Someone at Synod

By John Ellis


Synod of Scotland offices: 2nd floor

My travels over the last week to speak at various meetings have provided an opportunity to visit two of our newest Synod offices. In the busy centre of Glasgow, the Synod of Scotland has its offices in a small part of an elegant building which also provides space for gatherings of the far flung students of the Scottish College.


St Paul’s URC, Bayswater

At the other end of Britain, a short walk from Paddington station brings you to the light, bright refurbished premises of St Paul’s URC in Bayswater. In what is a conversion of the original Presbyterian church halls, a sanctuary and fine hall on the ground floor provide a base for the congregation with offices for the Thames North Synod on the first floor and a basement meeting room. The original St Paul’s is recalled by a stained glass window of St Paul, erected in memory of my predecessor as Moderator of Assembly in 1924-25, who was minister there.


St Paul window

To complete a hat trick of Synod offices, on Sunday afternoon l was with the South London Synod Area who held their meeting in East Croydon URC, which also houses the offices of the Southern Synod and whose minister is Derrick Dzandu-Hedidor, the Synod Clerk.

Our Synod offices are Spartan places compared with the Bishops’ palaces which are causing some debate within the Church of England at present. Nonetheless I suspect many in the United Reformed Church underestimate the significance of the work done in them. So often it is in the Synods that the fine ideals of Assembly policies or demands of Government directives have to be converted into practical policies and actions in complicated local situations. Local churches assume there will always be “someone at Synod” who can guide them through the latest thicket.

In the Synod offices there is usually a tiny staff who work with great commitment and accumulated knowledge. They manage to stay good humoured even if they are blamed for everything that is not quite as the local Elders would like. They work beyond the call of duty because they are as dedicated to the effective mission of the Church as anyone else.

In many Anglican churches it is normal in every Sunday service to pray for the Bishop as representative of the diocese. I wonder in how many United Reformed Churches last Sunday the intercessions included prayers for the Synod staff.

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