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A life changing visit to Colombia

Ian Rowe ColombiaIan Rowe is the joint Commitment for Life and Christian Aid Collective intern. He is responsible for travelling around the UK to teach other young people within the United Reformed Church about social justice issues and global development. Ian, along with his fellow interns,has recently returned from a visit to Colombia as part of an exposure visit to see the global work of Christian Aid. He offers the following reflection:

“It might be a cliché to say that trips abroad change your life – and that you will carry, what you have seen with you for the rest your life, but for me it is true. Late last year I travelled to Colombia with 16 other young people and four Christian Aid staff as part of my internship. We went for two weeks and met with Christian Aid partners, seeing at first hand the life changing work they are doing to help displaced communities.

"Colombia has been engulfed in an armed conflict since the 1960s and, as in all conflicts, it’s the poorest and most isolated who suffer the most. The conflict has been used as an excuse to commit massive human rights crimes. Communities are displaced by armed groups, who then sell the land to big business who mono crop the land (plant one crop on an industrial scale) with crops such as plantain and African palm for making oil. The local people are displaced and have to find shelter with other family members, or in the big cities.


Mission Council meets next week

mission councilThe United Reformed Church’s Mission Council is meeting at the High Leigh Conference Centre next week: 10-12 March.

Mission Council is the executive body of the General Assembly, and meets twice a year. The key debates at this meeting of Mission Council include the provision of ministerial training on Safer Space training and the role of the synod moderators

Decisions will be reported on the URC website and  facebook page during the meeting and a full report will be included in the April issue of the denomination’s e-newsletter – News Update.






Women's World Day of Prayer

stream in desertToday is Women’s World Day of Prayer, this year’s theme is “streams in the desert”, produced by the women of Egypt. The Revd Ruth Whitehead, United Reformed Church moderator of South Western Synod, offers the following reflection:

“In a world where most denominations (still) do not welcome women into roles of leadership, the Women’s World Day of Prayer provides an oasis of inclusion and involvement.

“What makes these services different is that it is produced by groups of women, and usually led by groups of women, many of whom are gaining their first experiences of leading worship.

“The service gives an opportunity for the voices of women from all parts of the world, to be raised in praise of God, using an order of service that has been developed this year by the women in Egypt and centres on “stream in the desert”.


Encountering the Cross

ash wednesday 2Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, signifying the beginning of the liturgical period of prayer and fasting before Easter Sunday. The Revd Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, reflects on the centrality of the cross of Christ in our daily lives.

“Earlier this year, I had the enormous pleasure of returning to St John’s United Reformed Church in Wideopen, North Tyneside, where I was minister for seven years prior to moving to London. A dear friend there reminded me of a game the members used to play if the sermon was boring (never the case with the current minister, let me hasten to say!) The game is count the crosses. There’s the big cross on the wall of the chancel which presides over all the worship that takes place there. There are smaller crosses on lecterns and the communion table. Then there is artwork which has been added over the years as talented church members have offered something for the decor of the sanctuary. There are kneelers (used for weddings) and stained glass. There are the flags – the Union Jack and the Pilots flag. There are banners. If you haven’t spotted more than ten crosses by the time the sermon is over, you haven’t tried hard enough.