Marching to Zion or Wakefield?


Of all Sundays, we decided to skip church on Pentecost, though we believe led by God’s Spirit, when we discovered “With banners held high!” would happen as a Whit march through Wakefield for the first time in 30 years. Following a service in the Cathedral and a blessing from the Bishop of Huddersfield, banners representing Trade Unions, communities, interest groups, and former collieries, would be carried through the streets culminating in speeches and musical performances. As Lynne and I are both children of Durham miners, we were drawn to the event to watch the banners pass by. What we didn’t expect was a placard being thrust into my hand, and so us joining the procession – me proudly carrying the message, “In the midst of plenty, we will not suffer want!” (words from the 1933 National Unemployment Demonstration). I didn’t share political views with many on the march, and many did not share my religious views. But here we were joining people who wanted to see the world a better place, and prepared to protest and work together for justice and peace, equality and diversity? We were wedged between NHS workers passionately protesting against the threatened closure of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and a group of artists proclaiming free speech and expression, each with colours of hair we wouldn’t see in church! But here is my cry – where were the dissenters we call URC?

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Church of Scotland General Assembly

The Twin Towers of the Assembly rooms in Edinburgh

I had the pleasure of going to the Church of Scotland (CoS) General Assembly this month. This has been an enriching experience for me for a whole host of reasons.
Just in case you are not aware, the CoS is a Presbyterian church … and some might say The Presbyterian church; so, they are a very close neighbour of ours in both geographical and ecclesiological terms. Note that it is the Scottish Episcopal Church that is part of the Anglican Communion. Continue reading

June 2018

In June, Mr Alan Yates will represent the United Reformed Church at the Westminster Abbey service celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush’s arrival to Tilbury Docks, Essex. The Windrush brought more than 500 Caribbean people to Britain. Mr Yates will also attend a ‘Legacies of slavery’ hearing in Alabama, which examines the impact of the transatlantic slave trade.

The Revd Kevin Watson will attend the Presbyterian Church of Ireland’s Assembly. He will also visit Christchurch Abbeydale, Gloucester, and Meersbrook Park URC, Sheffield, as well as attend the thanksgiving service for the Training for Learning and Serving (TLS) programme in Birmingham.