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Down in the River music 1 credit Gavin InglisThe Revd Mark Meatcher, United Reformed Church minister for the Chelmsford and Area Group of United Reformed Churches, reflects on Down in the River: Festival-on-Sea, a multicultural celebration of music, art, poetry, and film in Southend-on-Sea.

URC members and their families and friends enjoyed a fully packed programme of activities for all ages on 23 September, as part of the URC’s year of celebration of Feasts and Festivals.

Read more: Multicultural creative arts celebrated at fun festival

Banner Philip BrooksThe Revd Philip Brooks, Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the United Reformed Church, reflects on the World Council of Churches (WCC) conference entitled ‘The motor engineer of the ecumenical movement’ in Geneva on 18 September.

Being the son of a motor engineer, I smiled at this title as a description for the work of ecumenical officers. More than forty of us from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America (all tasked with working on ecumenical relations) gathered for four days in September in Bossey and Geneva, Switzerland, to hear more about the work of WCC as well as learning from each other.

Read more: Ecumenical officers from around the globe gather for conference

Free churches delegation and friends at labour conferenceFrancis Brienen, the United Reformed Church’s Deputy General Secretary (Mission), attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week as part of a delegation of Free Church leaders. She was delighted with the response from many of the politicians she met during the event: ‘It was a fruitful and inspiring time. We met with a number of MPs and were impressed with the many concerns they share with the churches, how much they appreciate the role of the churches in their constituencies and how committed they are to public service.’ 

Read more: ‘Fruitful and inspiring time’ at Labour Party Conference

Barbecue teamWhat does it mean to plant a church in a place where many people don’t ‘do’ church at all? The Revd Sally Willett reflects on how she and her husband Andrew – also a United Reformed Church minister – tackle that question at West Thamesmead in South London.

‘West Thamesmead, like many original new-build housing developments, had a focus on building houses and flats – with not so much thought about community venues where people moving into the area could come together. This has been a real challenge in trying to engage with a community that is difficult to find and we have been working alongside the local housing association and councillors with this. Our call, it seemed in part initially, was to help grow a community so we had a people to share the Gospel with. Our aim wasn’t to get people from any other church, we wanted to reach those you wouldn’t normally reach. 

Read more: West Thamesmead Community Church: finding the ‘heart’ of a new housing development