Community Project Award winners

community awards winners1The General Assembly celebrated the work of the many community-based projects based in or linked to United Reformed Churches the length and breadth of the three nations.

 

The United Reformed Church General Assembly journeys together towards a decision on same-sex marriage

same sex marriageOn 6 July 2014, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, moved forward with its discussions on the marriage of same-sex couples.

 

The United Reformed Church welcomes women bishops

White Blue URC Logo 300The United Reformed Church has warmly welcomed the Church of England's General Synod vote in favour of allowing women to become bishops. 

 

The URC's position on assisted dying

Fotolia 52170185 XSThe United Reformed Church has joined with the other mainstream Christian churches and faith communities in the UK in expressing its deep concerns about Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, which is due to be debated in the House of Lords today, Friday 18 July.

 

Copyright alert!

copyrightIn recent months Church House has become aware of two occasions where unintentional copyright infringements have resulted in local churches being faced with legal action. On both occasions the infringement centred on a short poem: The Dash by Linda Ellis – being published without permission in church newsletters and/or church websites.

 

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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“Get on with it, get on with it, get on with it.” The words of one of the General Synod representatives echoed round the hall, encouraging General Synod to move on with their relations with the United Reformed Church.

This tone was echoed by other speakers, particularly those speakers involved in URC/Church of England Local Ecumenical Partnerships. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke in favour of the report and praised the work of URC minister the Revd Dr John Morgans, in Penrhys (1989 – 2004) as a shining example of what the creativity of the URC has achieved. Others spoke similarly about the experience of URC creativity and ecumenical enthusiasm.

Last night – Monday 11 July – the General Synod of the Church of England debated and voted on the proposal that the Church of England and the United Reformed Church should continue their work to move the two denominations closer together.

General Synod had set aside one and a half hours for the debate, and even that was not long enough to hear all those who had asked to speak. Anglican representatives demonstrated high levels of knowledge of the URC, with many speaking positively of their experience of the United Reformed Church, locally and regionally. Many stories were heard of specific, successful, local initiatives such as Lent courses, pre-school activities and sharing of buildings.  There was strong affirmation of the URC’s ecumenical commitment, and the question asked: “Has not the time come to agree the goal of full visible unity?”

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, opened the debate by referring to 1662, a date that resonates for both churches, in radically different ways. For the Church of England, it was the time of a breakthrough taking them forward peacefully out of a turbulent period. For the United Reformed Church, it was the year of the Great Ejection, when clergy were evicted from their parishes.  Bishop Christopher invited us to look at what the two denominations can hold in common, for example, reclaiming ecumenical heroes such as Richard Baxter.

The Revd Graham Maskery, URC representative on General Synod, drew attention to the issue of the difference of size between the two churches, and the need to hold this within an international context. He pointed out that the URC, through its membership of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, is part of an international body of a similar size to the Anglican Communion.

Appreciation was expressed of the proposal to hold a joint service in Westminster Abbey in February 2012, including an act of penitence and prayer for the healing of memories, as well as a commitment to move forward further together.  Archbishop Rowan suggested looking at the way in which conscientious suffering can be a gift to the whole body of Christ, to be received by different traditions which have been involved in making martyrs.

Reference was made to significant issues which still need addressing, such as theology of Holy Communion, personal episcopacy and financial and structural issues.

At the end of a powerful and moving debate, General Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the two resolutions being put – to hold a joint service in Westminster Abbey and to continue the discussion of outstanding issues between the two churches. There were no votes against, only warm encouragement to move closer together.

The acceptance of both resolutions by General Synod follows the acceptance of the same proposals by the URC’s Mission Council which met in May.