It was 1979 that I was last at Swanick for the URC Holiday Forum. The event is much changed but still an important refuge for individuals wanting to maintain their connection to others in the United Reformed Church. Some of the connections were people who knew my sister from her days as Secretary to the Congregational Central Youth Council, others had met my wife Carla, some had been colleagues in Yorkshire or the South West and there was even a couple who I had been best man to 43 years ago!
It is the connection to others that is often the anchor that holds us in the family of faith when fears, doubts, or weariness are the storm clouds that threaten to blow us off course. I was not surprised to be asked if the removal of District Councils had led to even greater isolation for individuals and congregations. My response was to suggest we need to look deeper into ourselves before pining over what is no more. We need to be honest about what is preventing us from meeting with other people to share our faith and respond to the missionary task of sharing God’s love for the world. I doubt it is the lack of opportunity and more to do with how we prioritise our time.
There was amusement that the alternative to meeting the Moderator was the opportunity to learn circus skills. Juggler or tight rope walker seemed to be useful for more than this Moderator! Forum was exploring the theme of Growing the Church and the children utilised the visual aid of a tree whose roots were in scripture and the cross, whose trunk was the people of God and whose branches formed the outline of the UK. Forum members were to be invited to add the leaves as their mark of commitment. Knowing the roots that connect us to one another is to know that together we can grow and flourish.