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.

Nail and string cross Craft round table Zacchaeus craft

 

The local press is not always on the ball in reporting what’s happening in local churches, but we became aware of an article in the Helensburgh Advertiser about the ecumenical Messy Church which is held in Helensburgh URC and run by a team including the church’s minister, Rev Mitchell Bunting (or Bungie, as he is more commonly known). Bungie was a Christian clown many years ago and now puts his experience into practice as chief story teller at the monthly Messy Church, aided by Elizabeth Lambert from the Church Of Scotland parish church and others from St Michael & All Angels Scottish Episcopal Church as well as volunteers from Helensburgh URC.

What makes this Messy Church enterprise even more special is that they have in the past based many of their monthly events in the local Naval chaplaincy centre. This stopped when the centre closed for restoration but they are looking to start up again for September, providing a valuable link and outreach to the local naval base.

You can see the photos from the Helensburgh Advertiser gallery here – and what fun Messy Church looks in Helensburgh! It is clearly a hit with the local children. One parent commented, “My two boys really enjoy Messy Church. It’s a great mix of child-friendly bible stories, easy Worship and crafts – loads of fun; the edible craft is always the favourite with the kids!”

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For many children and young people in the community, their link with Christianity comes through belonging to a uniformed organisation which is hosted by their local church. These groups are often supported through prayer by the congregation, invited to parade service, often even led by volunteers who are from a Christian background or have strong links with church members. The URC  has its own Guide and Scout Fellowship which is a support group backing the work of the Scout Association. As of the Annual Church Returns in 2017, there were 311 Scout/Guide units linked with URC churches - that's more than one fifth of our churches having young people associated with their church through these particular uniformed organisations. Definitely something to celebrate! 

With this is mind, it is good to know that England's biggest scout group is hosted in a United Reformed Chuch. 5th Penwortham Scouts, which was founded in 1951 (The mosaic on the church wall commemorates its diamond anniversary eight years ago) are part of Penwortham URC and comprise four Beaver colonies, four Cub packs, Four Scout troops, a band and a healthy number of young leaders/Explorer Scouts who are learning to pass on their skills and love of Scouting to a new generation. 

The younger side of Duke Street.

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Duke Street URC has seen a significant rise in the number of young people associated with the congregation over the last few months, showing what can happen when we respond to opportunity and take positive action.

The congregation have had strong groups of Rainbows, Brownies and Guides for many years. At the beginning of this session however, the Rainbows were reduced to only a few girls as a number had moved on to Brownies. A recruiting campaign was therefore required but as Duke Street had nothing to offer boys, the decision was taken to restart the 14th Leith Boys’ Brigade with an Anchors Section. This was done by drawing on the past experience of the recently appointed minister and from within the congregation together with support from Edinburgh and Leith Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade.

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Now half way through the session the Rainbows have 14 girls and the Anchors have 12 boys. A second recruiting campaign is now underway. The congregation hope to establish a Junior Section of the Boys’ Brigade next session and be operating a full company of three sections in five years. The 14th Leith, which has always been attached to Duke Street, celebrates 100 years since it was founded. Now the Company has been restarted plans are being made for a centenary weekend in September.

Although the Brownies and Guides began the session well, both have seen a rise in membership as they welcomed girls from another Leith Brownie Pack and Guide Unit that had to close. As a result, there is much activity in Duke Street on Tuesday nights when the Brownies and Guides meet.

With a small Sunday School still operating, Duke Street is in contact with around 70 young people a week. Plans are now being made to ensure all of these young people and their families feel part of the wider Duke Street family. So far events have included a Christmas film afternoon, a joint Nativity Service and a pyjama service on Christmas Eve. The next major event will be a Church Picnic.

All of this activity has helped the congregation discover a purpose and identity. This has brought a renewed energy to the folks in Duke Street as they go Walking the Way, Living the Life of Jesus Today.

The Michael


The Michael URC is the only church on Lowedges estate, Sheffield. It is a community with challenges, which sadly hit the headlines earlier this year with the fatal stabbing of a young person.
The Pilots Company here had shrunk to only two young people, and was on the verge of closing - but now has about 16 regulars young people with 26 on the register. The Team Ministers who participate in the programme have said that PILOTS has 'shown how much it is valued as a really important Christian youth presence on the estate and the children who come all care for each other in an amazing way. The real heroes of course are those who have turned up every Thursday (Brian, Lucille and Trevor and the members from Dore and Totley).’
As part of the work which the PILOTS undertake on their CREST they have recently produced and performed the play 'The Rainbow People' in which the children created the props and played all the roles involved.  A short film was created for them by Trevor.
One of striking things is how the parents all seem very engaged - often arriving early at the end to sit and listen, and even join in! None of the families have any other church contact so this is a real mission opportunity. The church has a small elderly congregation, but welcome the Pilots Company, with Church Secretary Lucille one of the main leaders alongside Brian Adams and people drawn from the other local URCs.
"It is wonderful to see the Company getting back to strength. It gives these young people a real opportunity to pray, learn and serve, and to connect with the worldwide church of Jesus. We have just been enjoying an Overseas Voyage to Canada using the excellent materials from Pilots combined with our own experiences of travel there," said Brian Adams.

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18 years ago, Collinwood Road URC, Oxford, started an all-age service on the first Sunday of the month. They decided to hold this in the hall rather than the sanctuary, as the pews and layout made it very difficult to do anything different, such as drama. This became the most popular service, so much so that they faithfully continued even during a period when the church had few or no children and young people. Then children started appearing in small numbers, as new families joined the church, and they now have around 9 children at each all-age service.

Last summer, for the first time since the 1980s, they decided to run a Holiday Club. “It was a huge undertaking for a small church of 19 members, involving everyone in one way or another, and enormously rewarding” said Georgina Fensom. “We had 25 children and young people over 3 days, and are now looking to start a small youth group!”

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