The United Reformed Church has appointed the Rev Roberta Rominger as its general secretary. She becomes the first woman to hold the senior post in the Church, or in any of its predecessor denominations.
Congregationalists, Presbyterians and members of the Churches of Christ have come together in a series of unions since 1972, to form the United Reformed Church.
None ever had a woman as its general secretary or most senior staff member, although the Congregational Union of England and Wales was the first mainstream denomination in Britain to ordain a woman, as long ago as 1917.
Ms Rominger said this week: “I am passionate about the vision of a Church that is enthusiastically engaged with the world. I believe God speaks and acts in the world today. The Church’s life should reflect this God, who is committed to hope, justice and human flourishing."
She added: “Among the members of the United Reformed Church, are many creative, inspiring and intellectually and spiritually alive people. It is a privilege to be called to lead them”.
Roberta Rominger trained for ministry in the USA, and was ordained in California, in the United Church of Christ. She came to Britain in 1985 and has been a minister in the United Reformed Church ever since, serving as Moderator of the Thames North Synod for the past ten years.
She will take up the post in July 2008. She replaces the Rev Dr David Cornick, who is to become general secretary of Churches Together in England, the official inter-church body.
Ms Rominger is also an accomplished cellist, with a special love of chamber music.
With the Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, current president, due to become the next Methodist general secretary, and the Rev Jonathan Edwards and the Rev Graham Sparkes heading up the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the three largest Free Churches are all set to have new, reforming leaderships.