Temple Cowley United Reformed Church
Oxford Road, Cowley, OXFORD, OX4 2ES
+44 (0)1865 437146
Email minister :
(in the interest of reducing spam there are no hyperlinks to email addresses on this site)
The 16th & 17 century Reformers wished to take meetings for worship ‘back to basics’,
stripping it of what they considered non-
This was part of their concern for religious freedom. People were to be freed from the obligation to recite creeds, cross themselves, kneel before priests and make visible outward profession of faith. A person’s relationship with God was unique to them; it was between them and God.
This desire to strip away outward religion was at least in part because religion had been used for political ends; these outward rituals had ceased to be innocent, and people had had “correct” confessions of faith wrung out of them by torture.
This freedom was also expressed in their abandoning of set prayer books, which many of them considered an imposition for political ends.
‘The basics’, for them, was the Bible. The primary purpose of the gathering was
to read the Bible and together -
Worship was ‘the people’s work’, not a performance for the people to watch, and so
congregational singing was an important part of worship from the early days. Hymns
are not simply praise songs -
Although times have changed -
We do stand to sing, as a sign that this is the whole ‘people of God’ offering its
praise not just us. And at Temple Cowley there is a point in the service where everyone
greets everyone else with a handshake -
This ‘sign of peace’ is particularly important before our (monthly) communion service. We have no ‘priest’ (‘gatekeeper’) to preside at the communion. The minister is not a priest. The gathered people, reconciled and at peace with one another, ‘are the priest’, so it’s important to ensure that all differences are resolved and the people are ‘in communion’ with one another before they seek communion with God.
We share bread and wine in the communion service because we believe Jesus asked us
to do this to remember him. Week by week, its meaning for us can take on ever new
and different significance. All -
The service is led on alternative weeks by the minister, Dick Wolff, and on the other weeks by a variety of invited worship leaders (some ordained ministers, many not) from different Christian traditions. The service lasts between an hour and an hour and a quarter.
For some years now, we have not had enough children coming to be able to warrant running a separate meeting for them. We have a collection of toys, safe space and safe (that is, vetted) people to be with them if they feel the need to move about and be more active.
There is a piece about naming ceremonies for children here on the ‘Contact’ page.