Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

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

Rediscover prophetic voice

Peter Pay, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, interrogates what “prophetic voice” means, and why it matters today

The United Reformed Church’s Wessex Synod close ecumenical links with L’Eglise Protestante Unie de France (the United Protestant Church of France). Honouring this connection, the synod has, for many years, sponsored an annual meeting to consider topics from the two Churches’ differing cultural and historical perspectives. When I first became involved in this meeting, it was called “the Colloque”, and featured each particpant speaking in our own language. It is now called “Le Weekend” and we provide translation to make it more inclusive.

One of the early Colloques I attended was themed La Voix Prophetique (the Prophetic Voice). I remember, with shame, wondering what all that was about, and whether I really wanted to spend a whole weekend talking about it. Was ‘prophetic voice’ really relevant today? Continue reading