Faith and action in August

Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, tells of how he’s put his faith into action during the appointments he had in August

Celebrating community work in Chorley

These are exciting times at Chorley United Reformed Church, Lancashire. Their long-term thinking, that has been in the development pipeline for some years, is beginning to take shape.

I have been aware of their ambition for some time – to create an upgraded church building that incorporates a comprehensive community centre with provision for vulnerable people ‘living on the edge’, those with learning disabilities and older people, all right in the heart of the town. This development has the full support of the United Reformed Church’s North Western Synod and the town council, as well as notable people like Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord Shuttleworth, Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire. Both Sir Lindsay and Lord Shuttleworth are supporting Chorley URC’s appeal to raise the £3m needed. At present, the financial amount needed approaching halfway mark. According to the Revd Martin Whiffen, Chorley URC’s Minister, the church’s vision is to rebuild its premises in order to enable them to engage more fully with their local communities.

I visited the Chorley church as General Assembly Moderator and as a member of the church-related community work programme’s subcommittee. While there, I took part in the commissioning service and induction of Andy Littlejohn as a church-related community worker (CRCW). Mr Littlejohn will work Chorley URC to help their vision come true. CRCW ministers work with congregations, helping them build their connections with local communities and to meet local needs. It was great to see and hear about Chorley’s building project and its CRCW appointment. I am sure this significant development will be a blessing to the church, and all those being served in the town at large. The appointment is an answer to their prayers, and is an excellent example of faith in action.

Pictured (from left to right): The Revd Martin Whiffen, Chorley URC’s Minister; Derek Estill (me!), Moderator of the URC General Assembly; Fiona Hodson, Chorley URC’s secretary; Andy Littlejohn, newly-appointed CRCW; the Revd Louise Franklin, Minister of West Kirby URC and St David’s Eastham and former minister of Andy’s sending church West Orchard URC; the Revd Marion Tugwood, convenor of the URC North Western Synod’s pastoral committee; the Revd Brian Jolly, Clerk for the URC’s North Western Synod.

Holiday club joy and worship

It was a pleasure to be invited to lead worship at my home church – Westbury Gardens URC, Blackburn – during July, and to take an active part in a its summer holiday club. The club is a regular feature of our church’s mission outreach, and is led by Mal Breeze, our church’s CRCW minister. Mal works with three Blackburn churches – Revidge Fold, Trinity and Westbury Gardens – helping each to build up their work with local communities.

The Easter and summer holiday clubs at Westbury are successful and well supported by all three churches. The clubs actively engages with local children and their families, whether they’re Christian, of different faiths or not following a faith. The sessions are Bible-based, with a Christian message. All that attend enthusiastically take part in the Bible-themed activities.

This year’s summer club attracted between 30 and 43 children aged five to 11, each day. The photographs below show some of those children busy with art and craft activities and playing games, all getting on well with each other. It was a joy and a privilege for me to be able to take part, with others, and experience another example of Christian faith in action that I can share with you. I feel sure that you will also be aware of other similar examples of faith in action being lived out in your own areas, right across our URC family.

Images from summer club

More images from summer club

Derek Estill, August 2019

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