Top stories of 2018

Firewors kevin hackert 1227187 unsplash 1From the highest number of attendees at November’s new ministers' conference since 2015, to charities nesting into Church House’s social impact hub, and a URC minister being chosen as the first poet-in-residence for the Joint Public Issues Team, 2018 has had some fantastic moments.

Here’s a selection of your most-read stories and social media posts:

  1. Presbyterian Church in Ireland loosens ties with the URC: The Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, expressed sadness after the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) voted to loosen its ties with the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland. 

  1. URC condemns military action in Syria: The United Reformed Church pressed the British government to avoid participating in any further military action in Syria and instead to urgently work with international partners to pursue peaceful solutions.

  1. Church policy group appoints poet-in-residence: The Revd Lucy Berry, a performance poet and United Reformed Church minister, was named the first poet-in-residence for the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) in September.
  1. Inspiration and ideas shared at the first Ministers’ Gathering: More than 340 United Reformed Church Ministers and Church Related Community Workers from across the denomination’s 13 synods, spent four days being inspired and challenged at the URC’s first Ministers’ Gathering in May.
  1. URC’s pioneering women feature on BBC’s Songs of Praise: The Revd Jenny Mills, of Newport Pagnell URC, and Joan French, a member of West End United Church, Wolverton, featured on an episode of Songs of Praise dedicated to ‘pioneering women’ in January. Presented by the Revd Kate Bottley, the show visited Mansfield College in Oxford to learn about Constance Coltman - the first woman to be ordained in a British mainstream Christian denomination. Jenny was the last woman, in the URC, to be trained as a minister at Mansfield, and Joan was aged just six, when Constance ministered to her.
  1. URC marks the 70th anniversary of the Windrush arrival: The United Reformed Church joined in the nationwide celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the SS Empire Windrush arriving in Tilbury docks carrying passengers from the Caribbean.
  1. Charity residents nest into Church House’s social impact hub: A special gathering was held in April for staff from the United Reformed Church’s London office to meet all the residents of ‘The Nest’ – the top floor of Church House. Greenbelt moved into The Nest in September, followed by The Trussell Trust’s external affairs department in January, and have since been joined by Street Child UnitedSingle Friendly Church and the UK branch of International Justice Mission, described as the largest anti-slavery charity in the world.

  1. Take part in new discipleship programme Stepwise: People wanting to explore and enrich their personal faith were invited to take part in an exciting new discipleship programme created by the United Reformed Church. September marked the launch of ‘Faith-filled life’, the first of five broad subject streams that make up Stepwise.
  1. All-female leadership team make history at URC Youth Assembly: An all-female leadership team made history at the United Reformed Church Youth Assembly in January. Hannah Jones succeeded Dan Morrell as Moderator. Helping Hannah to make URC history were Natalie Gibbs and Katie Henderson, who are both Assembly Moderators-elect.

  1. CRCW fights back against BBC Panorama’s negative portrayal of town: According to White Fright: Divided Britaina BBC Panorama programme aired in January, Blackburn is a community segregated along ethnic and religious lines. But United Reformed Church Related Community Worker, Mal Breeze, who has worked at the North and East Blackburn Group project for four years, painted a different picture.


Picture: New Year's Eve firework celebrations along the Thames. Kevin Hackert/Unsplash