E-LETTER NO: 239 – 2nd MARCH 2017


Whatever …

Some books have the power to challenge and stimulate your thinking long after you have finished reading them.  For me the most recent example is Silence * by Shusaku Endo.  Silence earned Endo the 1966 Tanizaki Prize and has been called one of the twentieth century’s finest novels.   Set in mid-seventeenth century Japan the novel focuses on Jesuit priest, Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues, and his passion to help the local Christians in the face of brutal oppression.   The novel is a powerful depiction of the challenge faced – both by the fragile Christian community and by Fr. Sebastian himself – against those determined to force them to abandon their faith in God.   The novel is far from “easy reading” as it exposes the reader to the cruelty of torture meted out.   For a reader with Christian faith it has the potential for being all the more uncomfortable as it forces one to wrestle with the nagging question, “Were I to face such persecution and torture would I persist in faith or renounce my faith?” 

One of the questions posed at the ordination or induction of a minister or commissioning of a Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) is this one:

Do you promise to live a holy life, and to maintain the truth of the gospel, whatever trouble or persecution may arise?

To which the minister or CRCW is invited to respond,

Relying on the strength of Christ, I do.

I have been asked that question myself on three occasions – it is just one of nine challenging questions faced at an induction -  and it is tempting to avoid the wide-ranging implications of such questions (and to be distracted by all the other emotions associated with commencing a new chapter in a fresh setting).   The question certainly accompanied my reading of Silence … would I “maintain the truth of the gospel, whatever trouble or persecution may arise”?

Persisting in faith, maintaining the truth of the gospel, whatever …

This year the first day of March coincides with the first day of Lent – the season of the Church year in which the focus is Christ’s forty days of “temptation” in the wilderness.   The gospel writers depict him wrestling with the options for his future ministry – and they attribute both the act of being driven into the wilderness and the temptations themselves as being the work of Satan.   It is Satan who embodies temptation and whose words are addressed to Christ.  Meanwhile, in the gospel narrative, God is silent.   The same is true in Endo’s novel – hence the title, Silence.   The stark reality of suffering contrasts with the apparent silence of God.   Endo writes, Beneath the light of the candle I am sitting with my hands on my knees, staring in front of me.  And I keep turning over in my mind and thought that I am at the end of the earth, in a place which you do not know and which your whole lives through you will never visit.

Ahead of the loud “Alleluias” of Easter the season of Lent provides us with a place of silence.  Such a place is neither easy or comfortable.   But unless we have wrestled with the question, Do you promise … to maintain the truth of the gospel, whatever trouble or persecution may arise, our affirmation of Easter risks being merely ‘noise’ rather than having substance.   Some of our sisters and brothers – in places where the Church faces “trouble and persecution” – know the reality of Endo’s battleground.  We do well, this Lent, to acknowledge that “trouble and persecution” in our context are as nothing compared to what is embraced by those who risk life and livelihood in other parts of the world Church.   They and we can but respond, Relying on the strength of Christ I will hold fast to faith and God.

* Silence, by Shusako Endo, is published by Picador Classic (ISBN 9 781447 9985 1) and has also been released as a film directed by Martin Scorsese.



  • It is with sadness that we inform you of the death of Revd Chris Tolley. Chris died peacefully on 19th February, in hospital, following a long battle with severe ill health that caused him to retire last autumn from the South Pembrokeshire Pastorate. Our thoughts and prayers are with his widow, Suzanne, and with their family and friends. Chris’s ministries were:  Over, Winsford & Northwich 2003-12; Nantwich 2010-12; South Pembrokeshire Pastorate 2012-16.
  • We regretfully inform you of the death of Revd Graham John Knights on 21st February 2017.  Graham served at: Ystalyfera & Ystradgynlais 1993 - 96; Emmanuel & Wycliffe, Leicester 1996 -2000; Fylde & Wyre Pastorate 2000 - 07; Hambleton & Poulton-le-Fylde 2011 -13. There will be a memorial service at Torrisholme Methodist Church on Friday March 3rd commencing at 12:30. Refreshments will served after in the church hall. Family asks that bright colours be  worn and donations made to cancer research.
  • We are saddened to tell you that Stephen Marsh, the younger son of the Revd John and Mrs Jackie Marsh died on Tuesday 7th February, in Spain, during an asthma attack. Stephen had been married for two months and was living in a rural mountainous area inland from Castellon de la Plana and Valencia. Stephen was 43. Please remember John, Jackie and the rest of the family in your prayers.
  • It is with regret that we inform you of the death of Revd John Cedric Hickmore on 18th February 2017. John served at South Ockendon 1963-69; St Neots & Roxton 1969-77; Finchley 1977-83; Wickford 1983-95; Billericay 1995-2004. Our prayers are with his wife Alma and with his family, including his brother-in-law Ken Woods, formerly Synod Clerk in the Eastern Synod.
  • It is with sadness that we inform you of the death of Mrs Margaret Satchell on 26th February.  Margaret was the widow of Revd Geoffrey Satchell who died last year. Our thoughts and prayers are with Margaret’s family and friends at this difficult time. There will be a service at the Crematorium for the family only at 11am and a service of thanksgiving for her life at Loughborough URC at 11.45am on Tuesday 28 March. Do feel free to join us for this.                                 



BULWELL URC – Youth Weekend from 24 – 26 March 2017, for 9 – 16 Years, £25 per person (£10 deposit) Fun, games, food, laughter, sharing, learning and much more! To book visit: http://bulwellurc.churchapp.co.uk/events/k7k7q4f3  for more information contact Dave Dennis: dave@bulwellurc.org.uk  Tel: 07783 695857

THE DALES URC– On Saturday 4th March, The Dales are holding a coffee morning, to raise funds for Dementia Research. Time 10-30am -12 noon. There will be tombola / raffle/ sales table/ coffee & cakes. All Welcome.

EASTWOOD URC – A Tradecraft Sale is taking place at Eastwood URC, Alexandra Street, Eastwood, NG16 3BD on Saturday 8 April 10 am - 12 noon. Tea and coffee will be served as we do every Saturday also from 10 am - 12 noon. All Welcome.



DUSTON URC – This year Duston URC, Northampton, celebrates 190 years.  We are holding our annual Anniversary Flower Festival this year on 4th and 5th March entitled '190 YEAR LONG ,190 YEAR STRONG' when you are invited to stroll through the decades portrayed in flowers.  We are open on 4th March from 10am to 4.30pm and on Sunday 5th March we shall welcome our Moderator to preach at our 10.30 am service and the flowers will be open from 2pm to 4.30pm.  Refreshments will be served and craft stalls will also be available.  We would love to welcome you.





Single Easter Eggs and church catering packs of tea, coffee and sugar can be available at Synod if ordered in advance. See traidcraftshop.co.uk for availability and send orders to ian.sylvia@salmon2.co.uk



The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD  on Saturday 11th March 2017. 9.30am for a 10am start – 1pm.

Following on from our successful first event in March 2016, when we commemorated the anniversary of the death of Thomas Helwys, supported by Baroness Berridge and Rev Tony Peck, we have agreed to make this an annual event to focus on the subject of religious tolerance. Last year's event resulted in a Radio 4 Sunday Worship broadcast live from the Well in October 2016, on the same subject. The event is open to all, and everyone is welcome.


UNIVERSIRY OF LEICESTER CHAPLAINCY LECTURE 2017 – Faith and Education – Challenges and Contributions

We are pleased to announce that Francis Campbell will be delivering the Chaplaincy Lecture for 2017 on Friday 10th March at 5.30pm in the Rattray Lecture Theatre. Francis Campbell holds a BA in Political Science and Scholastic Philosophy - Queens University Belfast; MA in European Integration - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; MA in International Relations - University of Pennsylvania, USA (Thouron Fellow). The lecture is free and open to all, to book visit -  www.le.acc.uk/chaplaincy Tel: 0116 2856493 or Email: chaplaincy@le.ac.uk If you would like any further information please contact Revd Lynn Fowkes: 07804 649442

SYNOD QUIET MORNINGS OR AFTERNOONS                                                                                                          Two of our Synod counties have booked in for Quiet Times so far this year. Wirksworth URC will be having a Quiet Morning on 20th May, and Sherwood URC a Quiet Afternoon on 28th October. Both these events are open to anyone, so if you’re thinking about booking something similar for your church but would like to taste and see first, just come along to either of those and give it a try. There will be more details in future EMURCEs.                                                                                                                                                                                                 The months I still have available are March, July, and August. If you would like to host one of these, please contact me on RevRAllen@aol.com or 07974 835171 (text is best as we have appalling telecommunications where I live). I shall take bookings on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.                                                           Blessings, Ruth Allen (Synod Retreats Organiser)


Could you spare 10 minutes of your time to help develop the understanding of spiritual abuse within the Christian community in the UK?

Spiritual abuse happens. However, little is known about the full extent of this type of abuse within the church and wider christian community, and less still is known about people's understanding and perception of it, or how an appropriate and coordinated response could be made to tackle it and effectively support the survivors of such abuse.

You could help change this by participating in a short survey to gather crucial data.

A pioneering piece of research is currently being conducted by CCPAS and the National Centre for Post-qualifying Social Work & Professional Practice (NCPQSW) at Bournemouth University to explore current knowledge of, and effective responses to spiritual abuse in order to develop essential policy, practice guidance and training in this area.

The more participants we get, the greater our understanding of this important issue will be, and the more effective we can make our response. So please consider participating in this survey and forward the survey link to anyone you think may be able to contribute.

The survey is now open and will remain open until 31ST MARCH 2017. The criteria for participation in the research and details of how your data will be managed can be found on the landing page accessed by the following link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TVKXCWB [2]



BIG CHURCH DAY OUT                                                                                                                                                                 Tickets are still available for the United Reformed Church’s Big Day Out, part of the URC’s year of Feast and Festivals. This is an event for all ages run by the Youth and Children’s organisation, Pilots. The event takes place at Warwick Castle on Saturday 20th May 2017 and involves fellowship, worship and reflection. It also includes a programme of speakers, headlined by the Revd John Proctor, the URC’s General Secretary. For more information or to book email: feastandfestivals@urc.org.uk or call: 020 7976 8637 Booking forms should be returned no later than 31st March 2017.


There is a Youth Event for over 11’s running alongside the next Synod Meeting on Saturday 18th March 2017 at St. Columba’s, Lincoln. We are pleased to announce that Dan Morrell, the URC’s Youth Moderator, will be joining us and getting involved with our activities! To book please contact Hannah B at the Synod Office: trainingpa@urc5.org.uk



Head of Children’s and Youth Work, London, Permanent Contract

35 hours per week, Salary: £49,891 or Minister’s Stipend

Are you a self‐motivated expert in the field who has experience of delivering national programmes? Can you develop and maintain positive relationships with partners to ensure the voices of the children and youth of the Church are heard? Can you guide, manage and support strategic change, that will lead on to confidence and growth? We are looking for a dynamic individual to lead the Church in relation to the ministry of the children and young people within it. You will have a proven track record in delivering, monitoring and evaluating strategy and programmes. This experience will have ensured you are an excellent communicator, highly organised with good financial and people management skills. To succeed in this role you will need a demonstrable ability to determine priorities within available resources, operate at pace and deliver effectively through others.

If you are interested in working for us and can meet all of the above requirements, please contact us/see our website for an application form (noting that we do not accept CVs):

Human Resources Office, the United Reformed Church, 86 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RT

T: 0207 691 9871 E: recruitment@urc.org.uk W: www.urc.org.uk/vacancies

Closing date for applications: 12 noon, Monday 27 March 2017 Interview date: Thursday 27 April 2017



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: 13.03.2017