The United Reformed Church was founded in October 1972 by union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England. However not all the churches belonging to these two denominations agreed to accept the 1972 Scheme of Union. The records of those Hertfordshire Churches which remained separate are catalogued under the reference NC.
The records were deposited in the Record Office on indefinite loan on 15 November 1996.
Administrative / biographical background:
In 1946 the Hertfordshire County Congregational Union initially applied to Hertfordshire County Council for a site to be made available in the incipient Stevenage New Town for a Congregational church, school and manse. When the master plan for the New Town was approved in 1950, a site was allotted in the Bedwell district of Stevenage for a new Congregational Church. A Development Committee (subsequently renamed the Foundation Committee) comprising representatives of the Congregational Churches at Knebworth and Hitchin and Letchworth Free Church was set up to oversee the progress of the new Church. In the meantime services were held at temporary premises in Stevenage.
Building of the Congregational Church began in Cuttys Lane, Stevenage, in 1954 and the Church was officially opened in September of that year. A subsequent extension to the Church premises was built and opened sixteen years later in May 1970.
In January 1957 the Church constitution was settled and in May of the same year its proposed covenant approved. The Church was now considered duly formed and properly constituted. A new constitution was ratified in 1966 under which the Church entered into a covenanted relationship with all the other Churches in the Congregational Church in England and Wales. On the formation of the United Reformed Church in 1972, Stevenage Congregational Church chose affiliation to the new Church and was redesignated Stevenage United Reformed Church.
A Sunday School was started at the Church in February 1953, renamed as the Junior Church in 1960. Other organisations active within the Church have variously included the Womens and Mens Fellowships, Junior and Youth Fellowships and Clubs, the Young Wives or Thursday Club and scout, cub, guide and brownie packs.
The Church was also involved with the local ecumenical project operated at the Church of Christ the King at Symonds Green, Stevenage. In September 1981 a sharing agreement for the Church of Christ the King was signed between Holy Trinity Church (Church of England), St Joseph's Church (Roman Catholic) and the United Reformed Church at Stevenage. The Church was built in 1982, part of the building costs being paid by Stevenage United Reformed Church, although the costs of running of the Church were borne by Holy Trinity and St Joseph's Churches. The three Church denominations ran the Church through a Joint Church Council and had equal opportunity for use of the Church premises.
Miss Pat Ashton served as resident Leader of Stevenage Congregational Church for a year from 1953-1954, but the first minister proper was Reverend E R Wimpress who commenced his ministry at the Church in January 1955 and retired in December 1991. During the period of his ministry at Stevenage he also had oversight of the Congregational Churches at Buntingford and at Walkern in the 1950s/60s when they were without ministers and served as part-time minister to Baldock United Reformed Church from 1974-1987. Reverend Wimpress's successor as minister to Stevenage United Reformed Church was Reverend John Maitland who was inducted into the Church in November 1992.