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wine and fishPlanning is well underway for the United Reformed Church’s contribution to this year’s Greenbelt festival of arts, faith and social justice. The popular event will take place at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, from 25 to 28 August 2017 – and the URC will be there for its second year as an Associate Partner.

The United Reformed Church enjoyed a very successful debut at the 2016 event with the attention-grabbing theme of ‘Scrap the Church?’ Over 500 people wrote down their comments about what the Church could scrap or improve and the URC activities prompted many a conversation and personal reflection about the role and effectiveness of Church in society.

Read more: ‘More than Welcome’ at Greenbelt 2017

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Local churches are joining schools, businesses and campaigners around the country to support farmers and other workers in developing countries during Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs until 12 March.

Church-based supporters hold baking events for the Traidcraft Big Brew, which ties in with Fairtrade Fortnight each year, or add home-baked goodies to their regular Traidcraft fairtrade stalls. Many run fairtrade-themed Junior Church and other activities using resources from Traidcraft or the Fairtrade Foundation. The Fairtrade Foundation has also produced a hard-hitting film, Don’t feed exploitation, which underlines how some of our food bargains are made possible only by exploiting workers, including children, in producer countries.

Read more: Churches rally for Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Ash Wednesday ImageMr Alan Yates, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, reflects on how Ash Wednesday opens the door to thankfulness and revelation.

Ash Wednesday is a day welded into my memory – thanks to growing up as a Roman Catholic. It was one of the few times in the year that we would go to a weekday Mass before school. I used to have quite a long bus journey in the mornings so to go to Mass beforehand meant a very early start for a teenager: one of those rare occasions when I realised there were two 6 o’clocks in a day!

Read more: Ash Wednesday: refresh and prepare for the journey

voting imageThe General Assembly task group, which was set up following the 2016 General Assembly, has been asked to bring to General Assembly 2018 proposals for running the General Assembly from 2020 to 2030. To do this it needs to consult widely and is actively seeking opinions or insight from around the Church. In short, the task group wants to hear from you – and has devised a short online survey (which will not take more than ten minutes to complete) to help them more fully understand what the denomination wants from General Assembly.

Read more: Have your say on the future of General Assembly

Line upHow can local churches, congregations and communities use their strengths to spark transformation and growth?

That is the question at the heart of a new Appreciating Church website and book written by Fiona Thomas, United Reformed Church Secretary of Education and Learning, and Tim Slack, founder and co-director of the Appreciating People organisation. They worked as part of a group of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) practitioners drawn from ecumenical partners, advised and supported by Appreciating People.

Read more: Appreciating Church: book and website launch