The Revd Clare Downing reflects on contrasting experiences in November, highlighting the value of behind-the-scenes people
Along with leading worship, and all sorts of smaller tasks, November brought two contrasting experiences in my Assembly Moderator diary.
Firstly, I had the privilege of representing the United Reformed Church at the Cenotaph. What is always, I imagine, a meticulously organised event, was subject to a new level of precision as stewards ensured social distancing in the well-ordered procession. In an eerily quiet city, I stood alongside leaders of other denominations and faith groups in Whitehall as the ceremony proceeded, uninterrupted even by the voice of the broadcaster David Dimbleby.
Then, there was Mission Council, which met digitally for the second time in its history, at the end of last week. Since July, many of us have learnt far more about how best to facilitate online meetings, so I rather think that Peter and I had an easier job than Nigel and Derek did in the summer. Unlike the Cenotaph, there was plenty of talking – though no audible squawking of parakeets in the background. And I suspect that some folk might have appreciated a David Dimbleby commentary on what was going on. Continue reading
Peter Pay, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, interrogates what “prophetic voice” means, and why it matters today
The United Reformed Church’s Wessex Synod close ecumenical links with L’Eglise Protestante Unie de France (the United Protestant Church of France). Honouring this connection, the synod has, for many years, sponsored an annual meeting to consider topics from the two Churches’ differing cultural and historical perspectives. When I first became involved in this meeting, it was called “the Colloque”, and featured each particpant speaking in our own language. It is now called “Le Weekend” and we provide translation to make it more inclusive.
One of the early Colloques I attended was themed La Voix Prophetique (the Prophetic Voice). I remember, with shame, wondering what all that was about, and whether I really wanted to spend a whole weekend talking about it. Was ‘prophetic voice’ really relevant today? Continue reading
One of the joys of being a Moderator is in presiding at inductions. It has been my privilege, as Wessex Synod Moderator to celebrate the beginning of many new ministries, and I am now experiencing this on a wider level as a Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly.
In the last few weeks, I have ordained one minister and inducted two in Wessex, and, from the comfort of my own study, inducted the Revd Jamie Kissack to serve as Yorkshire Synod Moderator. By the time you read this, the two inductions that I’m looking forward to – another minister in Wessex, and that of the Revd Samantha White to be Principal of Westminster College – may have already happened. Most are happening in the strange combination of “live” and ”virtual” that we are currently experiencing.
I don’t think that I am a control freak (though my husband may disagree), but the challenge of hoping that these services run smoothly when, as a worship leader, you can’t see all of what is going on “on screen” is certainly an interesting one. It involves trust in both the people controlling the computers, but also a degree of faith in the technology itself. It’s not always easy. Continue reading