URC News Update July & August 2017

Thanksgiving service for the Windermere Centre

Carver Uniting Church hosted a thanksgiving service on Saturday 15 July for the life of the Windermere Centre, which has closed after 31 years as a much-loved residential training, retreat and hospitality centre for the United Reformed Church.

The congregation represented people from across the denomination, including former staff, members of the Windermere management committee and its predecessors, members and friends of Carver Uniting Church who had volunteered at the centre and supported its work, as well as people who have run and attended courses over the years.

Commissioned by Mission Council, the service was led and coordinated by the Revd Lis Mullen, a former minister of Carver URC and most recently the Moderator of Northern Synod, together with the Revd Martyn Coe, current minister of Carver Uniting Church and the Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of General Assembly. Read more.

All are ‘More than Welcome’ at Greenbelt 2017

Final preparations are now being made for the United Reformed Church programme at Greenbelt 2017. Have you got your ticket yet? The URC’s theme of ‘More than Welcome’ will encompass a wide range of events and activities, including a ‘banqueting table’ art installation, knitted food treasure hunt, yarn bombing, street theatre, and cake and debate.

This year’s festival, from 25 to 28 August at Boughton House, Kettering, Northamptonshire, will also host a series of ‘intentional conversations’ about who is welcome – or not – in the Church.

Constance Coltman and women in ministry will be at the heart of a session in the Red Tent venue when Constance’s story will be the springboard for conversation about the challenges facing women in ministry today. The Revd Kirsty Thorpe will be contributing to the debate – with support from ‘Constance’ actor Celia Morris-Sanchez, dressed for the role (pictured)!

A panel debate on ‘All Welcome (terms and conditions apply)’ will be chaired by the Revd Elizabeth Gray-King. What is it like to be made unwelcome by the Church? How can we change things? How will it change us?


Transforming Cullompton with a ‘Hug’

‘Can we, in the United Reformed Church, do Church differently, in ways which are true to our Reformed tradition and appropriate for today’s context?’ That was the question the Revd Janet Sutton Webb was tasked with answering when she first moved to Cullompton. She explains how an emerging community’s discipleship has proved transformative in the mid-Devon market town. Read more here.

New life for Swaledale’s ‘thin place’ at Keld

The Revd Stephen Collinson, one of the Ministers of Word and Sacraments at Tees and Swale Pastorate, reports on how new life was breathed into a historic Yorkshire site. Keld United Reformed Church, Upper Swaledale, is one of a cluster of church-owned buildings with a long and special history. Read more.

Building a Cornerstone of community at Cranbrook

The Revd Lythan Nevard tells of developing community – and a church – in Cranbrook, a new town on the edge of Exeter. ‘I work as part of an ecumenical project funded by the URC, Methodist Church and Church of England and my job title is Minister for Cranbrook; I love that I am minister for a place not of a church!’ Read more.

How Constance Coltman ‘opened the door’ to ordination for women

Tessa Henry-Robinson has known disappointment and joy in her ministry with the United Reformed Church but it’s a journey through which she traces parallels with that of Constance Coltman, the first woman to be ordained in a British mainstream tradition 100 years ago. Read more.

Welcome to Scotland!

Following his call to the ministry from Northern Western Synod and training through the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College, Andy Braunston was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacraments on 22 July and then inducted into the newly formed Southside Cluster – along with the Revd Judith Tatton-Schiff who already served two churches in the Glasgow suburbs. The Revd Michael Hopkins preached.

In June, Stewart Cutler – who trained at Scottish College – was ordained and inducted as a Minister of Word and Sacrament to Stonehouse, St. Ninian’s; a URC/Church of Scotland LEP. The church was packed with Stewart’s family and friends, including his father, the Revd Jim Cutler; members of Stonehouse St Ninian’s, Synod and the Presbytery of Hamilton.

Marie Trubic (pictured above) was also celebrating when she was commissioned as a church related community worker/community minister at Priesthill and Shawlands’ URCs (in the Southside Cluster of Churches). Marie is the Synod’s first CRCW. The congregation included synod representatives and members of the two churches and Southside Cluster.

Read it, buy it, join the debate, don’t lose Reform!

To mark the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Reform is publishing 95 new theses – one sentence each by opinion formers and opinion holders of today on ‘How should the Church change?’ Check out the first batch of answers, from public figures including the Archbishop of York, Tim Farron MP and Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall. The ‘new 95’ series will continue until the October issue, so do join the debate! The Reform team is always keen to hear from readers, and reader contributions will certainly be published as part of the ‘new 95’ series. So email us your own one-sentence theses, or post it to @Reform_Mag on twitter using the hashtag #new95. Single copies of Reform are just £4 each, and a year’s worth (10 issues) costs £18 for digital copies, £28 for paper copies and £34 for both digital and paper copies. Speak to the church distributor, call 01371 851 886 or click here to purchase your copy.

Line management training

Autumn dates have been finalised for Line Management Training at Church House, London. The training is split into two full days on 3 October and 14 November 2017. If you would like to attend, please contact Deepti Upadhyaya to reserve your place.

Fairtrade mark support!

The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, made a statement following news that the Fairtrade Foundation is unable to accredit Sainsbury’s new Fairly Traded range of tea products with its official mark. Read more.

Time for a celebration …

So much has been going on in 2017, with some very significant anniversaries for the United Reformed Church – and there are still five months to go! A lot has been organised under the ‘umbrella’ of Feasts and Festivals and every month has seen Bible passages, brief reflections, worship materials, and ideas for community involvement posted on the Feasts and Festivals resources page.

Upcoming Feasts and Festivals celebratory themes are ‘Pioneers’ (August) – whether they’re involved in local or global mission, civil rights movements or health services and ‘Women in the Church’ (September) with a particular emphasis on the centenary of Constance Coltman’s ordination. Resources will soon be available for October when the focus will be on ‘Faith and 500 years since the Lutheran Reformation’; November (‘The saints’) and December (‘Christmas – celebrating Jesus and giving thanks’).

Visit URC at CRE – for free

The United Reformed Church will be at the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in October. Come along to find out more about resources available for your church, and visit the URC stand. As an NU reader you can claim free tickets to CRE (normally £4 in advance or £8 on the day) by following the link below. The URC stand will be publicising Reform, church related community work, Appreciating Church, the Prayer Handbook and more.

CRE, known as ‘the one-stop shop for church supplies, resources and ideas’, takes place at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey, from Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 October. It is the largest event of its kind in Europe. Staff from the URC’s education and learning, CRCW and communications teams will be at the stall on different days. Visit here to find out more about CRE, and to book your complimentary tickets.

Shop dates and despatch

Delivery times have been affected by the move back into Church House. Please bear with us as we re-organise things; we have been doing our best to get your orders despatched as quickly as possible. The store is now closed until 9am on Tuesday 1 August.

Year-round worship help

Charcoal Gospel, the URC’s latest worship resource isn’t just for the major weeks of the Christian year. The meditations can be used throughout the year to support your litany, study groups and individual worship. Available on the URC website for £9.99.

Look out for news next month of Sharing Good News: Handbook on evangelism in Europe. Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church Deputy General Secretary (Mission), is among the contributors who explore challenges for Christianity in Europe. Launched at the Ecumenical Centre, in Geneva earlier this year, it is published by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) and addresses a renewed interest in evangelism within the ecumenical movement.

Mersey and North Western Synods’ Big Day Out

On Saturday 8 July, some 500 people from Mersey and North Western Synods made their way to Southport Convention Centre for their Big Day Out. A Northern Rail train strike on the day did not deter the crowds, many of whom found alternative ways to get to the venue.

Participants, ranging from babes in arms to those of 90-plus, sang, worshipped, made crafts, listened to Bible studies, watched puppet shows, visited the exhibition market stalls, and were challenged by many speakers as to what it meant to be the Church in action. Those speakers included the Revd Andrew Mills, Moderator of North Western Synod, on ‘Acts of the Apostles – and the use of visual art in worship’; and the Revd Steve Chalke of Oasis Church, Waterloo, and Oasis UK who spoke of churches as ‘change agents’.

The Revd Jacky Embrey, Moderator of Mersey Synod, said: ‘The day was a resounding success thanks to all those who worked to get the programme together and to support it in countless different ways behind the scenes – and in front of them too. We had so many lively and varied speakers that folk had difficulty deciding which to leave out, but the best bit of the day, as always, was meeting with friends old and new.’

Church hall to community hub

Why resurrect an old church hall when you could build a new centre for local people instead? The Revd Jenny Mills explains how the Newport Pagnell United Reformed Church family has come together to fundraise for a community building. Read more.

GEAR conference

The Group for Evangelism And Renewal within the United Reformed Church (GEAR) is holding its conference on Refreshing Your Ministry at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, from Monday 20 November (lunch) to Wednesday 22 November. The conference is for serving URC Ministers and CRCWs, and this year is extended to include synod-appointed Local Leaders, and retired ministers who are in pastoral charge. Speakers include the Revd Andrew Roberts, Methodist Minister and author of Holy Habits and the Revd Dr Martin Robinson, Principal and CEO of For Mission College.

Llandaff fundraising triumph

A Cardiff-based Scout group that faced losing its home will now be able to stay put after raising enough money to buy the site it has occupied for 40 years. The Second Llandaff Scout Group, which meets in a hut in the grounds of the former Christchurch Methodist/URC Church in Llandaff North was thrown into difficulty after the church closed in 2015 and the whole property had to be put up for sale. Read more.

From Zambia to Wessex

Two ministers from Wessex Synod’s World Church Partners, the Lusaka Presbytery of the United Church of Zambia, spent time with local churches in Wessex. Frances Mambilima and Mwaka Mufungwe also joined the Ministers’ Spring School at Sarum College, Salisbury. The visit was part of an ongoing exchange programme to learn about ministry and mission from each other.

New booklet for elders as local church trustees

Being an elder is a big responsibility – and the Church owes them strong support and warm thanks. So says the Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church.

‘Part of the support that elders deserve is a clear statement of what is expected of them as local church trustees,’ he adds. ‘To help churches in this, the URC’s Law and Polity Advisory Group has drafted the leaflet, Responsibility as Charity Trustees, and Responsibility for Church Land and Buildings. An Introduction for Ministers and Elders. It is freely downloadable from the URC website and applies to URC congregations in England and Wales.’ Copies of the booklet have already been circulated to Church Secretaries in some Synods, so local churches wanting help in thinking about these matters should make the Synod Trust or Property Officers their first port of call. If, after that, advice is needed from Assembly staff, please get in touch with the General Secretary’s office.

Want to be a youth intern at General Assembly 2018?

The URC is seeking to recruit two young people, aged 18 to 26 to serve as interns at the next General Assembly in Nottingham from 6 to 9 July 2018. Interested? Find out more here.

Children’s and youth work committee’s latest theology booklet, ‘Theology of Play’ by Judy Harris, will soon be available from the URC website, keep an eye out for it here. URC Youth Assembly 2018 postcards have also been distributed to churches. The theme of YA2018 is ‘Pilgrimage: Are we there yet?’ and it will take place from 19 to 21 January at Whitemoor Lakes, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

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