Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

The place for renewal and reconciliation

The Revd Nigel Uden, one of the Moderators of the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly, says that in this time of continued division, the Church must continue to be a place for renewal and reconciliation.

Zion United Reformed Church, Northallerton

As the United Kingdom continues to negotiate its way out of the European Union, I cannot help but feel a growing concern about the impact of the process upon our equilibrium – as individuals and as a community.

In recent sermons I have referenced Ann Morisy’s book, Bothered and Bewildered (2011), in which she uses the phrase ‘irritable and fragmenting’. That’s what it often feels like.    Continue reading

Remembering and new beginnings

Derek Estill, one of the Moderators of the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly, reflects on his duties as Moderator as 2018 came to an end

November was the month when we remembered the sacrifices made during all conflict and war and it is right and proper that we pay homage to those who gave all to keep us safe.

I had the great privilege of representing our church at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph then the service in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the Armistice.

The service in Westminster Abbey was both moving and memorable and those of us representing different faiths had a privileged position close to the High Altar on the north side of the Central Nave.

As faith leaders we were about four rows from the front facing close to where the Queen and other members of the Royal family were seated.  Continue reading

Pastoral and Prophetic

It was in 1987 that I first moved from one pastorate to another. I recall thanking the people of those Stockport churches for enabling me to cut my ministerial teeth. And every time I have moved since then, I have found myself thanking people for precisely the same thing, because each context has offered and asked significantly new things.

It is no different this autumn, as I am embraced by the privileges and responsibilities of being one of the General Assembly Moderators; I am cutting my moderatorial teeth. The development of which I am particularly aware now is a renewed sense of how inescapable it is in what I say – sermons, addresses, articles, blogs, conversation – to hold in tension the pastoral and the prophetic.

The vocation of the church is to be the embodiment of something of the God we see in Jesus Christ. There are times when that is shaped by a radical love that is motivated Christ’s. W. H. Vanstone used to speak of it as ‘Love that gives, gives ever more, gives with zeal, with eager hands, spares not, keeps not, all outpours, ventures all its all expends.’ (Love’s endeavour, Love’s expense 1977 DLT page 119). Are we not most authentically and credibly The Church when our worship rejoices in that and our service echoes it? I am more than ever persuaded this is what our aspiration to be pastoral is all about.

But that is not – cannot – be all we bring to today’s world. In our era of confident atheism and self-sufficiency, which means that by definition God is off many agendas, our pastoral hallmark must surely be complemented by a commitment to speak a prophetic word. In Romans 10, Paul asks how people will believe in one of whom they have not heard, and how they will hear of one who is not proclaimed to them. So it is for our generation: on countless topics our vocation is to speak into the world’s condition a prophetic word inspired by Scripture and our faith. How will it be heard if we do not do so?  Continue reading