• ‘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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  • Deployment of ministers

    The ministries committee brought two resolutions: resolution 28 asked Assembly to note the projection for numbers of stipendiary ministers of word and sacraments likely to be funded from the Ministry and Mission fund until 2025, while resolution 29 was concerned with the formula to be used to allocate ministers to synods.

    The URC currently has 393 (stipendiary) ministers of word and statements, but, by 2025 this is predicted to fall by around 40% to 235.

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  • Assembly refers Israel-Palestine work to the mission committee

    General Assembly on Monday morning passed a revised version of resolution 37, which now instructs the mission committee to develop its existing work in connection with Israel-Palestine. The issue had been referred to a facilitation group on Sunday 10 July after Assembly failed to reach consensus.

    The Revd Matthew Prevett, on behalf of the facilitation group, presented the new resolution, which reads as follows:

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  • Youth representation at General Assembly, Mission Council and Synod

    Resolutions 42 and 43 – concerning youth representation at General Assembly, Mission Council and Synod – were introduced by the clerk at the end of Monday’s final business session. Both resolutions were passed unanimously.

    Resolution 42 would involve changes to the Structure of the URC, so it will now be referred to synods, which will then report back to the General Secretary.

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  • WCC calls for prayer and action in the wake of Nice atrocity

    The World Council of Churches has condemned the 14 July attack on Nice, calling faith organisations to prayer and to action. 

    Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Georges Lemopoulos stated, "We are praying for the victims and their families, and for all the people of France, as are many Christians and our partners in dialogue from other world religions.

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  • Assembly considers expectations of ministry

    On Sunday afternoon, the Revd Prof Neil Messer, convenor of the United Reformed Church education and learning committee, moved Resolution 13, which concerned 21st-century expectations for ministry. After lengthy discussion, the resolution was passed by consensus, noting disagreement.

    Giving background to Resolution 13, Prof Messer explained that the expectations for Ministers of Word and Sacraments used since 2012 have no formal status, unlike the benchmarks for church related community work (CRCW) ministry.

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  • General Assembly 2016, Address to the Throne

    To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.

    The General Assembly of the United Reformed Church meeting in Southport sends Your Majesty its warmest wishes and congratulations on the occasion of Your Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations.

    We express our thanks to Your Majesty for your unrelenting and steadfast service to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over the 64 years of your reign, and pray for the continued health of the Royal Family in the year to come.

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  • Assembly affirms authorised elders

    In its Monday morning business session, the United Reformed Church General Assembly passed resolution 14, which authorises elders and accredited lay preachers to preside at the sacraments if a willing minister is not available. After lengthy discussion, resolution 14 was passed, recognising disagreement.

    The accompanying resolutions – 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 – all of which enable and support the authorised elders resolution – were voted on together; they also passed, recognising disagreement.

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