Moderator's Snapshots

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

Views: 903

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

Views: 1059

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

Views: 1025

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

Views: 859

Lent Passion Art

As an encouragement to people more widely to celebrate and reflect on the festival of Lent PassionArt: Be Still is a series of art pieces spread across six of Manchester’s most iconic venues. The contemporary installations, paintings, sculpture and live performances by internationally renowned and local artists uncover moments where the sacred inhabits the ordinary. My snapshot this week was inside Manchester Cathedral and shows a small part (dotted around the cathedral) of the works displayed by a UK potter Julian Stair under the title “Quietus Revisited”. Other venues include St Ann’s Church, the John Rylands Library, The Hidden Gem, and the Manchester Art Gallery. It is possible to seek silence and stillness even in a busy city and the art trail offers visitors to the city the opportunity to use the trail as a pilgrimage through a day, or perhaps to use a venue during a lunch hour to help engage spiritually and practically “with stillness, prayer and mindfulness”. If you are around Manchester during Lent then this is worth a visit. Further information can be found at

As we all journey through Lent and into Holy Week and Easter let us pray for our sister congregations as they seek to bear witness to Jesus Christ in fresh ways within their communities. Please also pray for the Bolton churches as they continue to prepare for their Passion Play performance at 12noon outside the Town Hall on Easter Saturday when up to 5,000 visitors are expected.

032 09 Mar 2016 2

Views: 907

Cumbrian Ministers' Meeting

This week the Cumbria ministers met together for 24 hours at the Windermere Centre. The wet weather made us appreciative of the warmth of the Centre. The gathering included one of the Methodist ministers which was helpful in discussions about ministry exercised across the Cumbria ecumenical county. There was good input and facilitation for several sessions by Richard Passmore exploring issues to do with our understanding of how the church expresses itself in new forms, with a particular eye towards the focus in Cumbria on Mission Communities. Please pray for our Cumbrian churches as they engage with the county-wide God for All initiative, the many discussions to be held across the county in looking to form Mission Communities with new patterns of ministry and leadership, and the future of the key role that the Revd Sarah Moore has been playing in the Anglican/Methodist/URC/Salvation Army partnership for the county.

031 02 Mar 2016

Views: 1001

Cleveleys URC

It was a great pleasure when I was leading worship at Cleveleys URC this week, with a small Brownie parade for the first time in a couple of years, to be able to present a certificate for long service to one of their members. In the centre of the picture is Cynthia Longden who is an Assembly Accredited Lay Preacher being presented with flowers and a decorated cake after the service. We thought Cynthia had been a lay preacher for 60 years. In fact it turns out to be 64 years! We expressed our gratefulness to Cynthia for responding to God’s call in her life to preach and for her faithfulness in serving God in this way through those 64 years. We wish Cynthia every blessing as she continues to walk closely with her Lord.
Please pray:

  • for all who are called to serve in leading worship and preaching
  • for us as a Synod as we look to support those called to this form of ministry & as we explore ways of encouraging a new generation of those called to lead worship
  • for the work across our 135 churches in the Synod with children and young people, for their leaders, and for the sharing of the Christian faith with them through our Church communities.

030 24 Feb 2016

Views: 941