Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

Virtual lives

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

Jubilate Deo

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’

Moderators 2018 to 2020

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

Looking back, and forward

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’
(Philippians 3:13)


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