Prayers for the people of Scotland in the run up to the referendum

scottish voteA resolution brought forward by the synod of Scotland at the United Reformed Church General Assembly last month, called for the URC to pray for the people of Scotland before, during and following the independence referendum to be held on 18 September 2014. The resolution stated: "These prayers should be for all, regardless of conviction, recognising how important the peoples of these islands are to each other."

 

The United Reformed Church offers statement of solidarity on crisis in Iraq and Syria

iraq crisisModerator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, the Revd David Grosch-Miller, offers the following statement of solidarity as the crisis continues to unfold in Syria and communities in northern Iraq continue to face unrelenting persecution for their religious beliefs:

Faith through a lens

faith-through-lensAre you interested in entering a national photography competition celebrating “Faith Through a Lens”? The Congregational & General is holding a prestigious annual photography competition which celebrates diverse representations of faith. Now in its fifth year, the contest is aimed at amateur photographers across the UK and is calling for creative photography that showcases everyday demonstrations and expressions of faith.

Time for creation

creation-timeFrom 1 September to the 4 October churches around the world will be taking time to pray for the protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.

 

Archbishop to deliver keynote speech at public issues conference

welbyThe Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will give the keynote address at the ‘Love your neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote’ conference organised by the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. This will be the third such conference arranged by the three churches and will be held at Coventry Central Hall on Saturday 21 February 2015.

Community Project Awards 2014

Community-project-playlist-videosOn 6 July the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church celebrated the work of the many community-based projects based in or linked to United Reformed Churches with the Congregational and General sponsored Community Project Awards.

Four projects won awards – the overall winner was Glenorchy Work Club based at Glenorchy United Reformed Church in Exmouth and the three runners up were Chapelfield Grow Your Own; Hope Restored, and Messy Church SEND.  Short films of all four projects are available here.

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The Revd Michael Hopkins

The Revd Michael Hopkins, minister of Farnham and Elstead United Reformed Churches in Surrey, believes he’s made history with his acceptance of a place to study for a doctorate on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Examination in Theology.  Mr Hopkins is believed to be the first non-Anglican protestant to be offered a place on the prestigious programme.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Examination in Theology derives from an ancient right of the Archbishop to grant degrees. The degrees awarded are full (not honorary) degrees, and are fully recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

He will be studying part-time for a Ph.D and is planning a thesis on the history and influence of the Presbyterian Church of England, one of the constituent denominations of the United Reformed Church. Last year Michael was awarded an M.Phil. research degree by Birmingham University for a thesis on the history and development of Congregationalism in Oxford, which is currently being published as a book.

Mr Hopkins first became interested in church history when taught by Dr. Elaine Kaye, at Mansfield College Oxford, and has been encouraged and nurtured in his interest by the URC’s History Society, on whose council he has served since 2001.  He concludes: "I believe really understanding our history and heritage is vital for the present and future mission of the church.  It's not about trying to turn the clock back, or stop progress, but about knowing where we've come from in order to know where we're going.”

Since writing this piece we’ve heard from the Revd Paul Pells, a retired URC minister now living in Preston, correcting our history and telling us that he believes he can claim to be the first URC Minister to receive an award in the Archbishop’s Examination in Theology. His thesis was entitled The Scheme of Salvation, about the place of doctrine in preaching and he graduated as a Student In Theology (STh) on 26 May 1987 at a service in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace,  presided over by the then Archbishop Robert Runcie.

Mr Pells adds: “Before he retired, Archbishop Robert introduced the degree of MA, and the present Archbishop has introduced the MPhil and PhD.  I understand the STh is no longer available and that no new entrants are being accepted for the MA. So, I may be the first and only minister of the United Reformed Church with the STh, whereas I hope Michael Hopkins will be the first of many MPhils and PhDs!”

www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1027