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american football by footballz d2xv5hsThe United Reformed Church (URC) has responded to the calls of its partner church in the US, the United Church of Christ, to share solidarity with Native American communities in addressing the racially demeaning name, mascot, and imagery of the Washington national football league (NFL) team, the “Washington Redskins” – who are scheduled to play at Wembley Stadium on 30 October.
The URC’s General Secretariat gave their backing to the campaign by writing to the directors of Wembley Stadium, BBC Sport and NFL UK. The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC and the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, URC Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, stated: ‘The use of racist imagery, language and stereotyping is an affront to all that makes us human, undermines the dignity and human rights of fellow human beings, and negatively impacts upon self-image, self-awareness and self-esteem. Moreover, the continuing misappropriation of Native American cultural names and images, as apparent in this NFL team, is exploitative as it is degrading. The letters call on Wembley Stadium to take into consideration its own commitment to “show the red card to racism”, and prevent any acts of racial discrimination, offensive or abusive language and imagery in sport. They urge the stadium authorities and NFL UK to reconsider their decision to host the game here.

Photo: American Football by Footballz/deviantart

StarThe URC celebrated a successful debut as an associate partner of the Greenbelt arts, faith and justice festival. Greenbelt took place in the grounds of Boughton House, Northamptonshire, over August Bank Holiday Weekend, and the packed programme featured four URC-led events on the theme of ‘Scrap the Church?’. A panel discussion took place on Saturday, considering whether the Church is what Jesus had in mind when he talked about the Kingdom of God; Cake and Debate on the same theme for young people took place the next day; and pop-up liturgy focused on discovering Jesus at the tomb, on the road to Emmaus and at the lakeside. A star-themed treasure hunt proved to be particularly popular, while an art installation featuring a scrap metal church prompted many a discussion as it changed shape over the course of the weekend! Plans are now being made for the URC’s involvement in Greenbelt 2017.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees has launched an enquiry into the experiences of new refugees in the UK. The enquiry will look particularly at the experiences of refugees who have claimed asylum in the UK, as well as those who have arrived in the UK through other paths, such as the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme. They have requested that organisations involved in supporting refugees submit evidence to the inquiry panel, who will consider what more could be done to support refugees and those communities and organisations which support them.  

The Joint Public Issues Team would like to hear from you if:

  1. You are a refugee in the UK
  2. If your Church is involved in supporting refugees in the UK
  3. If you directly work with or support refugees in the UK
Read more: If you’re a refugee, or helping refugees, we want to hear from you

greenbelt image 1Final preparations are now underway for the United Reformed Church’s debut as an associate partner at the Greenbelt Christian arts festival where the programme will feature URC-led events on the theme of ‘Scrap the Church?’

Those events are to include the transformation of a large-scale, scrap metal church installation over the course of the bank holiday weekend. The festival, running from Friday (26 August) to Monday at Boughton House in Northamptonshire, will also be the setting for a panel discussion considering whether the Church is the kind of thing that Jesus had in mind when he talked about the Kingdom of God and, if not, considering alternatives to a ‘business as usual’ approach to church life.

Read more: Ready to ‘Scrap the Church?’ at Greenbelt

Some say The End is coming.
Some say the Time is Nigh.
Some say this current mayhem
bodes Justice from on high;
There’s talk of Armageddon
on some believers’ lips:
the final Time of Trial,
God’s great Apocalypse.

Read more: Armageddon