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The Revd Dr Susan Durber, Moderator of the faith and order commission of the World Council of Churches, commended to General Assembly the World Council of Churches (WCC) convergence document ‘The Church: Towards a common vision’.

Dr Durber explained that the document is the fruit of 30 years of international ecumenical conversation about what it means to be the Church. She invited members of Assembly to be part of URC’s response to it.

Read more: ‘Discover the treasure of unity’ says Susan Durber

In the first of Saturday afternoon's business sessions, the United Reformed Church faith and order committee presented resolutions 21, 22, 23 and 24. Resolutions 21, 22 and 23 were referred to facilitation group. Resolution 24 was passed by consensus, noting disagreement.

Elizabeth Welch, convener of the faith and order committee, presented Resolutions 21 to 23, commending ‘What Is the Spirit Saying to the Churches?’ a new series of short affirmations for use in local churches, distilling the result the committee’s extensive consultation with them. The resolutions also encouraged churches to share good news stories, and asked the faith order committee to produce resources for study and worship on the theme of ‘What Is the Spirit Saying to the Churches?’.

Read more: Assembly discusses membership and ‘What Is the Spirit Saying to the Churches?’

The Revd Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) opened the afternoon session of Assembly business on Saturday with a reminder of the need for Reformed Churches to hold together for the sake of justice and life for all.

Having brought greetings from the President of the WCRC, the Revd Dr Jerry Pillay, on behalf of the 230 denominations in 110 countries that are part of the Communion, he noted that the Reformed movements have division as part of their legacy. Since the Reformation, an estimated 43,000 denominations have been established.

When the WCRC came into being in its current form, Mr Ferguson said, it was far more than a change of name – it was 'to set ourselves to a new theological task'. He said: 'Communion is both a gift and task. Communion does not happen by itself: we must take account of each other in common identity, reinforcing our sense of connectedness.'

Read more: Reformed Churches leader: communion is a gift and a task

On Saturday lunchtime (8 July) the United Reformed Church General Assembly celebrated the work of the four initiatives commended in its Community Project Awards scheme, which is sponsored by the church insurer, Congregational & General. The awards are granted every two years, recognising the outstanding community impact of faith-led initiatives.

The overall winner of the 2016 Community Project Awards is Families Matter, a group based at Cornerstone URC in Hythe, Hampshire, that provides a range of practical support for families, including parenting classes. At the Assembly, representatives from the initiative – the Revd Eddie Boon, Cornerstone URC's minister, and Julia Cross, Project Manager – were presented with the winners plaque as well as a cheque for £4,000.

Read more: Community projects honoured during Assembly awards ceremony

This afternoon, Saturday 9 July 2016, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC) voted in favour of allowing its local churches to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. This means that the URC is now the largest UK denomination to freely permit the celebration and registration of marriages of same-sex couple in its churches.

A two-thirds majority was needed to allow the proposal to be confirmed as the denomination’s final decision – Assembly voted in favour of the resolution by 240 votes to 21 votes. United Reformed churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples are now able to start that process immediately. (In Scotland the legal framework is rather different, but the effects of the Church’s decision will be broadly similar.)

Read more: The URC empowers its local churches to conduct marriages of same-sex couples