From our new Moderator……
I enjoy those aspects of our church life which remind us of a bigger picture: our twinning with the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique, participation in North East Churches Acting Together (NECAT), workplace chaplaincies, support for Christian Aid, the list can go on.
The people of God are frequently reminded of the bigger picture, the history of their salvation, and the nature of God who calls them forward in faith. Such reminders occur again and again in both Old and New Testaments. We stand in an inspired stream of faith.
In their vulnerability, congregations in the New Testament Church are constantly reminded that although they may appear to be weak in the eyes of the world, Christ the head of the Church is a cosmic Christ, God’s reign is an established fact, and consequently whatever their circumstances, it is quite reasonable for Christians to live in hope.
Are we living in hope? Local church life feels a challenging experience for many of us today as we adjust to changing circumstances and necessarily explore new ways of being Church. What does it mean to serve Christ in our community today? How do we engage in God’s (note, not our) mission? What new resources are at our disposal? Which ‘old ways’ impede progress? We too can feel vulnerable, but nonetheless we are also called to live in hope; because the God we read of in the Bible and the God who inspired our forbears has not changed. There continue to be prophets, evangelists, teachers, and signs of God’s reign all around us for those who care to see. God’s spirit continues to touch and transform people’s lives.
We are all part of a much bigger picture, ranging from the ever-increasing circles of belonging to a conciliar church, to ecumenical relations at regional, national and global levels, through to mystical communion with the Church past, present, and to come in the love of an eternal universal God through a cosmic Christ.
To use the image of John Moschus, a 6th century monk and ascete, I see the Northern Synod as being like a spiritual meadow; and my calling as your Moderator is to spread the hope and encouragement of the broader experience of the Church with local congregations and ministers, cross-pollinating examples of what is working and lessons learned through issues and challenges faced elsewhere in the Synod, or anywhere from The Bigger Picture.
I am humbled and excited to have been called to such a ministry of hope, creativity and encouragement. Revd Lis Mullen’s support and encouragement for our whole Synod has been a great strength, and I am thankful for her good example. I have been touched, encouraged by, and thankful for the many messages of support from both within and beyond our Synod, and the assurance of many prayers. Anyone who knows me will appreciate I have a lot to learn! I am old enough to appreciate we are all un-finished business: work in progress. Not one of us is the finished product. No doubt I will on occasion unintentionally frustrate and disappoint co-workers in Christ. However, I begin this new ministry trusting that my calling is, again, part of a much bigger picture, a context that brings a confidence not in my own capacity, but in seeing how through the millennia God has been able to use the most unlikely people in the unfolding divine plan.
Together, hopefully with the bigger picture in mind, we will be enabled to see the inevitable changes ahead as opportunities rather than threats. Rather than allowing new ways of being church to make us anxious, let’s be glad to embrace change, because change is an indicator of life and growth!
It is my hope and prayer that everyone within the life of our congregations will share that same sense of humility and excitement I am experiencing as I look ahead to a regional ministry among you, as we explore our common calling together in the years ahead. In the coming years a key priority for me is to be alongside as many as possible, listening very carefully in the first instance, and sharing encouragement wherever possible as we all work out in our localities what our discipleship and calling is in the communities to which we belong.
I close with words from Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15: 4-6).
As ever, and in Christ,
The Induction Service of the Revd David Herbert as Northern Synod Moderator
will be held at St James’s United Reformed Church, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8JF
on Saturday September 17th at 2.00 pm
The Induction Service of the Revd David Herbert as Northern Synod Moderator
NEWS OF PEOPLE
Retired minister Dr Eric Nelson, whose ministries in our synod included churches in the west of Newcastle, died on August 16th. We offer our sympathy to his widow Nanette and their family.
Steven Orange has ended his ministry at Waddington Street Durham, and has resigned from the URC ministry.
We welcome into the synod all who are taking up posts, or finding a retirement home, among us:
- Geraldine Sands has begun work as our synod safeguarding advisor in a post shared with Yorkshire Synod;
- Dr Paul Dempster was ordained at St George’s, High Heaton in June. He is working as a chaplain at Newcastle hospitals and as an assistant minister at High Heaton;
- Sue Wigham has replaced Andrew Robinson as Methodist minister at St Andrew’s Dawson Street LEP at Crook;
- Julie Mooney will be licensed as vicar at the Church of the Good Shepherd LEP, Battle Hill on September 19th;
- and retired ministers David and Carla Grosch-Miller will be living at Morpeth, and Philip Gray at Blyth.
The Synod’s Trust Officer Andrew Atkinson is starting a two-year course of study at the University of York in “Parish Church Studies: History, Heritage and Fabric”. This will be distance-learning which he will combine with his work in the Synod. Despite the title of the course, Andrew says that he intents to take every opportunity to bring in a Nonconformist perspective!
NEWS OF CHURCHES
Barnard Castle is to close after some 200 years, with a service to which all are invited on Saturday October 1st at 2.30 pm. They will be looking back over the church’s history and activities, and hope that it will be a happy as well as a sad occasion A quiet Communion service for members will be held on the following day, led by their own minister, Hilary Collinson.
Work is now completed on the refurbishment of the upper room in the former literary institute at the Keld Resource Centre. The attractive space and facilities should make an ideal venue for community events, as well as serving as an exhibition centre showcasing local heritage, arts and crafts.
Dear friends in Northern Synod
Thank you all for the wonderful ‘send off’ I received on July 16th. The service was perfect in every respect, the plentiful tea was amazing and the ceilidh was great fun. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of your gift and have not yet decided how best to use it on a memento of the years spent among you. I will think carefully about this.
Thank you too for the many loving cards and greetings you have sent that will remind me of the very special (almost) three years I have spent in the north east. It has been a good way to finish my ‘working’ life though I expect that is only true in terms of income received!
May I take this opportunity to wish Northern Synod every blessing for the future and I am sure you are in good hands with Dave Herbert as your Moderator.
With love, Lis
Spend an afternoon with like-minded people learning some new music from a range of church traditions, and different parts of the world, all on a Harvest theme. Go to St Nicholas’s Cathedral, Newcastle on October 9th, from 2.00 to 5.30 pm. Call 0191 228 0115 to book a place.
Contact details for our new safeguarding advisor are as follows:-
Geraldine Sands MA BSc DipHV RGN, Safeguarding Advisor URC Yorkshire and Northern Synods – Geraldine.firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel 07427 857495
Geraldine is available to provide guidance upon any safeguarding situation faced by the churches, as well as to offer training, information and advice about safeguarding matters in our synod.
SYNOD MEETS! – Saturday October 8th from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm at St George’s, York Road, Hartlepool: chaired by our new moderator, Revd David Herbert.
Keep the news coming in! –
Contact Wendy Watson at Synod Office – Tel 0191 2321168