Good News Stories

This page is for all the good news stories out there worth sharing. Please do send us stories and photos of the things that you are doing (big or small) in your local church or synod, and let’s celebrate together how God is at work within our children and young people throughout the United Reformed Church.

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Volunteers from East Midlands and Yorkshire Synod recently gathered together at the Wilson Carlisle Centre in Sheffield for a Youth and Children’s Leaders weekend led by East Midlands CYDO, Jane Henderson, with the able assistance of Captain Sean Andrews, of the Church Army, as Chaplain.

The theme for the weekend was Treasures, the main theme which all children, young people and their leaders, across the URC, have been encouraged to consider throughout 2015.

Pilots, the ecumenical, non-uniformed organisation for children and young people run by the URC, produced worship materials on this very theme earlier this year. This great pack of resources focusses on Treasures which God gives us, treasures for us to ‘Cherish’, the treasure of His ‘Care’ for us, the treasure of ‘Christ’ and the treasure of His ‘Call’ for our lives.

Using this booklet as, the volunteers explored ideas, strategies and plans to care for and cherish the children and young people they work with, think about how youth leaders can help children and young people in their journey of faith and discern God’s calling for their own lives, both now and in the future.

Outside the formal programme, participants made the most of valuable opportunities to socialise and network with friends and colleagues, sharing thoughts and ideas, as well as keeping God at the centre of their time together with worship, led by Sean.

Lots of good connections have been built between the various churches represented and future activities are planned involving each of these communities, including another leaders’ weekend next year.

Comments from the volunteers show the value of this experience for all concerned:

‘Sharing times were the best for me, study and exploring our faith and how we support our children and young people’

‘loved the weekend, spending time with like-minded Christians, learning together’

‘very nice to have a small group to get to know people better…enjoy social time…be spiritually fed and challenged.’

Read more: Yorkshire and East Midlands Leaders Enjoy Great Weekend

In the course of its work, ‘Southcote Alive’, an ecumenical partnership group of churches and faith based charities working in the area around Grange United Reformed Church in Reading, identified a great need for a coffee and drop-in facility in the community, especially given the predominantly residential nature of the area and the number of parents with children attending the local junior school. 

Grange URC Coffee Bar

Most congregations might decide to open their halls to offer refreshments a few days each week. Others might even try to open a café in their church building. Very few would decide to completely transform the back of their sanctuary into a fully equipped coffee bar, especially if that meant removing a sizable organ, a regular mainstay of worship in many people’s eyes.  Grange, however, decided to jump straight in at the deep end!

Read more: Coffee, Cake and Christ

People of all ages and backgrounds met, for the day, at Westminster College, Cambridge over the past few months for the URC’s Eastern Synod Family Day Out. A fantastic day of fun, faith and fellowship was shared by all. The Reverend Paul Ellis, of Witham URC, tells us more:

PaulWhittleElephantIn all her 116 years of life, has Westminster College, Cambridge, ever seen anything quite like it? Marquees on the front lawn, juggling in the gardens and liturgical flag dancing in the hallowed Dining Hall! Whatever would the college’s founding sisters, Mrs Lewis and Mrs Gibson, have thought?

Hopefully, they would have thought something along the lines of ‘here is a Church where all generations are equally welcome without any patronising segregation according to age’ as they witnessed 420 Christians, from across the United Reformed Church’s Eastern Synod, letting their hair down and enjoying themselves, sharing in the joy of their ‘Big Day Out’!

Read more: A Day Big Enough to Include an Elephant

They came by coach, train and car. They were excited. They were ready. It was time for the Mersey and North-West ‘Big Day Out’!!! Mersey Synod’s CYDO, Malcolm Evans, tells us more:

A thousand people streamed through the doors of the Southport Convention Centre to attend this long-awaited event, organised jointly by a hardworking team of willing volunteers from the two Synods.

Mersey BDO1As some headed for informative workshops, inspirational speakers and creative arts performances others opted for the more informal ‘Leisure Zone’, a place which families seemed, in particular, to enjoy throughout the day. No wonder, with all the fun on offer, ranging from Bible-themed crafts to computer games, a tot’s area, reading/colouring, a large Doctor Who jigsaw, giant ‘Jenga’ and Connect 4.

Mersey BDO2It was amazing to see the imagination displayed by some of the older children in terms of their architecture and construction skills when faced with giant ‘Jenga’ blocks. It was equally fascinating to witness how many dads thought it important to ‘help’ their younger children with the ‘Brio’ wooden train system. As for the Play-doh, it seems conclusive that no toy has ever been able to beat its appeal in terms of truly all-age play!

The Zone averaged around fifty people throughout the day reaching a maximum of seventy-two children, young people and adults at the peak. As the day wore on, older folk were able to enjoy the Zone too, making it a place of refuge between activities, interacting happily with the exuberance of the children around them. The same could be said of people coming and going from their workshops. A truly intergenerational encounter, in which the younger could find inspiration in the older and the older could learn from the younger.

A fantastic time was enjoyed by everyone. All we have to do now is prepare for the next one in two years' time!

Wessex Synod Day

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On the 9th of March 2015, alongside the Wessex Synod Meeting, twenty eight children, aged 7-12 from United Reformed Church congregations across the region, came together for a day of fun, fellowship, crafts, activities and discussions. The programme was developed by the Synod’s newly formed Children’s Forum, ‘Children Speaking Aloud’, a group, open to any child, which meets alongside the November Synod Meeting to ensure the voice of children is heard in the planning of events.

Read more: Previous Good News Stories
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