Mr Alan Yates and the Revd Kevin Watson, the moderators-elect of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, have announced that the theme for 2016 Assembly, and their two years in office, will be ‘People of the Way’.
The theme arose from two complementary convictions: the need to return to the fundamental teaching of Christ, and a desire for the church to be more open to all of God’s people.
The moderators-elect are calling for the two years that starts with General Assembly in July 2016 to be a time of renewed focus on the fundamentals of the Christian life; the People of the Way theme is intended to provide an opportunity for United Reformed churches across the three nations to return to the basics of their identity and life in Christ.
Mr Watson said: ‘We have a real need to celebrate being the people of God, and to celebrate being the United Reformed Church. Assembly will be a celebration of God’s grace, of what he has given us and what is embodied in God’s people. We want the denomination to get excited about God again! To return to the root of their faith – the love of Jesus as shown on the cross.’
That’s why the moderators-elect are asking every congregation in the URC to participate in an Assembly display reflecting the breadth of church life across the denomination.
Mr Yates explains: ‘We are all People of the Way and we know that local churches are creative in the ways they express their faith, worship God and engage with their communities. We want churches to shout about the good things they are doing – and so we are asking every congregation of the United Reformed Church to send us photos of the glorious variety and vitality of their church life – and we’ll use the best of them in a specially-arranged display at Assembly.’
Images of activities, worship and community connections, together with portraits of church people will all contribute to the display – showcasing just how broad and dynamic is the life of the United Reformed Church.
To take part, please send high resolution pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 16 May. You must also confirm that you are the copyright owner of the image and that you grant permission for the United Reformed Church to use it in print and online media. Please also confirm that you have consent for any children and vulnerable adults who are pictured.
The moderators-elect cannot guarantee to use everything received – but they will use as many as possible and all submissions will be received enthusiastically and with interest and gratitude.
Kevin Watson concludes: ‘It is spiritually powerful that the issues discussed and the decisions made at the General Assembly will be in the presence of images of all the congregations of the whole denomination – send in your images now and be part of this.’
The United Reformed Church General Assembly runs this year from 8 to 11 July in Southport.
Mission Council meets this week
Mission Council’s consensus decision-making process
The spring meeting of the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council takes place at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire from 9 to 11 March.
Mission Council is the executive body of the General Assembly and meets twice a year.
Items on the agenda for this meeting include discussion of the future shape of the General Assembly, the development of missional discipleship, authorised elders, the URC historic cases review and Christian concern for migrants and migration.
There will also be an informal evening question time with the Moderators of the General Assembly John Ellis and David Grosch-Miller.
The URC communications team will be reporting on Mission Council. The news pages of the website and Facebook page will include updates throughout the meeting and a full report will be included in the next edition of Digest in Reform magazine.
Best price Greenbelt tickets available now
Hurry! There are just a few weeks to get the very best deal on tickets to this year’s Greenbelt festival.
Greenbelt, held from 26 to 29 August this year, is a significant place of faith for many in the URC, and this year the denomination has become an associate partner of the festival for the first time. Best value tickets are available from the Box office until 31 March.
The URC is planning a series of inspiring and challenging contributions to Greenbelt’s creative collision of faith, arts and justice.
Whether you are a regular, an occasional Greenbelter or have yet to experience the UK’s most dynamic Christian arts festival, now is the time to book.
A brand new resource from the URC’s Children’s and Youth Department is now available to help churches respond creatively to the challenges of social justice.
Let Justice Flow introduces people to a range of concerns, including climate change, world trade, poverty and the stigma which often surrounds mental health and disability. It asks why Christians should care, and seeks guidance from scripture how to approach these crucial issues.
Complex global concerns are introduced with games and activities to spark the imagination, followed by discussion, biblical reflection, prayers and suggestions for action.
Southern Synod’s new website has won the first ever iChurch Website of the Year Award for ‘Best use of iChurch’.
iChurch is an out-of-the-box website package for churches and church organisations from the Windermere Centre. It provides everything for those who need a website that is sophisticated and flexible, yet simple to operate, maintain and update.
The award winners were announced during the 2016 Windermere On-Line Festival. The judges said: ‘This site offers an attractive web experience, with lots of content and good use of menu/page structure. It is amazing that this is newly created!’
URC staff sit down to breakfast, stand up for farmers
URC staff enjoy the Fairtrade Big Breakfast
Staff at the United Reformed Church’s central office, Church House, sat down to a breakfast of fairly-traded food and drink on 1 March to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.
URC staff were joining hundreds of community groups, churches and workplaces in eating a Fairtrade Breakfast. At the beginning of the day staff tucked in to granola, fruits, teas and coffees, and toast with fairly-traded marmalades.
Everything sold with a Fairtrade label includes the Fairtrade Premium – generating extra income that the communities producing the goods can choose how they use.
Students, staff and friends of Westminster College, Cambridge, gathered in the chapel on 13 February to rededicate the newly-restored chapel organ.
The service of rededication was led by the college Principal, the Revd Neil Thorogood, and the convenor of Westminster College Board of Governors, the Revd Nigel Uden.
The organ was played for the occasion by Mr Ian De Massini, the musical director of St Columba’s, Cambridge. The service concluded with a breath-taking performance by Cambridge Voices of David Willcocks’ Sing! which was a setting for the Toccata written by Charles-Marie Widor for organ and choir.
Following the success of the Northern and North Western synods’ Advent and Lenten devotions, a new set of daily devotions has been written by people from across the URC, which will run from Easter Sunday until Pentecost.
The devotions follow the daily lectionary. Each contributor was asked to choose one of the four set for each day and to write a short reflection on it.
Reform is recruiting new distributors. Could you be the person for this vital task?Distributors promote Reform within the church, encourage subscriptions, give out magazines to subscribers each month and collect subscription payments.
If this sounds like it could be you, please email Reform for more information.
Hope in a changing climate
A two-day conference on 15 and 16 April – Hope in a changing climate – is due to help churches and individuals think through the next steps in climate action after the COP21 climate change summit in Paris.
Speakers associated with the United Reformed Church include Rosalind Selby, principal of Northern College, Manchester, and Rachel Lampard, Joint Public Issues Team leader.
Spring is about to spring, and that heralds the start of a clearance sale of older stock in the URC online store.
From the end of March keep a look-out for the clearance sale bargains of books and merchandise. This will be your last chance to buy many items.
Big church switch
The Big Church Switch campaign is calling on churches and individuals to switch their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable energy as part of their commitment to care for creation.
The Big Church Switch campaign says that acting together as the Church community will send a clear and powerful message to governments and businesses that Christians are prepared to lead the way and that switching to renewable energy sources is crucial if we are to live in and enjoy God’s world together.
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 Churches, and the 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.
A dedicated website has been launched for faith groups in Scotland responding to the refugee crisis.
Called Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees, it has sections looking at how governments and local authorities are responding through policy, current campaigns, research, refugee stories, resources for different faith groups, plus how churches can respond.
Awards scheme launched for science and faith projects
Churches across England are being invited to apply for grants of up to £10,000 to fund projects that foster a better understanding between science and faith.
Large or small-scale project proposals are being invited from Christian churches in all areas of the country for Scientists in Congregations, a scheme aimed at inspiring discussion and learning about the relationship between faith and science.