The United Reformed Church commemorates the lives behind the names of World War One

poppy red and whiteThousands of red and white poppies have bloomed across the United Kingdom as the United Reformed Church begins a series of commemorations to mark the outbreak of World War One.

 

The United Reformed Church prays for peace in the land we call Holy

URC-Logo-Web-2014As the situation in Israel and Palestine worsens, and the number of lives lost and civilians wounded continues to rise, the United Reformed Church prays for peace and an end to the suffering. You may like to join us, using this prayer written by the Revd John Proctor, general secretary of the United Reformed Church:

 

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 Windermere Centre offers radical generosity – not raised prices

Windermere CentreThe Windermere Centre – one of the United Reformed Church’s resource centres for learning – has taken the radical decision of abandoning its policy of charging set fees for guests attending courses and events or simply using the centre as a base for a holiday in the Lake District.

 

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:

 

A Reflection for Slavery Remembrance Day

slavery remembrance dayThe 23 August of each year has been designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade. This date is significant as it commemorates the uprising of slaves on the island of Saint Domingue (today Republic of Haiti), on the night of 22 to 23 August 1791, which set forth events which were a major factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. A reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation. The Revd Tessa Henry-Robinson, is a newly ordained minister at the United Reformed Church, who has been greatly involved in Racial Justice and Multicultural Ministry and Cascades of Grace, she has written the following reflection for Slavery Remembrance Day:

“On a regular day, perhaps no different than yesterday or today, my African ancestors lived freely...

“Then, imagine being brutally captured, dragged off in chains to a castle or under a tunnel, chained-up with cattle under a tree, and forced to wait on the unknown. This is what happened to them, sometimes their captors were familiar and other times they were white foreign faces. Then imagine yourself packed in tight horizontal rows after being herded in chains onto a ship built by the Dutch for the purpose of transporting thousands of human beings as cargo. Then the ship sets sail to a place unknown to you.

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 Graham Maskery

On Pentecost Sunday – 12 June – the Church on Oakwood, celebrated 25 years of ministry on Oakwood estate in Derby – one of Europe’s largest private housing developments.

The morning congregation comprises worshippers from three denominations – United Reformed, Methodist, and Anglican – and in the evening a Roman Catholic service is held in the building. 

In spring 1986 a few local Christians met in the home of a deaconsess who made it available for prayer; and the first official service was held at Pentecost in June that year.  About 60 people from all denominations attended, including Steve Judd, who still worships at the church, who recalled: "People were on the window sills, in the kitchen, in the hall and up the stairs. The band stood half inside and half on the patio."

In October 1992 building work started, being completed the following spring, with the first service held at Easter 1993.  It was named The Church on Oakwood – as it was, and remains, the only church in Oakwood, catering for all denominations.

Mrs Hazel Ellison, chair of the church's 25th anniversary committee, said: "We consider Pentecost our birthday – our first church meeting took place on Pentecost in the deaconess's house and our church building was also dedicated on Pentecost Sunday."

Over the years, the church has seen many people come and go, but Mrs Ellison said numbers had gradually risen, bucking the national trend.

She said: "It's hard to say why that is. We're a modern church that encompasses different denominations, so there are aspects of all Christian traditions. It works. While there may be some differences between those traditions, everyone's attitude is we all worship the same God. We have various services to cater for everyone, but also get together as one church community."

During the four weeks leading up to and including Pentecost Sunday there were special services with guest preachers from the Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Reformed traditions.  On Sunday 5 June, the Revd Graham Maskery (pictured), currently URC minister at St Columba’s with New Lendal, in York, was the guest preacher.  Graham, a former ecumenical officer for East Midlands Synod, played a leading role in the early life of the church on Oakwood. His passionate sermon  included a call for all present  to recognise our calling as “the priesthood of all believers” and to “stop maintaining what we've got and get on with the mission of the church” –  to be the heart of Christ at the heart of Oakwood and to tell people of God's love for them.

The anniversary  weekend was marked by an afternoon of fun and games at Oakwood Park on Saturday, and a special lunch, after the Sunday morning service.