Moderator's Snapshots

Meeting Greater Manchester Church Leaders and Borough Mayors

On Monday evening I had the pleasure and privilege of being with the senior Church leaders of Greater Manchester and meeting with the 10 Borough Mayors of Greater Manchester and their consorts, together with the Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Lord Lieutenant. Our host for the evening was the Bishop of Manchester and thanks to the culinary skills of his daughter (whilst she juggled a 3 month old) served us up a delightful dinner. The atmosphere was designed to be very relaxed, so although the mayors were all wearing their regalia it was a time for “letting the hair down”. The importance of our gathering was to recognise that they have just been elected to office and will now spend an intensive year giving of themselves to their communities, and that our paths will cross with theirs at civic events during that year and they need our support and prayers. The Bishop of Manchester also made mention of the passing of Jo Cox MP, and the pressure on those who arrange for the security of all civic leaders.
Please pray for:
• those serving our communities through a variety of civic offices
• the creative partnerships with others in our communities that are part of God’s mission
• the family and friends of Jo Cox MP as they come to terms with her tragic death last week
• our witness within communities that helps to break down barriers

047 22 Jun 2016

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Visit at Dalton-in-Furness

Preaching at Dalton-in-Furness last week it was exciting to be with a congregation where different things are coming to fruition, which may reflect aspects going on in many of our congregations. A journey of 5 years or more with their sister Methodist Church has involved a coming together in worship using alternating locations. This will now see the 2 congregations coming together in the one building and, once the necessary council approvals have been granted, the development of the building to provide a venue which contributes to the mission of the church and will be of benefit for the local community too.
The Sunday before my visit the congregation were led in worship to explore their nature as community – and an activity with balls of wool generated a web of relationships! The congregation decided to use those balls of wool and have every member of the congregation contribute to the knitting of a cross (see the image of the knitting underway in the picture) – though the experience varies such that the knitted cross which began with a row of 12 stitches has now increased to 16 stitches!. In taking up one of the lectionary readings my sermon on “Being the Body of Christ” amplified that practical knitted expression by the congregation, as Paul wrote to the Galatian churches (2:20), “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Please pray for all our sister congregations as:

• they gather each Sunday in worship, and those who lead that worship

• they work to build partnerships with other churches that will be fruitful for the work of God’s Kingdom

• they continue to offer buildings which are attractive both for mission and for local community activities

• they find creative ways to connect with one another, and in reaching out with the Gospel

046 15 Jun 2016 3

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Our Synod Staff

This week Hazel (my PA) celebrated a significant birthday. The picture shows Kerry and Hazel (on the right) with some celebratory flowers. Hazel and Kerry are the two cheerful voices you will often speak to when phoning the Synod Office. Together with the other couple of paid staff they help form the Synod Office (Kath as Trust Secretary and Tony as Finance Officer) and field staff (Leo as CYDO, and Jane as Mission Officer currently off ill) resource which is here to help all our churches. In addition, we are blessed within the Synod to have many volunteers from amongst local church members and ministers who help support our working together as a Synod. Your church may be one of those who has one of your members involved on a pastoral committee or as a property/finance office for your Synod Area. We need to remember that when we talk about “Synod” we are talking about those who have freely offered of their time to help churches and members in different parts of the our North Western Synod.
Please give thanks in your praying:
• for the cheerful greeting everyone gets from Kerry and Hazel when they contact the Office
• for the commitment of the staff to help us in specialist areas of Synod life
• for the willingness of church members and ministers who support all our sister congregations within the Synod by being involved on pastoral committees and in particular roles within the Synod or Synod Areas
• for the many gifts God has given his people which can be shared to enrich the life of all the churches within the Synod in their witness to the transforming life of the Kingdom of God
Please pass this e-newsletter on to other Church members in your congregation so that they can be encouraged in their praying for the Synod. Thank you.

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Forton, Garstang and Lancaster Pastorate

Last week I enjoyed the privilege of leading worship with the churches of the Forton, Garstang and Lancaster Pastorate, with the service taking place at Garstang URC. The picture is probably a familiar image of what our buildings look like 45 minutes before the worship: a few early birds have arrived to find a moment of stillness, the duty Elders, and musicians, and technology whizzes have almost got everything ready. There is an air of anticipation that something important is about to happen – as God’s people gather together – somewhere, anywhere – and prepare to worship the Lord who has called us to be his holy people. And within our Synod we have 140 congregations worshipping and witnessing in local communities – please remember to pray for your sister congregations as they prepare to encounter God, respond to his call to bear faithful witness to his love and grace where they are set, and enjoy being that worshipping community. In Philippians 1 the Apostle Paul reminds us in his opening words of how powerful that praying is – that in partnership we have a Gospel for the world.

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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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Views: 1366