We’re lucky to have a whole host of places to worship at in the village, including the ever warm and welcoming Bramhall United Reformed Church (URC). I Love Bramhall met up with community outreach worker and Bramhall native Elaine Noden to find out more about what makes the URC a modern church for the modern age.
Situated on the corner of Robins Lane, a Church has been a feature of the local landscape since 1904, when the Congregationalists saw a need for the original building. The United Reformed Church (URC) was formed when Congregationalists and Presbyterians united back in 1972, and the current URC building in Bramhall was developed in 1996. The church has a progressive and inclusive approach, in-keeping with modern times.
The Congregational Church was the earliest to ordain female ministers and Bramhall URC was the first in the North to perform a civil ceremony in a church back in 2013. Inviting everyone to celebrate their Christian faith and get actively involved in church life – regardless of gender, age, race or sexuality – Bramhall URC holds services on Sundays in two different formats, one traditional and one café style, to reflect the diversity of the congregation.
Unlike many other denominations of Christianity, the URC is different in that services are relatively interactive and relaxed in nature. Several years ago, the café-style order of service was adopted to create an inclusive alternative to the more traditional style of worship.
This informal service, held in the Church Hall at 9.30am, brings together members of the congregation both young and old for half an hour’s worship over a breakfast of toast or croissants. The short service is convenient for families or church members who have plans later in the day and often includes an activity or craft, keeping everyone busy and promoting interactivity.
The traditional service, meanwhile, is held an hour later at 10.30am in the Main Church Building; Holy Communion is celebrated every first Sunday every month and special occasions like Easter and Harvest time see the two congregations come together for a joint celebration, in which tables are placed at the back of the space for the café element. There are also some comfy sofas and a drawing table at the rear to keep little ones entertained.
The Reverend Alan Poolton, who oversees Bramhall URC and its sister church in Cheadle Hulme, also interim minister at Wilbraham St Ninians, Chorlton, is supported by a group of elders – members of the congregation who take an active role in looking after the church. Elders may lead services and are tasked with making decisions about the church and its future. Currently, church members are in consultation about building alterations to make the space more inviting.
In addition to weekly services, the church is a hubbub of activity through the week, hosting all manner of community groups and get-togethers. From Brownies to the Book Club, Bramhall URC offers something for everyone, including popular group Knit & Natter, who were recently featured as Club of the Month in national magazine Simply Knitting. Ahead of Easter, Knit & Natter have been busy creating little knitted chicks and bunnies, each complete with a Crème Egg, which will be donated to charity Francis House to sell as alternatives to commercial Easter Eggs.
Members of Bramhall URC actively supports good causes in other ways, too; the church regularly collects for charity Christian Aid and holds events to raise money for the cause. Volunteers give their time in the evenings to Bramhall youth initiative The Mill and the Special Needs Activity Group, as well as manning the Disco and Supper event at Centrepoint – a resource shared by the local churches.
Together with the Cheadle Hulme church, Bramhall URC also supports Chelwood Food Bank in Cheadle, filling a basket for those in need every week. At Christmas, church members organised a reverse Advent calendar, delivering more than 40 boxes at a value of £30 each filled with handy items for families over the festive season. For Easter, the congregations are donating handbags along with useful contents for women in need.
Bramhall URC is hoping to spread its message of welcome within the village and beyond in the coming months, so look out for Elaine at the Bramhall Festival in June and at Stockport Pride in July. To find out more about the church, or to get involved, use the details below to call, email, visit or connect on social media.
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