URC Quarterly Update Spring 2012

  QU Spring 2012  


  • Are you ready to get back to church?
  • Mission Council votes to end ZI campaign 
  • Moderator-elect resigns
  • Mission Council debates 2013 budget
  • Is your church on the Olympic torch route?
  • Windermere Online
  • Donald Hilton
  • CRCWs take to the road
  • Attending Assembly as an observer
  • New website for urban mission
  • Events from the College of Preachers

 Diary Dates        

12 May
CRCW roadshow
at Avenue St Andrew’s in Southampton

   19 May
The Olympic torch
starts its journey around the UK and the 70-day Cascade of Prayer for the Olympics begins

   29 – 30 May  
“All are Welcome”
Lay preachers’ and worship leaders’ conference at Luther King House – Northern College, Manchester
Luther King House Events

20 June
Israel/Palestine Day
An update on the situation, to be held at United Reformed Church House 11.00am – 3.30 pm.
For more information, or to book a place, please email gill.hillman@urc.org.uk

6 – 9 July
General Assembly will be held at the Spa Complex, Scarborough

   30 September
Back to Church Sunday

Lay Preachers Event
at Westminster College, will be run on three separate occasions –
3-5 September;
5-7 September, and
7-9 September
Westminster College News

   27 October
Westminster College
Open Day
11am to 3.30pm.
The day’s theme will be the 350th anniversary of the Great Ejectment. All are welcome.
For more information email

The deadline for receiving items for the Summer 2012 issue of QU is 31 May. Please note that all items submitted need to be relevant to churches across the three nations. qu@urc.org.uk

Subscribers: 3,086

Are you ready to get back to church?

For the first time, the United Reformed Church, as a denomination, has registered with Back to Church Sunday. This means that, from 12 April, any United Reformed church across the three nations can register to take part in Back to Church Sunday 2012 – taking place on Sunday 30 September.  And the news has been warmly received across the Church, with many congregations affirming the campaign.

In previous years, interested URC synods registered individually, which meant that not all United Reformed churches could access the Back to Church Sunday programme and its materials.  As soon as they register, churches will receive email confirmation, together with details about ordering their invitation packs.

Image of Francis Brienen

Francis Brienen, the URC’s secretary for mission, says: “Back to Church Sunday has the potential to have a big impact on the lives of our friends and our churches. It relies on the simplest and shortest step in evangelism – inviting someone we already know to our church. It’s a proven idea, which in many places and in many ways has helped churches to grow.  I really encourage United Reformed churches to register and make the most of this opportunity to reach out to their neighbours, family and friends, and plan to have a bit of a party on 30 September!”

For more information, please visit: www.backtochurch.co.uk

Mission Council votes to end
ZI campaign

On Friday 23 March, the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council passed the following resolution:

“Mission Council strongly encourages all churches to continue to work on developing their radical welcome, recognising the synergy with Vision2020 outcomes, but discontinues the ZI [Zero Intolerance] Campaign with immediate effect.”

Time pressures on Mission’s Council’s agenda meant that the preceding debate, whilst intense, was brief. However, many voices were heard, with the consensus clearly being that take-up across the congregations was not at the level necessary to make a full launch viable, even if it was postponed until September  2012, as had been suggested by the steering group.

The Revd Tracey Lewis, convener of Mission Committee, summed up the debate, proposing a resolution of thanks to the steering group, which passed unanimously. Noting how warmly some 500 local churches had embraced the concept of radical welcome, she said:

“If it had not been for the work of the ZI steering group, which has been brave and risky on occasion, many would not have been introduced to radical welcome, which is bringing health and life into our churches. Let us remember this project has brought tremendous riches to our church.”

The Revd Fiona Thomas, a member of the steering group and secretary for education and learning, reminded the gathering that there had been many affirmations of the quality of the toolkit created for those volunteering to act as “companions” to churches that make a serious commitment to the challenges of radical welcome. She also pointed to the affirmation shown of the value of the companion model, and stressed that these resources would be lost unless they were safely located in a specific department of the church.

What next for ZI?

The ZI (Zero Intolerance) steering group, together with the liaison group, met for the final time on the afternoon of 29 March 2012. Following the Mission Council decision of 23 March 2012  to terminate the ZI initiative, it is no longer a project of the URC and no more money will be spent on it (although all associated costs up to and including the cost of yesterday’s meeting will be paid in full).

Recognising that Mission Council had “strongly encouraged churches to continue to work on developing their radical welcome, recognising the synergy with Vision 2020 outcomes” those present discussed ways in which this could be done, including the use of the training materials developed for and by the ZI initiative. The group decided that the best way to facilitate this, whilst keeping the integrity of radical welcome intact, was to offer all URC synods an adapted companions’ scheme. This scheme will make use of much of the existing material and include the external support of a companion. It will be supported by the education and learning office at United Reformed Church House and report to both the education and learning committee and the mission committee. Those synods/churches interested in this should contact Fiona Thomas, secretary for education and learning, on companions@urc.org.uk

All present were completely clear about Mission Council’s termination of the initiative and the bald fact that no more URC resources are to be used in association with the ZI initiative. However, some individuals felt that the advertising materials are too good to lose and are exploring the possibility of it becoming an ecumenical, independent initiative, with no formal ties to the United Reformed Church.

Moderator-elect resigns
On 22 March, a meeting of the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council accepted the resignation of Mr Lawrence Moore (pictured) as Moderator-elect of the United Reformed Church General Assembly 2012-14.

Mr Moore is director of the Windermere training centre and was elected to the role of Moderator of General Assembly in 2010 at the Church’s General Assembly in Loughborough.

The United Reformed Church elects two assembly moderators who serve together for two years, one a minister and the other a lay person.  Church rules specify that a moderator of General Assembly serves until their successor is inducted. As a result, Mrs Val Morrison, the current lay moderator, will continue in post until 2014. All existing moderatorial diary commitments and visits will be covered by a serving or past moderator.

Mission Council debates
2013 budget

The big debate, flowing right the way through Mission Council, centered on the need to cut the expenditure side of the 2013 central budget of the United Reformed Church by £1,000,000 in response to falling income from Ministry and Mission giving by local churches.

Mission Council representatives were asked to consider a paper put together by the Moderators’ Think Tank (a small group including both moderators of General Assembly, John Ellis, the URC’s treasurer, and Alan Small, the chair of the URC Trust). This paper was based on detailed submissions, outlining possible cuts and their consequences, which were prepared by all the Assembly committees of the United Reformed Church as instructed by the previous meeting of Mission Council in November 2011.

The paper was considered in committee-based groups and synod-based groups, before going back to the floor of Mission Council.

Pressures on the agenda created less time for small-group discussions and whole-Council debate than had been originally planned. However, a resolution did emerge, and was passed on the final afternoon.  The resolution proposed cuts of between £40,000 and £200,000, totalling £600,000, relative to the 2012 budgets of the following six committees: Education and Learning; Ministries; Mission; Assembly Arrangements; Youth and Children’s Work; and Communications and Editorial – and it is this resolution that Mission Council will be recommending to General Assembly in July.

Is your church on the Olympic torch route?

On 19 May the Olympic torch starts its journey around the UK in Lands End – finishing 70 days later, in the Olympic Stadium in east London.  The 70-day Cascade of Prayer begins on the same day.

The Olympic flame will come within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the UK population and you can check out the detailed, street-by-street, route here:  http://www.london2012.com/olympic-torch-relay

Take a look at the route, and, if the torch is coming by you, you might want to think about ways your church could engage creatively, in prayer, in worship, in hosting a community event, to mark the occasion and to pray for the thousands of Christians involved in service, mission and hospitality before, during and after the Games.

As the torch travels the length and breadth of the UK, the excitement around the Games will build – and it will be fantastic to see United Reformed churches being part of this wave of energy and enthusiasm.  It’s not too late to make the most of these opportunities! See shine as flame travels for more practical information about the torch relay and prayer cascade, including ideas about what your church can do in its community.

If your church is inspired to become involved in the relay and the prayer cascade, please tell us – we want your stories!  Email gill.nichol@urc.org.uk with news of what your church is doing.

Windermere online
This summer, the Windermere Centre will be offering its first online course – “Between the Covers” – an exploration of the contents of the Bible led by the centre’s director, Lawrence Moore.

The course is divided into 12 one-hour long “webinars” (online seminars), with six sessions focused on the Old Testament and six on the New Testament.  Each session will balance input from Lawrence with time for group discussion.  All you need to participate is a computer, headphones or a microphone and a broadband internet connection.  The first set of sessions begins on 21 May, and will run twice a week – on Monday mornings and on Thursday evenings – allowing flexibility for participants.

Lawrence Moore said: “This course gives you the chance to discover what’s behind the cover of the Bible from the comfort of your own home … bringing the teaching and mission resources of the Windermere Centre to you.”

The course will cost £120 for the full 12 units, or £70 for either the Old or New Testament modules.  More information and a booking form is available here: http://windermere.urc.org.uk/?p=2333

image of Donald Hilton

We are sad to announce that the Revd Donald Hilton died on Monday 5 March.

Mr Hilton was ordained in 1957 and had a long and distinguished career in the United Reformed Church, including 10 years (1987-97) serving as moderator of Yorkshire Province (as was) and a year as moderator of General Assembly, 1993-94.

CRCWs take to the road
The URC’s Church Related Community Work (CRCW) department is going on the road this year with three events, each designed to show the ways in which CRCW projects are making an impact among particular congregations and communities.  Details are still being thrashed out, but each event will, like all the best events, include plenty of food, conversation and storytelling.

The first will take place on Saturday 12 May at Avenue St Andrew’s in Southampton. It will be followed by events in Luton on Saturday 6 October and at the Grindon project in Sunderland on Saturday 10 November. The event is free, but those wishing to attend must book their place by contacting Rhona Foulis, programme administrator, on 020 7916 8653 or at: crcw.admin@urc.org.uk

Attending Assembly
as an observer

Anyone wishing to attend General Assembly 2012 as a non-voting observer please email the assembly office at United Reformed Church House – general.assembly@urc.org.uk  – with your name, address and telephone number and the assembly office will make all the necessary arrangements.  Reservations can be taken up to 22 June. Assembly will be held at the Spa Complex, Scarborough from 6 to 9 July.  Accommodation is in local hotels and the all-inclusive cost for non-members, to include accommodation, meals and supplementary papers, is £105 per person per day.

New website for
urban mission

The CRCW office commends the new website of the Christian Coalition for Urban Mission (CCFUM): http://www.urbanmission.org.uk/index.php
The homepage features the CRCW logo, which links directly to our pages of the URC website.  CCFUM works in partnership with various Christian member organisations and aims to facilitate communication, co-operation, co-ordination and best practice amongst all involved in urban mission.  Thus, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s an important organisation for us to be associated with and another means by which we can raise awareness of CRCW ministry.  For further information about CCFUM’s aims and activities, please visit their website!

Events from the
College of Preachers

Events organised by the College of Preachers can be an excellent resource for those involved in preaching. Forthcoming events include: “Forward Looking Preaching”, 12 May in Exeter; “A Festival of Preaching”, 19 May at Ripon Cathedral; “Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land”, a national conference, held in Swanwick, Derbyshire from 19 to 20 June; and “Confidence in Preaching”, London, 23 October.  For more information, or to book, visit: www.collegeofpreachers.co.uk

Archive copies of QU

Quarterly Update Winter 2011-12 from the United Reformed Church
Quarterly Update Autumn 2011 from the United Reformed Church
Quarterly Update Summer 2011 from the United Reformed Church
Quarterly Update Spring 2011 from the United Reformed Church

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2012 United Reformed Church
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