Moderator's Snapshots

October 2017 Synod

 

On Saturday we received a warm welcome from Carver Uniting Church as they hosted our Synod Meeting – an opportunity for us to gather from all our congregations and listen, talk, worship, decide, and pray together.

Our morning Bible study was led by Dr Karl Möller (Principal of the Cumbria Christian Institute) and looked at “Being a disciple” through the lens of what it means to be with Jesus, and to be with those into whose company Jesus leads us. Such discipleship reflects a “reckless generosity” and causes us to be particularly engaged with those who need healing and those who are scorned, rejected and marginalised. Karl noted how these may seem counterintuitive – yet are the places where God calls us to be and the people God sends us to meet.

As for the items on the agenda – the book of Reports has been made widely available, and we received reports which reflected the support given to us all through the immense amount of time and energy that is offered by so many (e.g. those serving on our pastoral committees, drawn from members across a wide variety of our congregations). We thank God for the gifts given to us that support us all, so that that in each local community where we have a congregation we “may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

Please pray for:

  • the on-going discussions and consultations across our congregations about how we can support one another as locally as possible through a pattern of Missional Partnerships,
  • the work of our Synod Area Pastoral Committees as they continually reflect on the life of each of our congregations, and how best we can support one another,
  • and for all our Synods in the UK (and Church House staff) as we consider the best way in which we can be connected together under our denominational priority for resourcing and developing our discipleship through “Walking the Way: living the life of Jesus today.”

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Greater Manchester Churches Together

Although the organisation of Greater Manchester Churches Together is wrestling with its identify, the senior leaders continue to meet during the course of the year. This week we met at St John’s Methodist Church, Cheadle Heath, although our ranks seemed depleted due to some sickness and dreadful M60 traffic!

One of the growing strengths of the leaders meeting is the breadth of churches represented, including Moravian, Roman Catholic, URC, Methodist, Congregational Federation, Quakers, Anglican, Pentecostal, Independent churches network, and Salvation Army.

Please pray for:

  • a growing unity between all Christian traditions and networks within the large geographical area covered by Greater Manchester
  • an increasing sense of the mission we can engage in which draws our different church traditions together in each community
  • the Greater Manchester Churches Together Assembly (all welcome to come along and join in) next Monday 16th October at Salford Cathedral starting with food from 5pm, and at 6pm our keynote speaker will be Bishop Mike Royal (director of TLG – the Education Charity – the Cinnamon Trust), and concluding with worship in the Cathedral (finishing at 9pm)

the ecumenical service at Manchester Cathedral this Sunday 15th October at 2:30pm. (All are very welcome to join in, marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a theme of “Celebration of Christ”).

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Commissioning Service - St Peter's Chaplaincy (University of Manchester)

Last Thursday I was able to participate with the Methodist District Chair (Andrew Lunn) and the Bishop of Manchester (David Walker) in the commissioning service at the St Peter’s House Chaplaincy to the Manchester Universities – offering Christian chaplaincy to the 100,000 students and staff. As a Synod we support this vital ministry, together with a denominational contribution, in the employment of a warden (Ben Edson) and two chaplains (Caroline Ryder and Adam Scott). Across the summer St Peter’s House has undergone a significant facelift and development of the café area (enabled by a grant from us and the Methodists) which has been crucial for the start of Freshers’ week as an attractive meeting place providing a reason for students to cross the threshold.

Please pray for:

  • all those staff and students in our colleges and universities as they start a new academic year
  • the chaplaincy work in which our Synod is involved, in the Lancaster and Manchester Universities
  • the opportunities to generate creative and supportive relationships with students and staff through initiatives such as the new café environment at St Peter’s House Chaplaincy.
  • for our United Reformed Church ordinands and teaching staff as they too have begun a new term at our training institutions.

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(in the image l to r: Caroline Ryder, Adam Scott, Andrew Mills, Ben Edson, Andrew Lunn, Stephen Little, David Walker)

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Missional Partnerships - Synod Roadshows

Over the last 6 days we have shared in 6 roadshows around the Lancashire, Central and South Areas of the Synod concerning the development of Missional Partnership groupings of churches across the Synod. Around 300 Elders have contributed through these sessions, in addition to the consultations with the ministers through 3 meetings around two weeks ago. For those in Cumbria the conversation is yet to develop, and will be taking into consideration all the aspects of the ecumenical county and the development of their “God for All” mission communities. The snapshot this week is of the Monday afternoon session held in Oldham at our Macedonia Church, in their brand new building – and for me it holds something of the importance of the journey we are all sharing in - with this congregation deriving its name from the reference in Acts 16 to God calling Paul to a new phase of ministry:

“Having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia…Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” (Acts 16:6 – 10)

As we all continue on this journey, please pray

  • for the listening to God and one another which will help shape the journey we share in together
  • for the Synod and Area Pastoral Committees as they continue to work on the shape of the possible Missional Partnerships
  • for all our Synod congregations as in the next two months they contribute to the thinking that is taking place, in preparation for this new phase of our journey together.

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Luther King House - Annual College Service

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a lunch at Luther King House (Manchester) and Northern College’s Annual College Service for 2017-2018. The afternoon was an opportunity for the whole college community to gather together, and to welcome all those who share in some way with its life. The service included a celebration of the students who have just completed their ordination training (the image shows the chair of the governors, Revd David Salisbury, presenting Daleen Ten Cate with her leaving certificate in the College chapel) as well as welcoming those who are becoming immersed in the preliminaries of a new course.

Please pray for:

  • those United Reformed Church ordinands training at our Scottish, Manchester and Cambridge colleges
  • the staff and tutors as they begin a new term, and for the Northern College Principal (Revd Dr Rosalind Selby, to the left in the snapshot) as she commences her sabbatical this autumn
  • those who are exploring a call to serve through ordained ministry; and give thanks to God for all those responding to His call within the North Western Synod
  • the renewed emphasis within our Synod, and the denomination, on missional discipleship and the equipping for ministry of all God’s people.

 

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September 2017 Moderators' Meeting

Every month I attend the Moderators’ Meeting for 2 or 3 days. Last week we met back at Church House in London, the first time for a long time due to all the renovation works that have been going on. As with many of our churches there was a desperate need to modernise an aging building which had become a poor working environment for the staff. An important aspect was the installation of a lift, as the building has many stairs which made much of it inaccessible.

Please pray for:

  • the staff working at Church House as they find their feet in a “new” building, and sort everything out which has been spread around several locations in London for the last 8 months or so
  • the work of those staff who travel around the country assisting congregations in a variety of ways, including our own Revd Philip Brooks (Wharton & Cleggs Lane/Christ Church Little Lever pastorate in Bolton area) who has recently taken up the post of national Ecumenical Officer
  • the work that is being done nationally to encourage us in Walking the Way, that it may help to develop a stronger identity within our congregations of being disciples following Jesus today.

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Visit to Hambleton URC (Fylde)

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting folk from the congregation at Hambleton United Reformed Church to the north of the Fylde. It was exciting to chat with them about their fellowship and the mission God has called them to in their community. We were able to spend time sharing insights from the lectionary readings for later this month in preparation for their harvest festival (image shows us reflecting on the word “generosity” emerging from the texts).

As always it feels that our congregations spring into life after the summer lull. In addition to all that needs doing locally we have the opportunity to talk together this month about the wider partnership that binds us together in Christ, and in supporting each other to fulfil the mission God gives us in 135 different communities. During September every minister and elder will be able to contribute to our thinking together about how missional partnerships can support each congregation. This will be formative for all that we seek to do together and the ways in which we can strengthen our walk with Christ.

Please pray for:

  • each of our congregations as the autumn brings fresh opportunities, and for our celebrations of God’s goodness in all ways as we gather people to rejoice in harvest festival services
  • the gatherings of ministers and the roadshows for elders/ministers to explore missional partnerships, and our continuing support of one another
  • each church member you know, that each one may be helped to discern the gifts God has given so that they may share in the whole ministry within their congregation for the building up of God’s people (Ephesians chapter 4).

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