A visit from an Assembly Moderator can prompt unexpected questions and unearth unusual stories. St. Martin’s, Saltdean is no exception! There are probably many individual members of the United Reformed Church who would like to ask “What is the point of an Assembly Moderator?” The opportunity to respond in a few brief sentences is a challenge. The role is a representative one, a Moderator presides over the meetings of the General Assembly and the Mission Council. The role is shared between an Elder and a Minster of Word and Sacraments. Assembly Moderators, unlike in some other denominations, do not have personal authority and take part in public and ecumenical events on behalf of the Assembly.
At St. Martin’s this led to a conversation about how the voice of the URC is expressed in the public square. Assembly Moderators, when asked for comment on current affairs, will look to see what Assembly has said previously. The problem comes when there has been no conversation in Assembly or Mission Council, do we say nothing or express a personal view? Either way we will upset someone! That led onto the use of social media and the need for congregations to be sharing their views with Synod and Assembly and not waiting to complain about what they don’t like. As a denomination we need more agitation from the ground up.
Little known facts about this part of Sussex include the information that Billy Butlin had one of his first hotels in Saltdean and just along the coast is Peacehaven. Originally called New Anzac and conceived as a place of respite and healing at the end of World War II, Peacehaven straddles the Greenwich Meridian and follows a grid pattern familiar in America. Local tales have it that the entrepreneur that designed and built the town, along with much of Saltdean, was not always accurate in the descriptions used to sell the plots for housing. The devil, it appears, was in the detail as it so often is.