Moderator's Snapshots

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 ) 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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Sedbergh LEP in the Cumbria Area

snapshot I hope that you have all had a great summer – but the weather forecasters seem to be saying summer is over (or maybe that’s just Manchester?). However, the weather has never prevented us from celebrating the Gospel and fulfilling Jesus’ call to be salt and light in our communities.
At the weekend I had the privilege of attending the welcome service at Sedbergh LEP in the Cumbria Area. The Rev David Crouchley (Methodist) and Rev Carole Marsden (URC) were welcomed into Sedbergh LEP and the service was lively, with Richard Passmore (Cumbria Fresh Expressions) challenging us about the way in which we engage with the community and see fresh connections that can be made through many different age or interest-related groups.
Please pray for
• the ecumenical work in Sedbergh and the surrounding area
• the God for All ecumenical project across the whole of Cumbria as it seeks now to develop and grow truly ecumenical mission communities
• the ecumenical bridge-building in your community that will enable us to do more for the Gospel than any of us can do apart from each other


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St Etienne-du-Rouvray

An unusual image this week – the crest of a small town in France, reeling after the tragic events in their town. Yesterday the world was shocked at the murder of the Roman Catholic priest, Jacques Hamel. His murder by IS extremists took place in the church of St Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, during the celebration of the morning Mass. He has been described as a dedicated priest who was, at the age of 86 could have retired many years ago, courageous and dedicated his life to service within the church “until my last breath”.
A tragic event like this always makes me pause, and wonder whether I too view my discipleship of Jesus Christ to the extent where there may be consequences for me through that service of our Lord. What might be the price of walking in the Way?
Let us pray for
• the community in St Etienne-du-Rouvray
• the leaders of nations, once immediate anger is past, to strive for a resolution that results in peace
• those in our local communities who seek to support and encourage the working together of those of all faiths, and none, for the good of their community
• for those placed in prominent roles of Christian leadership within local communities as they uphold the concerns of the Gospel and God’s people

During August the “Moderator’s Snapshot” will take a summer break, and return refreshed in the Autumn as our work together within the Synod gains momentum again after the summer “recess”.


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Barrow Primary School

This week several of the Synod Officers (Treasurer, Clerk-elect, and Moderator) met with the two governors we have at Barrow Primary School (Mrs Joan O’Rourke and Revd Michelle Jarmany). The importance of our meeting was to try and identify the positive steps that can be put in place to support these governors working on behalf of the Synod in our only Voluntary Controlled Primary School. There have been, and are still, significant issues which have made life very difficult for the governors and we hope to put in place the necessary action which will help us fulfil our responsibilities in having oversight of our Church School (this falls to the Synod as we do not have a denominationally centralised means of supporting education).
Please pray for:
• our two Synod appointed governors and all the work they are struggling to do in upholding the Christian/URC ethos of this school
• the Synod Officers and staff as we work to support the governors at Barrow Primary School
• our ecumenical partners who are involved in the provision of education in your area
• our ministers, and others, who have the privilege of forging Church links with schools through leading acts of worship, assemblies, and on occasion work with classes
• all who teach and have a support role within our UK schools, as they cope with the ever-changing demands, and deliver work which is vitally formative for the lives of our children and young people


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General Assembly 2016

Over the weekend our URC General Assembly met in Southport, with a full agenda and over 40 resolutions to be considered as part of its business. The café style setup of tables and chairs in the Convention Centre near the seafront provided the opportunity for group discussions at various points, as well as the setting for the evening meal which we shared together around the tables. Highlights included the addresses given during our meeting by Bishop Angelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Revd Chris Ferguson as General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Revd Dr Majid Abel as senior pastor of the Naulakha Presbyterian Church in Pakistan.

Of special note was the election of the next Moderators of General Assembly (2018-202): from our Synod Mr Derek Estill, and from Eastern Synod the Revd Nigel Uden. Well done to those from our Synod who won an award from the Community Project Awards Scheme sponsored by the Congregation & General for their work with people living with dementia.... Melody Memories at the Amani Centre, Trinity United Community Church in Manchester. On Sunday morning we were joined by others from local congregations and gathered in the theatre (picture) to share the Lord’s Supper together led by Revd Kevin Watson, under the URC’s banner of “People of the Way”.

Please continue to make use of the General Assembly prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, we are your people, people of the way.
Light our path.
Show us Your way clearly and compellingly.
Through complexity, diversity, dissent, make Your will known,
Make Your will shown – in our lives and in our Church.
We give thanks for Your call which gave birth to our Church many years ago.
Help us now to hear Your call afresh.
Like a cool wind on a hot day, blow us out and about, people of the way,
healing, life-giving, wise and faith-full. Amen.


050 13 Jul 2016

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First 4 Synod Roadshows

Last week we held 4 Roadshows across the South Area and Lancashire Area of the Synod (pictured is the Friday evening session at Fulwood URC). With over 250 Elders and ministers attending it was exciting to gather together with so many committed members involved directly in the week to week worship, work and witness of our congregations. The roadshows consisted of a mixture of information about the current situation we face as a Synod and the way forward as we look at Future Patterns of Ministry together. The sessions provided us with time to discuss in smaller groups the various issues and insights which we can all contribute as together we work towards the next steps in encouraging our congregations through the ministry of all God’s people. A key part of our life together is through prayer, and each roadshow contained a focus on how we as a Synod will be involved in prayer for one another. In writing to the Ephesian church the Apostle Paul uttered words in prayer which I hope we too can continue to express:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)



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Preparation For General Assembly

I got so carried way yesterday with the Clerk’s unfolding of what’s in store for those of us who are going to General Assembly this year that I forgot to take a snapshot (so the view – with the Moderator’s head visible – is of the one day Assembly last year in Birmingham. This year General Assembly meetings from the 8th to 11th July in Southport at the Convention Centre (where we held the Big Day Out last year – and also where we plan to return for another Big Day Out in July 2017). The agenda is full, covering the papers contained within the 260 pages of the Book of Reports (see the image) as well as worship and meals together.

Please pray for the gathering of General Assembly this year...

• as representatives from all 13 Synods meet to worship and work together

• that those gathered may discern the mind of Christ in many matters for the common furtherance of the gospel across our 1,400 congregations

• for Alan Yates and Kevin Watson, our Moderators’ of General Assembly for 2016 – 2018, as they guide us through the agenda

• that business may arise from fellowship in Christ, and that way of working may connect us deeply as we face the challenges of deployment within the URC and of declaring the gospel within our communities

• that we may join in Jesus’ prayer (John 17) that in a divided and separated world “may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (17:23)

Please use the Assembly prayer of preparation in your personal devotions and within your church:

Lord, as People of the Way
your joy is our strength.
As we assemble in Southport
fill our meeting with the joy of your Spirit.

May that same joy and expectancy
be in our hearts and minds as we prepare
ourselves to meet together as your people.

Lord, as People of the Way
your strength is made perfect in our weakness.
As we assemble in Southport
give us strength to trust, and be open to, your guidance.

May that same strength, trust and openness
be in our hearts and minds as we prepare
ourselves to meet together as your people.

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of General Assembly 2016.
Help us to take that opportunity seriously and to prepare well.
Guide those who have particular responsibilities for this meeting.
Bless similar meetings of our sister churches in UK and around the world.
May we all, as People of the Way, be agents of your generous grace.

For Christ’s sake,


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