URC minister to retire from prominent Churches Together England role

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David Cornick 3A former United Reformed Church General Secretary is to retire from a prominent role within the national instrument of the Christian Church in England. 

The Revd David Cornick, who became General Secretary of Churches Together in England (CTE) in 2008 and retires from the role at the end of September, reflects on his time in the position.

‘It has been a fascinating, privileged ten years. No other job in English church life offers such a panoptic view of what is going on in English Christianity. Fourteen denominations/networks of churches have joined CTE in that decade: that’s 30% of our total membership of 47. 

‘We are the most diverse ecumenical body in Europe, holding together in conversation Pentecostals, Orthodox, and the new churches as well as the Church of England, the historic Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church. 

‘I wasn’t expecting that expansion, and it is evidence of what seems to be a remarkable work of the Spirit. It is no secret that the historic churches struggle against demography because (to put it simply) more Christians are dying than are being made. What isn’t so obvious is that at the same time God is renewing the Church from the margins: the growth of black-led churches and new churches, like Pioneer and Ground Level amongst our members, is astonishing. London has bucked all trends, confounded sociologists and presents a picture of Church growth, and that picture is black because African and Caribbean Christians found churches and go to them!  But more than that, these churches want to be part of the wider Christian conversation and mission in England.  To see that and play a small part in making it happen has been a rare privilege, for which I thank God. 

‘There have been many memorable moments, but two experiences stand out. To attend mass in one of the catacomb chapels in St Peter’s in Rome symbolised the immense enrichment of my encounter with Roman Catholic spirituality. The second is mundane but precious – our CTE monthly staff meeting where our small staff team of five, all of whom have been with CTE longer than me, share our work and discernment. They have been great and I shall miss them.

‘But retirement beckons, and I look forward to returning to my first love, Church history, which has taken a back seat during 17 years of Church leadership and management, and to leading worship in some of our local churches, and, of course, to spending more time with my family who have tolerated an often absent husband and father for so long.’


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