Moderator's Snapshots

Special Category Ministers (SCMs)

Our denomination’s Special Category Ministers (SCMs) are a gift to any Synod in that they are an additional resource for the sake of the church’s mission. Last week our EM2 ministers (still within the first 3 years since ordination) met up at Chorlton URC for a day with Revd Mike Walsh, our Synod’s Minister for Contemporary Spirituality. This wasn’t to be a static day – rather with walking shoes on we headed out to gain insights into what Mike is doing in this pioneering ministry around the area. In Chorlton there are 53 coffee shops or open bars to explore. The next time you are in one (or in your area) reflect on how a conversation, maybe a passing one, in such a place could transform someone’s day or life, and how God may be speaking in the midst of that place. I hope at some stage that we will provide a forum for hearing more widely from the experience of our SCM ministers, for us to explore insights that will help us in the mission going on in our 141 congregations.
Please pray particularly for:
• our SCM ministers in different roles within the Synod (Mike Walsh, Sarah Moore, Ruth Woollaston, Stuart Nixon)
• our Church Related Community Workers as they help us to build bridges in fresh ways with communities
• those in chaplaincy work e.g. in university setting, shopping centres, industrial settings, hospitals and hospices

043 25 May 2016 2   043 25 May 2016 1

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Pilots Weekend Away

Last weekend the Pilots weekend took place at Quinta Hall, Weston Rhyn in Shropshire (near Wrexham). When I arrived for 8am breakfast on Sunday morning in Severn Lodge there were 70 young people and leaders wandering in all directions – but all ending up at the tables with cereals and toast laid out. The marmalade didn’t make an appearance Sunday morning....due to the mishap discovered on Saturday when the concentrate that usually gets plenty of sugar and water added to generate jars of marmalade was deemed too “sharp” to eat.
The photo is a snapshot of the worship and Bible focus session based on the theme of the weekend “Olympics”. A wide game afterwards involved all who were willing to join in the fun and as the weather was gloriously sunny it meant that a huge amount of fun and running around was had by all (with the exception that the leaders were walking!). Please pray for....
• the 11 Pilot companies across our Synod working with children and young people
• the leaders needed to resource each company of Pilots, and for new leaders to come forward, and encouragement for those who are currently giving so much to work with Pilots in their area
• other congregations within the Synod to discover the ready (non-uniformed) resource that exists in the Pilots materials and structure, and the support available to get going
• all those congregations who are able to share the Christian faith with children and young people through activities in schools, in church, and in community activities; and for those who are exploring possibilities for doing so
• the regional Pilots leaders and Leo (our CYDO) as they prepare a Pilots event to run alongside Synod on 8th October this year [do make sure Pilots companies have the date in the diary, but this is also an event for any children from our congregations to experience a bigger occasion]

042 18 May 2016

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Ministers' Meeting about Future Patterns of Ministry

This week the Ministers of the Synod met together at Barton Grange Hotel for a day looking at “Future Patterns of Ministry within North Western Synod”. At the March Synod this year we recognised that the issues of deployment that face the URC have implications for what ordained stipendiary ministry is available, but that this is not the only ministry we have available. The Synod has a very rich resource of ministry within every local congregation and we spent part of the day considering how we can as a Synod resource that local ministry. The Learning and Ministries Committee has already begun doing the work necessary for bringing a proposal to the October Synod about providing a Synod development team who will work to support local patterns of ministry across our congregations. The ministers also considered the support that they might be able to offer in the short term in order to provide some transitional forms of ministry in specific ways to other congregations, and those present were both willing to explore this but also recognised how this is something which will only happen through a spirit of grace where both ministers and congregations respond with a generosity to see ministry shared within the Synod. ROADSHOWS will be happening around the Synod in June and July for Elders and ministers to attend together. Please see the dates in the newsletter and book one of these in your diary. These roadshows will both provide vital information for Elders as well as helping us to develop together the future patterns of ministry for our congregations.

041 11 May 2016

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Synod Moderators' Meeting

Over the last weekend the Synod Moderators met in Derbyshire (Synod 5: East Midlands), accompanied by their partners. The weather delivered its usual for a British bank holiday, though the sun did shine for us to see something of the beauty of the area. Each year one of the Synods hosts the Moderators & Partners weekend, an opportunity to combine work, ministry, and fellowship together. The image shows the Sunday evening meal and the entertainment with Sarah (East Midland’s Synod - Revd Peter Meek’s daughter), a professionally trained opera singer, who performed two repertoires, of sacred pieces and then popular folk songs.
Please pray for the Synod Moderators, with their particular pattern of ministry within each Synod.
Pray especially for Northern Synod who this month are shortlisting for the second time to try and appoint a Moderator to follow Revd Lis Mullen on her retirement this summer.
Please continue to pray for the northerly five Synods (Scotland, Northern, North Western, Yorkshire, Mersey) as we look for ways to more effectively work together, and for our meeting together next week at the Windemere Centre followed by a meeting of the 5 Synod Moderators.

040 04 May 2016

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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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