Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 12:30
David Grosch-Miller, moderator-elect of General Assembly, reflects on Good Friday and its centrality in our faith.
"This day more than any other day separates the Christian believer from contemporary culture. What could possibly be “good” about a day that is mired in defeat and humiliation? The invitation at Christmas to celebrate the birth of a baby – all be it in unusual circumstances – is one thing; but the sight of a man broken and dying on a cross is quite another – with much less popular appeal. And yet, it is this symbol of defeat that Christians revere, while their contemporaries reduce the cross of faith to a piece of jewellery without emotional connection.
"The antecedents to this most perplexing of days lie buried in the history of the Hebrew people and their ability to trust their God when all the evidence was to the contrary. When Jerusalem was destroyed its leading citizens were led in captivity to Babylon. In exile they were humiliated and they wondered if their God cared or even existed; these tenacious forbears of Jesus dug deep and nurtured hope.
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 09:26
•900,000 needing to use foodbanks "should shock and anger us"
•Figures "should lead Government to examine why the post-Welfare Reform benefits system allows so many people to go hungry."
Leaders of the Methodist Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain and United Reformed Church have responded with concern to the latest figures from the Trussell Trust, released today.
"These figures should shock and anger us," said Methodist President the Revd Ruth Gee. "Hunger should not and need not be a problem in a rich country like the UK - and yet clearly it is. We thank God for foodbanks, which provide a vital lifeline to people who would otherwise be forced to go hungry.
"Wherever I have travelled in my year as president I have asked the same two questions: do you have a foodbank here and have you seen increased need for it?
"Wherever I have travelled the answers to both questions have been 'yes' and I am not hearing about small increases in need; I am hearing about huge leaps in demand and foodbanks that are struggling to keep up."
Published: Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:57
The United Reformed Church is encouraging churches across the three nations to plant white and red poppy seeds during Holy Week, as symbols of peace and remembrance, with the hope that they will bloom on or around 4 August, the 100 year commemoration of the declaration of the First World War.
Red poppies have been used since just after the First World War as a symbol of remembrance, whilst white poppies represent peace –and hope for an end to all wars. The Revd Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the URC, said: “Peace is always subversive in a world addicted to violence. I hope that the white poppies we plant alongside the red will make people stop and think, and maybe inspire some to pray.”
The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, added: “As we join in the collective act of planting poppy seeds, may the colours that burst forth remind us of the costly sacrifice of war and strengthen our commitment to a war free world, where peace becomes our orienting habit.”
Published: Friday, 11 April 2014 14:26
Churches are urging people to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.
The United Reformed Church, the Methodist Church in Britain and the Baptist Union of Great Britain, have produced a document outlining important issues for the election with the aim of boosting turnout and encouraging people to reflect on their vote. Only a third of voters participated in the 2009 European elections, compared to two thirds who voted in the 2010 General Election.
The Churches’ briefing illustrates how the European Parliament affects all our lives. “European laws affect things such as energy security, immigration and justice,” the document states. “MEPs have an important job to do in shaping the laws of the society we live in and it is important to remember that these elections are for people to represent us in the European Parliament and not an opinion poll on the EU, or a warm up for the next General Election.”