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Newly-inducted Moderator of the United Reformed Church Alan Yates began his term of office urging the Church to take up the challenges of a renewed focus on discipleship.

Taking an informal style he offered to Assembly some of his hopes and fears for the United Reformed Church.

Mr Yates said that the next four days would be a journey in which – through Bible study worship, social gatherings and business – we could sharpen our understanding of what it means to be people of the way.

Read more: Moderator's address: walking the way

During the first session of the United Reformed Church General Assembly on Friday 8 July, the Revd Nicola Furley-Smith, Moderator of the URC’s Southern Synod, spoke about the ‘Unity, Identity and Mission’ report, which developed from conversations taking place at a joint URC/Church of England consultation group.Resolution 20 commending the report was passed as part of en bloc business.

Ms Furley-Smith (who is co-convenor with the Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, of the committee responsible for the report) asked Assembly: ‘What does the goal of unity mean for members of our churches today? What kind of unity is needed for the effectiveness of mission in a contemporary context?’ Discerning where the spirit is at work must be critical to our response to these questions, the meeting was told.

Read more: Assembly told: 'The ecumenical landscape is changing'

The United Reformed Church General Assembly heard an address by Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, focusing on refugees and the Middle East. The following is a summary of his address

It has been an interesting week: I started by speaking at annual Methodist conference; now I am here. This is my ecumenical grand slam.

Together, whatever our differences, we are the Church. There is only one body of Christ, however much we fragment it. We should be a source of light in a world that needs light.

Read more: Coptic bishop urges Church to: 'Look for the face of Christ in every refugee'

On the opening day of its General Assembly, the United Reformed Church inducted two new moderators – the Revd Kevin Watson and Mr Alan Yates. Moderators of General Assembly are the URC's national figureheads, representing the denomination both at home and abroad.

The URC elects two moderators, a minister and an elder, who serve together for two years. Mr Watson and Mr Yates succeed the Revd David Grosch-Miller and Mr John Ellis, who were thanked for their hard work during the induction service.

Read more: The URC inducts two new moderators