In his last blog post as General Assembly Moderator, the Revd Nigel Uden reflects on reasons to sing: ‘O be joyful in the Lord; enter God’s gates with thanksgiving’
Forty years ago, I entered the gates of the Congregational College, Manchester, to be equipped for the work of ministry. I used vaguely to wonder, then, about various aspects of ministry that over the ensuing years have come to pass. Things like prioritising serving local churches, being fascinated with the world Church, and needing to play one’s part in the wider Church, too.
Pastorates of local churches in Cheshire, Johannesburg, Lancashire and Cambridgeshire have always been privileges that gave so much more to me than I to them. A period with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa sealed my sense of the global scope of Christ’s body. And a stint as a Synod Moderator enabled me to appreciate the Church as an essentially interdependent covenant community. It’s been great, and often the words I learned as a choir boy have come to my lips, normally in Stanford’s B flat setting: Jubilate Deo: O be joyful in the Lord.
Never, though, did I anticipate being Moderator of the General Assembly. This role, too, has been a privilege, exposing me to the rich diversity of the United Reformed Church, and of some of its partners in other parts of the world. Part of the role has been writing a monthly blog, and, like Derek Estill, my fellow moderator, I have so appreciated the assistance of the Communications team – including Sara, Charissa and Ann-Marie – in preparing them. In this final essay, I would like to thank the Church for inviting me to one of the Moderators’ chairs. Like every other responsibility I’ve held, it has been a gift of grace to me. Jubilate Deo. Continue reading
In his last blog post as Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, Derek Estill looks back, and to the future, with thanks
‘Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered’
(1 Chronicles 16:12)
‘I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: … straining forward to what lies ahead’
Looking back over where you have been, and forward to what might come next, is an emotional rollercoaster. At this point in my time as a General Assembly Moderator, nearing the end of my term, that emotional rollercoaster is poignant.
I know that, whatever I will be doing in the future, I will have Jesus by my side. That is a very reassuring fact. I know too that Jesus has been with me in my past journeys and experiences. That knowledge and experience is the bedrock of the future, whatever it is to be.
As the UK tries to come out of the coronavirus lockdown that has dominated life for the last three months, there is still great uncertainty and anxiousness. Such anxiety exists even though other countries, slightly ahead of us, are tentatively opening up their societies too. In China, according to a recent news report, a second wave of the virus might be occurring, causing the country to reinstate lockdown in some areas of Beijing. We are living in very uncertain times, without previous experience of dealing with such a tenacious and pernicious virus. While all this is true, we know we have that bedrock assurance, Jesus, walking alongside us, into the future. Continue reading
The Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, discerns how Church must change, amid and after the coronavirus pandemic
The River Cam at Midsummer Common, April 2020
There is so much for us to be discerning about at the moment. How shall we care for each other? What might we think about God? How can we maintain good mental and physical health? What will the future look like? I sense that many people will have asked themselves those questions during the lockdown, as much as ever before.
I’ve relearned that, among the best ways to care for others, there is the telephone. I know that because of how much it has meant to me when, completely out of the blue, people have picked up the receiver to find out how we are. Thanks be to God for Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the first practical telephone) and all his successors. Continue reading