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United Reformed Church’s General Assembly 2014

GA 2012The United Reformed Church General Assembly 2014 will be taking place 3 – 6 July 2014, at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, in the Synod of Wales.

Approximately 400 people from United Reformed Church congregations across the three nations of England, Scotland and Wales, as well as representatives from other reformed churches across the globe, will gather in Cardiff to worship God and explore together some of the major questions facing the denomination in 2014.

The Revd Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the URC, said: “General Assembly 2014 will be addressing some very important questions for the church today, such as: how we can revitalise our church meetings? What is our Christian attitude and response towards mental illness? And not least, what do we understand to be the nature of marriage?”

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Getting the name right by Keith Forecast

Getting-the-name-right-image-228x228Ever wondered what our distinctive role as the United Reformed Church is? Or questioned how and why we came about? Keith Forecast contemplates such questions in Getting the Name Right: Exploring the Identity and Role of the United Reformed Church 1972 - 2012.

Keith has wide experience of the United Reformed Church, serving as a minister in pastorates across England and Wales, working as a member of staff in Church House as secretary for Christian education and children’s work, serving as moderator of the General Assembly, 1989 – 1990, as well as moderator of the North Western Synod. The author applies this experience to his latest book, offering a detailed analysis of the history and identity of the United Reformed Church, he asks the reader to consider a variety of issues relating to what it means to be part of the United Reformed Church today, taking into consideration – worship, practice and daily living.

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Refugee Week 2014

un refugee weekThis week is Refugee Week, 16 -22 June, a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. You can find out more about the activities taking place for Refugee Week here. Fleur Houston, United Reformed Church minister, who is currently writing a book for Acumen Press on: The Bible, Refugees and Asylum, offers the following reflection for Refugee Week.

"As election fever is in the air, immigration is a key debating point. It raises hard questions; but none so intractable as those around refugees. As thousands find refuge in the white-tented camps of the United Nations, the western world battens down the hatches. We Christians need a fresh starting-point, unclouded by policy debates and statistics. Let us put on our biblical spectacles. Then we see that the debates concern not aliens or zombies, but breathing, hurting, feeling, human beings, people of value and worth; with dignity in the eyes of God. So when we see those who have already endured unimaginable things detained without charge, or destitute, we are wounded by these stories of inhumanity; for we are bound together by same flesh and blood, bound together by same law of mutual love.

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The tearful kiss: A story for Father's Day

father-and-son-embraceSteve Tomkins, editor of Reform, offers the following reflection on the story of the prodigal son for Father's Day.

"There was a son. Let’s call him the prodigal son. And there was a father. Let’s call him the father.

Growing up was a miserable experience for the prodigal son. He didn’t have his older brother’s skill with tools or head for figures. He was clumsy and got words wrong. The father was always laughing at him in front of the servants and showing off his mistakes to his friends, and in private knew the exact words to make the boy feel smaller than ever. And that was when he was sober.

When he said: “I can’t wait for you to die, give me my inheritance now,” the prodigal son shocked himself with his willingness to break every rule in the book, but hadn’t the father repeatedly said: “You’ll get nothing in this life but what I leave you”? There seemed a real justice to what he was doing, in his deep gnawing anger.

The pigsty was not the first time his thoughts turned back to his father, not by a long shot. In the bars and betting shops and brothels, sometimes he was haunted by the father’s disapproval, sometimes driven by a voice that said: “This’ll show him”. And yet as he spent up the father’s money, it never seemed to buy him the freedom and new life he craved.

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