Reverend Cecil White — Currently on Sabbatical
Our services are led by our minister or a visiting minister or preacher from HAEBEA. The service is usually made up of hymns and songs, prayers, Bible readings, an all age talk and a sermon. Our services also include junior church and are followed by refreshments. We celebrate Communion every month and everyone is welcome to receive Communion.
"To know Christ and make Him known"
To enable people to know and worship God and to develop their own spirituality
To encourage the work and witness of our members
To offer friendship and support within a Christian setting
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To confront issues of injustice
Epping URC is a family church and part of the Eastern Synod of the United Reformed Church.
The current building is new though there has been a Church on the same land for over 300 years. We regularly hold coffee mornings and charity bazaars for our chosen charity of the year. We also hold additional events to fundraise for specific causes such as The Box or our Commitment for Life country Zimbabwe.
Members of our congregation take turns in leading junior church every sunday except during August or when we have an all age service. The children usually leave after the second hymn and spend the rest of the service in our purpose built junior church room. We follow the lectionary with each session including a theme, Bible story and craft/activity.
Our toddler group meets every Wednesday between 10am and 11:30am during term time. Karin runs the group and arranges a wide range of thematically linked activities including crafts and stories in each session and a monthly Bible story. At special times of the year such as Christmas and Easter, the group has a short service in the church. We fundraise for various charities throughout the year including Children in Need, Comic & Sport Relief and Macmillan.
Since 2008 we have been twinned with Mbare UPC, Harare, Zimbabwe. Frequent communications are shared between the congregations and both African and English churches continually pray for each other in worship services as well as other times. In 2011 our then minister, Jason visited and Lindsey, a church elder has visited on multiple occasions. In 2014 and 2018 we were visisted by members of the Zimbabwe presbytery. We have supported Mbare with fundraising which has helped to build a new school and replacing their water tower. We also share information in our congregation about Zimbabwe and Mbare through special services and events enjoying Zimbabwean food, music and slideshows.
Through this twinning our lives have been enriched, as by any new relationship: we have learnt a great deal about one another; individual members of congregations have built personal friendships; prayers have been offered and answered; visits have taken place in both directions; we have shared our joys and trials.
Epping URC is one of the oldest non-conformist churches in Essex where there have been services on the same site in Lindsey Street since 1625, originally in an old barn or malting house. It is thought that the vicar of the parish, Reverend Jeremy Dyke began services here for the benefit of those who were unable to go to the old parish church at Epping Upland. In the first title deed dated 1653, there is mention of a meeting house with no date as to when it had been built, but apparently displacing the old barn or malting house. In 1774 a new building was constructed with the Rev. Sam Saunders giving an interesting account of its construction:
"The old meeting house in at Epping in the county of Essex- very much decay'd- it was thought proper to take it down and to erect a new one. A committee was appointed viz John Green, Francis Milton, John Pressland, John Archer Rich, Lee W Archer, Michael Allen and Edmund Prentise the last mentioned seldom or ever acted being at such a distance from Epping. According to their agreement, the old meeting house was begun to be pulled down on Monday the fourteenth of March 1774. The Rev Sam Saunders the minister at Epping being appointed sole manager and director in ordering the building and overseeing the workmen with the first brick being laid by Rev. Sam Saunders on twenty fourth day of March in the year of our lord 1774. And what is scarce credible to relate tho at such time of year when unsettled weather is to be expected, yet from laying the first brick to finishing the superstructure and striking the scaffolding the workmen were not hindered half an hour. So that the whole building was completed in one month and one day..."
The new building included an elaborately carved doorway and mouldings outside and a heavy pulpit with a massive carving and square pews for 'family worship', three galleries were also added, one for the use of young ladies, one for the poor and one for singers and musicians. In 1780, the new chapel was put into a trust which was found to have been mortgaged for £200 apparently to the Rev. Samuel Saunders who had recently died, with a new trust-deed found in 1790. During a Sunday school meeting one day in 1839, six young men who were missionary students from Ongar walked in and preached to the church with one of them being David Livingstone, the great African explorer and missionary. In 1845, an adjoining school room was built on the site of a cottage and stable and was used for thirty years by the British School. The corner stone had been laid in March 1845 by Samuel Gurney Esq with the room being opened by Mr Ince MP and it is now laid in the church garden. In 1887 the whole building underwent complete restoration and considerable extension which included a large gothic front and new organ.
In 1972 the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. In 1981 the Re-formed Association of Churches of Christ in Great Britain also joined, followed in 2000 by the Congregational Union of Scotland
Between 1972 and 1976 our minister was the Rev. Bryn Austin Rees who wrote the well known hymns 'The God we seek beyond all thought', 'The kingdom of God' and 'Have faith in God, my heart.'
By the 1990s the building was becoming dilapidated and difficult to maintain and so it was decided to knock it down and build a new building with the exception of the old school room which became the new sanctuary. The new building was opened on 21st June 1997.
Who is the United Reformed Church? We are a family of Christians, worshipping in the name of Jesus in about 1500 local churches from Orkney to Cornwall.
All our tasks and posts are open to women as fully as to men. We are an intercultural church, where people with varied ethnic roots enrich each other's Christian living. Our people hold a range of opinions about theology and church life. In the words of the denominations Statement of Nature, Faith and Order (1990) together we are firmly committed to 'God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The living God, the only God, ever to be praised.'
Find out more, by exploring the URC website, or (even better) by coming to meet us and worshipping with us.