The East Midlands Synod
of The United Reformed Church
met on Saturday 17th March 2012
at St Andrew's United Reformed Church
Here are my 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!
Synod Started with Opening devotions
led by Revd Peter Meek, our Moderator.
Peter spoke on Mark 4:35-41
challenging us to trust Jesus enough
that we would risk 'sleeping with him in the boat.'
You can read a summary of what he said.
The worship included the induction of Carol Jackson and Ray Greene
to the role of pastoral advisers
for Lincolnshire and Leicestershire respectively.
Following standard procedure Phillip Laws, the Church Secretary from our host church, gave us a little of the history and context of the church.
Reminding us that in the URC, ministry is the work of the whole people of God, Revd David Downing presented the "Ministries Group" report on Local Church Leadership.
There is a need in every local church for one person to be a recognised leader. Traditionally it has been 'The Minister', but we are entering into a time when every church can not expect 'their minister' to be present and available all the time. Can a lay person take on this role? What would it be called? How would it function? Are there other leadership roles within the local church that fall under the same umbrella?
We have been asked to discuss this pepoer in our Elders and Church meetings, and feed back our intial responsed through the Training Officer's PA at the Synod Office.
The URC National Assembly Mission Committee Report
was presented by our new representative,
Revd David Dean,
a new face in the Synod.
Charles Jolly enthused us all to find and encourage
people to take on the TLS course.
TLS is not just for training lay preachers - the core course is complete in itself, and there are several additional courses available for the third (and subsequent!) year.
Charles had plenty of material for us to browse on this
and on Green Issues.
Ann Parker came all the way down the M1 from Leeds to share her enthusiasm about The URC Commitment for Life programme.
She shared her experience of visiting our Christian Aid partners in Bangladesh, where she witnessed the simple but innovative work being done to create safe places from, and build homes resistant to the increasingly common floods.
The Pastoral Group's Report was presented by Geoff Townsend,
with the delightful news that
bookings at Yardley Hastings (aka Crossways)
have gone up sufficiently to pay for some improvements
to some of the accommodation.
Geoff then presented the Groups paper on Deployment of Ministry.
Here things are about to change quite radically.
The number of Ministers that can be employed by the URC is determined by the income of the church nationally, which is, by and large, what it receives through M&M (Mission and Ministry fund) paid by every local church. This is declining in line with the decline in the number of church members.
What is more, in the East Midlands, we already have five more than our fair share of ministers in post.
The paper outlines the situation in the Synod, and makes some suggestions as to what has to be done. meetings are being arranged in the counties open to anyone from any United Reformed Church to discuss this very issue.
Look out for a meeting near you soon!
With his St Phillips Multi faith Centre hat on, David Dean introduced John McCallum who spoke about the Near Neighbours Scheme which is running in Leicester. Any URC congregation in the CoE parishes listed are strongly encouraged to join with their near neighbours of other faiths to do projects!!! It's a great Scheme.
This is a scheme funded by the government through the Church Urban Fund to encourage 'ordinary people' to set up some activity to get neighbours together. The condition is that they included people from more then one faith (or people from a faith and people of no faith). It is intended to have a light touch for the applicant. Three stories were told which churches anywhere could easily do - whether they can apply for the funding or not!
Helen Lidgett ,
convenor of the Finance and Property Group (F&P)
presented the F&P report and spoke about the Budget.
because of microscopic interest Rates, falling membership
and the steady cl;sing down of the 'resource sharing scheme'
the east Midlands Synod is facing a huge deficit in this years accounts
- one that can not be sustained.
As far as I can make out, in effect the budget has been ripped up,
and each team given a 'budget' of zero.
They now have to look ahead and justify their expected expenditure,
showing how savings may have been made.
spoke to the Property Officers report,
with quite a bit of additional information
which is available here.
The Radical Welcome Campaign: Revd Helen Carr and Revd Malcolm Fife gave a brief report as the the status of 'The campaign'. Several churches have signed up for the full programme, and 'Companions' are being trained. However, more volunteers to be companions are needed. Please offer through the Synod Office.
Even if a church is not intending to join up fully, the 'Everybody Welcome Programme' is valuable (even for those churches that are already welcoming - there is always room for improvement!), and there is a wealth of additional material in the campaign's introductory pack. Your Mission Enabler can help with that.
Steve Faber gave a verbal report from the Mission Development Group
which had only met on the Monday before the Synod.
and full of information about:
Getting small churches talking - our Synod has the second highest number of small churches in the URC, and we would like to facilitate small churches talking with others who are facing similar challenges in respect of mission engagement;
Sharing Your Good News stories via the e-Letter and the Website - there are many, many good things happening in the East Midlands, and we need to share the stories to encourage others. You might feel that your activity is quite ordinary, but it might be exactly the news that someone else needs. If you are willing to write a short paragraph for the fortnightly e-letter, we are willing to send someone to take photos and interview you for a web site article;
Back to Church Sunday- the URC is now a full partner in BTCS. Registration opens on April 12th, and the main Sunday this year is September 30th. If this Sunday isn't convenient for your church calendar, pick a different week. What matters is that we need to get inviting people to church. Synod were given the 30 second training session..."I'm going to church on Sunday and it's going to be great. Would you like to come with me?" Steve then gave the challenge: if your church isn't going to be great on sunday, then do something about it! If any church finds it difficult to access the internet to register for BTCS, please speak with Steve or one of the other Mission Enablers and we resigster you for the day. The Mission Enablers are also able to give further training and help with preparing yourselves for BTCS - research shows that the more carefully a church prepares itself, the more people tend to answer the invitations and the more likely they are to keep coming to church;
Using the London 2012 games locally - there is a huge wealth of resources at www.morethangold.org.uk to help your church run social, outreach, and social justice activities around the London 2012 Games (the Olympics and the Paralympics.) Details of the Olympic Torch relay route were also given, and since it will be passing through many of the towns and cities where we have churches, this presents a further opportunity to engage with the community.
Please remember that the Mission Enablers - Jane Barron, Simon Ellis, Steve Faber, Lynn Fowkes, Les Gill and David Legge are available to help any church wishing to develop their mission.
Talking up the tail end of Synod,
Jenny Mills fielded questions about the Youth & Children's group report;
Irene Wren presented to Search Group report for adoption,
(with the usual plea: if there are people in your church
who might like to be involved in Synod Groups or take on a Synod Post,
please propose their names to Irene)
and Duncan Smith, our Synod Clerk presented his report.
Synod ended with a report from some of the people
who recently visited the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa in Botswana - now officially the East Midlands Synod's 'World Partner' Church - look at the signatures of the declaration:
The trip seemed to have involved a lot of Chickens!
Again, I will try to get a fuller report posted here on our website.
Those who had stayed on to the end were able to have home made cake with their final cuppa, and some of us were able to take away some cartons of the fresh soup made locally and generously donated to the Synod by local "New Covent Garden Soup Company".
End of Report