Reformation coverFull itinerary and booklet:

Martin Luther 1517 itinerary as at 30 June 2016
A tour for the United Reformed Church History Society and friends

In October 1517, according to legend, Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Over the centuries various strands of Reformation theology have blended or developed new features, but the year and the month stand for a turning point. Naturally the URC History Society should celebrate this forthcoming quincentenary. As discussion at the faith and order committee has underlined, our Calvinist origins involve us in Lutheran theology, since Calvin began his doctrinal development with key propositions shared with Luther.

Read more: Martin Luther: 500th anniversary of the Wittenberg theses

The Remit of the Faith and Order Committee:

To address issues of faith and order on behalf of the URC.

To participate in and respond to ecumenical and inter-faith discussions on faith and order issues.

To advise the assembly, its officers and committees on questions of faith and order.

To listen to concerns raised by Local Churches, Synods and individuals and to advise as appropriate.

To publish and disseminate occasional materials relating to questions of faith and order.

 

The Future of the Church Discussion
'What is the Spirit saying to the Churches?'

A resource booklet and a covering letter have now been sent to all Church Secretaries, Ministers in Pastoral Charge and Synod Clerks.

Synod Clerks have been circulated with the request that synods consider how the discussion might happen at that level recognising that spring synod meeting agendas may already be quite full.  Formal discussion at synod meetings themselves is not required, however, as this is not a decision making but a consultation process. There may be other informal ways in which it can be discussed.

A pdf file of the booklet 'What is the Spirit saying to the Churches?' can be downloaded here

Additional hard copies are available from the online store here at a cost of 50p each.  

The accompanying letter with the booklets makes reference to the fact that 400 of our congregations are in Local Ecumenical Partnerships and some guidelines  have been prepared to assist them in thinking about how they can engage in the discussion too. These are below:

 

Guidance notes for Local Ecumenical Partnerships.

Preamble

The URC is involved in some 400 LEPs, the largest number of these being bilateral LEPs with the Methodist Church.  Another 100 are with the Methodists and at least one other denomination whilst another 100 are with other denominations either bi-laterally or multi-laterally.

In some LEPS there is broad equality of numbers and emphasis on the value and place of the different traditions alongside one another whilst in other situations there may be a dominance of one tradition over another even to the extent that one of the partners can seem to be almost invisible.  The reality is that in many cases it is the URC that is in this position and it may be difficult to identify what the actual URC contribution is to the life of the LEP beyond the members it contributes.

For this and other reasons LEPs may feel that it is either difficult or irrelevant to take part in the discussion but we suggest that whilst recognising the burden of having requests that come from more than one parent denomination, it is especially important to participate not simply for the benefit of the URC. It is part of the purpose of the consultation to help the denomination discern what its particular ecumenical gift and calling is both in LEPs and in the broader ecumenical scene and we hope that our ecumenical partners might also benefit from both hearing and being part of that discussion. It is worth bearing in mind in looking at the booklet, that much of what is contained in it might equally be applicable to other traditions too.

We therefore offer the following guidelines to encourage the discussion in LEPs.

Some guidelines

The discussion is not exclusively for the members of the URC within the LEP and we want to invite ecumenical partners, especially those who have come to know the URC well, to join in as critical friends and as people who can view the denomination from the persepctive of another tradition.

We are not asking for a formally agreed statement unless churches choose to respond in that way.  It can be a set of collective responses from an informally called group, for example.

What follows are some suggested questions that might be considered alongside the questions in the booklet (See page 7) but please don't feel constrained by them.

What are the particular charisms or characteristics of the URC that are recognised within the LEP as contributing to its life? This could be an extension of questions 1 and 5. 

One of the characteristics of the URC is its emphasis on the Church Meeting and conciliarity.  How is this experienced as a contribution to the life of the LEP and what advice might partners wish to give to the URC about how these characteristics could be developed? (See question 5)

Eldership is an important part of a normal URC church's leadership.  Is this in any way a part of your LEP church structure and if not might it be valued as such?

Thinking about the URC as a tradition within the country, beyond the LEP, how do ecumenical partners see the URC playing its role within the wider ecumenical scene and what particular gifts might you encourage the URC to focus on?   

Are there hard truths that you believe the URC should hear?

What vision of the future of the Church as a whole has your LEP experience helped to produce and how do you imagination the URC might play its part in that? What sacrifices and changes do you believe it should be prepared to embrace?

Please send responses in the way indicated in the booklet and please feel free to contact the Faith and Order Committee for further assistance.

February 2015 

A doc file of the above guidelines can also be downloaded here

Faith and order can be contacted via emailed at: faithandorder@urc.org.uk