Moderator's Snapshots

From Mission Council October 2016

Last Wednesday to Friday the URC Mission Council meeting took place at High Leigh in Hertfordshire. Our Synod was represented by Pam Dent (Cumbria), Mike Walsh (SCM), Brian Jolly (Clerk), and myself (Moderator). During our time together we discussed key concerns affecting the life of our denomination including ecumenical matters, ministry issues that affect every Synod, the nature of “call” within any form of ministry, the Windermere Centre, and the “Walking the Way” discipleship theme amongst other matters (a full set of Mission Council papers are available on-line for anyone to view). A roundup of the business can be found at http://urc.org.uk/general/2173-october-2016.html. It was a lively meeting over the 3 days with many opportunities for participation both within the plenary sessions and within smaller group work sessions.

Please pray for:

  • the General Secretary, Revd John Proctor, for continued wisdom as he works across so many different areas of our denomination’s life
  • the staff at Church House as they continue to resource the essential needs of a denomination
  • the envisioning of the denomination in its discipleship through following the Way of Jesus
  • the work that is needed concerning the future of the Windermere Centre & the care of its staff
  • the opportunities that we may have as a denomination to enable the ministry of all God’s People
  • our continued working especially locally with our ecumenical partners to bear witness to Christ Jesus together

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Meeting the Bishop of Jerusalem

On Monday morning I had the privilege of meeting with a church leader who seeks to serve a diocese which spans five countries facing so many troubles and conflicts that it is often difficult to know where to begin our praying.

The Most Revd Bishop Suheil Salman Dawani (centre in the picture, our Synod Clerk Revd Brian Jolly on the left) is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in January and the 14th Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem in 2007. He was born in Nablus, West Bank in 1951 and is married to Shafeeqa Fu'ad Massad; they have three daughters, Sama, Tala, and Luban.

As Diocesan Bishop, Archbishop Dawani serves the 27 parishes spread through the five political regions of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. He also chairs the Boards of more than thirty education and healthcare institutions spread throughout the five countries of the Diocese, including Gaza. The diocesan schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation and vocational training centres provide the best possible services while reaching out to assist those who cannot afford to pay for services and strengthening the Christian presence in this region.

Please continue to pray for:

  • those indigenous churches who work with some of the poorest in these biblical lands
  • the work for peace and reconciliation
  • those of all faiths (and none) who jostle side by side in these lands, that they may seek the common welfare of all people
  • the crisis faced with refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, and all those churches and organisations seeking to provide emergency and long term aid

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Snapshot from Israel and Palestine

My snapshot this week contains only one lad rummaging through a drum of refuse for any salvage. A sobering reflection against the backdrop of the Israeli wall as it severs the road through the Palestinian community at Abu-Dis, of the impact of conflict in a land which should know the meaning of Shalom.

I have in the last few days been privileged to meet many individuals working to bring transformation whether Mohammed overseeing the planting of 11,000 olive trees (so far) offering a livelihood to farmers or Sister Martha in Bethany as director of an overflowing school with 480+ children.

Please pray for:

the land of Israel and Palestine for a lasting peace

for those individuals in the Holy Land committed to bringing about transformation in communities

that we may offer our communities a hope rooted in Christ which brings reconciliation and peace

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Who is "The Synod"?

Q: who is the “Synod”?

A: (a) us. Every member of every congregation as part of a partnership of 136 churches bearing the light of Christ in those places, but supporting one another in prayer.

A: (b) us. The resources we hold in common (people, buildings, finances) which we share to support one another in 136 communities which need to know Jesus Christ lives today.

A: (c) the Office based at Patricroft URC. This week’s snapshot (not willingly given up!) shows the 4 people who are employed either full or part time to carry out specific roles on our behalf, with some of those we as Synod have elected to serve the life of the Synod in a voluntary capacity in particular roles. So from left to right Tony Rutherford [Finance Officer], Kath Fowler [Legal & Trust Officer], John Rea (elected by Synod as Vice-Chair of Trust and known to many of you for his service in property matters), Hazel Wall [PA, and Hazel is often the person you will speak to on the phone], Kerry Later [Assistant part time secretary], Brian Jolly (nominated to serve us as Clerk-elect), John Piper (elected by us to serve as Synod Treasurer), and Jean Mullineux (again, elected to serve us as Chair of the Synod Trust). Some of you will spot that we are missing Leo Roberts [employed as our CYDO, and Safeguarding] from the picture also.

A: (d) the Area & Synod Pastoral Committees, Learning & Ministries Committee and more - who are all composed of members from our congregations and ministers who willingly offer their time to support the life and witness of our congregations.

Please pray for:
• the staff who are working hard in the Office and visiting churches when needed to support the life of our Synod
• those who serve us on the various committees, as together we support the mission of our congregations
• our Synod gathering this Saturday at Worsley Road URC and the decisions it will make concerning the way will enable and support the development of all God’s People

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Egerton URC

Within the Reformed Church tradition we treasure the opportunities to explore the Word of God in the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, such that it shapes our life, worship and witness. Pictured this week are a group from Egerton URC as we looked at the lectionary Bible passages in preparation for my visit to lead worship, an opportunity to meet some of the congregation and also talk about the mission which the church is engaged in. It was a lively session with a very thought provoking group. Please continue to pray for:

  • all who lead worship for our congregations, whether this takes place on a Sunday or another day of the week
  • the discovery of new times and opportunities for worship which creates possibilities for those in the wider community to explore the Christian faith
  • the Synod as we look at ways of encouraging a new generation of those who can be equipped to lead worship within our congregations
  • Bible study groups within our churches, and that more members will feel this can be a vital part of their faith journey and a dynamic part of what it is to be part of a Christian community

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Northern Moderators' Meeting

This week the five Moderators of the northerly Synods met in Windemere for a day (from left to right myself NW Synod; Jacky Embrey, Mersey; Dave Herbert, Northern; Kevin Watson, Yorkshire and also Moderator of General Assembly for 2 years; David Pickering, Scotland). The URC Synods are divided into 3 “cell groups” and our five Synods form the northerly group. Our meeting together several times a year contributes to our working together across the Synods in different ways, which is already enabling us to share gifts and resources in fruitful ways for the life of the Kingdom at work in our congregations.

Please continue to pray for:

· the northerly Synod conversations at which we are represented (next meeting in November) for exploring new ways in which we can work together and share precious resources

· the Moderators as they build relationships together (both the Northern and Scotland Moderators are new in post this summer)

· the Revd Kevin Watson in his work for the General Assembly, and for others in the Yorkshire Synod who are helping to make his wider working for the denomination possible

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New Mills "Knitted Church"

On Saturday it was exciting to be able to visit New Mills (Providence) for their “Knitted Church”, part of a fortnight of activities for the New Mills Art Festival (you can find out more at http://www.newmillsfestival.com/ ) The Church is involved in hosting a number of events during the fortnight, a festival which culminates with a candlelit walk beside the river between the tors which this year is set to attract around 10,000 people.

The photos demonstrate a small sample of the work that has been created (including a knitted piano with knitted music that accurately shows the notation to a familiar hymn) including the Last Supper scene, harvest produce ready for their Harvest Festival service, and a remembrance piece. Four of the knitters are shown in the photo, and working with many others have spent 18 months gathering the necessary knits. Over the coming fortnight 300 primary school children will be coming to visit the exhibition and engage with the many stories that are including around the exhibition space.

Please pray for:

• the fellowship at New Mills as they engage in such a creative way with the community, and for more opportunities for them within that community
• each congregation within the Synod to discover new creative partnerships which will enable their witness to the Gospel to be shared more widely
• each congregation as they seek to identify fresh ways of engaging in worship which will involve and attract some of the 96% of people in our communities who don’t participate on a Sunday morning
• more occasions to enjoy events like the Knitted Church at New Mills which provide a focus for meeting the community and bring smiles to the faces of those who come along (and who cannot smile at the knitted wheelie bin cover!)

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