On 15 May 2013, Mr John Ellis was inducted as lay moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC). The induction service was held at the end of the May meeting of Mission Council, the URC’s executive body, and Mr Ellis succeeds Mrs Val Morrison, who has served as lay moderator since July 2010. Mr Ellis will serve as moderator until July 2016.
The United Reformed Church is unusual in having two moderators – one lay and one ministerial, who serve alongside each other. Mr Ellis joins the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, who was inducted at the denomination’s General Assembly in July 2012.
Mr Ellis, who has been the URC’s treasurer since 2007 can trace his nonconformist Christian roots back to his great-grandfather who was converted to Christianity as a teenager in the 1860s, by a Congregational minister in Exeter. From that point his family was involved in the Congregational Church, which became part of the United Reformed Church in 1972. He has held leadership roles in churches in Kent since 1980.
Until 2012 Mr Ellis worked for the Methodist Church as secretary for connexional team operations, a role that involved leading the central staff team and overseeing policy development proposals, staffing and management, as well as promoting collaboration with the Methodist districts. Earlier in his career he worked for the Bank of England for 20 years, holding a variety of posts including research on international debt issues, co-coordinating the Bank's network of regional agents and serving as the Governor's business ethics adviser. Mr Ellis was also a member of the Council for World Mission's Investment Committee and has extensive experience of ethical investment campaigning.
Commenting on his new role, John Ellis said: "I am honoured and humbled that the General Assembly chose to elect me. The moderator of the General Assembly is a key leader and representative for the whole United Reformed Church in all its diversity. I’m looking forward to both the privileges and challenges of the role. As well as helping the Church shape its internal life for its setting in a dynamic contemprorary society, I’m particularly keen to use some of my professional background in the role, participating in discussions about, for example, the wider economy and what the Christian tradition has to contribute to addressing its dilemmas.”
Photo shows Mr John Ellis just after signing the General Assembly Bible during his induction service on 15 May. ©United Reformed Church/Chris Andrews 2013.
The spring meeting of the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council will be held at High Leigh Conference Centre between 13 and 15 May, opening at 2pm on Monday 13 May.
Agenda items include an exploration of possible futures for the Church, the induction of John Ellis as moderator of General Assembly and discussions about the structure and staffing of United Reformed Church House. Mission Council papers are available online.
Visit the Gibson Hall at St Columba’s, Cambridge and you find a Roll of those who have served with the Presbyterian Overseas Mission and, from 1972, the Council for World Mission (CWM). Three names follow each other, all destined for China: George Hood in 1943, Boris Anderson in 1945, Dan Beeby in 1946. By strange coincidence, the three have been called to glory over the first few months of 2013.
When communism forced missionaries out of China, George Hood (pictured, top right) transferred to Malaya to pastoral and teaching ministry and is remembered with great affection. His final two years were spent on a project for the Conference of British Missionary Societies. He then joined CWM as secretary for East Asia and Papua New Guinea in 1972. At the move to recruit senior staff from other member churches of CWM, George became tutor at St Andrew’s Hall, Selly Oak, until his retirement in 1982. With more time to pursue his academic interests came the publication of Neither Bang Nor Whimper: the end of the missionary era in China, and a doctorate. He remained active in the URC History Society and the Friends of the Church in China right to his final days.
After 2 years teaching in Amoy, Boris Anderson (pictured, middle right) was invited to Tainan Theological College in 1948 by Principal Dr Shoki Coe, who had become a close friend at Westminster College and at the School of Oriental and African Studies. This friendship created a new style of missionary relationship. Boris taught New Testament until his return to Britain to become mission secretary of the PCE in 1964. At the formation of the URC Boris joined the World Mission team, becoming departmental secretary in 1975 until his retirement in 1983. He played a crucial role in the shaping of the new CWM.
Dan Beeby (picturerd, bottom right) followed Boris to Tainan and to teach Old Testament as Boris had already bagged New Testament. His time there was cut short, much to his regret, when the government banned him in 1972. On his return to Britain he taught Old Testament in the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, becoming Principal of St Andrew’s Hall, until he retired in 1986. He then spent several years working with Lesslie Newbigin and others on the Gospel and Culture project.
Attendance of senior figures from Taiwan at the thanksgiving services held for Dan and Boris is a measure of PCT esteem. St Paul must have had a special welcome to heaven for these giants of the post-war missionary era, who took their faith and their skills as teachers and pastors to serve God and the people of East Asia, and then shared these, and the experience gained, with the world church.
The Windermere Centre is on a mission to find exactly what you want from it! At the heart of their mission statement is the intention to “resource the United Reformed Church through hospitality and theological adventure”, and, in order to work out how best to do that, they have devised a short survey which they would love you to complete. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete, and all feedback will be anonymous. Please share it with others too – the more respondents the better!
Rebecca Gudgeon, the centre’s marketing officer, adds: “We’re currently planning our programme of events and courses from September 2013 to September 2014 so now is the perfect time to let us know exactly what you want! Please do take the time to complete the survey and take the chance to tell us what you want from the Centre – after all, it’s your place!”