Who We Are
Our congregation today is a mxture of those who are long term residents of WGC, people who have settled here in recent years and those just passing through. We have members aged 0 to 90+, from at least 10 countries and are always keen to meet new people. If you do not already belong to a church in the area, why not join us for one of our social or worship events.
Our church has always had strong links with the local community and our halls host numerous community groups.
We are passionate about letting God's light shine and each year support multiple charities with various initiatives.
When Welwyn Garden City first began to be built and occupied, members of all the non-conformist churches met together in a workmen’s hut on Sunday mornings. It was the dream of the Father of Garden Cities, Ebenezer Howard, to plant an Interdenominational Church. And so the United Free Church began.
In 1923, a branch was established in the village of Hatfield Hyde in advance of the first 500 houses being built. The fifteen members met in the dilapidated village club room. Two years later, a wooden church was built and opened by Ebenezer Howard himself. At the time, there were still cornfields between the church and the main part of the Garden City. In 1926, the first ever wedding in Welwyn Garden took place in that little wooden church, they also started the first Boys Brigade and the first Catholic and Congregational youth Club. Many friends from those days are still part of the mixed Group who serve Christmas Day dinner to 200 people every year.
1928 the Free Church hall was built. Worship and service of God went on faithfully in both churches for the next few years and then, in 1935, the Garden City company suddenly announced that, in the next five years, they would be building 1,500 new houses on the east side of the town.The church members at Hatfield Hyde responded quickly and with help from the Congregational Union, a fine brick church building opened in 1938.
Welwyn Garden Free Church affiliated to the Presbyterian Church.So the churches went their own way and both flourished and grew; new halls had to be built to provide much needed space for Junior Church, Youth Club – and Brigades.
Outreach to the community created a family feel, with both churches offering support and activities for their neighbours that led to many people beginning on their Christian journey. The disaster of a fire in 1978 destroyed the Hatfield Hyde church building. But didn’t destroy the spirit and the congregation went on undaunted, raising funds through weekly contributions from each member and from their neighbours until they were able to rebuild what became Woodhall Lane Untied Reformed Church in May 1981. Numbers have declined in both Churches in recent years, With large employers like ICI moving out of the area but the faith and service of the churches have not.
In 2007 for the first time the two churches became a joint pastorate with the same minister. And friendship and fellowship have grown since then with regular shared worship and mutual support.
Woodhall Lane had a ministry to the pre-school sharing their building and saw a hopeful influx of people, in fact doubling the congregation for a while a few years ago. But eventually everyone moved on and they were back to their original faithful few. After much prayer – including one prayer meeting that was labelled the hardest people had ever been to the church began to ask themselves what would bring God glory at this time and in this place. It was then that they realised God was calling them to something new.
They felt that time was right to join with the Free Church; To stop putting all their time and energy and resources into keeping a building open; while they have resources to offer they could join with their friends and use those resources for mission and outreach. They felt God was calling them to take a leap of faith and be a pioneering community once again.
When the approach was made the Free Church responded with warmth and enthusiasm. People were thrilled and delighted at the prospect of more people and even richer fellowship with people who had become friends. One member said ‘this has been talked about many times in the past and it is wonderful that the approach had come from them.’
In September 2014 the two congregations were re-united to form the Welwyn Garden City United Reformed Church.