In a short address to put in context the synod moderators’ report to General Assembly, David Grosch-Miller, moderator of south western synod, urged the church to remember that ministry in the United Reformed Church is a responsibility for everyone.
The moderators had found it a joy to share worship with congregations of so many different backgrounds and lifestyles, he said, and “even if at times you feel you cannot face one more sausage roll or egg and cress sandwich, you will never tire of experiencing the life of the church.”
He gave many illustrations of the inspiring church activities the moderators had encountered over the last two years, from wastelands turned into church gardens, to kids’ clubs, church hall job clubs, and military, school, university, hospital and other chaplaincies.
They had encountered pioneers pushing boundaries into new ways of being churches, so that, “groups marginalised by conventional culture are finding hope, lives are touched and changed for the better, worship has young people dancing while older people are happy to sit thankfully.”
Mr Grosch-Miller praised God for the differences and joy to be found in the URC, but looked to the challenge of the changing faith landscape within the culture of Britain, saying: “As the proportion of popular participation in churches decreases, the shift in the relationship between contemporary culture and church produces a stress on all of us. The problem with transitions is we don’t know what it is like on the other side.”
In meeting this challenge, he was keen to stress, conversations needed to begin from the understanding that URC ministry is a responsibility for all of us, not just for ministers of word and sacraments:
“Ministry is shared. We need to be careful to ensure it is shaped by the kind of church God is calling us to be and not by the need to curtail expenditure. It doesn’t help if ministers feel they are the problem, the financial burden of the church. Neither does it help if congregations are left to feel their struggles, desires and insights are being ignored.”