In her first blog post as General Assembly Moderator, the Revd Clare Downing shares new discoveries, and encourages lifelong learning with Jesus
I’ve been learning some new skills.
As of this week, I can not only record myself on video, and edit out the mistakes, I can add photographs while not losing the voiceover. Sermons can have visual aids again.
Other recent discoveries include polls on Zoom, the video conferencing platform, which can be made so that they have multiple possible answers; if someone is screen sharing, you don’t have to let their document take up most of the space; and, just because a YouTube clip works perfectly well in a PowerPoint presentation, when you try it on Zoom and you’re the only person in the “room”, that doesn’t mean the clip will work when you’re in a real meeting.
That’s just a start – it’s some of the practical things. The restrictions that we are all living under have meant that I’ve been learning about myself too – or at least being reminded of some of my foibles and failings. Despite the fact that I don’t come into any of the high risk categories, I’ve not been easy to live with. I’ve had to learn to do things differently, whether that is around spending most of my time at my desk, or drastically reducing the number of times I pop to the supermarket. Continue reading
In his first blog, Peter Pay, who was inducted as a Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly on 11 July, reflects on how much of our lives now takes place digitally, but how God’s remains ever present.
Much of my life seems to have become virtual. Two years ago, I watched my election as Moderator at General Assembly virtually whilst in hospital. Then, on 11 July the URC held its first digital General Assembly and I was inducted virtually as Moderator of the URC General Assembly. I have a five-month-old grandson who I have only met virtually. I go to virtual meetings and councils, virtual worship and virtual family get-togethers and celebrations. I shop virtually, manage my finances virtually and do my giving virtually. I have doctor’s appointments virtually. I could even do cooking virtually using delivery services if I wished.
There are some pluses: we can join meetings and go to worship anywhere without having to travel, which benefits the environment; we can link up with folk who we would struggle to see physically; information and news are easily accessible and instant, and correspondence is also potentially much easier and quicker.
But what we all miss most is the physical, face to face contact. We miss the informal chats, the body language, the handshakes the hugs. We miss the physical care. We miss being and singing together. We miss social and cultural events and activities. Continue reading
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