believers.

We had great hymn writers even before the Wesley’s such as Philip Doddridge and Isaac Watts. Doddridge’s Hark the glad sound, and Watts When I survey the wondrous cross and O God our help in ages past are still with us to this day.

Each church is a church in its own right without authority from outside.

We entered into a union with other Congregational churches which is now known as the Congregational Federation. This allowed us to share in fellowship at an area and national level. We can accept or reject decisions made nationally. We are also members of the International Congregational Federation which meets every four years in different parts of the world.

Congregationalists were radical reformers and played significant roles in the abolition of slavery.

Among people of note and significant influence were Congregationalists such as Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, Daniel Defoe and not forgetting the Pilgrim Fathers. In 1795 Congregationalists were the driving force behind the development of global missionary work. Among those who went out from the U.K. through the London Missionary Society was David Livingstone. More recently Eric Liddell, the famous athlete of “Chariots of Fire” fame, continued this work. It carries on today through Church World Mission.

In 1972 the majority of Congregational churches joined with the Presbyterians to form the United Reformed Church. However several hundreds of Congregational churches including Scunthorpe felt that the principles of Congregationalism should be maintained and so we choose to remain Congregational.

Reverend J. W. Bentham