This report was received too late to be included in the recent edition of “Around the Synod”.
The author, Luke Noble, is from West Midlands Synod, but was representing Northern Synod as a under 26 rep.
Arrived on Wednesday afternoon after getting lost in Southport. I got to know the other under 26 reps, some I had met before while others were attending for their first time. We were taken through what to expect at General Assembly, how the URC made decisions either by majority voting or by consensus decision making. For the next two and a bit days we worshipped together, ate together, went through various resolutions. We were even visited by various members of General Assembly including the two new moderators waiting to be inducted at the start of General Assembly. What do you think is a useful event to attend as it does give you an insight of what goes on.
Friday saw the start of General Assembly where the URC inducted Revd Kevin Watson and Mr Alan Yates as the moderators. Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthadox Church in the UK addressed General Assembly focussing on refugees and the Middle East, he also explained that earlier in the week he had attended the Methodist Conference and he described URC General Assembly as his ‘ecumenical grand slam’. At the end he added “Together whatever our differences we are the church. There is only one body of Christ”
On Saturday The United Reformed Church joined the Churches Mutual Credit Union enabling ministers, lay preachers, elders and congregations to invest savings that will then fund affordable loans to people who otherwise would have to of used payday loans.
After lunch General Assembly celebrated the work of the four winning initiatives commended in its community project award scheme. The overall winner was Families Matter based at Cornerstone URC in Hythe Hampshire.
Same sex marriage vote:
General assembly needed a two thirds majority to allow the proposal to be confirmed as the denominations final decision. Assembly voted in favour of the resolution by 240 votes to 21 votes. United Reformed Churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same sex couples are now able to start that process immediately. The legal framework in Scotland is rather different but the effects of the churches decision will be broadly similar. Speaking about the vote the Revd John Proctor General Secretary of the URC said “Today the URC has made an important decision at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable, this has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches. It has been important to take our time over the decision process and to listen carefully as we can to one another along the way”.
Sunday we were treated to a colourful and vibrant communion which included uplifting hymns, choral singing, drama and a video presentation. We also got a rousing sermon from the Revd Kevin Watson Moderator of General Assembly. The drama was presented by some of the U26 reps and was based on Matthew 9:9-13.
- Assembly paid tribute to 105 jubilee ministers who are celebrating 40, 50 and 60 years in Ministry.
- Assembly voted to increase its budget by 15% allowing for expenses that are currently being paid by synods, A task group was appointed to review the form, size, duration, location and funding of Assembly.
- Resolution 13 concerning 21st century of expectations of ministry was passed by consensus, noting disagreement. The expectations document for ministers of word and sacrament used since 2012 will now have formal status and be used to guide and inform the work of those selecting and training people for ministry.
- During the Sunday service a collection was taken for Christian Aid’s refugee crisis appeal £2,179,51 was raised not including gift aid.
- During communion the ministers and missionaries of the Church who had died since the last Assembly were commemorated.
- The Revd Nigel Uden and Mr Derek Estill were elected as Moderators of General Assembly 2018-20