David Barrett states that there are around thirty three thousand different Christian denominations worldwide[1], and in the UK these include the established Anglican communion of the Church of England, Roman Catholics, various Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers (also called the Society of Friends), Salvation Army, Brethren, Pentecostal churches, and many others. The UK is also home to several groups who consider themselves Christian, but are not always accepted as such by the more mainstream denominations. The best known of these are the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (otherwise known as Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians.

Today, there are a growing number of new churches which have no particular affiliation to any of the historical denominations, but which are independently run and organised, even though possibly in partnership with other similar churches in other towns or cities of the UK or abroad. These are often non-liturgical (i.e. they don’t follow a printed order of service), they make significant use of modern musical instruments and computerised electronics, and they are often attractive to young people and university students. Such churches will often take names like, Alive, Hillsong, Vineyard, or Cornerstone, and they frequently meet in rented buildings rather than in their own purpose-built churches. In our major cities there are also a growing number of independent Pentecostal groups run by and for black or Asian Christian communities.

Differences between the various denominations may be based on their form and style of worship, aspects of their theology, or their administrative structure and organisational hierarchy. On the other hand, individual churches of the same denomination might also vary in some of these ways, and today, you will almost certainly find individual members of any given church who will have very different beliefs from the other members of the same church.

[1] Barrett and co-author Todd Johnson state there are 33,820 denominations; World Christian Trends AD30-AD2200 (2001) William Carey Library, California: p7



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