Around the URC in seven days: 9-15 October

A round up of news from around the United Reformed Church (URC) over the past seven days: 9-15 October.

Thames North Synod

More than 90 people attended St John’s United Reformed Church in New Barnet on 13 September to celebrate Tony Alderman’s 60 years of preaching.

Tony started preaching as a teenager when he was in the Boy’s Brigade in Ealing, and he’s still preaching now in his late 70’s in North London where he is well known to many churches as a visiting preacher.

Tony is a former Church Secretary of St John’s New Barnet for more than 30 years and has also had several prominent roles working with the Thames North Synod.

On what the most peculiar or funniest thing to have happened during one of his services over the years, Tony said: “I met someone at a conference who said, ‘You’re the person that told us that TREBOR is ROBERT spelt backwards!’ I think my skill set is talking to people face to face.

“I like to see the colour of people’s eyes when I’m talking to them. But someone always used to say to me, ‘I love you coming, Tony, because when you come I can look at the inside of my eyes’.  It’s when the snoring starts you worry!”

Southern Synod
The Revd Peter Flint, Minister of New Malden URC and East Croydon URC, has retired after 44 years in ministry.

Around 150 people attended a service themed ‘travelling with God’ at New Malden URC on 17 September, where Peter chose hymns and readings to represent different stages of his 44 years as a full-time URC minister.

Reflecting on his time in the ministry, Peter said that he considered it a privilege to serve: “It’s the one-to-one encounters along the way that are so significant.

“I’ve been humbled at the way people have shared intimate stories with me and found bringing those stories to God in prayer with the person so moving. Being able to play a small part in others’ faith journey is what makes ministry such an amazing vocation.”

While there have been many inspirational moments, Peter said that the opportunity that the United Reformed Church gave him to visit Taiwan in 1988, along with nine others, was the most profound and faith developing.

In terms of his what’s next, Peter said he doesn’t have any definite plans saying “retirement is a blank page” but he trusts that “God will show him how he should spend his time and is looking forward to trying new things”.

Elsewhere in the Southern Synod, Brian Sole, St Mark’s United Church Treasurer was presented with a Certificate for Loyal and Dedicated Service.

Brian clocked up nearly 60 years as the Greenwich church’s treasurer and is now retiring.

After spending a year as deputy treasurer, he first took on the role in 1961 and served until 1963 when he stepped down due to other commitments. However, in 1966, he stepped back into the role when his successor had to resign. He offered to serve for six months which became 57 years!

The Revd Dr Elaine Colechin, Minister of the church, said: “Due to ill health the time has now come for someone else to take on role, but St Mark’s has a lot to thank Brian for and give thanks for because of Brian care and sense of duty.”

Brian received his certificate while being treated in hospital and every prayer is sent to him for a speedy recovery.

Also in Southern Synod, the Revd Memona Shabaz’s has been very busy at her churches.

Her ingenuity saw Police Community Support Officers attend Broadway United Church (LEP) to brief the congregation on how to better protect themselves from scams and frauds.

At Emmanuel Church Eastbourne, a visit by the Revd Bridget Banks, Moderator of Southern Synod, was organised for the Revd Howard John to be presented with a certificate to celebrate 70 years of his ordained ministry.

Memona also joined with Methodist, Baptist and Anglican friends to help organise the Eastside churches in Eastbourne’s free and fun barbecue event at the beach for members of the churches, community and those passing by to enjoy.