URC News Update – November 2016


Quote of the Month

‘True evangelical faith, cannot lie dormant, it clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all creatures.’ Menno Simons, Protestant Reformer, 16th century

Mission Council news

Did you miss out on the conversations, discussions and decisions of October’s Mission Council at High Leigh? Miss out no more. Here are just a few of the key decisions:

Deployment and basis of call for Ministers of Word and Sacraments

The Revd Paul Whittle, Moderator of Eastern Synod and convenor of the ministries committee and the Revd Craig Bowman, Secretary for Ministries. explored a range of issues related to the role of ministry and stipendiary ministers while going on to look at the question of call, particularly as it relates to Ministers of Word and Sacraments.

Redevelopment of Church House

John Proctor, on behalf of the URC Trust, reported that the General Secretariat had worked hard at the details of the project, but their efforts to keep within budget had not succeeded, due in part to the rigorous requirements of the local planning department and the complexity of the project. The resolution, to proceed with the project, with particular reference to the budget increase and planning permission, was passed by a large majority.

Walking the Way

Concerns were expressed about a lack of clarity, communication and focus about Walking the Way and the way it which it would connect with congregations. The Revd Richard Church, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship), said: ‘Walking the Way is an emphasis on missional discipleship…This is not being imposed from a small group. We are trying to encourage people to improvise within that vision.’

Other issues: Included the future of the Windermere Centre, Doctrine of Justification, and review of children’s and youth work role (watch out for an interview with Karen Morrison in next month’s Reform).

Here’s a link to the full and ‘official’ round-up of all Mission Council news.

Publicise the Past Case Review!

‘We really need churches’ help to get the message out to people in their own communities; the Past Case Review is so very important.’ So says the Revd Richard Church, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship), who is responsible for the PCR: ‘Members of the public are now invited to raise concerns formally about the behaviour, or conduct, of anyone linked with the URC since the denomination was formed in 1972. The PCR gives an important opportunity for people with any of these concerns to be listened to and we ask churches to encourage their members to draw the attention of others to what is happening – as well as use church websites and noticeboards to publicise the review in their area.’ Members of the public are invited to share basic contact details by secure phone, email or web form on the URC website by 31 March 2017.

Welcome to new ministers

Martin Ferris, Memona Shahbaz, Stephen Best and Paul Dempster visited Church House in November for the New Ministers’ Conference 2016.

Michael on tour in Korea

The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, visited the URC’s partner churches in Korea; the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).

Michael arrived in Seoul and was joined by three Synod Moderators (the Revd Nicola Furley-Smith, Southern Synod; the Revd Simon Walkling, Wales Synod and the Revd Andrew Prasad, Thames North Synod) and the Revd Lesley Charlton (minister of Kingston URC).

The visit was to help the partner churches explore the practical working out of the Memorandum of Understanding between the URC and the Presbyterian Church of Korea, and offer the opportunity for both Churches to work intentionally to grow and deepen their missional relationship.

Photo: Michael meets with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)

Festival of non-violence

The festival of non-violence, at the London Inter Faith Centre in Salisbury Road NW6, runs until 20 November. An exhibition includes iconic photographs of works originally created for the ‘Weapons into Art’ initiative, transforming decommissioned weapons into pieces of sculpture. To find out more, contact Jo Winsloe or call 07725 954 005.

The ‘Jenkins Collection’

The Revd David AL Jenkins kindly bequeathed his books to Training for Learning and Serving (TLS), and they have now found their way to dedicated shelves at High Cross Church in Tottenham – ready for use by the eight TLS students and 16 TLS LITE students who use High Cross as a resource and teaching base. Margaret Jenkins and David Akoli (below) packed the books ready for transfer to High Cross and David was delighted to mark the first volume with the ‘Jenkins Collection’ stamp in its new home.

Celebrating past and present

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan’s connection with the URC reaches back into the 19th century when missionaries helped to start the church there. Dr David Landsborough, his wife Marjorie, and son and daughter-in-law, Drs David and Jean Landsborough, served at Changhua Christian Hospital in central Taiwan through most of the period from 1896 to 1980. Hospital staff recently visited the UK to digitise material from the URC’s missionary archive at London University. John Proctor (URC) and Dr Ginny Chan (Changhua Hospital) signed a copyright agreement and celebrated a new link in Christian friendship between the two churches.

Inspiration in the inbox

Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church will start on the first Sunday of Advent (27 November) and continue throughout the year. Each day, a reading, reflection and short prayer, written by one of 85 writers from different places and perspectives in the URC, will arrive in your inbox. Over 750 people have signed up to receive the free Daily Devotion service so far. See here, to add your name. Andy Braunston, who is coordinating the project, said: ‘Many people read them on their phone whilst commuting or they might offer a time of quiet in the midst of the day.’

Read it, buy it, don’t lose Reform!

Do you value Reform? If so, this short film explains why it’s important to not just to read it, but to buy a subscription. Following on from his ‘heartfelt plea’ in the October edition, Stephen Tomkins, the Editor of Reform, joined Peter Knowles, convenor of the communications committee, in giving a fun presentation to Mission Council in October. Their message was ‘Don’t lose Reform!’ and you can watch the presentation here.

Buy a paper, digital or combined subscription here. And remember, Reform is for Christmas, not just for life – gift subscriptions for friends and family are available online here. (You can also return the Christmas gift subscription form by post – it’s on page 13 of the current edition.)

The November edition of Reform, out now, includes an interview with Dr Elaine Storkey, a Sikh perspective on Jesus and four different answers to this month’s ‘A good question: Do you wear a poppy?’ Don’t leave us hanging – Reform wouldn’t be what it is without your feedback! – let us know what you think by email or on social media using the hashtag #jointhedebate.

Pictured supporting the Reform call to action at Mission Council are left to right, back row: Peter Knowles, convenor of the communications committee, Gill Nichol, (Head of Communications), Alan Yates, (Moderator of General Assembly) and Steve Tomkins, Editor of Reform; front row: Dan Morrell, (Moderator-elect of Youth Assembly) with Kevin Watson, (Moderator of General Assembly).

Publications: shop early for Christmas!

Publications Co-ordinator Natasha Springer gives this early festive message: ‘Please let me have your Christmas orders as soon as you can! Look out for some great gift ideas in our online shop clearance sale and make sure we receive your order soon to avoid disappointment.’

Prayer Handbook: The 2017 prayer handbook, Feasts and festivals, is available now from the URC’s online store.

Sharing Good News: Handbook on Evangelism in Europe, a new World Council of Churches’ book on evangelism in Europe, will be in stock at the store from 30 November. Francis Brienen, Deputy General Secretary (Mission), contributed to the book which was edited by Gerrit Noort, Kyriaki Avtzi and Stefan Paas (ISBN: 978-2-8254-1687-7).

Charcoal Gospel: Charcoal Gospel is a new resource from Neil Thorogood, principal of Westminster College. A series of charcoal drawings, prayers and meditations based around the lectionary, Charcoal Gospel is a CD-ROM with Power Point presentations and material which can be freely used by local churches of any denomination. It will be available from the online store from 16 November.

Yearbook: The 2017 United Reformed Church Yearbook, including Celebrated Lives, will be out in January.

‘A very British Nativity’

Do you want to make your Christmas services topical and relevant? The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) will be launching a short film at the beginning of December that might be just the thing you’re looking for. The video, available online, will explore the links between the Christmas story and the way in which asylum seekers in the UK are currently being treated. So ‘watch this space’ or email Grace Pengelly to find out more and get on the distribution list.

Book for A Big Day Out

Open up those 2017 diaries and make a date for Saturday 20 May when the whole URC is invited to enjoy a Big Day Out, organised by Pilots, at Warwick Castle. This a festival for all ages. Activities will run from 10am to 5pm in the historic and beautiful setting. Individuals and groups – with their church communities and wider family and friends – are all welcome to be part of what promises to be a day to remember. Tickets include access to the castle and attractions where Big Day Out visitors can have a go at archery, watch birds of prey in flight, take part in worship with hundreds of others, listen to engaging and influential speakers, and enjoy a celebratory picnic! To find out more, contact the Feasts and Festivals desk at (020 7916 8637).

Time for a new role?

Vacancy for Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. Are you passionate about mission, ecumenical and interfaith relations and collaborative working? Are you excited by building relationships with new Christian communities, churches and people of other faiths? Then you may be interested in applying for this exciting role. Applications have to be in by 12 noon on 30 November 2016. More details available here.

Youth Assembly 2017

Registration is now open so anyone between the ages of 14 and 25 (inclusive) can make their booking for the URC Youth Assembly 2017. It takes place from 27 to 29 January at Whitemoor Lakes, Alrewas, Staffs. The theme is ‘Feasts & Festivals’ with its own tagline of ‘We’re all invited!’

Was GA 2016 a success?

Moderator of General Assembly, Alan Yates, reflects on comments and data drawn from the questionnaire completed by participants in GA2016. His report is on the Moderators’ Blog where you can read it in full but (spoiler alert!) his conclusion was very positive – though he acknowledged there was still work to do.

Holiday Forum plans

The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar helped this year’s Holiday Forumites to explore how they felt, or would feel, if they were ‘at Home in a Strange Place’ and what questions it would raise for them. All age worship was led by the Revd John and Mrs Rachel Lee. Holiday Forum 2017 will take place from 19 to 25 August with the theme of ‘Follow my Leader’ led by the Revd Alistair Smeaton.

Out on the road

John Proctor is to lead the North West Synod ministers’ day on 16 November. He will then make trips to Ireland and Canada to do business with his counterparts in various partner churches.

Diary of events

Christian Aid’s ‘4 Nations Sponsoring Churches Consultation’, Francis Brienen will represent the URC
17 and 18 November, High Leigh
National Pentecostal and Charismatic Symposium and Celebration, 26 November, Kensington Temple, London
The Northerly Synods collaboration, 30 November and 1 December, Windermere Centre

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