Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

Remembering to Stand Together

Each year, on 27 January, the nation comes together to remember the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews.  This year’s ceremony also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazis’ death camp, on the 27 January 1945.  At that time, I was a four-year-old in South Wales completely unaware of the horrors that had been taking place across Europe.  Similarly, young people today can be unaware of the dangers that lurk just a little below the surface of our everyday lives.  Many of those who were directly affected have now died and each year there are fewer left to tell what happened.  It is therefore our responsibility to make sure these memories, and the accounts of what happened at this most terrible time in the world’s history, are not forgotten.

The following are the ten recognised steps that lead to genocide:
1.            Classification creating an “us” and “them” mentality
2.            Symbolisation of the “other” such as being made to wear a yellow star
3.            Discrimination against certain groups
4.            Dehumanisation against the other as being inferior
5.            Organisation through state involvement to execute actions
6.            Polarisation between “us” and “them” through propaganda
7.            Preparation of armies to protect “us” from “them”
8.            Persecution by separation of “them” from “us”
9.            Extermination by mass killing
10.          Denial by not accepting what has been done
It is so important that we guard against this happening.

“Stand Together”, the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), reminds me of that new commandment that Jesus gave us when he said that we are to “love one another as I have loved you”.

This simple commandment has an urgency and power that makes it an essential motivator to the way we live our lives. It challenges us in every way you can think of. We, as Christians, are called to live out these words in all we do and say, putting them into action in our day to day lives, following Jesus to build communities that stand together as Jesus wants us to be.

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Between wilderness and vineyards

The Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, explains how reading about ‘wilderness’ and ‘vineyard’ people has inspired him

A recent reading highlight has been Andrew Bradstock’s authorised biography of David Sheppard, Batting for the Poor. Sheppard was a one-time first-class cricketer, and later, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool. Bradstock has a close association with the United Reformed Church, having twice served as its Secretary for Church and Society. His book is a fascinating account of a life that was at once passionate about batting for England, and for England’s poor.

Book cover image

As well regarded as his sporting life was, Sheppard would become one of the highest profile Christians in Britain in the last quarter of the 20th century. Alongside the kudos that being a sportsman afforded, he was never priest of a very ordinary parish. Having a privileged background that included education at Sherborne School and the University of Cambridge, he surprised many by focussing throughout his ministry on inner city contexts and having a sincere ‘bias to the poor’.

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Family, friends and new beginnings

Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, on how to bring new, better ways of being into this new year

The festive season usually gives us an opportunity to come together with family and friends, no matter how distant they may be from us and from each other during the rest of the year. If we can’t physically come together, we can feel closer through the exchange of cards, letters, phone calls, emails, Skype, WhatsApp etc, which gives me the feeling that our world is becoming smaller. The great distances that some of us have grown up thinking about and have struggled with over the years, are now, it seems, much easier to come to terms with.

One thing is for sure, at this special time of year, and that is that there is a real feeling of the need to connect, particularly as we think about the holy family and their trials and tribulations. They must have had great difficulty getting about, not to mention finding somewhere to stay, and then having to hot foot it to Egypt!

Now that the excitement of Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve has passed, I have begun to look back and take stock. I’ve asked myself: Have I been able to make a difference by bridging physical or emotional gaps in my life? 

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