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NofaithbiblesUnited Reformed Church minister, the Revd Mark Meatcher, joined various religious and campaign groups in a week of action against the world’s biggest arms fair. The Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) event takes place at Stratford’s Excel centre from today (12 September) until Friday.

Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, and Quaker Peace and Social Witness were among those protesting against the biennial arms fair, which brings together arms companies and buyers involving some 35,000 people. The event has long been condemned by human rights advocates for its role in facilitating the supply of weapons and other security equipment to governments that include repressive and aggressive regimes. 

Read more: ‘Walking the walk’ in protest at arms fair

BlessingsSimon Peters, Children's and Youth Work Programme Officer for the United Reformed Church, shares his reflections following the Council for World Mission Global Youth Forum

I’m not really a breakfast person, but as I sat among a group of young, black South Africans discussing over cereal how, given a chance, they would re-write their history or influence their future, I was glad I had made the effort. Despite the official end of apartheid over 20 years ago, racial inequality, injustice, tension and division remain rife across the nation. Though opinion varied on how to proceed, the group quickly reached a consensus that the legacy of ‘Empire’ continues to marginalise and neglect the most vulnerable in society. 

Read more: How do we become disciples in the context of ‘empire’?

big top News images 554x415The United Reformed Church made itself ‘More than Welcome’ at sun-kissed Greenbelt during the August Bank Holiday Weekend; attracting many a compliment for its thoughtful, and thought-provoking, presence – and wide-ranging activities.

The URC’s ‘More than Welcome’ theme for 2017 proved to be fertile ground for conversation and action during the festival of arts, faith and justice. From a knitted food treasure hunt through to intentional conversations, cake and debate, poetry, story-telling, a panel discussion and much more; the URC – with a Greenbelt team of 51 –based its programme on the question posed in Luke 14:15-24: ‘Who’s missing from the banquet?’  This led to further questions: ‘Who’s missing from our conversations, our communities, our churches?’ The challenge was then thrown down: ‘Jesus invites everyone. Do you? What will you do to fully include others – and allow them to replenish and change you?’

Read more: Festival plaudits for United Reformed Church at Greenbelt

man in church Lucy Berry News images 554x415The theme which the United Reformed Church has chosen for this year's contribution to Greenbelt is “More than welcome". It's an interesting phrase. I'm not even sure what it means! What could be more, or better, than sincere and authentic welcome? Many people feel that churches can be hostile, judgmental places. I believe many of them aren't but we're highly complicated – often without realising it. This poem looks at the disconnection which can so easily exist between God and Church.

Read more: The Day That God Came Into Church by poet-minister Lucy Berry