Derek Estill, one of the General Assembly Moderators, reflects on his personal commitment to explore faith in action across the URC.
In my closing address at General Assembly, I shared that my focus would be on “faith in action” alongside the importance of listening. I also resolved to attend as many mission and children’s and youth work committee meetings as I could, because these are aspects of our work that I am particularly interested in.
Having a focus on mission is very important as we seek God’s guidance when reaching out to others. The agenda of our mission committee is wide and varied to ensure our Church works with others – like the World Council of Churches, Council for World Mission, Churches Together in England, and the Free Churches Group – to contribute to important issues such as climate change, interfaith and ecumenism, and the marginalised. Although we are a relatively small church, I can report that we punch way above our weight in many of these areas and it is a source of great inspiration to attend these meetings and hear about the good work we do.
Children and young people
Equally important is our work with children and young people; they are our future, and it is important to find ways to nurture and support their commitment and enthusiasm. In January, I attended Youth Assembly and saw, first hand, the excitement and commitment of our young people who are keen to make a difference. It is important to celebrate what children and young people of all ages do. The children’s and youth work committee is a vibrant one full of ideas about how to live out the love of God as we Christians are charged to do.
URC Trust and finance committees
We are very fortunate to have very capable and skilled people serving the Church on the committees which look after our legal and financial matters. I have attended all these committee meetings during February, and can say with confidence that we are in safe hands and can plan work for the future knowing we have resources available to us because of their careful husbandry.
General Assembly Moderator meetings
Nigel and I are enjoying working together and find having two General Assembly moderators a good arrangement. We have been able to meet up and talk through many things as we move towards May’s Mission Council, and are both well supported by our chaplains, the Revd Dave Coaker and the Revd Elaine Colechin.
I visited a fracking site in Blackpool last month to find out what is going on there. Since fracking started in October 2018, several earth tremors have occurred as a result, and reported in the national news. There were two main groups which oppose the fracking there, the protestors and the protectors. Some URC members, who live right near the fracking site, form the protestors along with other residents who belong to our partner churches the Quakers, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Church of England, including those of no faith. Together, they make clear their concern of the effects of fracking on the environment, the increased risk of local earthquakes, and the effect of fossil fuels on the climate. Whatever your perspective on fracking, it is good to pause for thought and reflect on how we intend to keep the wheels of industry, commerce and modern life moving and fuelled in such a way that we avoid detrimental effects to our God-given planet, earth. As Christians, I think we have a duty to be well-informed and ready to act as necessary to guard against detrimental effects to our environment and communities.
My final commitment this month, at Charlestown URC Ashton-under-Lyne, has been another delight as I was invited to lead Sunday worship there. The day was a beautiful one as I made my way across the moors from Preston to reach the outskirts of Manchester to meet with the faithful people of the church. The congregation of Charlestown URC, like many others, is living out their faith in practical ways with optimism and confidence. I was warmly welcomed and left there feeling I had been amongst faithful friends.