Category Archives: Moderators’ blog

Focus hearts and minds on valuing God’s gifts

Inspired by Young people, Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, encourages care for God’s environment, and finds optimism amid the challenges of this spring

As we work our way through Lent, building up to Easter and then Pentecost, our hearts and minds can begin to feel release from the dark, very wet days of winter. This year, it is also particularly difficult to see beyond the devastation caused by floods in so many parts of our country, with houses and businesses destroyed. It is difficult also to see beyond our concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. However, we must not forget that spring is coming, and the official first day of Spring, 21 March, will soon be here. Having said that, climate change continues to make itself felt and we are reminded of the mess we are making of God’s wonderful planet, earth. It is therefore most important to make sure our hearts and minds are focused on embracing, valuing and nurturing all that God has given us. 

Lots of our churches are doing their best to work out what they need to do to become an Eco Church. This is not just to do with the buildings. Church is us – the people of the congregation, as well as others that use our buildings and those we reach out to. The church I am a member of has recently done an audit using the A Rocha charity’s questionnaire (download link), to find out how we measure up for the various awards that can be achieved (bronze, silver and gold). The process of doing the questionnaire has meant looking at the whole situation within ourselves, as well as out and about in the community in which our churches are set, and thinking about our relationships with the local neighbourhood and the world.

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Green shoots of spring

Squelching around the manse lawn late in February, I noticed various green shoots of spring, snowdrops and daffodils among them. I had to be careful, to make sure I did not crush them – they were small, and I am not. Stopping to observe them, gave my heart a lift on a wintry day.

Since I last blogged, my diary has afforded me several opportunities to see green shoots of spring in the United Reformed Church (URC).

Young church

image of church

It was my turn to be the General Assembly Moderator at URC Youth Assembly. Derek Estill had told me how much it meant to him in 2019, and I rejoice that it was possible for me to attend this year.

I was struck time and again by the passionate consideration of some diverse business:

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Remembering to Stand Together

Each year, on 27 January, the nation comes together to remember the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews.  This year’s ceremony also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazis’ death camp, on the 27 January 1945.  At that time, I was a four-year-old in South Wales completely unaware of the horrors that had been taking place across Europe.  Similarly, young people today can be unaware of the dangers that lurk just a little below the surface of our everyday lives.  Many of those who were directly affected have now died and each year there are fewer left to tell what happened.  It is therefore our responsibility to make sure these memories, and the accounts of what happened at this most terrible time in the world’s history, are not forgotten.

The following are the ten recognised steps that lead to genocide:
1.            Classification creating an “us” and “them” mentality
2.            Symbolisation of the “other” such as being made to wear a yellow star
3.            Discrimination against certain groups
4.            Dehumanisation against the other as being inferior
5.            Organisation through state involvement to execute actions
6.            Polarisation between “us” and “them” through propaganda
7.            Preparation of armies to protect “us” from “them”
8.            Persecution by separation of “them” from “us”
9.            Extermination by mass killing
10.          Denial by not accepting what has been done
It is so important that we guard against this happening.

“Stand Together”, the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), reminds me of that new commandment that Jesus gave us when he said that we are to “love one another as I have loved you”.

This simple commandment has an urgency and power that makes it an essential motivator to the way we live our lives. It challenges us in every way you can think of. We, as Christians, are called to live out these words in all we do and say, putting them into action in our day to day lives, following Jesus to build communities that stand together as Jesus wants us to be.

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