By John Ellis
The last two Sundays have brought contrasting experiences of leaders in the United Reformed Church. On one weekend, after presiding at the Induction of Neil Thorogood as the new Principal of Westminster College, I was in St Columba’s URC in the centre of Oxford for a special Communion service. This was jointly led by the Church Secretary, Professor Adrian Moore, and the Revd Tony Tucker.
I have known Adrian since student days but I have never not known Tony Tucker as his photo watched over my growing up from my parents’ favourite wedding picture: he was their Best Man. His family and mine were both part of Heavitree Congregational Church in Exeter for most of the 20th century. From there he went into the ministry and this year he celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination. I was particularly glad to be the representative of the United Reformed Church who presented him with his certificate.
A large part of Tony’s ministry has been with students, including ministerial students at Mansfield College, so it felt an apt progression for the next Sunday to be with the rising generation of URC leaders at Youth Assembly. There Rebecca Whiffen completed her year as FURY Moderator and I inducted Matthew Barkley, from a URC family in North Wales, as her successor.
The Youth Assembly chose Andrew Weston, a son of the manse, as Moderator elect. He will serve in a very different world from that in which my grandparents impressed the youthful Tony Tucker with their hospitality while the Great Depression was bankrupting the Ellis family business. Nonetheless the line from Tony Tucker to Andrew Weston illustrates the continuing influence of the local church on Christian formation.