Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

A message to all who are the United Reformed Church

From Derek Estill and Nigel Uden, Moderators of the General Assembly

Amid this Covid-19 shaped world, we greet you in the name of God –
by whose grace we were created,
by whose mercy and love we are sustained,
by whose love we will be held forever.

Even as we are moderators of the General Assembly, so we are immersed in local churches, and it is as your companions on the way that we wished to write to you this weekend. Our experiences mirror yours – we, too, are distancing ourselves physically from others, we too are feeling uncertain, sometimes even fearful.

Coronavirus Covid-19 has been creeping up on us. We watched its effect upon other countries and washed our hands as we sang ‘Happy birthday’. Now it is affecting us, and last Sunday Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, punctured any complacency there may have been, saying, “life should not feel normal”, and if it does, you should ask “if you are doing the right things”. It’s a new world, and we don’t always feel so brave.

How should we react? There have been essential things to do. Far from having less on our agenda, many of us have been burning the candle at both ends. And there was no alternative; stuff was happening, and we needed to deal with it. But it seems Covid-19 will shape our lives for some time to come.

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Focus hearts and minds on valuing God’s gifts

Inspired by Young people, Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, encourages care for God’s environment, and finds optimism amid the challenges of this spring

As we work our way through Lent, building up to Easter and then Pentecost, our hearts and minds can begin to feel release from the dark, very wet days of winter. This year, it is also particularly difficult to see beyond the devastation caused by floods in so many parts of our country, with houses and businesses destroyed. It is difficult also to see beyond our concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. However, we must not forget that spring is coming, and the official first day of Spring, 21 March, will soon be here. Having said that, climate change continues to make itself felt and we are reminded of the mess we are making of God’s wonderful planet, earth. It is therefore most important to make sure our hearts and minds are focused on embracing, valuing and nurturing all that God has given us. 

Lots of our churches are doing their best to work out what they need to do to become an Eco Church. This is not just to do with the buildings. Church is us – the people of the congregation, as well as others that use our buildings and those we reach out to. The church I am a member of has recently done an audit using the A Rocha charity’s questionnaire (download link), to find out how we measure up for the various awards that can be achieved (bronze, silver and gold). The process of doing the questionnaire has meant looking at the whole situation within ourselves, as well as out and about in the community in which our churches are set, and thinking about our relationships with the local neighbourhood and the world.

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Green shoots of spring

Squelching around the manse lawn late in February, I noticed various green shoots of spring, snowdrops and daffodils among them. I had to be careful, to make sure I did not crush them – they were small, and I am not. Stopping to observe them, gave my heart a lift on a wintry day.

Since I last blogged, my diary has afforded me several opportunities to see green shoots of spring in the United Reformed Church (URC).

Young church

image of church

It was my turn to be the General Assembly Moderator at URC Youth Assembly. Derek Estill had told me how much it meant to him in 2019, and I rejoice that it was possible for me to attend this year.

I was struck time and again by the passionate consideration of some diverse business:

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