History

One of St Andrew's stained glass windowsSt Andrew's United Reformed Church in Sheffield was founded on the 21st of February 1853 as a member of the Presbyterian Church of England, which had itself been formed in 1825. Like many of the Presbyterian Churches in England its origins lay in Scotland. A document written by the first secretary and deposited under the foundation stone of the church states: "There existed at the time a strong feeling on the subject (forming a Presbyterian congregation) in the minds of a few individuals who had been members of Presbyterian churches in Scotland". Action was stimulated by a Scottish regiment's impending move to the area; a church could be established for worship to take place after the form of their Presbyterian ancestors.

At a meeting in the Royal Hotel on 12th January 1853 a committee, which set about the task with urgency, was formed. The first sermon was preached in a crowded Council Hall on the 20th of February and a Presbytery committee approved the foundation the following day. The first minister, the Rev James Breakey, was inducted in 1854; he served for 32 years. A Sunday school opened in 1854 with 22 teachers and 60 scholars. The first Communion Roll contained 59 names. The foundation stone of the present church, architects Flockton & Sons Sheffield, was laid on the 12th July 1855 and the church dedicated at the first service on the 3rd of August 1856; this Victorian gothic style church is now grade 2 listed.

St Andrew's roof was burned out by an incendiary bomb during an air raid in December 1940. Services were held in the church hall until 25th June 1953 when the present restored building was re-opened and dedicated to the strains of St George's Edinburgh, "Ye gates, lift up your heads on high". In 1972, with the union of the Presbyterian Church in England and The English Congregational Union, to form the United Reformed Church, St Andrew's became one of the founding churches.

Ministers are appointed after an introduction by the local Synod Moderator to a church, or group of churches, subject to approval by the church members at a Church Meeting. The Church Meeting, assembling six times a year, is the ruling body of the church acting with and on the advice of the Elders' Meeting. In April 2005, a Church Meeting at St Andrew's approved a "call" (invitation to take up the post of minister) to the Rev Dr Sarah Hall; she was ordained and inducted as minister at St Andrew's on 7th May, 2005.

The position of Elder is a unique feature of the URC. Elders are members of the congregation, elected by the Church Meeting, and ordained for life, to serve the church. The Elders' Meeting, consisting of the minister and elders, exercises oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation. Elders assist in the conduct of Communion Services and the pastoral care of the members. Each elder has a 'district' of members to care for and support. Elders' Meetings are held monthly, alternately devoted to business and study. At St Andrew's elders serve for four years and are then eligible for re-election.

We are represented in the Yorkshire Synod, which meets twice yearly. The General Assembly meets biennially to act as the central organ of the church's life and its final authority under the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Local Representatives to Assembly are chosen from ministers and church members.

Many members of St. Andrew's URC, Sheffield, have Scottish or Northern Irish connections and, while not rejecting more informal styles of worship, preserve a desire for formality and order in church services with a particular emphasis on the Ministry of the Word. Services are held at 11 am on Sunday morning. Communion (the Eucharist) is celebrated quarterly and at Easter.

Church life and morning services have been invigorated by the appointment of an organist and choirmaster. We are a 'gathered church' with our members scattered throughout Sheffield and its surrounding countryside. St. Andrew's is one of three member churches of CTBB (Churches Together in Broomhill and Broomhall). CTBB supports a Worker with Older People, making a difference to the lives of older people in the area. St. Andrew's is represented on the Devonshire Quarter Steering Group and Broomhill Forum.

We have become increasingly involved in social concerns. Some years ago, a group of our elders and members set up St. Andrew's Child Contact Centre (SACCC), to enable separated parents to spend time informally in our church hall with their children who live with their former partners. SACCC's volunteer teams come from St Andrew's and other churches and organizations, as well as individuals. Our next-door neighbour is the Family Welfare Association, whom we assist. A scheme called Starter Packs provides kits of new household equipment for homeless young people moving into their first homes; this is organised and run from St. Andrew's with the help of friends and outside charities. Other Outreach activities are detailed on our "Activities" page.

We are a church with a long tradition, actively exploring our place in the present and reaching out to the future.