Mission Council day three: 17 November 2019

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Alison Gray formattedThe third and final day of Mission Council began with worship led by the Revd David Coaker, Chaplain to Derek Estill, Moderator of General Assembly.


Dr Alison Gray (pictured), Tutor in Old Testament at Westminster College, Cambridge, led a sermon, continuing her theme of pathway and refuge through Deuteronomy 4 and John 14: 15-26.

A short service then followed, led by Mr Estill, where the Revd Nicola Furley-Smith was inducted into the role of URC Secretary for Ministries.

In a speech to Mission Council, Nicola, the former URC Southern Synod Moderator thanked her synod colleagues, family, and friends within the URC for their love and support during the role.

Session ten

Paper J2: Supplementary nominations report
The Revd Ray Adams, Convenor of the Nominations Committee was unfortunately unable to be part of this session. Therefore, the Revd John Proctor presented the paper on his behalf. Revd Proctor advised that in section 1 of the report Mission Council was to simply note and approve changes set out in part 5.6 to note and advised that the third item under point 5.6 is of interest to the church but not for the church to determine.

Mission Council noted and approved points 5.4 and 5.3 and noted section 5.6 as directed.

Under section 2 of the report, new appointments and re-appointments, Revd Proctor invited Mission Council to make these appointments, which were duly passed by consensus.

He then directed Mission Council to section three of the report. Referring to Yorkshire Synod, he invited Mission Council to consider resolution three regarding the appointment of the Revd Jamie Kissack to the role of Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod for a period of seven years. This was passed by consensus.

Revd Proctor then referred to North Western Synod and the Revd Brian Jolly who has been nominated as Moderator of North Western Synod for a period of five years from 2020.

Mission Council, acting on behalf of General Assembly, appointed the Revd Jolly to be Moderator of North Western Synod from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2024.

The Revd Sarah Moore, currently Cumbria Area President for the URC who will become ‘Transition Champion’ for the URC National Synod of Scotland in January, was appointed to be assistant clerk of General Assembly from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2022.

Paper I1: Legacies of Slavery groupwork feedback
Alan Yates, member of the Legacies of Slavery task group, took to the podium and thanked Mission Council for its support in providing guidance and direction on the route the task group should take in regards to making an apology, reparation and dismantling white privilege, as first reported in session three on day one of Mission Council.

He mentioned almost overwhelming support for the direction of travel that the URC should take during the group work session.

He said: “We in the task group are grateful that there was a deep sense that there is a job to be done and a strong desire to act.”

Mr Yates, then gave some feedback on the outcome of the groupwork sessions, which clarified in the most part that more conversation on the issue was needed.

The outcome of the groupwork also showed a range of areas needed further explanation. For example, the link between an institutional apology and a personal one, or an apology and/or confession was not yet clear. The role of reparation needed to be understood and that of white privilege before an apology is made. A better theological underpinning and the Basis of Union was needed to frame this apology. Members noted some discomfort around the use of the term reparation as opposed to Restorative Justice. Mr Yates added that it is known that white privilege operates in the URC, but the details of where and how are not yet clear or what will be done about it.

“What we are clear about is that something needs to be done,” he added. “This is part of the agenda that the task group will be taking forward along with a list of possible actions.”

Mr Yates added that it was also clear from the feedback, that if the Church is going to make an apology, the apology needs to come from the Church as a whole and that the input of congregations was needed. It was not something that could just come from Mission Council and General Assembly. “We need the understanding and support from our congregations.” he said.

The task group hopes to tap into a pool of people within the URC who have expertise in this area and will also look wider to organisations who have tackled this issue.

Mr Yates added that he hoped to provide a progress report in March. Nigel Uden, Moderator of the General Assembly, thanked Mission Council for taking part in providing direction to the task group.

Revd Uden then thanked Mission Council for its service and then brought proceedings to a close.


Reporting by Andy Jackson, Head of Communications, Ann-Marie Abbasah, Communications Officer, and Steve Tomkins, Editor of Reform magazine.

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