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The United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, Quakers in Britain and the Methodist Church have released a statement calling upon the Syrian and Russian governments and other forces to stop their bombardment of Aleppo.

The humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo has become a tragedy. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has stated that in the two weeks following the collapse of the ceasefire, 376 people have been killed, one third of whom were children, and a further 1266 were wounded. The international humanitarian organisation Medicines Sans Frontieres‎ said recently that there have been 23 recorded attacks on Aleppo’s eight hospitals since the end of July. Seeking medical care has become a danger in itself.

The statement below has been signed by leaders from the six churches representing more than one million people in the UK.

Read more: Churches demand action on Aleppo

Celebrating ‘remarkable’ Greenbelt success

Mission Council this afternoon heard about the success of the United Reformed Church’s involvement in Greenbelt 2016 as an associate partner. Dan Morrell, URC Youth Assembly Moderator-Elect, highlighted the various activities which made up the URC’s contribution to the annual Christian festival of arts and music, telling Mission Council that there was a very good response to the URC’s theme of Scrap the Church? Many people took part in conversations along the lines of, ‘Well what is the church, what is your church, what is the URC?’

The activities included a Cake and Debate session hosted by URC Youth.  Dan reported: ‘It was a remarkable success and it was great to see so many young people passionate about their churches and change within those churches.’

Read more: Mission Council day one 19 October 2016

MissionCouncilwebsitestoryThe United Reformed Church’s Mission Council is meeting at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire from 19 to 21 October.

Mission Council is the executive body of the General Assembly, and meets twice a year. Items on the agenda for this meeting include discussion on issues surrounding the deployment of Ministers of Word and Sacraments, the nature of call – in particular to ministry, the redevelopment of Church House and the 2017 budget.

Papers of the Mission Council are now available here.

The URC communications team will be reporting on Mission Council. The news pages and Facebook page will include updates on the main decisions throughout the meeting and a full report will be included in the December/January issue of Digest in Reform magazine.

RajDuring Black History Month, the Church and society are called to affirm their solidarity with the struggles of people who have been discriminated in the name of colour and race, and I am going to take a look at Luke 16:19-31 as an offering towards decolonized readings of our texts. For ‘Black lives matter’ is our affirmation and we raise our voice for justice and liberation to our fellow brothers and sisters, whose voices have been marginalised, forgotten, silenced and never heard to. Black History Month therefore challenges us to listen to these subaltern voices in the texts of our scriptures and also in our societies, for the voice of the divine echoes in the voices of the subalterns. Over the years, in the colonial and modernist constructs, the voices of the powerless, vulnerable communities have been represented by the dominant communities, and have branded ‘unspeakability’ to such people. Allow me therefore to read this parable, from the perspective of the subalterns, for their lives do matter.

Read more: Black Lives Matter: In the Speech of the Subalterns, Echoes the Voice of the Divine

Tea timeA new poem from United Reformed Church poet-minister, the Revd Lucy Berry. This month, Lucy reflects on Silent Stars, which was the theme of this year's Greenbelt Christian arts festival. She says: ‘Broadly, church and Church are in steady decline in Britain, with the exception of inner-city Pentecostal churches. I admire the silent stars in any organisation but it will not be individual acts of love, unselfishness, courage, or sacrifice which will save church.

Read more: Silent Stars