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The Revd Pauline Main, URC Minister and Free Church Chaplain at HMP Bullingdon, introduces Prison Week describing how chaplaincy services get alongside prisoners.

"I can’t cope with this, Miss," a prisoner will say to me. Often it is not prison life itself which is causing the distress, but something related to family on the outside – a bereavement, a serious illness, an issue with children. Prisons Week

All of us can find it difficult to cope at times like these. We need the support of our families and friends; we need to be at the hospital bedside; we need to be helping; we need to 'be there' with those in distress.

Read more: Being there – a reflection for Prisons Week 2015

The winner and two highly commended photographs of the Faith Through a Lens photography competition were unveiled at an exclusive awards ceremony hosted in London on 13 November. The three outstanding images depict a diverse representation of different faiths across generations.

Hundreds of entries were received and ten images carefully shortlisted by the judging panel, led by world-renowned photojournalist Don McCullin.

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'Floris' by Jim Grover

Jim Grover's photograph 'Floris' was named as overall winner. The judges praised it as an exceptional portrayal of faith in action in the UK, capturing the act of giving and receiving communion in a sensitive and compelling manner.

Read more: Faith Through a Lens competition winners announced

Robert Kityo is a gay member of the Metropolitan Congregation of Wilbraham St Ninian's URC in Manchester who fled Uganda to seek sanctuary in the UK – he was put in immigration detention this week, on Tuesday 10 November.

The Home Office has ruled that that it is possible for him to live discretely and safely as a gay man in Uganda – despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and it is the belief of many in the United Reformed Church that Mr Kityo will not be free to lead a full life in Uganda, and that, by deporting him, he will be put at risk.

His legal team is trying to secure his release and a court order compelling the Home Office to reconsider. Andy Braunston, former pastor of the Metropolitan Church and currently North Western Synod Clerk is asking URC members to pray for Robert Kityo and to sign a petition to the Home Secretary calling for him to be granted asylum in the UK.

Update: Saturday 14 November

Today Robert Kityo has been released from the immigration centre in which he has been detained since Tuesday. He has been told that the Home Office has withdrawn their decision in his asylum case and will make a new one in due course. It is likely that any new refusal of his claim for asylum will include permission to appeal to an Asylum court.

Andy Braunston, North Western Synod Clerk, said: “The wonderful news that the Home Office have withdrawn their refusal to grant Robert asylum shows the power of the prayers of God's people alongside sterling legal work and passionate campaigning – nearly 2,000 people have signed Robert's petition which was only launched on Tuesday. Robert is encouraged by the amount of support he has received – particularly from fellow members of the United Reformed Church."


The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is marked this Sunday, 15 November 2015, and the Religious Liberty Commission is urging churches to unite in prayer for those across the world suffering for their faith. The Revd David Tatem, United Reformed Church Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, considers how to pray.

Instead of just praying 'for' the persecuted church, I want to pray 'with' them, so that my prayers might be joined with theirs; my prayers for them, their prayers for me, and all our prayers together.

Read more: Praying with the persecuted church

The United Reformed Church's annual New Ministers’ Conference has just taken place in London.

Seventeen new ministers, including one Church Related Community Worker (CRCW), met on 10 November for welcome talks from John Proctor, the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, and Elizabeth Gray-King, Education & Learning Programme Officer.

New United Reformed Ministers 2015

New ministers from left to right: Peter Kimberley, Zadie Orr, Elaine Colechin, Matthew Prevett, Jim Williams, Sam Aspinal, Henriette Wentink, Ruth Wilson, Bruno Boldrini, Kirsty Mabbott (CRCW), Bryn Rickards, Nadine Snyman, Martin Belgrove, Chris Dowd, Janine Atkinson, Catherine McFie and Catherine Lewis-Smith
Image © Chris Andrews/URC

On 11 November the group met in Church House in London for a day of departmental presentations.

Elizabeth Gray-King said: "It is great to have so many engaged and engaging people entering into the ministry of the United Reformed Church. We look forward to seeing how a group of people with such varied backgrounds will contribute to all that the URC will be."

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