Can anyone explain Congregationalism to me please?

(12 Posts)
RustyParker Mon 13-Jan-14 22:23:35

Would really appreciate if anyone can explain the basic principals / beliefs of Congregationalism please.

Growing up I was always told I was baptised CofE. Although we weren't a religious family, we've mostly had children of the family baptised so when I had my DS, I had him baptised in my local CofE. He now goes to a CofE school and when my sister died recently, I arranged a CofE Church Service. As I've grown older I've started to become more spiritual and open to religion so of course, thinking I was CofE, I started sporadically attending my CofE Church.

I recently looked at the website for the Church I was baptised at (I moved away so it's not local) and I discovered it is a Congregationist Church shock I spoke to my DDad and told him what I found out and did he know? He said he knew "but it's the same thing as CofE" hmm To be fair to him, he was raised Catholic (irish) and just went along with the Church my DM wanted.

There is no Congregationist Church near me so I can't find out anything there and Googling brings up stuff which I find a bit too theological to get my head around as I'm a pretty much an ignoramus when it comes to religious matters blush

Thank you!

From what I can gather many of the churches that used to be Congregationalist are now part of the United Reform Church. From what I know of them they are pretty close in style of worship to the traditional C of E so I can see why your dad would think it was. It isn't the same as C of E in the same way that Roman Catholic Churches and the C of E are not the same. It comes down to governance really and bishops and how congregations make decisions.

Congregationalist Churches are very keen on the congregation making decisions about church life. One URC congregation I know were 5 years without a minister as they couldn't make a decision about the way forward for the church. However, now they have got one the whole church know that they voted for them and this is the right person for them.

We are however all Christian and as a general rule baptism in one is recognised by all.

HoneyandRum Tue 14-Jan-14 10:44:56

Absolutely, a Christian baptism will be recognized by all Christian churches. I am Catholic for example and any other Christian denomination/church's baptism would be accepted by the Catholic church as valid. Therefore, you can feel free to attend any Christian community that seems the right one for you and your family.

RustyParker Tue 14-Jan-14 12:33:45

Thank you so much Greenheart and Honey that's really interesting. I knew it was Christian but didn't really know much more than that so that's been really helpful.

I do have a fondness for our CofE Church and the clergy have shown great compassion to me through difficult times so I feel "at home" there. It's also somewhere I can go to feel close to my Dsis. I felt like I was lying to them when I then found out about my baptism and actually I did, as I told the previous Vicar before he baptised my DS that I was CofE!

HoneyandRum Tue 14-Jan-14 13:24:48

I would guess your local CofE clergy would be much better at explaining what Congregationalist is compared to the average MNer anyway! So don't be afraid to tell the story of your family and baptism as I'm sure they will be interested and can help answer questions you have.

RustyParker Tue 14-Jan-14 21:09:38

Thanks Honey at least thanks to you and Greenheart I have a have a reference and you've given me the confidence to have a chat with the Vicar. One of the clergy there was a friend of my DSis and has been a great support so I think she will be interested and supportive. Thank you again!

LittleBabyPigsus Thu 23-Jan-14 04:41:42

Congregationalists basically believe in the congregation governing the church, rather than the priest/minister. Very similar to the Methodist church and Church of Scotland. As has been said, it's now part of the URC church which is a liberal Protestant church. Your baptism will absolutely be considered valid.

RustyParker Thu 23-Jan-14 19:17:51

Thanks you littlebabypigsus It is good to know my baptism is valid, I felt like a bit of a fraud when I first found out!

LittleBabyPigsus Fri 24-Jan-14 16:07:05

The only baptisms not considered valid are ones done in non-Trinitarian religions, eg Mormonism, Jehovahs Witnesses etc. All baptisms done in 'standard' churches where it's done in the name of the trinity (father son and holy spirit/ghost) are considered valid.

RustyParker Fri 24-Jan-14 20:42:24

That's really interesting.

When I was arranging my DS's CofE baptism, we were told that Godparents can be from any (major?) religion as long as they had the basic commitment (equivelent to baptism) in their religion. I don't know if that's a general CofE position but I felt warmly towards that Church and Vicar knowing that.

LittleBabyPigsus Fri 24-Jan-14 22:09:08

Afaik that is the general CoE position.

RustyParker Fri 24-Jan-14 22:50:05

That's nice to know Little it struck me as quite progressive

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