My learning journey

In her first blog post as General Assembly Moderator, the Revd Clare Downing shares new discoveries, and encourages lifelong learning with Jesus

I’ve been learning some new skills.

As of this week, I can not only record myself on video, and edit out the mistakes, I can add photographs while not losing the voiceover. Sermons can have visual aids again.

Other recent discoveries include polls on Zoom, the video conferencing platform, which can be made so that they have multiple possible answers; if someone is screen sharing, you don’t have to let their document take up most of the space; and, just because a YouTube clip works perfectly well in a PowerPoint presentation, when you try it on Zoom and you’re the only person in the “room”, that doesn’t mean the clip will work when you’re in a real meeting.

That’s just a start – it’s some of the practical things. The restrictions that we are all living under have meant that I’ve been learning about myself too – or at least being reminded of some of my foibles and failings. Despite the fact that I don’t come into any of the high risk categories, I’ve not been easy to live with. I’ve had to learn to do things differently, whether that is around spending most of my time at my desk, or drastically reducing the number of times I pop to the supermarket.

The old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may be true of dogs (though I have my doubts) but one of things about being human is that we are eminently adaptable. In other words, we learn. And, as disciples of Jesus, we are – or at least we should be – constantly learning. If we are walking the way with Jesus, then we should be seeing new things, being challenged in new ways. The question where do we see God at work in these times is a vital one.

I hope that, in the coming two years, I will have plenty of opportunities to learn from people all around the United Reformed Church, and beyond. I’m looking forward to hearing about what you are learning in your journey with Jesus.

And if you’re really desperate, I’ll give you a quick tutorial on editing videos.

God bless,


Clare Downing, August 2020