Question and Answer

A visit from an Assembly Moderator can prompt unexpected questions and unearth unusual stories. St. Martin’s, Saltdean is no exception! There are probably many individual members of the United Reformed Church who would like to ask “What is the point of an Assembly Moderator?” The opportunity to respond in a few brief sentences is a challenge. The role is a representative one, a Moderator presides over the meetings of the General Assembly and the Mission Council. The role is shared between an Elder and a Minster of Word and Sacraments. Assembly Moderators, unlike in some other denominations, do not have personal authority and take part in public and ecumenical events on behalf of the Assembly.

St. Martin's, Saltdean

St. Martin’s, Saltdean

At St. Martin’s this led to a conversation about how the voice of the URC is expressed in the public square. Assembly Moderators, when asked for comment on current affairs, will look to see what Assembly has said previously. The problem comes when there has been no conversation in Assembly or Mission Council, do we say nothing or express a personal view? Either way we will upset someone! That led onto the use of social media and the need for congregations to be sharing their views with Synod and Assembly and not waiting to complain about what they don’t like. As a denomination we need more agitation from the ground up.

Where the revolution begins?

Where the revolution begins?


Little known facts about this part of Sussex include the information that Billy Butlin had one of his first hotels in Saltdean and just along the coast is Peacehaven. Originally called New Anzac and conceived as a place of respite and healing at the end of World War II, Peacehaven straddles the Greenwich Meridian and follows a grid pattern familiar in America. Local tales have it that the entrepreneur that designed and built the town, along with much of Saltdean, was not always accurate in the descriptions used to sell the plots for housing. The devil, it appears, was in the detail as it so often is.
The South Downs

The South Downs


David Grosch-Miller

1 thought on “Question and Answer

  1. Dick Wolff

    I’m currently writing a response to the document “What is the Spirit saying to the Churches?” – a document I find quite exasperating. I’m suggesting that it’s a sign (to me) of a lack of confidence at the centre of the URC, and that a more pertinent question might be “What is the Spirit saying to our national church structure?” Rather than perpetually asking the local churches questions and sending material for our consideration, the national church should be ‘out front’ in the world, leading, with a media presence.

    David notes the risks of this sort of personal leadership, and suggests that without Assembly resolutions behind him he’s wary of expressing his own opinions. The desire to be accountable is commendable, but my feeling is that the sort of leadership we need is one that’s prepared/encouraged to take more risks than that.

    In my paper, I draw parallels with the Green Party – a movement with about two thirds the membership of the URC, which has two national assemblies a year (not one every two). The party has taken off since the decision, five years ago, to appoint a leader (initially, for three years, Caroline Lucas). That decision, hotly contested by those wary of personal leadership, has marked a turning point, and membership has trebled in the last 12 months, partly at least owing to the party’s public visibility through its leaders.

    There is an important discussion to be had in the URC about personal identifiable leadership, not least because the national church seems to have no real clarity about what ordained ministers are for (despite the fact that over three quarters of the national budget is spent on us). There is just one passing reference to the denominationally-ordained ministry in the consultation document.

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