We are the Walsall Pastorate of the United Reformed Church (URC), a mainstream denomination of the Christian church in the United Kingdom. The URC has approximately 68,000 members in 1500 congregations with some 700 ministers. The United Reformed Church resulted from a union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales in 1972. The URC subsequently united with the Re-formed Association of Churches of Christ in 1981 and the Congregational Union of Scotland in 2000. The present General Secretary of the URC is Revd John Proctor, who spent his teenage years in Walsall and attended Queen Mary's Grammar School.
The URC is organised into 13 Synods, each having a Moderator. The Moderator of the West Midlands Synod is Revd Steve Faber, with responsibility for 123 churches & their clergy. Within Synods there are ministers in pastoral charge of a church who also serve as part-time Area Ministers. Our Area Minister, for South Staffordshire and the Black Country, is Revd Barry Welch. The Walsall Pastorate comprises three churches: Blakenall, Broadway and Hatherton sharing one minister, Revd Wilbert Sayimani.
Each congregation within the URC is governed by a Church Meeting consisting of all its church members, which is the ultimate decision-making body in the congregation. There is also an Elders' Meeting (similar to the presbyterian Kirk Session in the Church of Scotland) which advises the Church Meeting and shares with the minister the spiritual and pastoral oversight of the church. Elders are normally elected to serve for a specific period of time.
In 1982 the URC voted in favour of a covenant with the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the Moravian Church, which would have meant remodelling our synod moderators as bishops and incorporating our ministry into the apostolic succession. However, the Church of England rejected the covenant. In 2011, the URC allowed the blessing of same-sex civil unions in its UK churches, and our General Assembly has discussed proposals that would allow its churches to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in the near future.