United Reformed Church Mission Council Day 3

United Reformed Church Mission Council Day3:

For the final day of Mission Council Nigel Uden led prayers with a Bible reading from Romans 12 (NRSV).

The General Secretary called on people to vote on the person who will fill the vacancy on Mission Council Advisory Group. The two nominees were Revd Derrick Sena Dzandu-Hedidor, clerk of Southern Synod, and the Revd Jacky Embery, moderator of Mersey Synod.

The Revd Derrick Sena Dzandu-Hedidor was re-elected to the Mission Council Advisory Group for a term of four years beginning immediately.

Remaindered business

Northerly Synods Consultation - Paper X1

Reservations were shared about the proposed change to the appointment procedures for a Synod Moderator not having gone to the nominations committee prior to it coming before Mission Council. It was agreed to refer the matter to the nominations committee.

Removed from En Bloc

Ministries Committee – Age of application for non-stipendiary ministry - Paper H1

After detailed discussion the suggestion was made that the working party that had been established by Ministries Committee should consider this question, including consultation with the West Midlands synod, and bring a report on progress to Mission Council in November 2015. This was agreed by consensus.

Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty – Paper I3

This paper sharpens the call for a nuclear weapons ban treaty – by encouraging our government to sign up to the treaty.

There was an informed and lively discussion on this paper – Support for a new international Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty – and after several questions, it was agreed that this debate should also be held on the floor of General Assembly, not just at Mission Council.

The following resolution was agreed by Mission Council:

Mission Council endorses the call for a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty and requests that the mission committee bring an appropriate resolution to the 2016 General Assembly.

Report from Group discussion on Church membership

Elizabeth Welch presented the outcome of the discussions on church membership noting that there is a small matter regarding Youth Membership that the Faith & Order Committee are hoping to come up with a solution to. Professor Stephen Orchard observed that the Church seemed to have both a legal and a scriptural understanding of membership – stating that “historically concepts of membership may have been revolutionary and today perhaps we need to look again.”

Report from group discussion on Governance Issues

Paper S2 - Hearing God more clearly: governance options

John Ellis led the feedback and presented a short overview of the group conversations as follows:

  • Communications with local churches is paramount – 2-way
  • Change is needed – timing is good (new DGS structure)
  • No desire for a 2-day Assembly (too short) – neither annual nor biennial
  • No desire for a third Mission Council in a year
  • Committee structure needs review
  • Streamlining needs to strike balance between central oversight (DGSs) and representation from the wider URC
  • Need to trust those we put in place to manage groups/committee
  • The concept of task groups well supported
  • Use technology – but there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings

He followed this up with an overview of the sort of things that should be done next by the General Secretariat, the Assembly Arrangements Committee etc:

  • Retain biennial Assembly over four days
  • Retain biannual Mission Council over three days
  • Plan review of Committees looking for significant streamlining
  • Explore reshaping around three DGS areas
  • Make more use of task groups
  • Make better use of technology
  • Require substantial cost savings to be devoted to enhancing Assembly (including reviewing its location)
  • Retain possible longer term aim of annual but different Assemblies

Closing Note:

The Revd David Grosch-Miller, moderator of the General Assembly, gave thanks to all those who have served at Mission Council and in particular those for whom this will be the last Mission Council they attend. He thanked all those who have been a part of Mission Council. He noted in particular that this Mission Council has been guided by spirit and grace.

Closing Worship including Holy Communion

The Revd David Grosch-Miller led the closing worship service.