Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, reflects on the highlights of his moderatorial engagements
At the beginning of May, I joined the jubilee anniversary celebrations at Christchurch – a local ecumenical partnership between United Reformed and Methodist churches in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. The church was founded in 1969 when Methodist churches at Broad Street and Nightingale Road united with Queen Street Congregational Church.
The bold step of a union, and the congregation’s joint vision, has paid dividends over the years, as the church is still flourishing 50 years later. Christchurch draws people of all ages and is actively engaged with today’s communities in a positive, attentive and meaningful way. The work of this church involves people, intrigues people, and attracts people to find out more.
On arrival in Hitchin, I was met by Chris Blackman, the church’s treasurer, who had invited me to stay with him and his wife Ann. I was warmly welcomed into their home and immediately felt at ease. Chris then showed me around the town, and by the time we got back, Ann had prepared a very nice evening meal. After a good night’s rest, it was off to church to lead and share in a service to mark the church’s 50th anniversary. I was made very welcome. Well done to all at Christchurch as they celebrate 50 years of active service and continue to respond to God’s call. Continue reading
Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, sees liberation in a new light, on a visit to the Channel Islands
My father’s caution about me becoming a minister was that I would be bored. If one is not part of the Church, that is perhaps an unsurprising concern. But in this case, my father’s concern was not justified. Long before he died, I think he recognised how stimulating ministry is. He wouldn’t have used this language, but what could be more stimulating than to be caught up in the Body of Christ, with its vocation to help the world know what God has given it in Jesus Christ? Apart from anything else, I have never stopped learning, never ceased to have new experiences, and never finished encountering different people and their cultures.
Liberation Sculpture, 1995
St Helier, Jersey
A recent new experience of mine was going to the Channel Islands to visit the United Reformed churches on both Guernsey and Jersey. My only previous trip had been a fleeting preaching engagement ten years ago at the Sion Church in the St John’s parish on Jersey. Continue reading
My efforts to maintain my meat abstinence’s during Lent has proved to be quite successful and helped me think more deeply about what we are doing to our planet earth through our meat-eating habits when there are so many alternatives available. I now find that my action has changed my habit and I am taking more care to seek out and enjoy other foods. As I sit down to write this blog I have just enjoyed scrambled eggs followed by apple crumble, so habits can be changed and as we increasingly think about how we are messing up our planet this can only be a good thing, thank you JPIT for your encouragement.
April saw my granddaughter get married, it was a glorious occasion with family and friends, young and older, all coming together in harmony. It was also a joyous time for us all and reminds us that this is what life should be all about as we remember what Jesus said about loving one another. As you may know I am involved in Interfaith work and my family is an Interfaith family. To me and my wife this is a real blessing as our Christian and Muslim family members join to share life’s joys, concerns and dreams which I believe is what God wants us all to do. It is of course important whilst doing this that we live out our faith in all we do with integrity and honesty sharing all that life brings us. As you may know Nigel and myself as General Assembly Moderators are encouraging everyone to listen carefully to each other and then to put our faith into action. This of course requires us to be strong in our faith and open to others as Jesus was. Continue reading