Moderator's Snapshots

Greater Manchester Churches Together

Last week I attended a meeting of the Greater Manchester Churches Together leaders’ meeting at the home of the Bishop of Middleton. The meeting was helpfully led in lectio divina by Bishop John, and in the midst of a full diary it was refreshing to pause in that way (as indeed with the lectionary reading last Sunday, speaking of springs of living water in Rev 21:6). If we lose sight of the Gospel in our own lives it is difficult to see what we as leaders have to offer to the people of God. Within in our Synod I attend a couple of such leaders’ meetings which are good opportunities for forging creative partnerships, and just occasionally for having more informal conversations about our ecumenical situations which concern us. Please pray for the leaders of other traditions we have connections with (in the photo are represented the Methodists, Moravians, Salvation Army, URC, Quakers, and Anglicans. Unfortunately neither Methodist Chairs could attend). Particularly pray for Bishop Chris (Bolton) as he retires in May, and for the process that is taking place towards the crown appointment of a new bishop for Bolton. Do pray Sunday by Sunday for those in your communities of other traditions, and particularly for all you can do together to bear witness to Christ Jesus.

039 27 Apr 2016

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Cumbria Area Pastoral Committee

Every couple of months the Synod Area Pastoral Committees meet and I endeavour to attend in every Synod Area. This week it was the turn of the Cumbria Area Pastoral Committee (picture) meeting at the Windermere Centre on a stunning spring day. Cumbria churches, like each Area, are served faithfully by those who give of their time and energies to not only meet together on these occasions but also carry forward the work and needs of our congregations in between meetings. Each Area Pastoral Committee in its own way reviews the life of its congregations at each meeting, attending to any particular needs or issues that arise locally. As we face up to issues such as deployment and the changing age profile and size of our congregations the Pastoral Committees have an enormous amount of work to do. One of the delights though, of attending each Area, is the sharing of Good News stories of what God is doing in mission within our congregations where size does not matter but faithful and obedient service offered as Christ to a local community does. There is much cause for rejoicing as we look round our congregations in identifying where the Holy Spirit is at work. Please pray for each of your Area Pastoral Committees (and the overall Synod Pastoral Committee) that they will continue to have the support and people they need, and for wisdom and pastoral sensitivity in their concern and care for your congregations. 

038 20 Apr 2016

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What Are Ministers of Word and Sacraments For?

This week the Moderators are meeting at Westminster College a day earlier, attending a conference organised by the College to explore what we think Ministers of Word and Sacraments are for. Each Synod is represented by their Moderator and a Pastoral Committee Convener, with the Principals from all the RCLs together with conveners of national committees represented as well. The Principal of Westminster College chaired (although in the picture Neil Thoroughgood is holding the flip chart paper), and the picture shows one small group leader reporting back on behalf of group A (you may spot the familiar face of my predecessor). It has been an encouraging conversation so far – and brilliant that lots of issues are being openly discussed. Some of the discussions will be reported back to the Synod in different ways over the coming months.

I would also like to remind you of the opportunities mentioned at Synod for Ministers and Elders to gather together to explore the issues surrounding the deployment concern. These sessions will be important in helping to understand what is involved and to help us together to formulate ways forward over the next 5 years. We are very much in an interim period and need to support and encourage one another during this time and hopefully you will feel these are opportunities that do this. There will be more information sent out so that we can try and gauge how many will be attending each session, but the important thing is for Minister and Elders to get the date(s) in the diary at this stage. So, the events we are offering around the Synod are:

Day for those who are serving Ministers, CRCWs, SCMs, Local Church Leaders:

  • Ministers’ Day – this is on Tuesday 10th May with coffee available from 10am for 10:30am start, finishing at 4pm with a lunch provided. We are in the process of finalising the booking of the venue – so will let you know once this is confirmed. We hope that the environment will be conducive to having a reflective day with deep thinking.

Synod Area Roadshows (2 opportunities in each Area) for serving Elders, Local Church Leaders, CRCWs, SCMs, and serving Ministers:

  • South Synod Area - Wednesday 29th June: 2 – 4pm  at  Altrincham (Hale) URC     7 – 9pm  at t.b.c
  • Central Synod Area – Tuesday 12th July:    2 – 4pm at St Andrew’s & St George’s        7 – 9pm at Hurst Nook, Ashton
  • Lancashire Synod Area – Friday 1st July:       2-4pm  at Poulton-le-Fylde URC       7 – 9pm  at Fulwood URC
  • Cumbria Synod Area – Thursday 21st July:    2 – 4pm  at Cockermouth URC        7 – 9pm   at Grange-over-Sands

Of course Synod Area boundaries should not prevent you attending an event “across” the border if you are unable to attend in your own Synod Area.

Please watch out for more information nearer the time. Many thanks.

036 13 Apr 2016

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Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of Theology

This week I have been in Durham for 3 days for the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Theology. Along with a few others from the URC we have been part of the 260 who have gathered at St John’s College and enjoyed this year’s conference theme on Redeeming Human Nature. It is a conference which brings together the academy and the church, with a concern which works out in many of the papers that theology should not be confined to ivory towers. So, themes touched on topics such as dementia, homelessness, redeeming money, ecumenism, and Gollum! This evening’s lecture by Prof David Brown was entitled “Durham Cathedral as Theology”, set against the beautiful surroundings of the current cathedral built in 1093 (picture). It was a reminder of the way in which at times our eyes need to be lifted from the things of earth “to see the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4) and the way in which, as with all continuing ministerial education, we can step aside for a moment to be refreshed for the new challenges of ministry that God has in store for all of us. Please make your prayer for the Synod that we may recognise the gifts given by God to each person for ministry, and that together those gifts may be used for the beauty of the Lord and the work of his Kingdom in each of our communities.

036 06 Apr 2016

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Meeting with Gatley & Heald Green Elders

Following the Synod Meeting on the 12th March there has been much to ponder on in regard to the future patterns of stipendiary ministry available within the Synod, but even more to reflect about concerning the wealth of resources we have amongst the 5,800 church members within the Synod which are able to share in mission locally. The picture was taken at a meeting I attended with the Elders of Gatley URC and Heald Green URC to discuss their current pastorate situation without a stipendiary minister. The meeting was very positive in recognising the way in which we need to be creative in looking around our congregations at the way in which partnerships can emerge which will be fruitful for the work of God’s Kingdom. We also noted that there are not any “top down” answers, but rather a need to be collaborative in working out ways forward. Please pray for the Synod as between us we seek to pray and discern the positive steps forward in supporting one another as we respond to God’s call to be salt and light in our communities.

034 23 Mar 2016

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Cafe Church at Oasis Media City UK

Last Maundy Thursday evening I attended Café Church at Oasis Media City UK and the Oasis Academy School, where one of our SCM ministers, Revd Stuart Nixon, is based. Our relationship with Oasis (Revd Steve Chalke, who founded Oasis, was one of our guest speakers at the Big Day Out last year in Southport) continues and part of that work involves a fruitful partnership with an Anglican pioneer minister Stuart (facing us in the picture) and the Oasis Academy school chaplain Adam Webster, involved in growing a new church. Please pray for this creative work, and for both our other SCM ministers Mike Walsh and Ruth Wollaston in their ministries within the Synod. Pray for an openness of all within the North Western Synod to exploring new and creative ways of sharing in God’s mission within the Synod. To God be the glory!

035 30 Mar 2016

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Mission Council

Last week Mission Council met at The Hayes Conference Centre, at Swanwick in Derbyshire. Mission Council consists of representatives from each of the Synods and works hard at moving various pieces of work forward on behalf of the General Assembly. In the picture the Revd John Proctor, our General Secretary, is addressing and guiding those present with a wisdom which is needful at this juncture in our denomination’s life. Please keep praying for our General Secretary (and some of you will have been at Synod on Saturday and heard John lead us in Bible Study), staff and centralised committees as they continue to work for the good of the denomination. Pray too for the preparations for General Assembly that the gathering in Southport in July may be a fruitful time of listening for the Spirit’s leading in many important matters that will need to be considered.

033 16 Mar 2016

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Views: 710