Like many of our congregations the five churches in the Goyt and Etherow pastorate are facing up to the reality of changing times. In the culture that we now inhabit the church has to learn to be a minority in a culture that it once dominated. The challenge is to do that with energy and optimism and not to be disempowered through anxiety.
The challenge of seeing things differently took on a different complexion at the Windermere Centre and the opportunity for people new to the URC to learn something who we are. It takes self-reflection to be able to tell Methodists and Baptists what makes the URC tick and to define that which we will not sacrifice. My answer was to say that there are some things we don’t need to define we just know them and enjoy them. We are not good at written constitutions and neat packages we are much better dancing where the Spirit leads us and not worrying about the
contradictions that we scatter along the way. Yes we will defend Church Meeting, Elders and the priesthood of all believers. We will point to our ecumenical credentials and Commitment for Life. We can still manage the odd cry of dissent and see the value in local independence that can call on the support of the Synod and Assembly. But that all seems a little dull! One Baptist minister did say that he admired the URC because we seemed able to disagree without falling out. Time will tell on that one but that’s not a bad thing to be known for.
The centenary of St. Columba’s Oxford was the opportunity to give thanks for the past but more significantly to express dreams and hopes for tomorrow. We did what we do best, we enjoyed being together, we ate, we drank, we laughed and looked forward in hope.