News Update From The United Reformed Church – March 2014

March 2014

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Syrian update
Goodbye Judy
Future News
Anti arms
News in Brief
First World War
Join the debate
Diary dates
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During Lent (5 March – 20 April) the URC media team is sharing resources, poems, thoughts, paintings and prayers via social media. These include the Parables and Possessions Lent course, from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, alongside contemplative images, poems and prayers from people across the denomination, via social media.

Gill Nichol, the URC’s interim director of communications, said: “These days of Lent provide Christians with a period of reflection and fasting as they prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. The URC’s media team have compiled a wide-ranging collection of thought provoking words and images which, we hope, will provide daily opportunities for reflection, contemplation and inspiration right the way through Lent. We’ve worked hard to make sure there really will be something for everyone in our daily offerings – we hope you will join us!”

The URC media team will be using #Lent2014 right the way through to Easter Sunday. To join the URC Lent online initiative, #Lent2014, follow us on Facebook and twitter.

We also want you to get involved with discussions and share stories about what you and your churches are doing for Lent. If you wish to submit a prayer or reflection, please contact Eve Parker.Back to top

“Future News” – a new film from the Robin Hood Tax campaign

The Robin Hood Tax campaign, supported by the United Reformed Church, has now reached a crucial stage. Campaigners believe that there’s a real chance of securing a financial transaction tax that would allow European governments to deliver on frontline services including the fight against poverty and climate change.

Andrew Bradstock, the URC’s secretary for church and society, said: “The URC supports this campaign because it proposes a just, creative and do-able way to ensure a better quality of life for those most affected by the recent financial crisis – a crisis for which they were not responsible. We ask our political leaders to seize this moment of opportunity to act for the common good and demonstrate their commitment to justice and compassion.”

The campaign has released a short film – Future News – that’s set in 2024, and stars some of Europe’s biggest actors, including Bill Nighy and Andrew Lincoln, and highlights how countries have reaped huge benefits by implementing the Robin Hood Tax, and how, by refusing, the UK has lost out. The film was directed by David Yates, director of Harry Potter.

Andrew Lincoln, star of hit US TV series the Walking Dead, who appears in the campaign film, said: “After six years of shaky recovery and decreasing living standards, it is time for our leaders to be ambitious and act in the interest of the people and the planet.”Back to top

Marking the centenary of the First World War

As almost everyone has noticed, 2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. Across the three nations, people of all ages will be reflecting on the events of the war, the experiences of men and women here and overseas, and how the war has shaped the last 100 years.

Is your local church thinking of doing something different or unusual this year to commemorate the outbreak of the war? Andrew Bradstock, secretary for church and society, would like to hear how synods and churches are planning to mark this occasion. Please get in touch with him if you have a story to contribute.

The United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship is gathering stories of conscientious objectors of the First World War. If you or your church has a story to share, please contact Wendy Cooper.

There is already material to reflect on – and more to come – here.

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Britain’s “ethical duty” to accept Syrian refugees

Church leaders have joined forces in order to urge David Cameron to rethink the government’s policy on Britain accepting Syrian refugees.

All thirteen United Reformed Church synod moderators, along with the moderators of the General Assembly, joined Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic leaders from across Great Britain in signing a letter to the prime minister on 14 February, calling for an increase in the number of Syrian refugees allowed into Britain.

Church leaders criticised the government’s initial commitment as falling a long way short of the contribution Britain should make – given its size and resources – and calls for more appropriate measures to be taken.

The letter reads: “It is our view that the extension of hospitality goes far beyond financial – and that there is a moral responsibility upon us as part of the international community to resettle a small but significant number of refugees fleeing Syria. We believe that it is an ethical duty for us as a responsible country to accept our part in caring for these people.”

Read the full text of the letter here.Back to top

The United Reformed Church speaks out against the arms trade

Five Christians went on trial at the beginning of February for peacefully blocking an entrance to the London arms fair in September 2013. In support of the protestors, the general secretary of the United Reformed Church, the Revd Roberta Rominger, called for informed debate and non-violent direct action against death-dealing practices such as the arms trade.

The Revd Roberta Rominger, stated: “We concur with the defendants claim that there is an honourable tradition in the Christian church, going back to Jesus himself, of non-violent direct action against practices that promote death and injustice…”

The full statement can be read here. The protesters were acquitted of aggravated trespass at Stratford Magistrates Court on 4 March.Back to top

Reform – join the debate

It sometimes seems as if Reform has the liveliest letters page in the world. This month, swords continue to clash over Christian attitudes to war and the theology of Christmas carols, as well as the five-month argument over life after death and what Christians are supposed to believe. Why not join in the debate yourself?

On top of this, Meic Pearse argues that the aims of the ecumenical movement remain unfulfilled, and its future looks grim. While the general secretary of the World Council of Churches says: “It has not failed and it will not fail”. Roberta Rominger and Christina Rees weigh into the debate as well. As usual Reform’s pages ring with the creative clashing of ideas. Join the debate.

You can also join in online. Comment on articles on the Reform website, exchange views on twitter, and share your thoughts on Facebook.

And there’s even more to wrestle with in this month’s magazine. Martin Camroux celebrates immigration. We hear from Christians on trial for obstructing the sale of illegal torture devices in the UK. Dave Tomlinson, the minister who made the front pages for leading Ronnie Biggs’s funeral, shares radical ideas on how the Church can be transformed.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a giant chicken, a boy with a bright yellow face, and prayers in code. Join the debate.

To subscribe, click here.

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Goodbye Judy!

At the end of February, Church House said goodbye to Judy Stockings, pensions officer and senior finance officer for the United Reformed Church. Judy (pictured) is a popular figure in Church House and across the wider denomination, and, as she has worked in Church House for thirty five years, it was no surprise that many people gathered at her retirement lunch on 25 February, to show their gratitude for all her hard work of the years. With gifts, songs, old friends, colleagues and family, Judy received a heartfelt farewell.

Reflecting on her working life – and her retirement – Judy said: “I am given to understand that when I began working for the Church, the then General Secretary, Arthur MacArthur had said something to the effect that although I was a nice girl, of course I wouldn’t stay. How right he was, after only 35 years here I am leaving – obviously no staying power!

“I’ve had the pleasure of working for the URC for the last 35 years and liken my employer to an old pair of trainers which I cannot quite bring myself to throw out!  Over time they’ve become the most comfortable shoes ever, and I’m very reluctant to be parted from them. Perhaps my close working companions will say that this all sounds a bit soppy – but the truth of the matter is that Church House has become my second home.

“I never envisaged reaching retirement, such life changing events only happen to old people. Although I am excited about the prospect of my new found independence, I am also extremely apprehensive. I am really sad to leave behind all my colleagues and friends, some of whom will remain friends for the rest of my life.

“My ‘retirement do’ was a right royal send off. No cups of tea and speeches for me – oh no, I was given a performance of Judy the Musical (a narration of some events from my life with relevant songs sung by John Steele), together with a quiz, Know Your Stockings. Both of which must be praised for the time, effort and research that created them. Among the many gifts I received from my friends in both Church House and the wider Church was a book which was specially designed and printed for me entitled, “A Glimpse of Stockings”, a chronological celebration in pictures and words of my working life at Church House. It is truly delightful and will be much treasured.

“I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and generous contributions towards my retirement gift. This has all been a most humbling experience, throughout which I have been made to feel very, very special. God bless you all.”

Rob Seaman, one of Judy’s close colleagues and formerly the finance and pensions fund administrator, has now taken on many of Judy’s tasks (primarily those that relate to pensions and taxation) and is now pension fund manager.  Rob should be the first port of call for those enquiries that, until last week, would have been directed to Judy.  Email Rob or call him via the Church House switchboard on 020 7916 2020020 7916 2020.Back to top

News in Brief

Church House Job Vacancies

The United Reformed Church currently has three vacancies, all based at Church House in Central London. Full job packs for all three posts are available online, by clicking the relevant links below:

Retired Ministers’ Housing Society is going online

The Retired Ministers’ Housing Society is in the process of developing an online presence – and it needs your help!  The society wants to hear your ideas about how retired ministers – and those who are going to retire soon – can most efficiently make use of a dedicated website.

If you would like to be part of this project e-mail the society’s secretary, Andy Bottomley, with your input and ideas.

Don’t forget to enter!

The deadline for applications for the Community Awards Project is Thursday, 27 March 2014. Don’t miss the chance for your church project to win a prize of up to £4,000.Back to top

Diary dates

7 March: Women’s World Day of Prayer

4 April: National Day of Fasting, End Hunger Fast

11-17 May: Christian Aid Week

17 May: CRCW Roadshow at Castle Hill URC in Northampton

22-23 May: A Breath of Life: Inspiration for Pentecost for Preachers and Worship Leaders at Luther King House

19-21 June: URC Retreat Group at Westminster College

23-26 June: Westminster Refresher Course at Westminster College

11 October: Germinate: growing and equipping rural mission, Coventry

Courses from the Windermere Centre:
4-6 March: Painting in Spring, with Sarah Edwards

28-1 May: When Church and Kingdom Collide: Explorations, with Lawrence Moore, Kevin Snyman and Peter Noble

12-15 May: Story & Song, with Michael Hodgson and Lawrence Moore

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