News from Synod meeting on 13 October 2018 at Northgate, Darlington
… and now also see photographs from Synod: https://urc-northernsynod.org/photos-from-synod/
Northgate Darlington is a member of the Tees and Swale Mission Partnership along with Keld, Low Row and Northallerton Churches.
‘Encounters’ was the theme of Synod, thinking about God’s encounter with people, communities and Creation. We are called to serve and witness in God’s love and show this in our encounters with others. Revd Stephen Collinson and the worship team from Northgate led us in our opening worship with a reading from Psalm 104 and our encounter with the natural world as well as thinking about how the disciple’s encounter with Jesus led to truly life- changing experiences. How do we encounter God in our own communities and dialogue of fellowship with people?
Our Moderator, Revd Dave Herbert shared some of his own personal experiences of ‘heaven sent’ encounters with people. These often happened at the ‘right place, right time’ and he shared how these encounters had helped him along his journey of faith and during more difficult times throughout his life. We were given the opportunity to break out into small groups and share our own thoughts on encounters that have shaped our faith and helped us. Throughout the day, this small group work continued to inspire and encourage our worship and conversation.
Holy Island – St Cuthbert’s Centre
Synod heard from Revd John Durell and Revd Rachel Poolman about the work and history of St Cuthbert’s Centre. Visitors from all across the world visit the centre every day, creating a variety of encounters and conversations. Synod continues to give its support to its ongoing life and ministry as a significant location of missional encounter for the denomination.
The Trust Secretary Dr Andrew Hamnett, informed Synod about their recent review of Investment Managers and Advisors. Engaging with companies on environmental, social and governance issues can both enable the Church to invest ethically and improve the companies for the long-term benefit of shareholders.
Children and Youth Work
Our new Synod Youth Rep Ali Greaves introduced herself to Synod and told us all about her experiences of URC Youth. She represents all young people up to the age of 25 who live in the North East, from Northallerton up to Berwick. She would encourage any young people to get in touch and would be delighted to hear from them. To find out more, contact Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Synod also heard from Revd Ed Butlin about the success of Staying Alive, a yearly 4-day event in North Northumberland. Synod affirmed its intention to continue collaborating with the Diocese of Newcastle on this.
What matters to us about the United Reformed Church most? What do we cherish about church? About our Synod? Dave reminded us that we are all people of God but are very often on the move. He encouraged us to split into small groups and think about the three most important things we would have in our ‘tent’ from our Church and our Synod. What would be most important to take with us on our Christian Journey?
We were also asked to think about what gifts we bring to God’s Church. What gifts and qualities do we see in each other? We were encouraged to think about each other’s gifts and to think about how they can be used in the life of the local church.
Joint Public Issues
The URC Church and Society Secretary Simeon Mitchell also stayed on the theme of ‘Encounters’. Who we choose to encounter or listen to can affect the choices that we make as a society. Will our encounters change us and how can they bring a change in our society? Synod also heard about the attitudes to the main cause of poverty and how they differ to the attitudes to the issues of marriage, sex and gambling. We had reports from the growing rise of people using foodbanks as well as some of the problems with families accessing Universal Credit. We were encouraged to use the new initiative ‘Meet your MP’ and to work towards building positive relationships between our local MPs and the church community.
News in Brief
- Synod welcomed Revd Trevor Jamison who was inducted in June to St Columba’s North Shields.
- We also sent our good wishes to Revd James Breslin who retired in September.
- Alphonsi Solomon received his TLS ‘Developing Community Experiences’ Certificate and Matthew Prevett received his EM2 Certificate.
- We remembered the congregations of Horncliffe and North Sunderland which churches closed since March.
- We prayed for the families of church members that have passed away.
- Synod heard about new activities at Widdrington following a review of its local mission and ministry, including coffee mornings, craft days, an exhibition, and an active online presence.
- We had an update from Revd Grant Wilson after his recent trip to Uganda with the ‘Seeds of Hope’ project. Over the summer, the group ministered to over 900 children through worship and Bible holiday clubs. We were encouraged to think about supporting and visiting to see the work as it has progressed over the last 4 years.
- We welcomed Dr Ann Sinclair as our Lay Preaching Commissioner.
- The Pastoral Committee gave a special mention to all the interim moderators, Elders and people behind the scenes that help and support in churches across the Synod.
- We remembered our friends at St Andrew’s in Thornaby who celebrated their 125th Anniversary.
Grow your Own
We were encouraged as a Synod to think about our gifts and skills within our own Congregations. Can we think about growing our own worship leaders or enhancing the role of volunteers and elders? Could we encourage some of these people into lay preaching?
We were asked to think about our encounters with others and our gifts, to be a ‘stepping stone’ to a vocation that is simply undiscovered.
Maureen Shepherd spoke to us about Mission Council and how news is related back to Synod. We were asked to think about how we would like to be kept informed as well as looking ahead to how we would like to celebrate the URC Jubilee in 2022.
Revd Meg Robb from Mission Committee welcomed Revd Trevor Jamison who will be working on Environmental issues in the Synod. Work is continuing with food banks and refugee services in the area.
The Mission Committee is looking for new members after Cynthia Smith and Chris Eddowes have stepped down. Synod thanked them for their term on the committee.
Revd Dr Matthew Prevett closed Synod with some dementia-friendly worship, drawing on resources from his 18-month research in this area; resources are now being shared with our churches.
We look forward to our next Synod in March which will be held at St John The Evangelist in Kingston Park.