URC Quarterly Update Autumn 2011

United Reformed Church Quarterly Update Autumn 2011

 QU Autumn 2011 


Campaign given the green light

Say hello, wave goodbye

Calling all good listeners!

New URC coordinator for Fresh Expressions begins mapping the Church

Revised CRCW courses

Windermere centre changes tack to serve 21st century

“Kaleidoscope of creativity” at multicultural feast

First FURY / Christian Aid intern appointed

Thinking ahead about…

New principal for Northern College


 Diary Dates        

16 October
Healthcare Sunday


16 October
Micah Sunday


16 – 22 October 
National Ethical Investment Week

23 – 30 October
One World Week

9 November
Power and Poverty ecumenical event. For more information and/or to sign up click here

13 November
Remembrance Sunday

click here

20 November
International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians


20 – 26 November
Prisons Week


25 – 27 November
The Mission Council of the URC meets

27 November
First Sunday in Advent

1 December
World Aids Day

10 December
Human Rights Day


The deadline for receiving items for the winter 2012 issue of QU is Monday 9 January. Please note that all items submitted need to be of interest to churches across the three nations. qu@urc.org.uk

Subscribers: 3,008

Campaign given the green light:
Mission Council review process ends

In May, Mission Council voted to appoint a group to work closely with the steering group of the URC’s campaign of radical welcome, to decide whether the campaign should go ahead. The review group, acting with the delegated authority of Mission Council, was charged with listening to the views of URC members from every part of the denomination, paying attention to all concerns and positive views expressed.

On 31 August the steering group and review group met together for the final time; the decision was that the radical welcome initiative – with modifications – most of which are around the need for greater transparency and accountability – will go ahead and preparations will continue towards the planned launch in spring 2012. The campaign will continue to be called Zero Intolerance (ZI) initiative.

Commenting on the end of the process and the recommendations of the review group, the Revd Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the URC and co-chair of the steering group, said: “Of course, the most important thing is that the campaign is going ahead – and we’re all delighted by that. The steering group are grateful for the hard work and commitment of the review group over the past three months. We have taken all their comments on board, and acknowledge that, because of their input, the campaign is stronger. I am particularly grateful for the way they commend the theme of radical welcome for the attention of all churches across the full breadth of the URC. Now that the review process is complete, the steering group can re-focus on delivering a successful campaign with the confident support of the Church. We look forward to doing that.”

The full report from the review group has been circulated to members of Mission Council and will be formally received at the November Mission Council meeting.
The agreed actions are as follows:

1.      Promoting radical welcome within the Church
The emphasis of the initiative will be on the idea of radical welcome as a journey for congregations, with the advertising campaign being the outward-facing element of the initiative. Churches will be encouraged to explore radical welcome regardless of whether they initially intend to become a campaign church.

2.      Reporting to Mission Committee
The steering group will make a commitment to consult with, and report to, mission committee on a regular basis.

3.      Communications strategy
A clear internal and internal and external communications strategy, in line with the recommendations in this paper, will be developed.

4.      Internal launch “+1”
There will be an internal launch “+1”, reflecting the new emphasis in messaging and highlighting progress as the campaign gains momentum. The timescales and details of the launch will be reported to Mission Council in November 2011.

5.      Financial information for local churches
Local churches will receive clear information about the financial commitments involved in opting-in to the campaign.

6.      Relationship with Faith and Order Reference Group
During the review process, different theological views were aired between the faith and order reference group and the radical welcome steering group. It was agreed that representatives from both groups will meet to discuss these issues, with a view to ongoing co-operation and reconciliation.

7.      Consultation with other groups
The steering group, in consultation with the mission committee liaison group, will consult with and inform other groups within the denomination on relevant issues.

8.      Risk assessment document
The steering group will produce a risk assessment document, identifying areas where there could be risks to the denomination and local churches.

9.      Minimum number of churches
The steering group will agree the minimum number of churches needed at each of the three stages (exploring, opt-in, covenanted) in order for the campaign to be launched.

10.      Revised body text of advertisements
A change of wording of the body copy of the adverts will be agreed and implemented by the agency. The new wording has been agreed and can be viewed here, see question 16 here.

Say hello, wave goodbye

In September the URC welcomed a new moderator – the Revd Peter Meek – to East Midlands Synod, and learnt that another – the Revd Peter Noble – moderator of the Synod of Wales, is moving on from the post he has held for the past 10 years.

Peter Noble announced in mid-September, that he’d received and accepted a call to the special category ministry as chaplain to Lightship 2000 and Cardiff Bay.
image of Peter Noble

Talking about his decision, Peter said: “For some time I have been considering my ministry.  I began to feel that I’ve given what I’m able as moderator – 10 years is a long time!  It feels like the right to step down and allow someone with different gifts and graces, someone new to come forward, someone who will offer the synod fresh insight and bring new energy to share in the task of enabling our church to envision the future.”

He continued: “As a result of my own thinking – and the nudging of colleagues – I allowed my name to be forwarded through the moderator’s meeting in order to test a sense of ‘call’ to this special category ministry post – and was delighted when I received the invitation to take up this ministry. It seems to me that was indeed a call.”

The Lightship is a floating Christian centre berthed in Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest waterfront development, and home to leisure, business, the arts and politics. Its unique mission is to let visitors meet God in unexpected ways – and through the work of the chaplain and the team of part-time ecumenical chaplains the Church is present at the very heart of all this. The vision and the ministry is to help people meet Christ where they are, in the everyday routines of their lives. The project also recognises that Cardiff Bay was one of Britain’s first multi-cultural areas, so underlying its ecumenism is a work alongside other faiths.

Peter said: “I’m very excited about the prospect of continuing my ministry in this way. It seems to play to my strengths and personality and am delighted to have been called to work amongst and with such dedicated people, all of who are passionate about the whole ministry of the project.”

Peter is anticipating completing his ministry as moderator at the end of February / beginning of March 2012 – and will spend the last months as moderator serving Wales and her people with all of his usual energy, encouragement and enthusiasm.
image of Peter Meek

Peter Meek began his new role on 1 September; immediately prior to it he was minister at Buxton URC and Fountain Square LEP, Tideswell and also synod pastoral consultant for Derbyshire and a member of the synod training – a combination of roles which makes him very familiar with many of the people and places central to his current position.

Speaking before he began, Peter said: “I’m really looking forward to developing good working relationships with ministers and churches throughout the synod. Like many ministers and moderators I’d describe myself as a people person and I’d really like to be known as a ‘listening and encouraging moderator.’  I’m particularly looking forward to preaching in churches across the synod, taking the opportunity to inspire congregations by talking about vision and issues of leadership.”

And, just a few weeks in to his new role as a moderator, Peter added: “Whilst moderators undergo an induction process which I found very helpful, in fact nothing can prepare you for this job. In just one month there have been great highs and lows. As one of my colleagues put it ‘I am on a steep learning cliff!’ However I am enjoying this ministry immensely, despite the terribly difficult situations I have already had to deal with. It’s a privilege to have an overview of a whole synod, to travel around meeting ministers and churches, and to seek to encourage those who are about God’s mission in the East Midlands.”

Calling all good listeners!

There are now almost 400 URC congregations exploring the radical welcome initiative and its underpinning advertising campaign. A growing number are now moving on from this initial stage to the “opt-in” stage and requesting a companion.

A companion is the person who will work with each opted-in church to help its people further explore, ponder and pray its way to a decision about radical welcome.  It’s an important role needing ears to hear, steadiness and vision – and we need lots more people do it! Could you be one do you think? Or do you know someone else who could?

Often the very people who don’t naturally push themselves forward are exactly the people we need; so don’t discount yourself as a very real possibility.  Companions are trained, supported and provided with a comprehensive “toolkit” of resources and materials to help them in their task.  If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Denese Chikwendu on denese.chikwendu@urc.org.uk

New URC coordinator for Fresh Expressions begins mapping the Church

On 1 September Linda Rayner began her new national role as URC coordinator for Fresh Expressions.  She is combining it with her existing synod duties as learning and development officer in North Western Synod

One of Linda’s first tasks is to establish what is already happening – and where.  Many URC congregations are already doing extremely creative work, sharing the love of Jesus with people who have no interest in traditional church by introducing imaginative, new-style worship, or even starting new churches.  So, whether it’s messy church, café church, walking church, late-night drop-ins for night-clubbers, or anything that’s not a traditional form of church, Linda would love to hear about it.
Linda Rayner image

To tell Linda what your church is doing please contact her at linda.rayner@freshexpressions.org.uk or on 01625 878264.  If emailing, please include the name of the church, brief details of the activity and a named contact with contact details.

For more information on Linda’s appointment see here.

Revised CRCW courses

Northern College is offering a revised course for training CRCW’s in a way that brings together community issues and biblical studies, and social theory with theology.  The courses, although originally developed for CRCWs, are open to anyone who would like to think about the relevance of the church in contemporary society.

The courses are offered on a modular basis with each module costing just £110.  The modules are taught in blocks, usually of two to three days;  the lack of weekly classes reduces the amount of travel necessary,  making it more accessible for students who don’t live locally to take these courses.

The next module, Communication in text and community begins on 8 December, and continues on 27- 28 January 2012 with further block sessions of the same module later on in the term

For more information please contact Christine Jones at christine.jones@lkh.co.uk

Image of windermere centre

changes tack to serve
21st Century

The Windermere Centre exists to resource the URC for mission: It’s what it has been doing, in different ways, for the past 25 years, and it’s what it will continue to do.

The past two years of recession have hit the centre hard. Churches and groups are still coming – but with reduced numbers.  New courses have struggled to attract enough participants … yet the new conference facilities at Carver Church will allow the hosting of simultaneous events.

The management team has taken all of these factors into account when putting the new programme together. Lawrence Moore, the centre’s director, explains: “We’ve looked at the programme with fresh eyes, and started to focus systematically on some of the areas of Church life and mission that need reinforcement and development.  What has emerged is an exciting new set of longer term initiatives. We’ve handpicked individuals and groups to work with over a sustained period of time and number of courses.  Each course in the series stands alone, yet is also part of something bigger.”

The first three initiatives are:

Spirituality of an ageing Church (with Professor Malcolm Johnson)
We’re an ageing Church, which means we have multiple lifetimes’ worth of faith and experience at our disposal.  Collectively, we’ve faced most of life’s gifts and disasters and grappled with the challenges of following Jesus Christ. Yet we only ever talk about an older Church as a problem.  We need to understand and appreciate the wealth of resources we have.

The Church in the Digital Age (with Andrew Graystone)
Terms like “outreach” acquire new meaning in a digital age, because the “reach” of a local church is suddenly (potentially) global! How do we understand, adjust to, and embrace the opportunities and potential that the digital revolution offers the Church?

Adventures in Faith (with the URC’s retreats group)
More than 75% of our membership has been Christians and churchgoers for most of their lives. For them, faith is not “new”, it’s ingrained into the fabric of their lives – and can become a habit. Adventures in Faith looks at ways of deepening, enriching, refreshing and revitalising our faith and spirituality to equip us for a lifetime in mission.

Details of all the Windermere Centre’s courses can be found on the website http://windermere.urc.org.uk or by contacting Rebecca Gudgeon on 015394 44902 or at rebecca.wincen@gmail.com

“Kaleidoscope of creativity”
at multicultural feast

At the end of September around 400 people from across the United Reformed Church took part in a multicultural celebration in Birmingham, which embraced an array of talents from different cultures and traditions. The theme for the event, at Carrs Lane United Reformed Church was Feast! Celebrating our life together!

Image of MC

Workshops offered the opportunity for people to experience African drumming, liturgical dance, story-telling, and to create and perform music, as well as giving insights into the creation and history of textiles from Ghana, Pakistan and Scotland – with the opportunity to wear traditional costumes. The day also included performances by Chinese and Scottish dancers, a Korean music group, a Welsh choir, art, poetry and drama. One of those who attended commented afterwards that it was a great day: “A kaleidoscope of creativity which truly reflected the emerging diversity of the URC.”

Mrs Val Morrison, moderator of the General Assembly of the URC, took up the theme of “feast” in her address, using illustrations from the diverse feasts that can be found in God’s creation to suggest that, although each individual is unique, we are also inter-connected and inter-dependent, as we work to show God’s love to a hurting world.

A number of churches told the story of their multicultural journey in different ways. Three presentations were specially commended: High Cross, Tottenham, North London; Vine, Ilford, Essex; and New Malden, Surrey.

A fuller report will soon be available here.

image of Charis Unsworth

First FURY / Christian Aid intern appointed

Eighteen-year old Charis Unsworth is the first FURY / Christian Aid intern and joined the established Christian Aid Youth Volunteer Internship programme at the end of August.
The internship programme offers young people with a passion for global justice the opportunity to spend ten months working as a Christian Aid volunteer, and the overall purpose of Charis’s role is to support and encourage young people and youth leaders – with particular focus on FURY – to become actively engaged in global issues, through Christian Aid’s campaigns, worship materials and fundraising projects.  In her first few weeks Charis has attended Greenbelt as part of the Christian Aid delegation, been involved in Christian Aid’s “1 thing” campaign and started to prepare for the FURY forum and assembly.

For more information on Charis see here.

Thinking ahead about…

Part of the Vision4Life evangelism year has included “Thinking ahead about…” resources to alert churches to the ways in which they could use the normal church festivals as opportunities for gentle evangelism.

“Thinking ahead about…” resources for Remembrance Sunday, Advent and Christmas can all be found here.

New principal
for Northern College

Northern College, one of the URC’s four resource centres for learning, has announced that the Revd Dr Rosalind Selby, currently minister of Wanstead and Gants Hill United Reformed Churches, has been appointed principal of Northern College. Dr Selby will take up her post in August 2012.

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         Archive copies of QU        

Quarterly Update Summer 2011 from the United Reformed Church
Quarterly Update Spring 2011 from the United Reformed Church

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