Published: Wednesday, 12 November 2014 15:02
Seven new United Reformed Church ministers spent time at Church House as part of the 2014 New Ministers Conference. During the day they learnt more about the workings of Church House and the departments located therein – with specific short presentations from three departments, a ministries seminar and an overview of the training opportunities available to them. They also had the opportunity to tour Church House and meet the staff who work there.
The new ministers, pictured from left to right are: Elaine Hutchinson, Trevor Hahn, Richard Stein, Phil Wall, Joshua Norris, Bachelard Kaze and Branwen Rees
Four others - Alison Micklem, Linda Rayner, Angela Lawson and Jake Tatton – were not able to be in London today.
We wish all 11 ministers all the best in their ministry!
Published: Saturday, 08 November 2014 19:15
Andrew Bradstock, the United Reformed Church’s secretary for church & society, takes a sideways look at Remembrance Sunday, 100 years on from the start of the First World War – ‘the war to end all wars’.
In his new book Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts, Jonathan Powell makes the point that, while governments always say they will never ‘negotiate with evil’, they always have done and always will.
As a former No.10 chief-of-staff and now head of a charity promoting negotiation and mediation in the most complex and dangerous conflicts, Powell knows what he is talking about. And as history proves, whether in South Africa, South America or Northern Ireland, conflicts involving people and organisations labelled ‘terrorist’ are only resolved, and people left feeling safer, once weapons give way to words.
It hardly needs saying that the idea of talking now to ‘Islamic State’ sounds not only like utter folly but an insult to the men they have murdered and their families. It could easily be interpreted as an invitation for them to carry out yet more unspeakable atrocities. But if, in the end, governments are going to have to sit down and talk with them, should we not, even at this stage, be considering more creative responses than simply military ones? Would it have been madness for President Obama to have included one or two experienced negotiators or peace strategists alongside the military leaders he invited to Washington recently to discuss his response to IS’s new advances in Syria and Iraq?
Perhaps he did, though for politicians to reach out publicly to ‘terrorists’ with an offer of ‘talks’ is to risk ridicule and derision. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai recently suggested to President Obama that he could fight terrorism more effectively by investing in education, by sending not guns and weapons to troubled regions but books and teachers; and while Obama and his fellow leaders may know this to be true, he and they show no sign of wanting to adopt more imaginative ways to respond to those who threaten our way of life.
A hundred years on from the start of the First World War, and with so much other historical evidence that peace can never be achieved by fighting fire with fire, nor ideas defeated by force alone, this is a cause for despondency and alarm – and prayer.