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Church leaders: “UK Government has missed opportunities to make progress on disarmament”


JPIT logoThe leaders of the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union and the Methodist Church are pushing the government to make progress on disarmament at the Non Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting in New York this week. They are concerned that the UK government has failed to live up to commitments made at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010. Steve Hucklesby, policy adviser for the Methodist Church, is part of a World Council of Churches delegation attending the PrepCom meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The delegation will meet with representatives of governments around the world. “The UK’s report outlining four years' work is woefully thin,” he said. “Our government appears happy to talk about a commitment to encouraging progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons but then acts against some of the most promising initiatives.” 

Leaders of seven UK Churches wrote to William Hague, the secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, in March outlining a series of missed opportunities for progress on promises made in 2010. The UK Government boycotted the Oslo and Nayarit inter-governmental conferences, held last year and earlier this year, on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In his letter to church leaders, William Hague said: “We concluded that the objectives of the (Oslo and Nayarit) conferences were at best unclear and that many supporters of the conferences appeared to have as their goal a nuclear weapons convention or other treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons outright."


United Reformed Church appoints Jacky Embrey as moderator of Mersey synod

Jacky Image-editedThe United Reformed Church has announced the appointment of the Revd Jacky Embrey as moderator of Mersey synod.  She will take on the role on 1 September 2014, replacing outgoing moderator, the Revd Howard Sharp, who is retiring at the end of June.

The role of synod moderator encompasses strong leadership and pastoral support and Mrs Embrey will have pastoral oversight and responsibility for the 37 URC ministers and 83 United Reformed churches in the synod. Mersey Synod comprises the whole of Merseyside, parts of Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It stretches from Southport and Wigan in the north, down through St Helens, Liverpool and the Wirral, out to Congleton and as far south as the Staffordshire border.

Mrs Embrey trained at the Queens Foundation and was ordained on 5 October 2002 – the 30th anniversary of the founding of the URC. She has since been minister of five churches, including Weoley Hill URC, Sparkhill United Church and Weoley Castle Community Church, a busy community church open six days a week, on a deprived outer city estate. Jacky is currently ministering at Bournville URC and the Cotteridge Church, and is also area minister in Birmingham, where there are twenty-eight churches in total.


Remember fallen workers, protect those who follow

WMDlogoMarking International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, Kay Parris, freelance journalist and former editor of Reform, asks whether deregulation is jeopardising workers’ safety:

"Most of us work primarily to survive. Additional aspirations may be involved but, at the basic level, we expect our labours to enable our lives rather than hasten our deaths.

"For far too many working men and women though, the reverse turns out to be true. International Workers’ Memorial Day is about remembering those who have tragically died in the course of their work and also about confronting systems that fail to prevent over two million deaths and many millions more non-fatal casualties each year as a result of workplace-triggered accidents or diseases.

"Our government is currently engaged in a war on red tape, which explicitly targets health and safety regulations “an albatross around the neck of British business” as the prime minister has described them. Everyone wants to see measures that encourage economic growth, and it is easy to lambast health and safety “gone mad”, but some experts worry that deregulation could prove to be an unhelpful business tonic.


After the daffodils

daffodils YorkJohn Ellis, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, reflects on the life cycle of daffodils and what it can teach us about retaining our Easter confidence all year round.
"Coming out of York station, I was confronted by a magnificent display of daffodils carpeting the banks leading up to the city walls. All on cue for Easter.

"The grassy bank continued round the corner tower of the city walls and I looked forward to another stunning display. But in drab contrast the banks here were bare of daffodils save for a few floppy and nearly dead flowers. The explanation was simple: this bank faces south and catches the sun so the display had already come and gone. 

"I was struck by the parallels with many of our churches at Easter. Not just through the flower displays, Easter Sunday morning is a special service when there seems to be ample confidence – even joy – to carry us through the coming week and all the challenges to our faith. All too soon a corner is turned, all the confidence seems to drain away and we are back to being anxious and nervous, slightly drab and not too sure The Greatest Story Ever Told is one we want to mention over coffee.