Moderator's Snapshots

Closure of Trinity Lancaster Church

On Saturday a special service was held in the building of Trinity Lancaster Church as they marked the closure of their building, an occasion tinged with sadness for those all the years of ministry (just short of 250 years) exercised through that setting yet also an event positively looking forward to the next stage in their journey united with the Bowerham congregation.

Please pray for

  • the united congregation in Lancaster as they are led forward in the next steps of their journey of discipleship together, and in their mission to the community in which they are set
  • the northerly Synods meeting as they/we meet in Newcastle at the moment, with particular focus on what we share in the area of ministries, local leadership, IT and children & youth work – for fruitful areas of cooperation and discernment
  • our ecumenical opportunities to be grasped at every level, and that at the close of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we may all continue to pray with Jesus (The Gospel of John, chapter 17) for the oneness which helps the world see him more clearly.

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Area Pastoral Committees

There are some weeks when my photographic skills reach an all-time low. Trying to do a “selfie” (something my family warn me against attempting- as you can see I didn’t manage to get my own face in it!) provided 4 blurred images on Monday morning with this one being the least indistinct. Unfortunately, it is also the image which coincided with the arrival of fresh coffee which is eagerly being reached for!

This week the South, Lancashire, and Cumbria Area Pastoral Committees all met, and today the Synod Pastoral Committee is meeting. The snapshot shows the South Area committee meeting being welcomed for the first time to meet in a very pleasant room at Gatley URC.

A vital part of the work of all our pastoral committees at this moment is looking at the responses from our congregations to the proposed Missional Partnership groupings, and reflecting on updates about the work around Missional Discipleship. On top of these key aspects of work there are also the other myriad of matters which normally consume the meetings where those who have been willing to serve and support each Area wrestle with how best we can all support one another to be the Church of Jesus Christ in the setting of each congregation.

Please continue to pray:

  • for those giving freely of their time in these committees to support all our congregations
  • for the discernment and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to be evident as we wrestle with new ways of being
  • for courage for each of our congregations as they seize opportunities to share the life of Jesus in their locality
  • for Cumbria (and especially the 5 of us URC Moderators involved, with their teams) as it continues to prepare for the Moving Mountains mission 8th -11th March with so much to be prepared in the next 8 weeks.

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New Year Synod Pastoral Committee Meeting

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

This week the Synod Pastoral Committee met at the Synod Office (based in premises of Patricroft URC). January is a busy time for both our Synod and four Area Pastoral Committees as they consider the variety of ways that we can support and encourage one another, as well as looking at our focus on Missional Discipleship underpinning all we do.

A major part of the Synod Pastoral Committee meeting this week (and it has an additional meeting later in the month) was to look at the work of a small group who had worked through all the responses from Elderships and congregations received before Christmas. We examined all the reflections and comments made on the first attempt at putting together the Missional Partnership groupings of churches which will become the focal point for equipping and enabling Missional Discipleship, and support the growth in the ministry of all God’s People.

Please pray for:

  • the Area Pastoral Committees as they meet over the next 2 weeks, for discernment and wisdom in their work supporting the congregations in each Synod Area
  • the Synod Pastoral Committee as it continues to draw together all the initial responses, and prepares the further work involved in establishing our Missional Partnerships
  • each of our congregations as during the season of Epiphany we build on those connections made with those in our communities during the Christmas celebrations; and for the strengthening of relationships where the Good News of Jesus will be experienced.

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Moving Mountain in Cumbria...

Last week I attended an exciting meeting in Workington (Cumbria) exploring the way in which a URC team with me will be part of the (especially ecumenical) Archibishop of York’s annual mission to a different diocese each year. The mission “Moving Mountains” will take place across Cumbria next March and the teams will include those brought by Methodist District Chairs, the Chair of Methodist Conference, URC Moderators (4 of us), and one of the Moderators of General Assembly.

The snapshot also connects with Cumbria, and the Ecumenical Pilgrimage I co-led back in March this year. Whilst out there one of the pilgrims introduced us to some olive wood producers in Bethlehem which his company, Lakeland, have dealings with. As a gift to the pilgrimage leaders (Bishop James Newcombe of Carlisle, Revd Richard Teal the Cumbria Methodist District Chair, and myself) Martin offered each of us a complete set of nativity figures to be used and displayed by us. For Bishop James it is relatively easy when you have a Cathedral at your disposal. Richard and I don’t – so we will be more creative in our use. Over the coming years the figures will travel with me round the Synod during the season of Advent – but I wanted you all to be able to see the fabulous gift this year that I accepted on our behalf, and mark the generosity that lies behind the gift. (the figures stand approx. 12 inches high, made of olive wood)

Please pray for:

  • “peace and goodwill” to prevail in the land of Jesus’ birth, and for reconciliation and renewal between those living in the Holy Land to mark 2018
  • the “ordinary” people in the Holy Land who seek to live in fractured communities, and especially those who rely on tourism to provide an income for their families
  • the ecumenical county of Cumbria as the churches gear up for the “Moving Mountains” mission next March, and for all the coordination and preparation involved
  • our Synod congregations as they provide opportunities for communities this Christmas to focus on “the reason for the season” and for individuals to meet the Light of the World
  • those who will struggle this Christmas, and for all who will provide care and compassion to those pushed to the edges of our society.

 

May I wish you all a very joyous Christmas and may you know the blessing of Immanuel, the Saviour of the World, in the midst of all your celebrations.

Andrew

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Ordsall Hall and Ecumenical Officers' Meeting

The snapshot this week was taken in the “Jewel in Salford’s Crown”, Ordsall Hall. If you are in the area this historic Grade 1 listed hall and gardens is well worth a visit, with free entry and a small tea shop area to enjoy. On Monday evening a quartet from the BBC Philarmonic Orchestra provided a delightful programme ranging from Mozart’s Divertmento in F major to Leroy Anderson’s Blue Tango, and of course including several festive items. A moment to relax.

I had intended a different snapshot but only remembered on my way home from Barton in Lancashire from a meeting with our Ecumenical Officers from each of the Synod Areas. It was an opportunity to share what is going on across the Synod ecumenically, identify the continuing focus we have as a denomination in working ecumenically, and to explore some of the issues and difficulties that we are experiencing.

Please pray for:

  • our Ecumenical Officers as they support our mission and partnership across a range of ecumenical congregations within the Synod
  • the regional Ecumenical Officers, and others nationally, who are working to enable us to connect more visibly, demonstrating the work of the Kingdom and the Joy of this season in our communities
  • each of our local congregations as they are encouraged and supported in exploring deeper partnerships with congregations from our sister denominations or independent churches.

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Advent Sunday with Bank Top URC

Like many of you I was involved in worship on Advent Sunday as we marked the start of a new Church year and the preparations to celebrate the coming of Christ. At Bank Top URC (Bolton) we explored one of the lectionary passages from Isaiah 64 (“You are our father, Lord. We are like clay, and you are like the potter.” verse 8) and thought about how Advent is a time when we can be shaped and fashioned by God to be his disciples in the light of Christ’s coming. The snapshot shows a few of those present holding a tray of clay with thumbprints from the whole congregation – a mark of being shaped together by God in Christ – alongside the traditional Advent candles with the first being lit this week.

Please pray that

  • many in our communities will enjoy and engage with the opportunities to celebrate through special services this festive season with our congregations
  • each person in our congregations may be inspired though this season of Advent to walk more closely with Christ Jesus as his disciples today
  • we will continue to pray and seek to work more closely with our sister congregations across the Synod, and our ecumenical partners in each local community, so that in our partnership we will more faithfully bear witness to the coming of the Light of the World.

 

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Gather of Retired Ministers, Cumbria

 

This week I had the delight of sharing lunch at Rydal Hall, in Cumbria, with the gathering of retired ministers & their partners and widows. It was a lovely occasion in a beautiful setting with grounds close to Rydal Water. We spent time catching up about the welfare of one another, as well as those not able to be present, and chatted about some of the work and issues within the Synod and denomination.

Please pray for:

  • all those who are retired within our congregations, especially those known to us, and for their gifts and ministry exercised in a wide variety of ways
  • those of our congregations who are struggling with the issues that aging brings, especially in identifying the call of individuals to serve in particular roles either within our congregation or more widely in the Synod or the Areas
  • our congregations as they continue to explore the opportunities for sharing the Gospel with those who are retired, especially in this time of Advent.

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