Around the URC in seven days: 15-21 May 2023

Last Updated on 19 September 2023 by Neil Hunter

A round-up of news from around the United Reformed Church (URC) over the past seven days.

Eastern Synod

Congratulations to ten-year-old Lexi May Rose-Cobbold who is the latest recipient of Children’s and Youth Work’s Lundie Memorial Award.

Lexi gained the award for helping out at the café at her church, Wattisfield URC in Norfolk.

Of her nomination, Lexi said: “My mum told me that I won. She was so proud, and I was very excited. I couldn’t have done it without my church helping me along the way.”

Lexi plans to spend the £100 award on decorating a wall at the church to make it prettier.

Find out more or nominate a young person for a Lundie Award Memorial Award here.

Mersey Synod

St George’s URC, Maghull, has found many opportunities for strengthening their identity and promoting community work and talking faith, after taking part in Leading your Church into Growth (LYCIG).

LYCIG is a Christian organisation which equips church leaders and churches to grow.

The church’s participation on the course has proved fruitful as was evident when a recent ‘invitation service’ saw numbers swell, over time, from nine to around 50 people.

The Revd Catherine McFie, Minister of the church, explained: “Since taking part in Leading your Church into Growth, we don’t miss opportunities to promote what our church is doing and what we can offer the local community. This might mean small changes, like adding details of our upcoming services and events to the knitted gifts for the local nursery and playgroup we do at Christmas and Easter.

“We also now have consistent branding on our posters and any advertising, and we update our website regularly, make sure that we post on our own Facebook group and local community ones too and have a monthly newsletter that gives different church members a voice each time. This means that people can easily find out about what we’re doing, and we have a consistent identity.

“We have made small changes to how we worship too, through dropping old formalities. Now we keep the Bible in the church the whole time and Elders don’t go out to the vestry, so any newcomers feel more welcome and included.”

Read more on this story here.

North Western Synod

Northern College has held a Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of the Revd Dr Rosalind Selby as she moves into retirement.

Rosalind has served as Principal of Northern College for 11 years. Northern College primarily serves the URC and Congregational Federation, as well as being the preferred training college for ministers of the British Province of the Moravian Church.

Image: The Revds Jonnie Hill, Jenny Mills, John Grundy, Dr Rosalind Selby, Dr Adam Scott.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the service held on 13 May along with former Northern College students, staff and governors who, despite the rail strikes, attended to wish her well.

During the service, Rosalind handed a relay-race baton to her successor The Revd Dr Adam Scott as a physical representation of her handing the Principal role over for him to lead the college forwards.

National Synod of Wales

The Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of the National Synod of Wales, attended the Coronation of King Charles III. Here, he reflects on the experience:

I attended the coronation representing the Free Church Council of Wales. Some of those I was representing would have liked to be there in my place and others may have wanted me to decline on principle. I was with the Archbishops in Wales, and the Catholic noted he would not have been allowed in the building for the previous Coronation. Our presence was part of recognising the King’s broad understanding of faith and respect for the devolved governments in the UK nations. I was part of the Procession of Faith Leaders and Representatives, entering the Abbey at 10am with the orchestra playing, ‘Be thou my vision.’

The Revd Simon Walkling with the Most Revd Andy John, Archbishop of Wales, left, and right, the Most Revd Mark O’Toole, Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff.

The route we were given to the Abbey was from Victoria, through cordons, along closed roads. I passed lots of ‘event team’ members and police and rows of big cars with drivers ready to transport dignitaries. Many of these people would see little of the ceremony, but we were all doing our bit. The faith leaders were gathered for a couple of hours before our procession, which gave time for interesting conversations, and such opportunities are important for building relationships and understanding. We were a similar group to those who had gathered for the late Queen’s funeral, and I had a sense of how those relationships can develop over time.

For the most part, we were watching the service on screens, seeing the same pictures broadcast on TV. My view was partly obscured by a ceremonial battle axe held by a tall member of the household cavalry, and I wondered how it would have felt if he had been in camouflage holding a machine gun.

The themes of service and continuity provided by a constitutional monarchy came through, as they had done at the funeral. There were elements of imitating Jesus as the Servant King and praising him as King of Kings, but for me that created a tension between the way I see Jesus and the cost and pomp of the day, which I think the sermon tried to resolve.

The Revd Simon Walkling with the Revd Helen Cameron – Free Churches.

As with the funeral, it was the music that stayed with me. The striking ‘Vivat’; the last note of the kyries sung by Bryn Terfel that hung in the air; the Alleluia after the gospel sung by the Ascension Choir. I was also pleased that there was the option to offer support with a moment of private reflection and to say the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh.

As we processed out, we had to pause. I looked down and saw that I was standing on David Livingstone’s memorial: there are all sorts of ambiguities from the past to work through.

On the train home, I sat opposite a group of friends who had sat out overnight to see the parade and got soaked. They were excited just to handle the ‘programme’ and thought it was a different experience being part of the crowds to being in the Abbey. I guess we all saw a bit of the day with our own perspectives.