Peter Pay gives thanks for local church communities, and their nurturing work
I was due to be visiting Kingston-on-Thames United Reformed Church in September. But the virus has caused my visit to be postponed. King Cong (as it was fondly known) is the church I grew up in. Indeed, it is also the church where my parents met and married.
I recall joining a large Sunday school of well over 100 children. There, I followed a teacher training process for the older teenagers, and started to teach in a branch of Sunday school that was on a neighbouring estate with at least 50 more children. There was a Youth Fellowship, with Saturday socials and Sunday evening speakers, and ‘Fred Fridays’, where one of the church couples provided their front room as a venue for young people to discuss matters. I recall a small group of us being “allowed” to lead worship (with a bit of supervision). It was a church where we felt welcome, included and safe. A church where I was indeed nurtured, and where my faith grew and was strengthened. I left in my early 20s, when I moved away. Continue reading
In her first blog post as General Assembly Moderator, the Revd Clare Downing shares new discoveries, and encourages lifelong learning with Jesus
I’ve been learning some new skills.
As of this week, I can not only record myself on video, and edit out the mistakes, I can add photographs while not losing the voiceover. Sermons can have visual aids again.
Other recent discoveries include polls on Zoom, the video conferencing platform, which can be made so that they have multiple possible answers; if someone is screen sharing, you don’t have to let their document take up most of the space; and, just because a YouTube clip works perfectly well in a PowerPoint presentation, when you try it on Zoom and you’re the only person in the “room”, that doesn’t mean the clip will work when you’re in a real meeting.
That’s just a start – it’s some of the practical things. The restrictions that we are all living under have meant that I’ve been learning about myself too – or at least being reminded of some of my foibles and failings. Despite the fact that I don’t come into any of the high risk categories, I’ve not been easy to live with. I’ve had to learn to do things differently, whether that is around spending most of my time at my desk, or drastically reducing the number of times I pop to the supermarket. Continue reading
In his first blog, Peter Pay, who was inducted as a Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly on 11 July, reflects on how much of our lives now takes place digitally, but how God’s remains ever present.
Much of my life seems to have become virtual. Two years ago, I watched my election as Moderator at General Assembly virtually whilst in hospital. Then, on 11 July the URC held its first digital General Assembly and I was inducted virtually as Moderator of the URC General Assembly. I have a five-month-old grandson who I have only met virtually. I go to virtual meetings and councils, virtual worship and virtual family get-togethers and celebrations. I shop virtually, manage my finances virtually and do my giving virtually. I have doctor’s appointments virtually. I could even do cooking virtually using delivery services if I wished.
There are some pluses: we can join meetings and go to worship anywhere without having to travel, which benefits the environment; we can link up with folk who we would struggle to see physically; information and news are easily accessible and instant, and correspondence is also potentially much easier and quicker.
But what we all miss most is the physical, face to face contact. We miss the informal chats, the body language, the handshakes the hugs. We miss the physical care. We miss being and singing together. We miss social and cultural events and activities. Continue reading