The Church Leadership Programme (CLP) is a comprehensive programme to refresh experienced lay and ordained leaders in authentic leadership, helping church leaders to develop external skills from their core sense of being.  

A mix of physical and virtual learning, the course threads from September to June every academic year.  Each year, participants form into a faith community, committed to each other for encouragement and support. Participants learn in joint sessions and become part of smaller learning groups with a dedicated tutor. Additionally, each participant has an individual accompanier throughout the academic year.

What does it seek to achieve?
  • to continue to place Christian leadership within the context of vocation and ministry within the United Reformed Church
  • to enable growth in personal formation for participants, and extend the knowledge and skills necessary for effective Christian leadership
  • reflection on personal leadership experience, alongside new ways of leadership discernment
  • to develop leaders who enable United Reformed Churches to become communities of more faithful disciples, better equipped to share in God’s Mission  – Walking the Way of Jesus together
Who is it for?

People in recognised lay leadership roles and those serving as ministers of Word and Sacraments and Church Related Community Workers. The course benefits those with some experience of Christian leadership, including those nearing retirement. There are up to 16 places each academic year.

What can I expect as a participant?

The CLP includes an opening residential weekend in September followed by six virtual sessions. There is a break over Christmas before the programme resumes with a second residential weekend in early February and continues with six more virtual sessions. It concludes with a one night residential in June.  Part One of the programme concentrates on the personal qualities and skills which are core to a leader (inner formation): Part Two focuses on how these are translated within public leadership (community formation).

There is some reading and exercises to complete between each virtual session using the source material and URC Learning Hub.

During the academic year, each participant chooses their own particular personal development project. This helps to put learning into practice and embeds the spiritual, emotional and intellectual changes which the CLP highlights.

The whole CLP year is structured to contain time for worship, development of community, and personal reflection as well as formal input by tutors and accompaniers all of whom understand the United Reformed Church and have experienced the CLP themselves. Small group work and discussion encourage the growth of informal support networks among participants, which often continue after completion of the programme.

Each participant is assigned an accompanier, who will reflect with participants about changes and challenges, growth and joy.  Participants will meet online with their accompanier a minimum of 6 times (3 in the first part of the programme and 3 in the second). Each participant also receives a range of books and tools as part of the course fee as well as access to the URC Learning Hub where some of the course material is held.

What does it cost?

Each part of the programme (residential and 6 virtual sessions) costs £250, making the total £500.  Each residential/virtual period is in a different calendar year, making it possible for grants to be sought more easily from various sources.  Whether you are a lay, commissioned or ordained leader, you are encouraged to discuss costs with your synod’s training and development officer or equivalent.  Grants are available via:

  • a CLP grant fund specifically for lay people
  • usual EM3 grant funding
  • the continuing studies fund (decisions made in July each year)
  • synods directly in some cases
  • pastorates or places of work in some cases

The Education and Learning Committee of the United Reformed Church undertakes to ensure that no one who would benefit from the programme will be prevented from participation through lack of funds.

Dates for 2023/24
First residential 15-17 September 2023 at Hinsley Hall, Leeds
Virtual sessions 2023 9.30am until 12 noon on Oct 4, 11, 18; Nov 8, 15, 22
Second residential 9–11 February 2024 at Hinsley Hall, Leeds
Virtual sessions 2024 9.30am until 12 noon on Feb 21, 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27
Final residential (24hr)         7–8 June 2024 at Hinsley Hall, Leeds

What have previous participants said about CLP?

  • “A regaining of confidence and a new feeling of empowerment, real excitement at much of what I’ve seen and heard.”
  • “I think every minister would benefit from this and should be encouraged to come.”
  • “Space to have time to reflect on my journey, help in self-awareness building. It has opened up issues in social change and concepts in leadership.”
  • “A valuable course giving space and reflection. Besides the formal input, the informal contact with other course members is invaluable.”
  • “Lots of materials and tools which I hope to implement and other prompts to refocus my life and ministry.”
  • “This is the best, most challenging, most thought-provoking and most inspirational course I have had the pleasure of attending.”
How do I find out more?

If you would like to discuss any aspects of the programme, please send your email and telephone details to  Someone directly involved with CLP will then get in touch with you.

To be accepted on the programme you will need a recommendation from an authorised person in your synod, usually the Training and Development Officer (or equivalent).  You will need to complete the pre-course questionnaire, which is available from Philippa Linton.

Deadline for registration

The deadline for registrations is Wednesday 31 May 2023.

To register or for general enquiries please contact:

Philippa Linton
Administrator for Education and Learning
The United Reformed Church
86 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9RT

Direct number: 0207 916 8635

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