EMURCE-LETTER 254 - 19th October 2017

E-LETTER NO: 254 – 19th OCTOBER 2017


Lay preaching can be rewarding and challenging, but above all a service in the name of Christ Jesus, our risen saviour. Using approximate statistics, we have 135 congregations (URC, LEPs, etc.) expecting leadership in worship each Sunday. With 29 ordained ministers currently serving, a similar number of retired ministers leading worship most weeks, there are something like 75 congregations who arrange for a visiting preacher or perhaps person/s from their own congregation to lead worship.

Each Sunday, and yes at other times, a loyal cohort of lay preachers’ plan and deliver worship to suit the needs of a congregation of God’s people. Determining the worship style of a congregation is not that straight forward. The first clue is the ‘Order of Worship’. This can vary from a 3-page list of does and don’ts to a typed list that has been copied so many times it is almost illegible. In some cases, the ‘Order of Worship’ never arrives and phone calls are made to ascertain what is required. And even then, what is printed is rarely up to date. If the music group is scheduled to play and two musicians are unable to be present, then substitute music in the form of hymn box or piano or organ is quickly arranged. Being a lay preacher is great fun and never fails to surprise even the most experienced worship leader.

Then there is the worship itself. No two congregations are the same and there is an amazing spread of theology and content. Some will use ‘Roots’ and a three-year lectionary cycle. Others use ‘Scripture Union’ and some are just happy to have a preacher leading worship providing it is sincere. But then comes the hymn book saga. Rejoice and Sing is common as we would expect but not in all URC churches or perhaps in LEPs. My own church likes to dip into CH4 the Church of Scotland hymnary and many use Mission Praise. Now here is the question to ask any pulpit supply secretary “which version of MP do you use?”. Mine goes up to 1,021 but yours may contain less or more hymns – who knows?

Vestry prayer before worship has much variation as we would expect. Prayers out of a book, request for the lay preacher to lead the prayer and I have been part of a short prayer meeting lasting about 5 minutes before worship.

I could go on about overhead projection and sound systems, about leading a complete worship myself including playing the piano, prayer, sermon, notices for the week, and bible readings!

If by now you are pondering what is this all about, then my plea is for more lay preachers to lead worship, to train for this rewarding work through TLS or other recognised training scheme (Deborah Baird will be pleased to hear from you) and to gain a deeper richer understanding of your own faith. We are all called to serve and this is a good way to do so.

Alan Thompson, Convenor of F&P


NOTTINGHAMSHIRE WORLD CHURCH SUNDAY - 19th November at St. Andrew's with Castle Gate URC from 4 pm to 6 pm. Celebrating our World Church connections at national, synod and local church levels, this event will also include a "bring and share" tea and worship with hymns from across the world. All are welcome!


WELLINGBOROUGH UNITED REFORMED CHURCH - will be holding its Annual Bazaar from 10.30am to 1.30pm On Saturday 4th November 2017 in Salem Hall, Salem Lane, Wellingborough, NN8 4JT.  As usual, there will be several stalls including: Grocery, Tombola, Chocolate Tombola, Raffle, Toiletries, Toys, Cakes, Jewellery, Bric a Brac, Books and Jigsaws, and, of course not forgetting our renowned Parlour Café. Come join us and grab a few bargains. Entrance will be 20p.


We are very excited to report that building work is now underway at the Synod Office. Work began to expand and update the office on Monday 2nd October. The old Sherwood Hall is being transformed into a large meeting room and two smaller rooms, while upstairs will also see changes. The Moderator's room, will be divided into two rooms, one for the Moderator and the other for the Moderator's P.A. This means that the current kitchen, which has also doubled up as the P.A.'s room, is now free to be a kitchen and staff room. It is hoped that the work will be completed in December.

We will be posting regular updates and photographs on our website to keep you posted. Please visit the website and watch as the work progresses: http://urc5.org.uk/SOimprovement


Christmas HOPE is a 28-page glossy give-away magazine. It was piloted at Christmas 2016 when 100,000 copies were given away by churches to people in their communities. A new Christmas HOPE magazine will be available in the autumn with lots of new stories and features for 2017.

The 2016 Christmas HOPE magazine included topical features focusing on Christians in the news like Bake Off celebrity Mary Berry and TV adventurer and explorer Bear Grylls. There was a cartoon re-telling of the nativity story, which was relevant for all ages, plus a behind-the-scenes look at one of Britain’s top football teams from the perspective of the team chaplain.

The aim of Christmas HOPE is to give churches a top-quality give-away to use door-to-door in their neighbourhoods. Churches that use HOPE’s rhythm of mission find that regular contact, and a culture of hospitality and generosity helps to build relationships. HOPE is committed to giving churches resources so each member has something to say, something to give and an invitation to offer through a rhythm of mission: Easter, Harvest and Christmas. With Christmas HOPE as something to give, the aim is that Christians will find it easier to say something about their faith and to invite neighbours to Christmas events.

Christmas HOPE Editor Catherine Butcher brings her experience editing top consumer titles for BP and the Co-op, circulating to millions of homes. She has also edited Britain’s best-selling Christian magazine Families First.

Copies of Christmas HOPE can be ordered from the HOPE shop www.hopetogether.org.uk/shop


You are warmly invited to join us at Westminster for our annual 50th Anniversary of Cheshunt and Commemoration of Benefactors on Saturday 11th November.

This is a particularly significant celebration because we will be remembering that it was 50 years ago this year that Cheshunt College joined with Westminster on the Westminster site.  

In honour of this anniversary the day will include the following: 

11am - Refreshments on arrival. 

12noon - Revd Dr Stephen Orchard will speak about the ‘Reflection on life and the significance of Cheshunt College’

1 - 2pm - lunch will be served in the dining hall.

Self-guided tours will be available and there will be the opportunity to see how the Westminster campus has evolved, to include the Art Studio and the brand new Woolf Institute building. There will also be a display of Archives material from the history of Cheshunt and Westminster Colleges, in the Cheshunt Room.

3 - 4pm - We will gather in the Chapel for a service where the preacher will be Revd Nigel Appleton, who is just completing his term as Westminster Convenor of the Management Committee and was amongst the students of Cheshunt College who joined Westminster in 1967. After the service, afternoon tea will be served in the dining hall.

We'd also like to invite you to bring any Cheshunt College memorabilia you'd like to share with us for the day. We hope to make your items available for everyone to see in the Assembly Room - please bring them in when you arrive, and then pop in and collect them whenever you are ready to leave.
As this is also Remembrance Day, we will be holding a minutes silence at 11am in the Chapel where you will be most welcome to join us.

We look forward to welcoming you but please let us know wherever possible if you will be attending (and numbers) so that we can cater for food accordingly.  Email: admin@westminster.cam.ac.uk


Classical Concert: 

Sunday, November 26th 2017 - Quattro Parlando String Quartet

Join us for a wonderful concert, with a delicious cream tea beforehand.  £15.00 for tea and concert; £10.00 for concert only.

Literature Lectures:

Thursday, October 12th 2017: The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot

Thursday, November 16th 2017: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Dame Muriel Spark

Thursday, December 4th 2017: Peter Pan by J M Barrie

Learn more about these fabulous books and afterwards enjoy lunch with friends.  £20.00 per person for lecture and lunch.

World Food Nights:

Thursday, October 19th: Indian

Thursday, November 30th:  The Best of the Year

Join us for culinary delights from around the world.  £16.00 per person for a two course dinner.

Christmas Events:

Christmas Lunches from December 11th – 19th.  This year we are offering an optional Carol Service before you sit down to a delicious traditional lunch.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

£18.00 per person for a 3 course lunch.

Christmas Singalong:  December 15th and 16th 2017

Join us for a four course gourmet dinner followed by great musical entertainment and fun with Brian Davis on the piano and YOU providing the vocals.  £37.50 per person (bed and breakfast packages also available)

Crib Service:  Bring your children and grandchildren to our annual Crib Service on December 17th.  Then perhaps join us afterwards for a delicious Christmas tea and a visit to see Father Christmas – Children £7.00; Adults £5.25 or a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £18.00.

New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner:  Come and welcome in 2018 in style with a seven course gourmet dinner, followed by dancing to a Cream Entertainments disco.  £65.00 per person with bed and breakfast packages also available.

For more information on these events or to book visit: www.laundeabbey.org.uk  or contact: suzanne@launde.org.uk


You are invited to our Synod Advent Refresher on Saturday 25th November 2017 from 2pm – 5pm at Sherwood URC, Nottingham, led by Revd Dr Deborah Baird. Come along to share ideas and discussions with other churches and be led in bible study and advent reflection. Booking is essential, please contact Hannah Holmes at the Synod Office to book your place: trainingpa@urc5.org.uk  Tel: 0115 9609241


Is it I, Lord?

All are welcome on Saturday 4 November 2017 from 10am-4pm at Westminster College, Cambridge

• Explore opportunities for service through the United Reformed Church

• Ask the questions that are on your mind and heart

• Hear from people engaged in a variety of lay and ordained ministries

• Listen for the voice of God as we worship and pray together

For full details contact: Vivienne Williams - T: 020 7916 8649 E: vivienne.williams@urc.org.uk


Some of you may already be aware that the Council for World Mission (CWM) is sponsoring a process around a project (2017-2018) to address the ‘Legacies after the Transatlantic Slave Trade’, especially in relation to the history, complicity and dissidence of CWM with regard to this issue. You will know that CWM (used to be London Missionary Society) work with 32 member churches (including the URC) in different parts of the world but that this history began in 1795 and the initial focus of the movement follows in part the shape of the slave trade. There were some in this movement who were abolitionists and some who were slave owners. The current CWM (as an organisation with a Jamaican Revd Dr Colin Cowan its GS) has been reshaped to reflect postcolonial realities, both in the relationships and resource sharing between member churches but also in the justice issues we try to address.

 In terms of the project, four 'hearings' have been planned to be held in the UK, Ghana, Jamaica and the US.

The first hearing will be in London from November 12th-17th 2017, with a public event at High Cross URC and the programme is currently taking shape. A small group of us are assisting the CWM planning group with some of the arrangements.

This note comes as an invitation to attend the public event at High Cross URC, Tottenham on Wednesday November 15th starting at 6pm. The evening will include a variety of contributions, as well as something to eat. We are naturally drawn to Tottenham and High Cross both because of its link to the Caribbean, Ghana and various other migrating communities. If you are able to wish to attend the public event, kindly respond if you plan to attend to Lorraine Downer Mattis (lorrainedowner@hotmail.com ) or to me (michael.jagessar@urc.org.uk)





From 17- 19 November 2017 at The Pioneer Centre, Kidderminster. East Midlands together with Wales and West Midlands Synod’s are holding this exciting weekend. This is a chance to meet together and have fun.

If you are aged between 11 and 17 then we hope you’ll join us. This is an inclusive event at which everyone is welcome. The cost is £69. Funding may be available towards costs. For a booking form contact Hannah Holmes at: trainingpa@urc5.org.uk  Tel: 0115 9609241

If you have any queries then give Jane Henderson (CYDO) a call on: 0757 229 1007 or email: cydo@urc5.org.uk




Theme: Pilgrimage: Are we there yet? From 19-21 January 2018 at Whitemoor Lakes, Alrewas, Staffs.

Age: school year 10 to age 25

It is a great weekend to meet up with other young people in the Synod and around the country.  Worship, workshops, activities and some business.

Cost if booked before 9 November: £110, cost on or after 9 November: £140

Book your place at: www.urc.org.uk/urcya

More information from Jane Henderson – Funding is available from Synod.


AND FINALLY: - Please send any comments or feedback on this e-letter to: admin@urc5.org.uk
The URC East Midlands Synod, 1 Edwards Lane, Sherwood, Nottingham, NG5 3AA.
Email address for E-Letter Editor: trainingpa@urc5.org.uk Copy Date for Next E-Letter: 30.10.2017

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