The East Midlands Synod of The United Reformed Church
met on Saturday 16th March 2013
at Abbots Road,
Here are my personal observations
of some of the things that went on at Synod.
These are not official minutes, and can not be guaranteed for their accuracy.
I have concentrated on the things that struck me as interesting or important,
and I will have omitted reporting on some issues which you may have picked up.
Would you like to have a go at reporting the events at Synod for the website?
Would you like to take the photographs?
Then please let the Synod Clerk know!
What is it about synod meetings that brings the rain?
I was so busy with the AV that I did not watch to see if the weather brightened up at lunch time to take a photo of the church. The one above is from the church website - click it and you will go there.
We were welcomed by church secretary, Maurice Gardner.
Youth & Children
Changes are afoot in the Youth & Children's Group
We are sad to have lost our CYDO, and due to financial considerations and other uncertainties with the national scheme, we will not be replacing that post. But things have not stopped and the work continues - at the moment through volunteers such as the RPO's. Jenny Mills, and her Youth & Children’s Group will be developing regional Hubs – places across the synod that will act as local coordinators of our children and youth work – and Advocates - who will encourage other Churches, engage with leaders and helpers, offer support and resource information, and generally support other Churches in their youth and children’s work. If your church would like to offer itself as a HUB or knows someone wanting to become an ADVOCATE then please contact the group via the Synod Office.
Once these are in place the synod will employ a children & youth worker who will work with these hubs and advocates to develop Youth & Children’s work across the synod.
Finance & Property
Helen Lidgett (Convenor) Robert White (Property Officer) and David Greatorix (Treasurer) performed their usual triple act in presenting the architectural, legal and financial workings of Synod.
They shared their concern about the disparity between the proportion of their income that churches pay to M&M – some churches pay more than 75%, others less than 30%. The group is seeking a painless way to redress the balance.
Graham Galeb gave a moving story of his work as CRCW among struggling people – work that is founded on the Christian understanding of the huge worth of every person. Many people whose lives are 'a mess' are like that because they have not had the support and encouragement of other human beings. Graham and his team try to provide the loving and caring support that such people need. Sometimes though that is not enough – we heard a story of a client who was achieving through an apprentice scheme, only to find that her benefits had changes so much she could not afford to do it. Her life is now being damaged by the system – So part of the CRCW's work is to bring political pressure to bear on the injustices of our society and its structures, to lobby parliament, MP's and event the PM.
Jenny Crane’s experience in Northampton is quite different. She works in a community where people do not talk to each other – they are afraid of authority, different community groups, nationalities, or even just of other people. She builds bridges – using something as simple as walking the dog to speak to others, and setting up activities (e.g. a film club) to cross those boundaries. jenny also gets involved in politics – local and national
Peter: It is absolutely fabulous what our CRCW's are doing for our local communities. CRCW posts are funded through M&M – we can have 2 CRCW's over and about our quota of ministers.
The report, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves” (from our Joint Public Issues Group) was highly recommended as it clears away many myths people have about poverty and poor people.
Ministries Group -
David Downing presented the groups report in the lively way we have come to expect from him.
he expressed his joy at being convenor of that group, which he the luxury of time to be able to consider theological matters at the heart of the church - everyone's ministry.
Following up the decision not to create a new 'local leader' position, the group are looking at how our elders work. They would love to know about the pattern of elders meetings - especially if your elders work differently than just meeting once a month then let us know.
Mission Development Group
I began to wonder about Steve Faber's theology when he said “so many extra people came to worship the living god who had not been there the week before!”. I thought God was always there (perhaps I have not been to the church he was talking about?)
Seriously, Steve was talking about Back to Church Sunday (BTCS), and how people are asking 'We had some visitors - so how do you get them to come back – and then lead them into a relationship with Jesus Christ?' Free training will be available in the spring to help with this – look out for the details and come along! BTCS should become a waste of time because we invite people to come along every Sunday. This is part of being a welcoming Church. It is also the reason the church exists, is it not?
Mission Fund Grants
– the Migd group would love to write a letter telling you that there is a cheque for thousands of pounds winging its way to your church – Would you like to be that church? Then investigate the Mission Development Fund.
The Timson Legacy and the Moorgreen Charitable Trust, two regional funds, are also administered by the committee.
1. Can you identify a small discrete project – 1 or two K – these are more likely to be successful.
2. 30k is the largest grant offered.
Three Good News Stories
Gillian told us about the consequences of removing the pews from Gainsborough,
Les described a youth group in Wigston Magna, Leicester,
and, from Abbots Road, we heard how fund-raising raised the profile of faith as well as helping local charities and honouring the memory of a man of faith.
You will soon be able to read these stories in full in the Mission Section of this site.
– Pauline & John introduced themselves and invited others to become local advocates.
Duncan's report reflected his written report.
Irene Wren reminded us of the large no of volunteers that allow the synod to function as effectively as it does.
One major change of role that is coming up will be that of Synod Clerk – Duncan has served two terms, and should not normally be asked to serve any longer.
Anyone like to know more about this role? Contact Irene or the synod office.
Geoffrey Townsend reported - will still remain over deployed, but there are pending retirements and movements that will bring us close to our nationally set target.
However, that still leave the question of how to offer ministry cover to our churches.
The group - and the churches around Synod - still have much work to do.
Accreditation of presidents
proved slightly controversial this year. What in the past has usually gone through almost 'on the nod' became the focus of comment and discussion.This is because the group is applying national procedures much more rigorously.
For me it was frustrating, because most of the discussion was around very local issues and was really only of interest to the speaker and the group.
This revealed the need to get information out and ask for corrections before the meeting – we should not be wasting Synod's time on filling in names or debating pastorate boundaries. Such corrections would be more effectively dealt with by phone, email, or post before the Synod meets, so Synod can concentrate on the meat of the matter - our theology of lay presidency.
It is clear that clarification is needed of how accreditation works, who issues the request for it, and which locations the accreditation covers. This sort of policy should be shared on this website for all to read and understand. (note to self - action it).