Revd Adam EarleTheSummerHolidayseasonseemstoflyby althoughIsuspect,forsomeparents,the start of anew school year may come as a bit of a relief. Iwas blessed to enjoy a refreshing break, not quite as Ihad originally planned by good none-the-less.GillianandIspentjustoveraweekonthe Isle of Wight. Thishas the advantageof beingrelativelyinexpensiveas,apartfrom theexpensiveferrycrossing(youcangetto Franceforless),weareabletostaywithmy parents which reduces the overall cost.Weenjoyedseaswims,walksandsimple opportunitiestodowhatwecall“being”– outwardlythismayappeartotheuntrained eye to be sitting doing nothing. It is however whatGodencouragesintheconceptofthe SabbathandwhatW.H.Daviesreferstoin his poem, “What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?”Ihopethatyouallhadanopportunityto enjoysomerestandrecuperationoverthe summer period. Read on to find out someof thingsthathavebeengoingonacrossthe pastorate since June.
Revd Peter Ball OnSunday9thJulyitwasgood toagainwelcomeRevdPeter Balltoleadourmorning worship. Peter will be knownto many folk across the pastorate and was one of our previous ministers.Since 2017, Peter Ball has been working at Westminster College, Cambridge in the Director of Church Resource Development. Peter leads the college’swiderremitofbeingaResourceCentrefor Learningforthewholedenomination,in additiontotakinghisfullpartincollegelife alongside his other teaching staff colleagues. HeworkscloselywithSynodsandtheir TrainingOfficersandMissionEnablers,as wellasservingthedenominationaspartof the Walking the Way Steering Group and the Stepwise Task and Finish Group.
PetertrainedatWestminster(1991-94) beforeordination.Hehashadpastoratesat Sawston Free Church, Little Abingdon and of courseStJohn’sURCIpswich.Beforetaking uphispostatWestminster,hewasMission andTrainingOfficerfortheURC’sEastern Synod.Peter will be retiring later this year. His wife Catherine,alsoanactiveURCminister,will beretiringlater.WeunderstandthatPeter hasalonglistofjobstocompleteafterhis retirement and prior to Catherine’s, many of whichwillrevolvearoundtheirhomein Saxmundham.BuildingsThebuildingatSt John’s,aswithall ofourchurch buildings,requires regularattention andmaintenance. Although it’s thenewestbuildinginthepastorate,being completedinthe1980s,itisshowingsome signsofwearandwehavehadtodealwith a number of urgent matters over the last few months.Thesehaveincludedaleakygutterandroof inthesanctuary,directlyabovethesound deskwhich,thankfullyavoideddamageand thecosttorepairtheproblemwaslower thanwefeared.Howeverwehavehada failed, and leaking cold water tank which put thebuildingoutofaction,withnowaterfor drinkingorflushinglavatories,forseveral days–thiswasresolvedquicklybutwas costly. To cap it all we have also had to repairaradiatorandattendtoproblems with one of the upstairs toilet facilities.Over the last few months we have been working to repair and repaint the external
fire escape stairs leading from the upper hall to the main car park. This work is now nearing completion. The structural elementswerecompletedbyaprofessional providerandtherestofthework,involving hammering,wirebrushing,removalof debrisandpaintinghasbeencarriedoutby church volunteers.AhugethankyouisduetotheBuildings Teamandthemanyothervolunteerswho haveworkedsohardtoattendtothe problems. The church is grateful to everyonewhoplaysaregularpartinthe cleaning and maintenance of the premises.Theremainingmatterwhichneedsour attentionisthefrontgardenwhichwas damagedbyanambulanceavoidinga collision. Thankfully the density of the plants meantthattheambulancecametoahalt withoutcausingdamagetothebuilding itself.Wearenowawaitingtheinsurance payment and planning how best to reinstate and eco-friendly front garden.Hymn SingInthelast editionof Connectwe shared news of aHymnSing which tookplace on April. Weare planning to hold another one on Saturday 4thNovember. We willbesharingfurtherdetailswiththe churches in the pastorate (and indeed in the area)nearerthetimebuthopethatyou mightliketopencilthedateintoyour diaries.Itwillbeintheafternoonand,as before, will be followed by tea.
Wedding OnFriday4thAugust FelixstoweURCwere delightedtohostthe wedding of Kayleigh andDan.TheservicewasconductedbyRevd Davidwhohadbeenincommunicationwith thecouplesincetheirinitialenquiry.Itis alwaysapleasuretobepartofsuchan important step on the journey of a couple,as theymaketheirvowsandlookaheadto marriedlive.MayGodblessKayleighand Dan in their marriage.Ukraine 2 Felixstowe Thechurchcontinuesto supporttheworkofthis importantprojectincluding the provision of “The Hub”(ourformerchoirvestry).Theneedsofour Ukrainianguestshaveshiftedovertime. Someoftheguestshavereturnedto Ukraine, despite the ongoing conflict. Some havemovedoutofFelixstoweduetothe location of work and accommodation.Akeyfocusmovingforwardwillberaising money,notsomuchfortheguestswhoare in the UK, although we will not loose sight of theirneeds,butforsendingtoUkraineto provide vital support and resources for those whofacetheday-to-daychallengesofthe war. We hope to be able to support in helpingtofacilitatefundraising opportunities for this purpose.Onekeywayinwhichfolkareableto support our Ukrainian guest is by engagingin conversations,inEnglish,tohelpthemgain confidenceinthelanguage.FelixstoweURC havebeenhostingaseriesof“Coffee,Cake, Craft and Chat” (C4) sessions, organised by
U2F volunteers. The first three sessions, heldonSundayafternoons,havefocussed onproducing(crocheting)toppersforsome ofourlocalpillarboxestobedisplayedto markUkraineIndependenceDayon24th August.Anyfolkwhowouldliketocome along to support with conversation, practical skills or catering are always welcome.AsthewarinUkraineragesonwithno sight ofaswiftoreasyconclusion,wemust continuetopray,supportandencouragein any way we can to help the people there.Reaching a Milestone Weoftenmarkspecial birthdays,especiallythe “milestone” years. As of September,wewillhavefive churchmemberswhohave reachedorexceededtheir 90th Birthday. To mark thissignificantevent,wewillbeholdinga celebrationteaontheafternoonofSunday 3rdSeptember. We would liketo congratulateandcelebrateallthoseofour numberwhohavereachedthiswonderful age.A Time to Remember We will be holding a “Service of Remembering” on Sunday 29thOctober at 15:00when we invite folk to gather and remember their loved ones. Theservicehasareflectivetoneandincludes hymns,readings,ashortaddressandanact ofremembering.Ifyouwouldlike tojoin us onthisoccasion,wewouldbehappyto welcome you. We share refreshments afterwards.
LEISTON UNITED CH
Wedding On the afternoon of Friday 4th August we weredelightedtowelcomeKateandPaultoour churchtocelebratetheirwedding.Kate’s sister was married in the church in 2022. The service was conducted by Revd Adam,a first forhim,whowasalsoactingasthe Authorised Person.Itwasrainingquitehardbeforetheservice, astheguestsandfamilygathered,even when the bride arrived. We had a joyful service. By the end of our time together, the sun had made abreakthrough and folk were abletogatheroutsideinChurchSquarefor photographs.ManycongratulationstoPaul andKate,mayGodblessyouinyourfuture life together.Project40SevenTheshoppremises adjacenttothechurch ontheChurchSquare side are the base of anewandexcitingcommunityprojectfor Leiston. Named after the address of the building(47HighStreet)–theproject includesacommunitycafé,acommunity pantry,artsandcraftsforsaleandmany activities. The project, part of Creative Leiston, also organises regular events for the community,includinglivemusicinChurch Square.The Church is pleased to support the project includinginprovidingadditionalspacefor activities within our premises. This will includesuchthingsasaRepairCafé– somethingwhichisbecomingincreasing popular wherever they are established.
Partoftheproject,“TheLeistonPantry”–a meansofofferingfood,oftenwithlimited shelflifeforverylowprice,hasseenhigh demand.Alongwiththeworkofourown FoodBanktherearemanyfolkmakinguse oftheresourceduringthesechallenging times. Whilst it is not a cause for celebration thatsuchthingsareindemand,itisatleast encouragingthatfolkareabletofindthis help.Wearelookingtoworkinpartnership withthepantrytosupportoneanotherin theprovisionoffooditemsina complimentaryratherthanacompetitive manner. Any donations of produce or moneyforeitherorbothprojectswouldbe extremely welcome.Building In UseWearecontinuing toenhancethe facilities we have to offerwhenmaking ourpremises available for otherusers. We have recently ordered new curtains for the hall and are hopeful that the blindswhichcoverthebi-foldingdoors leading to the Church Square will be repaired and replaced. We have also purchased a newshelvingunitsothatwecansortthe bookswemakeavailableforsaleand provide storage for the various toys we have for use by the children who visit.Weareplanningtodeclutteranddisposeof a number of things tomake better use of the spaceandmakeitmoreattractive.Aswith manychurchbuildings,thingstendto accumulateovertimesowearetakingthe opportunitytotidyandmakebetteruseof the storage space we have available.Therehavebeenanumberofnewbookings comeinincludingaPilatesClass,currently holding a six-week trial to see how things
workoutandalocaltheatregroupwillbe usingthebuildingfortheirregular rehearsals.Other enquiries have been received.Local Church LeadersFr Tony Rogers, the ParishPriestfrom AllSaintsCatholic Church,inLeiston, is retiring inSeptember.Wewishhimafondfarewell andthankhim forall hehasdone insupport of the local community. He has been a welcomepartoftheLeistonChristians Togetheractivities.FrTonywillbemoving to Newmarket.InSeptember,AllSaintswillbewelcoming theirnewpriestFrDavidBagstaff.Wepray thathewillsettleandfeelathomequickly and look forward to working alongside him.Ourfriendsat LeistonBaptist Churchwillalsobe welcominganew pastor inSeptember. Pastor Daniel Bryant and his familymovedtoLeistoninAugust.There willbeaserviceofwelcomeattheBaptist ChurchonSaturday23rdSeptember.Again we look forward to meeting him and working alongside him.
Working Together AtSaxmundhamwecontinueto explorearangeofideasfor missionandengagementwith our neighbours and the widercommunity. We are always pleased to meet up with the members of other local churches
includingStJohnCofE(Saxmundham),St Mary&StPeterCofE(Kelsale)andKelsale Methodist Church. Our next activity togetherwillbetheannualserviceof Remembranceat15:00onSunday12th November. This year it will be held at Kelsale Parish Church. As usual it will be precededbytheprocessionledbythe LeistonRoyalBritishLegionBand.Theyalso provideaccompanimentforthehymns during the service.Something NewIn June we launched a new activity to engage withfolkinthesurrounding area, Start the Week with aCuppa.Onceeachmonthweinvitepeople tojoinusforrefreshments,chatand activities.AtourJunegatheringwewerepleasedthat oneofourfriendsbroughtherlittle grandsonalong,hischeerfuldispositionand antics filled us all with delight. In July,a game of Scrabble ensued with a real sense of fun and competition in the air. We now have a“largeprint”Scrabblesetwhichhasbeen kindlydonated,thetilesandboardare somewhat larger than the basic version.Thedatesofourforthcominggatheringsfor theremainderoftheyearwillbe:Monday 25thSeptember,Monday30thOctoberand Monday27thNovember.Ifyouareoverin ourdirectionandwouldliketojoinus,you would be most welcome.Harvest Event SomethingelsenewforusatSaxmundham, wewillbeholdinganadditionaleventto marktheharvestseason.Ifyouwouldlike to join us you would be more than welcome. Aswellasrefreshments,somestallsanda raffle we will be offering a “Harvest Brunch”
offreshlymadesoup,breadandfruit.Do comealongandjointhecelebration.Here are the details:
Thisannouncementshouldbeaccompanied withabitofafanfare.Wearepleasedto announcethatthenewLeistonUnitedand SaxmundhamURCjointwebsiteisnowup and running. Our address is: www.saxurcleistonuc.org.uk
Wehavetriedtokeepthingsclearand simple.Fromthe“Home”pagethereare linkstothepageswhichgiveinformation about each of the churches. There is a contactspage,anewsanddiarypage (coveringbothchurches)andinformation about hall hire and safeguarding.TheCalendaronthediarypageiseasyto updatesowewillaimtokeepthingsupto date. New articles will also be shared alongsideannouncementsanddetailsof special events.Wewillbeaddingmoreinformationabout thedifferentgroupsthatmeetinandmake useofourchurchpremisestoeachofthe churchpages.Wealwaysinvitefeedback, especially if you notice something that is out ofdate,incorrectorhaveanideaofwhat elsemightbeincludedonthesitewhilst keepingthingsstraightforwardandeasyto maintain.Overthenextcoupleofweeks,wewillbe updatingthedetailsontheURCand MethodistChurchwebsitesthatdirectfolk toourwebsite.Evenifyoudon’tusually makeuse of the internet please do share the webaddresswithotherssothattheycan access the information.
TLE HILL URC
Mussbach Visit BackinJune(7th– 12thJune),aspartofourlongstandingand ongoingpartnershipwiththechurchin Mussbach,weweredelightedtowelcome folk taking part in our annual visit.
Various events and activities were organized andweremuchenjoyedbyallinvolved.On Thursday8thJunetherewasavisitto Felixstoweforawalkandseafront refreshments –it was a rather windy day.TheFridaysawmuchcalmerweather,a warmSunnydayinfact,forourvisitto Blickling Hall –amostengaging and beautiful setting.Thereturnjourney was brokenbya delicious meal at Diss Golf Club.Saturday10thweheldawonderfulsocial eveningandmealtogether.Entertainment includedagiantsudoku,competitivejigsaw puzzling and amusing prize draw.On Sunday 11thwe gathered for worship and sharedinabi-lingual,warmandengaging time of worship. If you want to find out moreaboutityoucanwatchtheserviceon the YouTube channel here:www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY5Ai2wShn8 Annual Charities BBQAnotherpopularevent inour churchdiaryis theannualCharitiesBBQ.OnSaturday8th July,folkgatheredtoenjoyatimeof fellowship,sparklingconversation,delicious food and entertainment.
Theeventwasverywellattendedandover £300wasraisedfor“FamilyFirst”and “Suffolk Refugee Support”.Holiday @ HomeThismuchwelcomedannualeventtook place, this year on the 25thand 26thJuly. Our themethisyearwas“Germany”.Activities included:Painting,Craftwork,Entertainers, Games,Keepfit,Asingalongandmany others.Home-cookedfoodwasverymuch enjoyed by all.
On the second day a marquee was erected in theChurchSportsHallforCastleHill's versionofanOctoberfest.NoAlcoholbut plenty of tea and cake!CHAPS ProductionThe Castle Hill Amateur Players (CHAPS) are currently rehearsing for an Autumn performance of aPantomime version of the Wizard of Oz story.It is somewhat different to the familiar film and musical version. The performances are scheduled to take place at the church on Thursday 26th, Friday 27thand Saturday 28thOctober. We hope
thatfolkfromacrossthepastoratewould come and enjoy the entertainment. Further detailsandticketswillbeavailablein September.
TheHarvestFestivalisamuchlovedand valuedcelebration.WegivethankstoGod forthemanyblessingsweenjoyandreflect onthebeautyofcreationandour stewardship of it. We offer gifts of gratitude, tosharewiththoseinneedandsingour hymns of praise. Here are details of how and when we will be celebrating in our pastorate churches.SUNDAY 10th SEPTEMBER Leiston Christians Together HARVEST CELEBRATION & TEA 15:00 in Church SquareSATURDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER Saxmundham URC HARVEST COFFEE MORNING & SALE10:00 – 11:30 in the Church Hall SUNDAY 24th SEPTEMBER St John’s URC HARVEST SERVICE10:45 led by Revd Adam Leiston United ChurchHARVEST AFTERNOON SERVICE & TEA 14:00 led by Revd AdamSUNDAY 1stOCTOBER Castle Hill URC HARVEST SERVICE & COMMUNION10:30 led by Revd David Followed by Harvest Lunch
Felixstowe URC HARVEST SERVICE & COMMUNION10:30 led by Revd Adam Saxmundham URC HARVEST PRAISE SERVICE 10:45 led by the Elders
SUE HARDY – LEISTON UNITED CHURCHOnSunday4thJune,the ChildrenandFamilies DepartmentofURC EasternSynodorganised aPraisePartyfor children(ofallages!). The party was led byDougie Dug Dug, aka Doug Horley. The party was hosted by Christ Church, Braintree. This wasanidealexcuseforagirl’sdayoutwith mytwogranddaughters,Harper(7)and Emma (11). WewerejoinedbyEmma’s friend Bella (11).Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed and takenintothelargeworshiparea.Thedais hadbeen“converted”toastageandthe teamwerepreparing.Ihelpedtoarrange chairsintoalargesemi-circleleavinga spaciousclearareaforchildren(andsome adults) to sit on the floor.Doug welcomed everyone and explained, with video clips, that bubbles were created
byGodandshowedushowGodused bubbles in creation. We learned that penguinsstorebubblesintheirfeathers, releasingthemtoprovide“jetpropulsion” for fast swimming. Another clip showed whalesblowingbubblestoencircleashoal offish,trappingthembeforescoopingupa large mouthful.Between the clips Dougie led us in prayers of praiseandthanksgivingandledusinsome livelyactionsongs.Bythistime,Ihadfully embraced my inner child.Itwasnexttimeforsomebubblemaking. Dougieblewsomelargebubbleswhich floatedabovethegatheredgroup.Water pistolswereproducedtoshootsomeof themdown.Afewfolkgotratherwetbut this didn’t dampen the mood.Therefollowedbubblepoppingwith amusingsoundeffects,moreactionssongs andpraiseandmorefactsaboutbubbles. Variousvolunteersexperiencedhavinghats ofbubblesbuiltontheirheads,bubble rocketslaunchedfromtheirheads.Bubbles werefilledwithheliumandsentwayupto theceilingwithcheersastheyreachedtheir destination.Otherswerefilledwithsmoke andtherewereevenbubbleswithin bubbles.Finally,thetimecameforthereallybig bubbleswithmorevolunteerscoming forward.Somewereactuallyplacedinside giantbubbleswheretheydiscoveredthat theycouldblowagainstthewallofthe bubbleandasmallbubblewouldburstout fromitwiththechildstillsafelyinside.The final bubble accommodated two children.ThePraisePartyendedwithmoresinging anddancingtotheaccompanimentofa shower of hundreds of bubbles. After warm
applauseforDougie,wewereinvitedinto thehalltoshareinrefreshmentsincluding drinks,snacksandcakes.Thegirlsquickly foundaspaceattheendofatableand tucked in! Tea, coffee and biscuits were providedfortheadults–muchappreciated after all the dancing and excitement.Aswewereleavingthechurchwestopped atasmallstallsellingsomeofDoug’sCDs.I boughtasetofCDssowecanlearnafew new,livelyworshipsongs.Harperbecame the proud owner of a dolphin finger puppet. Dougwasthereandwewereinvitedback intothechurchandeachhadaturnat standing inside a bubble – wow!
E URC FINANCE
To:AllmembersandadherentsofUnited ReformedChurchesandourLocal Ecumenical PartnershipsDear Friends,Whenwillnormalserviceberesumed?As wearewritingthisletterandclosingoffthe URC’saccountsfor2022,thecountryisstill torn withindustrialdisputes, mostlynotably withHealthServiceworkers,railindustry workers,teachersetc.etc.Whateveryour viewastothewisdomorjusticeofsuch action,wesuspectallofusareaffectedby the disruption to some degree.Inchurchlifetoo,arewebackto“normal life”?Somechurchesnodoubthave returnedtosomethingliketheirpre-Covid levelofactivityandattendancenumbers. Quite a few have recommenced their activity butfindtheirnumbershavereduced.Some churches have found re-opening too difficult and have decided to close.
Whateverthe“newnormal”wastobe,we suggest its arrival has (like many trains) been disrupted, delayed, or cancelled all together.The URC’s finance officers had concerns that thelatearrivalofthereturntonormality would impact very significantly on the giving totheM&MFundin2022.However,the churchesrespondedmagnificentlyandthe givingtoM&Mwas£600,000aheadof budget.Itwasalsoonly2.5%downon 2021’s result.So,thankyoutoallwhocontinuedto contribute to your local church, thank you to allthosechurcheswhomettheir commitmentfor2022infull,andthankyou toallthosewho,inadversity,continuedto treatthe M&MFund asthe first priorityand paid what they could.Withnormalservicenotyetresumed,2023 isnotgoingtobeaneasyyeareither.We nowhavetheaddeddisruptionofhigh inflation,pushingupwagesandoverhead costs.AstheSpiritdirectsandasourmeans allow,canthechurchesoncemorerespond tothecallofourgracious,lovingandever-generous God?Again, thank you all!Ifyouhaveanyquestionsorcomments arisingfromthisletter,pleasespeaktoyour churchtreasurerwhohasbeenprovided withmoredetailedinformation.Iftheyare not able to help directly then they can get in touchwiththefinanceteamatChurch House.Yours in Christ, Ian Hardie(Treasurer)Vaughan Griffiths (Deputy Treasurer)
ThechurchesoftheIpswichandEastURC PastoratearepartoftheEasternSynodof the United Reformed Church. The Synod has anumberofareapartnershipsinplace.We arepartoftheSouthSuffolkArea Partnership (SSAP).TheSSAPcurrentlyincludesnineteenlocal congregations. In addition to the five churchesinourpastorate,theseinclude: ChristChurchLEP(Ipswich),WhitingStreet (BuryStEdmunds),Clare,Haverhill, Hadleigh,MonksEleigh,FramlinghamLEP, ChristchurchLEP(NeedhamMarket), SouthgateLEP,Stowmarket,Haughley, Stowupland, Mendlesham and Debenham.We currently have four stipendiary ministers in post, Revd David Rees, Revd Adam Earle in our pastorate, Revd Neil Coulson who serves ChristChurch(Ipswich)andRevdRobert SheardwhoservestheCentralSuffolk Churchesincludingandsurrounding Stowmarket.Wealsoworkwithsomeof ourMethodistcolleagues,servingtheLEPs includingRevdRitaCarrandRevdSaul Tadzaushe.Farewell to Revd Bryn Rickard InJune,RevdBrynRickardmovedonfrom Hadleigh to take up a mission post in Oxford. Weextendourthanksandappreciationto Brynforallhedidwhilstministeringin Hadleighand,notleastofall,forservingas InterimModeratortothepastorateduring theappointmentofRevdAdam.Wepray thatheandhisfamilysettlewellintotheir new roles and context.
We pray for Hadleigh and the other churches currentlyinvacancy(somefora considerableperiod)asdiscussionstake place. The Eastern Synod are working to establishanewmodelfordeploymentof ministers in future but this will take time and requires careful consideration.Area Partnership Celebration & Tea OnSunday9th July,at16:00, about35folk from thevarious churches of theSSAP,includingrepresentativesfromour pastoratechurches,gatheredfora celebrationserviceandteaatChristChurch Needham Market.WewerewelcomedbyRevdRitaCarr. WorshipwasledbyEasternSynod ModeratorRevdLythanNevardonthe theme of praise. Revd Adam had a wonderfultimeattheorgan(aninstrument thatrarelygetsplayedthesedays)andthe singing was joyful and robust.The bring and share tea, served in the church hallafterworship,wasimpressive–asis oftenthecaseonsuchoccasionstherewas morethanenoughtogoround.Thanksto everyonewhocontributedandtoChrist Churchforwelcomingusanofferingsuch warm hospitality.
ThenexteditionofConnectwillbe publishedinDecember2023.Ifyouhave anyitemsthatwouldbesuitablefor inclusionthenpleasesendthemtoRevd Adam on email@example.com
Here are a few key points and dates from the July edition of the Eastern Synod Newsletter. Ifyouwouldliketoreadthefullnewsletter, please contact Revd Adam to request a copy.Synod Meetings Thenext meeting of the EasternSynod willtakeplace onSaturday 14th OctoberatCastleHillURCfrom10:00and16:00. FuturedatesandvenuesareSaturday9th March2024atDowningPlaceURC, CambridgeandSaturday12thOctober2024 at Witham URC.Faith In Action DayThe synod will be holdingits Faith in Action Day2023onSaturday30thSeptember2023at EppingUnitedReformedChurch.Itwillbe anexcitingdayofworkshops,talksand youthactivitiesonsocialjusticetopicsfrom a variety of speakers. All are welcome.
Followingthesuccessofthe BigDayOuteventheldat TrinityParkinSummer2022, weareplanningtohold another such event next year.Please save the dateso that youcan come and join the fun – for all ages.
Revd Adam EarleAsIstillcountasa“new”minister,(IthinkI cangetawaywiththatexcuseforthree years!),Iwasinvitedtoattendthe2023 GeneralAssemblyoftheUnitedReformedChurch–thisisthelargestcouncilofthe denomination.Iattendedasoneofabout tenrepresentativesoftheEasternSynod whichalsoincludedmyfellow“new minister”RevdMarkHayesfromThaxted URC.GeneralAssembly metfrom Friday30thJune toMonday3rdJulyatTheHayesConference Centre in Swanwick. This was an ideal settingwithcomfortableaccommodation, good food and facilities. The one slight disappointmentwasthattheair conditioninginthemainhallwasnot working.GeneralAssemblywasattendedbyseveral hundredrepresentativesfromeachofthe thirteenURCSynodsplusecumenical delegateswhowereinvitedtobefull participants in the proceedings.Some additionalfolkwerealsoabletojoinvia Zoom including someof the speakers.Assembly opened with worship and we then proceededtobusiness.Therewereawide range of topics addressed over the four days andweattendedtoaconsiderablenumber of resolutions.The“decisionmaking”processatAssembly issomewhatcomplexandrelieson consensus. Each representative is issued withthreecards,Orange,BlueandWhite. When invited to do so by the Moderator, we indicated with our orange card if we were
“warm” to accepting a particular proposal or withourbluecardifwewere“cool”toand ideaandwantedtomakefurther representation or ask further questions. The whitecardswereusedwhentheconsensus indicated that all were ready to proceed and resolutions were passed by a two-thirds plus majority.Someofresolutionswhichprovedmore challengingorneededadditionalworkwere referred to a “facilitation” group. The groupsmadefurtherproposalsatlater sessionsandresolutionswerethen considered,consensussoughtandvotes conducted.Thefullcollectionofpapersandresolutions andminutesofGeneralAssemblycanbe accessedontheURCwebsite.Ofparticular interestwouldbetheworkoftheURC Church Life Review Group. This includes the TheosReportabouttheURCcompletedby an independent group. A copy of this report canalsobefoundontheURCwebsite. SearchfortheURCTheosreportentitled “TheUnitedReformed–AParadoxical Church at a Crossroads”. It makes very interesting reading.Oneparticularpointtonoteistheinduction ofthenewModeratorofGeneralAssembly for2024–theURC’sfirstblackand ethnically-minoritisedwomanModerator-the Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson.Ordained in 2018, Dr Henry-Robinson has responsibility for four congregations in the East LondonGroup,a multi-culturally diverseconstituency.Tessa’s inductionisaproudmomentinthelifeof the denomination.