Author Archives: urcmedia

Reset the Debt

The Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, reflects on the anniversary of the first lockdown, the debt poorer families have incurred because of Covid-19, and the campaign the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) started to highlight this issue.

At the start of the first lockdown. JPIT, along with other partners, took the opportunity that day, to challenge us to pray and take action to support those who are affected by debt because of the Covid restrictions. As Moderator of General Assembly, I was privileged to take part in an online prayer, alongside other church leaders, as well as members of Parliament from different political parties.

We prayed and reflected on the words in Isaiah which Jesus took as his own manifesto when he read them in the synagogue in Nazareth; good news for the poor, release from captivity, freedom from oppression. Isaiah was speaking to a people in exile and Jesus to people living in an occupied territory. But the words need to be heard in our context of pandemic and poverty.

On a positive note, our government has offered support in various ways, which has been a lifeline to many – though there has been questionable spending too. But there are people who are falling through the gaps. Low pay, zero hours contracts, disability – all were having negative effects well before the pandemic. Debt has become a major problem for those whose budgets already had no leeway. Continue reading

April 2021

The following appointments are subject to change.

In April, the Revd Clare Downing will preach at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Peterborough, attend the communications committee, and will preach at Trinity URC in Wimbledon. Mr Peter Pay has no confirmed diary dates for April.

For more about and stories from the General Assembly Moderators, visit

Remembering the 21 Libyan martyrs

Peter Pay, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, talks about an eye-opening commemoration for persecuted Christians that he attended:

I was recently invited to represent the United Reformed Church by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a distinguished panel of guests to mark Contemporary Martyrs Day on 15 February . The event was held in remembrance of the 21 Libyan martyrs and members of the Coptic Orthodox Church who lost their lives in 2015 as a result of religious persecution. Pope Francis also contributed on the day.

I have to admit, my first reaction was that I was not aware of this event, but on checking I discovered that a five-minute video had been published showing the beheading of the 21 Christian (mainly Coptic) captives by ISIS on a beach along the southern Mediterranean coast.

A caption in the video called the captives the ‘People of the Cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church’. Few people I have mentioned this to have heard of the outrage. It leads me to wonder what else I may be unaware of. Continue reading