This article was found in the February 1952 issue of Progress, the monthly magazine of the Romford Congregational Church
Letters from an Uncle to his Niece and Nephew
Dear Jack and Betty,
I was delighted to hear you are joining the Congregational Church at South St. It is, of course, only what I expected, as I know your family roots have been deep in that Church for at least three generations. Since hearing the news however, I have wondered whether you are joining your Church merely because mother and father (not to mention grandparents) are members. Please don't misunderstand me. I know you well enough to be sure you are not taking this step carelessly; that you do so only because you realise the Christian way of life is and always has been the only one worth living; that you both wish to love and serve our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and fully realise the best way to do this is to join in fellowship with others of similar views, and that you also realise this step is one of the most important of your young lives. No, my doubt is not there. It is I think best expressed by asking you both a few questions. Why are you joining a Congregational Church (and not an Anglican, Methodist, Baptist of Presbyterian)? Do you know where Congregationalism differs from these others? Do you know its history, its distinctive features, its glorious traditions? It is to give you a very brief knowledge of these things that I propose to write you this series of letters. I hope when you have read them all your interest will be aroused, and that you will wish to read more and in greater detail of this glorious story.
But here again I must be careful. It is not my wish to give you the impression that the Church of Christ is confined to Congregationalism. We are but a branch of the one Church. Our own history, which does not go back earlier than the 16th century, must not blind you to the fact that when you join South St. Congregational Church you join the great Church of Christ - one great Holy Church - with a story going back nearly twenty centuries to the time of Christ Himself, now being preached the wide world over. The traditions and the story of these 20 centuries are yours to inherit; there is for you a great and glorious witness from the past whatever your denomination.
Yet there is a romantic story to be told about Congregationalism. You probably know how the Reformation brought Protestantism to birth in the fifteenth century, but do you know of its earliest grim struggles against bitter persecution for well nigh a century, until finally it came to power for a brief space, under Oliver Cromwell - of further persecution following the Restoration, of the Act of Uniformity in 1662 when so many Congregational Churches were founded (including your own Church in Romford)? How, slowly but surely, your forefathers won complete freedom, and how this freedom was followed by decay and decay by revival? Then there is the story of the last 100 years or so when Independency cautiously - how very cautiously - groped its way towards Union and yet more union, always jealously guarding its independency and yet being forced more and more by the logic of events to closer and closer union.
All this I will try and tell you very briefly. My aim will not be to give you a full and complete history of Congregationalism - that is beyond my powers - but to whet your appetite for more and to direct you to many excellent publications which will supply your need.
If I can give you are little of the thrill and romance which I experience when I first read the story then my labours will not have been in vain.
May God bless you,