News Update From The URC – February 2016

In this issue

We partner with Greenbelt
Youth Assembly sets agenda for next 12 months
Churches call for more support for Syria’s people
Fresh Expressions – get visionary
Rejoice and swap!
Guide to elections in Wales

We partner with Greenbelt

Paul Northup, Greenbelt’s Creative Director and Francis Brienen, the URC’s Deputy General Secretary (Mission) sign the partnership agreement.

The United Reformed Church has signed a two-year agreement with Greenbelt, making the denomination an Associate Partner of the Christian arts festival for the first time.

The partnership is a natural fit, building on the URC’s rich Nonconformist tradition of exploration of radical Christian faith and working for justice, and the dynamic and creative energy of the Greenbelt festival.

Francis Brienen, the URC’s Deputy General Secretary (Mission), said: ‘Greenbelt is a joyful celebration and exploration of what the future of the Church might be, and how local churches can live out their mission as counter-cultural communities. We’re excited by the creative potential of working together.’

The 2016 festival will be held this year from 26 to 29 August at Boughton House near Kettering. The URC’s participation is one more good reason to come along this year. Buy tickets at the early bird rate, and let us know you are coming on Facebook. See you there!

» Read more

Youth Assembly sets agenda for next 12 months

More than 100 young people from all 13 synods came together on 22 to 24 January to build relationships, discuss issues, worship together and to plan for the future at the United Reformed Church Youth Assembly.

Meeting at Whitemoor Lakes in Staffordshire, the young people approached a packed schedule with energy, ideas and a desire to make things happen. Laughter, honesty and creativity infused the meeting.

Creative workshops on Saturday covered drama, visual arts, baking, horticulture and music. A wide range of seminars explored media issues, evangelism, and how people can get involved in tackling social justice issues.

In the closing worship the Youth Assembly inducted new Moderator of the United Reformed Church Youth Assembly Sandy Nunn and Youth Assembly Moderator-elect Dan Morrell to represent the URC Youth.

For the next 12 months URC Youth is looking to build on work that is already under way.

A major resource on mental health is due to be released soon. Sandy Nunn said, ‘It is incredible how much of an influence we had on our General Assembly on the topic of mental health.’

Youth Assembly also discussed the ongoing research into the age group 20 to 40 within the United Reformed Church. A task group is working on a full report to the whole church.

» Read more

Half price digital Reform
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Go to the online shop
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Alternatively, existing paper subscribers can add digital copies of Reform to their subscription for 60p an issue – just call the new subscriptions team on 01371 851 886 to set this up. All of the subscription options available are explained here.

Subscribe now. Join the debate!

Churches call for more support for Syria’s people

Four major UK Churches have called on governments to provide substantial new funding to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria including refugees in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

The call from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church comes on the eve of the 2016 international pledging conference for Syria, taking place in London.

In 2015, following the last international appeal by the United Nations (UN), less than 60% of the required funds were raised.

» Read more

Fresh Expressions – get visionary

Churches know they need to change in order to share faith today. But how? The Fresh Expressions team offers one set of solutions – a range of events and training opportunities to help think about how we can answer Jesus’ to make disciples.

Linda Rayner, URC Coordinator for Fresh Expressions of Church, facilitates vision events to help local churches understand what changes in society and culture have brought about this need for something different.

» Read more

Copyright made easy

The communications department at Church House has produced a fourth information guide in its growing series on church communications: ‘Getting to grips with copyright: A short guide for United Reformed churches’.

This short guide, written by Dr Jean Silvan Evans, clearly and simply covers the major copyright issues and queries that churches face. It can be ordered, for just 75p a copy, from the URC’s online store.

NB: We are able to offer follow up training on church copyright issues via Chris Williams, Customer Relations Manager at Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) UK. If you or your synod or group of churches would like to invite someone to attend a synod or similar meeting to speak about – or deliver a workshop on – church copyright issues please email Chris Williams direct.

» Read more

Encountering God in …

From 12 to 15 July 2016, at the Windermere Centre, the URC Retreat Group is offering a patchwork of retreat experiences, where you will be guided in a range of ways to encounter God: such as, lectio divina, creative arts, labyrinth walking, journaling, walking with God, silence. Some may be familiar, but God might be waiting to meet you in other ways.

Spending time intentionally seeking company with God can refresh us on our faith journey and give spiritual energy for the next stage.

If you have not been on a retreat before, this will offer a gentle taster experience to help you choose the kind of retreat that will restore you in future.

For more information email Kathryn Price.

» Read more

Rejoice and swap!

Rejoice and Sing – the Full Music Edition is now out of print – yet some churches are actively looking for copies.

The publications office at Church House is hoping to help meet a need by pairing churches looking for copies with churches that, for one reason or another, have one or more copies they are no longer using.

In the first instance we’re looking to compile a list of churches/individuals with unwanted copies of Rejoice and Sing – the Full Music Edition; if you have copies that are surplus to requirement please email Ingrid Schiller with the details.

» Read more

Guide to elections in Wales

This year sees elections for the National Assembly for Wales and for Police and Crime Commissioners in both England and Wales.

To help churches prepare for the elections, the Cytûn election website is up and running in English and in Welsh.

Already on the site are a guide to the elections and how they will work, and a guide to help local churches arrange ecumenical hustings for candidates, as well as links to other websites.

» Read more

Exploring forgiveness

From 8 to 18 February the London Inter Faith Centre is hosting the acclaimed exhibition of the Forgiveness Project, a thought-provoking collection of arresting images and personal stories exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity.

Drawing together voices from South Africa, Rwanda, the US, the Middle East and the UK, the exhibition examines forgiveness as a very human healing process, a path out of victimhood and, ultimately, a journey of hope. The exhibition and programme of events are open to all.

» Read more

Diary of events

Find your voice
Monday evenings from 15 February, St James Woolton, Liverpool.
Fresh Expressions minister Trish Davis offers a six-week practical approach to helping people speak confidently and naturally about their faith.

Developing your Appreciative Inquiry Practice
23 to 25 February, Windermere Centre

Lay Preachers’ and Worship Leaders’ Gift Day
13 March, Westminster College

Embracing Eldership
21 to 23 March, Westminster College

Free to Believe national conference Cutting Edge Faith

1 to 3 April High Leigh Conference Centre, Hertfordshire

Technology in the Pulpit
18 to 20 April, Windermere Centre

United Reformed Church General Assembly 2016
8 to 11 July 2016 – Southport Convention Centre

19 to 21 February
GEAR Swanwick Conference

19 to 21 February – Seasons of Invitation with Back to Church Sunday co-founder Michael Harvey. Swanwick Conference Centre, Derbyshire

God in the Garden with Fiona Thomas and Michael Jagessar Windermere Centre, Cumbria

Providing pensions

The legal requirement that all employers must make pension provision for their staff reaches the ‘small’ employers in 2016. This means that, if your church employs staff you must (depending on the individual’s status) either:

enrol them into a pension or
provide them with access to a pension.

Mrs Jane Baird, the URC’s Deputy General Secretary (Administration & Resources) said: ‘If you employ anyone, even if it’s just for a few hours a month, you must take this legal requirement seriously and make appropriate pension provision for your staff.’

The document ‘A Change to Pension Regulation’, provides more information.

New General Secretary for Free Churches Group

The Revd Paul Rochester, appointed as Free Church General Secretary in July 2015, will be taking up the post full-time from March 2016.

Mr Rochester brings to the post the experience he has gained within the Civil Service, as well as his experience from serving as an ordained minister with the Church of God of Prophecy. He has a heart for ecumenical engagement and looks forward to participating fully in the breadth of Free Church life.

Lenten devotions

Northern and North Western Synods have produced a new series of daily devotions for Lent.

Sign up to receive a daily email

Staff Moves

The United Reformed Church has appointed John Samson as new Chief Finance Officer.

Mr Samson, who will start on 9 May, was born in South Africa and now lives in Hertfordshire. In addition to his professional accountancy credentials he is a member at St John’s URC Northwood. There will be handover period until the current Chief Finance Officer Andrew Grimwade retires in the summer.

Internship opportunity

Are you interested in making links between faith, life and politics? Seeking an internship from September 2016? Read on to find out how you could be part of the Joint Public Issues Team, helping to enable the United Reformed Baptist, Methodist Church, and Church of Scotland to work together on issues of justice and peace.

This is a full-time internship for one year from 1 September 2016, paid at the London Living Wage and based in central London.

See the URC vacancies page for more information
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