Names sought for new task groups

More than 150 people gathered online for the first of the URC’s Church Life Review (CLR) webinars held on 24 January.

With excitement building about new emerging communities of mission and discipleship, the General Secretariat explained the current stage of the CLR and the aim of focusing on how those new communities can be commissioned and resourced.

Watch highlights in this video

The CLR aims for the focus to be explored through three specific task groups: Resource Sharing (Finance) Task Group, Support Services Task Group and Lay Workers (employed) Task Group. The URC is seeking applications and nominations from those interested in taking up task group conventor and task group member positions.

The work connects with other General Assembly resolutions, in particular Resolution 31c, Resolution 38 and Resolution 51a.

Resolution 31c:
Asks the Mission and Ministries Committees and the Synods to reflect on how the Church could better demonstrate its commitment to people experiencing poverty and marginalisation in allocating resources for ministry and mission, and bring proposals, if appropriate, to a future General Assembly.

Resolution 38:
General Assembly endorses the measures for ecumenical working and resource sharing outlined in Reinvigorating the Ecumenical Vision of the URC Part 2 and encourages Synods to consider how they might make use of them to assist in addressing the areas of under-resourcing of our ecumenical commitments and in developing new ecumenical relationships.

Resolution 51a
General Assembly empowers the Business Committee, in consultation with the Nominations Committee, to set up a working group to examine a) What models of employed lay work can be effective within local churches.

The aim for the URC is to get alongside marginalised communities, improve outward facing mission points and better resource ecumenical ways of working and support the sharing of resources.

The General Secretariat comprising the Revd Dr John Bradbury, General Secretary; Victoria James, Chief Operating Officer; the Revd Adrian Bulley, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship); and the Revd Philip Brooks, Deputy General Secretary (Mission), said: “The tasks groups offer real opportunities to make a difference.”

A convenor and up to 10 members are required for each task group. Those interested are asked to either apply directly to or nominate someone by 12 February. All the positions are voluntary and will follow safer recruitment principles so as to be accessible as possible to advertise as widely across the denomination to hopefully get as diverse a range of people as possible. The General Secretariat explained that interviews will be in a two-way interview style conversation to help applicants discern if they’re the right fit and vice versa. References will be taken up. Learn how to apply or make a nomination.

At two points during the webinar, people were offered the opportunity to gather in breakout rooms to discuss the following questions:

  • What excites you?
  • What kind of gifts and graces do you think are needed for the different work?
  • Who do you want to see apply or be nominated for these pieces of work?
  • What means of communication or networks would help us spread the word about opportunities to serve most effectively?
  • What information would most encourage people to think about serving the wider church who perhaps have not before?

Some feedback expressed the following:

  • The tasks group featuring people with the ability to ascertain the challenges currently affecting local churches and the aspirations of local mission
  • Current struggles to elect Elders within a reasonable sized congregation with a reasonable spread of ages. Some Elders are already overwhelmed with tasks.
  • Providing support to people taking on new roles
  • That strong coordination is needed between finance and resource sharing and support services groups as there is bound to be crossover areas. The General Secretariat explained that a small programme board – meeting of convenors of three groups and one external person – will be implemented to keep everything pulling in the right direction and order. The terms of reference for each task group helps reiterate their independency and areas of joint working.
  • The Theos report was encouraging and it is hoped that the task groups will keep in mind findings its findings.
  • Lay preaching is important and looking at new ways of doing things provided the hope of creating something that might last. The General Secretariat commented that lay preachers and ministry are at the heart of the URC and their service is vital.
  • People from struggling churches need to be involved in tasks groups for it to have a real insight and to affect the change needed at a grassroots level.
  • People want to be part of task group – but they haven’t got any more hands, time or head space to be a part of it. Suggested that task group visit local churches regardless of whether that church is thriving or struggling – so those local churches can feed into the task group and answer questions rather than questions being sent out by email etc giving already busy people another “thing to do”.

The General Secretariat explained how a major residential event in early 2025 is hoped to be held to draw key people from Synods, Resource Centres for Learning, Church Related Community Work, Special Category Ministries, key Church House staff and those in pioneering roles to take things forward. Details will be shared in due course.

The Revd Fiona Bennett, General Assembly Moderator 2022-2023, said that she was “really excited as the CLR is a path to bring about the change talked about”.

“It will be hard work,” said Fiona. “Change has been spoken about for a long time, but this is a road map to take steps and discern the future together. It’s the beginning of something and to begin to embody and make real some of the changes discussed at General Assembly.”

The Revd Adrian Bulley concluded the meeting in prayer.

To find out more or contribute to the discussion questions, please email [email protected].


Image: Chris Montgomery/Unsplash.