• Call for United Reformed Church not to forget refugees at the ‘door of Europe’

    door of europe News images 554x415Jake Convery, United Reformed Church Youth Assembly representative to the URC's General Assembly and Mission Council, recently returned from a Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) fact-finding trip to visit refugee projects in Italy.

    The professional organist and music teacher was one of seven young men from churches across Britain and Ireland to hear first-hand testimony from refugees and support workers on the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, the ‘door of Europe’.

    Jake, organist at Congleton URC and director of music at Saint Andrew's URC, Hampstead, said: ‘The trip to Italy was eye opening and educational as well as being incredibly heartbreaking.’

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  • 'May' by United Reformed Church poet-minister Lucy Berry

    may poem News images 554x415My grandmother could not allow
    the tiniest amount of May
    inside our house. She knew it was
    as dangerous as Judgement Day.
     
    And peacock feathers brought bad luck,
    and wearing clothes of any green;
    all nature-superstitions of
    a people distant as a dream.
     
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  • Easter reflection: continuing the journey with the risen Christ!

    easter day News images 554x415 cross blue skyThe Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the General Assembly, reflects on ‘love so amazing, so divine’ this Easter – and always

    I can certainly understand Cuthbert needing to get away from the responsibilities of his ministry to spend time just with God, in prayer and reflection, Bible study and fasting. All my life the Lenten journey has, for me, been a very personal and individual one. Brought up in the Methodist tradition, the preparation for Easter actually began at new year with the awesome Covenant Service, in which we invite God to take our lives for his use. 

    I would use an old Methodist hymn: ‘O the bitter shame and sorrow’ the last line of each verse inviting us deeper into a personal relationship with Jesus. The first verse ends: ‘All of self and none of thee’ – I could confess this. The second verse: ‘some of self and some of thee’ I could acknowledge but verse three challenged me with: ‘less of self and more of thee’ and I never got to pray honestly the last verse: ‘none of self and all of thee.’

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  • Good Friday reflection: The death of hope?

    Good friday 554x415The Revd Jacky Embrey, moderator of the Mersey Synod of the United Reformed Church, tries to comprehend the anguish of Christ’s followers on Good Friday

    ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ (American Spiritual)

    However much we reflect on the suffering and crucifixion of Christ, we can’t put ourselves in his shoes, or in those of any of his followers – for we know what happened on Easter Day, and that changes everything. 

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  • Maundy Thursday reflection: ‘My body, my blood’

    milada vigerova 554x415The Revd Roberta Rominger invites us to join Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Gethsemane

    Enter the story. That’s the invitation of Maundy Thursday: imagine yourself there. Join the disciples as they gather in the upper room in Jerusalem and allow Jesus to wash your feet. Use your imagination — that’s what it’s for. See him kneeling in front of you with his towel and basin. Let him wash away the dust and grime of whatever road you’ve been walking this Lent.

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  • Community Conversations Event 2017

    CommunityConversations2017 FinalAmended Web cropChurch Related Community Work (CRCW) ministry is going on the road again this summer with a new event, Community Conversations. This informal event aims to encourage and equip any individuals or churches who would like to get more involved within their neighbourhood and local communities.

    The event will take place at Vicars Cross United Reformed Church, Oldfield Drive, Vicars Cross, Chester, CH3 5LL on Saturday 24 June 2017 from 10.30am to 4pm.

    The event is free to attend and will include a complementary light lunch. Go ahead and book your place today! For more information (and to book) please contact Samara Andrews, CRCW Programme Administrator, on 020 7916 8653 or at: crcw.admin@urc.org.uk

    Download a PDF of the event flyer here.

     

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  • 'More than Welcome' with the URC

    URCGroup'Church Related Community Work (CRCW) ministry in the United Reformed Church is about working collectively to bring about transformation in local neighbourhoods and churches for the Common Good. Tackling the big issues which affect people’s lives locally is central to that work; issues which include the impact of unemployment, poverty, health, the environment and community cohesion.'

    Steve Summers, CRCW Development Worker for the URC (and
    URC at Greenbelt project coordinator) has written the first of 3 blogs for Greenbeltfocusing on the URC's theme for this year's festival: 'More than Welcome', which ties in with Greenbelt's own theme: 'The Common Good'. Steve says: 'The United Reformed Church’s theme of ‘More than Welcome’ at Greenbelt this year will explore issues around who is, or isn’t, welcome in our communities and churches and what generous welcome can look like in practice.'

    To read the blog in full, visit the Greenbeltwebsite.

    For more details about the URC's involvement with Greenbelt in 2017 or how you can purchase tickets, please contact Samara Andrews.

     

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  • ‘More than Welcome’ at Greenbelt 2017

    wine and fishPlanning is well underway for the United Reformed Church’s contribution to this year’s Greenbelt festival of arts, faith and social justice. The popular event will take place at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, from 25 to 28 August 2017 – and the URC will be there for its second year as an Associate Partner.

    The United Reformed Church enjoyed a very successful debut at the 2016 event with the attention-grabbing theme of ‘Scrap the Church?’ Over 500 people wrote down their comments about what the Church could scrap or improve and the URC activities prompted many a conversation and personal reflection about the role and effectiveness of Church in society.

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  • Church leaders denounce suspension of “Dubs” policy

    In a joint letter and statement to the Home Secretary, the leaders of five Churches – including the United Reformed Church – have denounced the suspension of the “Dubs” programme for the safe re-settlement of unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in the United Kingdom.

    The statement was signed on behalf of the URC by General Assembly Moderators, the Revd Kevin Watson and Mr Alan Yates. Kevin Watson commented, ‘We lament this decision made by the Government, which must do all that is within its power to recognise and uphold the rights of children fleeing conflict.’

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  • Celebrate, reflect, party at Youth Assembly!

    Youth Assembly image'A weekend full of wonderful celebrations – celebrations of God’s love for us and God’s open invitation to all.' The words come from Dan Morrell, Youth Assembly Moderator for 2016-17, in describing the 2017 event. ‘Yet, at the same time, we remembered those who may feel marginalised,’ added Dan, ‘and we acknowledged that life isn’t always full of celebrations and happiness.'

    Feasts and Festivals: We’re all invited was the theme of the Youth Assembly at Whitemoor Lakes, Staffordshire, from 27 to 29 January. The keynote speeches were delivered by the Revd Jenny Mills who focused on several festivals and helped Youth Assembly participants to ask questions about believing in what they were singing. They discovered that well-known songs like Away in a Manger weren’t all they seemed to be! Small group discussion allowed people to talk about what they’d heard, and pray together.

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  • Consultation explores religious identity

    Expressing faith imageMultiple religious belonging was the theme of a joint consultation held by the World Council of Churches (WCC), Council for World Mission and United Reformed Church in Birmingham in December. The consultation at the Queen’s Ecumenical Centre brought together renowned theologians, grassroot interfaith activists and faith group members in panel-based discussions.

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  • John Humphreys: ‘A man of great kindness and gentleness’

    john humphreys The Revd John Humphreys, who was Moderator of the United Reformed Church’s National Synod of Scotland until his retirement in June 2016, died early this morning, 17 November, peacefully at home, after a short illness.

    Mr Humphreys was the only person to have been moderator of two URC synods, having served in Wales from 1989 to 2001, as well as in Scotland from 2005. He also served as Training Officer for the Mersey Synod and as a minister in the Reformed Church of Hungary.

    The Revd John Proctor, the General Secretary of the URC, said today: ‘Few of our URC people can have been more widely liked and respected. He was a man of great kindness and gentleness – wise, purposeful, caring, and deeply committed to our Church and its people.’

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  • Looking forward....

    Photo TongeMoorAlison Dalton has made a great start at the Building Bridges project in Tonge Moor, Bolton as CRCW minister. A lot has happened during this time, including the arrival of a new grandaughter! Alison says:

    "How time has flown, or so it seems to me! It seems impossible that Dave and I have only been here for 18 months as so much has happened!"

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  • Post-election hopes and prayers for the US

    United Church of ChristOn 8 November the United States of America elected a new President, Donald Trump, in a victory which culminated in his pledging to be ‘a President for all Americans’.

    Yet many in the US have been deeply disturbed by the bitterness of the campaign, and particularly by the use of racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric. One of the United Reformed Church’s long-standing partner churches in the US, the United Church of Christ, has published the following comment:

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  • URC General Secretariat calls foul play on NFLUK

    The United Reformed Church General Secretariat calls foul play on UK sporting governing bodies for failing to act over racial slurs

    NFLUK 1In August, the General Secretariat of the United Reformed Church (URC) wrote open letters to the directors of Wembley Stadium, BBC Sport and NFL UK, calling on the organisations to address the use of racist imagery, language and stereotyping apparent in the racially demeaning name, mascot, and imagery of the Washington national football league (NFL) team, the “Washington Redskins” – who are scheduled to play at Wembley Stadium on 30 October. The General Secretary, the Revd John Proctor, has since received responses from NFLUK and the BBC that appear to fail to adequately address the racial slurs and demeaning language used by the NFL team.

    The response from the BBC stated: “The BBC may not express a corporate opinion on matters of public policy (other than broadcasting) and is publicly committed to approaching controversial matters impartially. We seek to ensure that, over a period, all sides of any public debate are explored and explained, so that viewers and listeners, can be better informed in coming to their own judgment.”

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  • Calls for improvement to factory safety standards

    The United Reformed Church has joined with other investors to call for improvements to factory safety standards in response to a deadly factory fire in Bangladesh.

    On 10 September 2016, a boiler exploded at the Tampaco Foils Ltd factory in Bangladesh, causing a fire and building collapse that claimed the lives of 35 workers and injured over 50 more. In a statement released on Wednesday (26 October), the URC joined 66 investors - who together have 2.3 trillion dollars in assets under management - in calling on British American Tobacco (BAT) and Nestle to improve health and safety standards in the garment sector.

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  • Mission Council October 2016

    The full report of the business discussed and decided at last week’s Mission Council is now available and includes information on the discussion and decisions regarding the future of the Windermere Centre, one of the United Reformed Church’s Resource Centers for Learning.

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  • Celebrations to mark Induction of new Northern Synod Moderator

    David HerbertThe Revd David Herbert was inducted as the United Reformed Church’s new Moderator of Northern Synod on 17 September, at a joyful service in St James’ United Reformed Church, Newcastle.

    The service was attended by a large congregation, some of whom had travelled the length and breadth of the country to be part of the special occasion. People from churches of the Northern Synod joined in worship and celebration along with colleagues, David’s family and friends, and church and faith leaders. The Revd Steven Faber, Moderator of West Midlands Synod, represented other synod moderators – and civic guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear and the Sheriff of Newcastle.

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  • Joining in call for government to give more refugee support

    The United Reformed Church has added its voice to a plea from faith representatives and leaders for the government to revise its policy towards refugees. More than 200 of the ‘people of faith’ co-signed an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking for more refugees to be admitted into the UK and that greater effort should be made to welcome them.

    Acting in the face of what they described as ‘the unfolding human catastrophe’, supporters of the interfaith refugee initiative urged the government to adhere to four refugee principles:

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  • General Assembly 2016

    Steve Greenbelt Web edited 1Greenbelt 2016

    We were delighted to be given the opportunity to give a presentation at this year's General Assembly about the URC's involvement with the Christian festival Greenbelt for 2016-2017.

    Steve Summers (pictured) is the CRCW Development Worker for the URC and also the chair of the URC’s Greenbelt planning group. He told Assembly: "For myself and hundreds of thousands of others over the years, Greenbelt has been much more than an annual festival. It’s become a dynamic and enduring movement, a spiritual sanctuary, a creative environment to encounter new ways to worship and to view God’s creation and a seedbed for learning about ways to be disciples in our own neighbourhoods."

    To find out more about the URC's involvement with Greenbelt for 2016-2017, follow us on our facebook page or email me at: crcw.admin@urc.org.uk

    Steve was not the only member of the CRCW programme to be on stage at General Assembly.Karen Campbell edited 1 CRCW minister Karen Cambell was also captured on stage giving an illuminating bible study. Read more about karen and the work she is involved in at the BPBHCC project in Luton.

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