Free Christians

A non-denominational Christian movement emphasizing individual freedom in worship and interpretation of the Bible.

Free Christians, especially noted within Britain, embody a Christian tradition that emphasizes theological inclusivity and the rejection of strictly imposed doctrines or creeds. This movement traces its origins to the late 19th century, under the influence of James Martineau, a proponent of theological inclusivity within the Unitarian denomination. Martineau advocated for a Christian unity that transcended the traditional Unitarian label, promoting the term “Free Christian” as an alternative to denote this broader, more inclusive approach and establishing the Free Christian Union in 1868​​.

In contemporary Britain, Free Christians find their denominational home within the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and more specifically, the Unitarian Christian Association (UCA). The UCA, formed in 1991, aims to rejuvenate and explore the liberal Christian tradition while serving as a resource for the broader denomination. This association upholds the Free Christian and Unitarian Christian traditions, advocating for a church community free from the constraints of creeds. Members and congregations of Free Christians, including those in Ireland known as Non-Subscribing Presbyterians, share this non-creedal, Christian identity, despite some institutional separations​​​​.

Free Christians engage in a variety of activities to promote their faith and community, including the organization of events across Britain to reflect their geographic diversity, the publication of a journal named ‘The Liberal Christian Herald’, and the publication of several books that explore and articulate their faith perspective. Furthermore, the UCA emphasizes online fellowship through its Free Christian Forum and offers weekly online worship accessible to a wider audience. The association also supports the academic and spiritual development of new ministry students through annual book grants​​.

The leadership within the Free Christian movement, particularly in its connection with the Unitarian tradition, is exemplified through elected positions such as the President and Vice President of the General Assembly. These leaders are instrumental in articulating and spreading the vision of the faith, representing the community at official events and on formal bodies, and embodying the principles of freedom, tolerance, and inclusivity​​.

Unitarian and Free Christian congregations are spread throughout the UK, with churches located in urban and rural settings alike. These congregations serve as the physical and spiritual homes for Free Christians, facilitating worship, community engagement, and the exploration of a liberal Christian faith unfettered by traditional doctrinal constraints​​.

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