Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

Remaining grateful together though apart

From 29-31 January, the Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly, attended URC Youth (dis)ASSEMBLED.

The digital event was for URC Youth to remain connected after it was forced to cancel its Assembly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, Clare reflects on the event:

It was an interesting weekend. Originally, I’d planned to be in Staffordshire at URC Youth Assembly. While Reuben, URC Youth Moderator had set himself up with a virtual background of Whitemoor Lakes (where Youth Assembly is usually held) we were, of course online. The positive side of this was that it made it a bit easier for me to be ‘in’ Southern Synod, for the induction of the Southern Synod’s new Moderator, Bridget Banks as well.

We have learnt a great deal about worshipping virtually. The induction went smoothly and was accessible to many people who might have baulked at travelling to a central venue. Worship at Youth Assembly was inspiring. The music was brilliantly produced, and the reflection on ‘heroes and villains’ in the stories of David and Esther was challenging. Continue reading

Prepare for new fruit this Advent

Peter Pay, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, explains why the fig tree provides a good analogy for our Advent task of preparation

image of young fig leaf

Fig trees are often referred to in the Bible. Jesus mentions them in a parable, where he curses one for its lack of fruit.

We have a large fig tree in our garden which often bears much fruit. I have noticed that whilst fig trees lose their leaves in winter, all the fruits that failed to mature remain on the tree… potentially for years. These fruits will never ripen. They will eventually rot. Continue reading

Let’s thank seen and unseen people

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