LATEST SYNOD NEWS
Firstly, big congratulations to Poppy for winning the top prize in the under 16’s section of the recent URC competition for Environment Sunday. Well done Poppy – it is a super drawing.
If this has inspired you, then why not stitch, knit or draw for peace and contribute to the quilt to be displayed outside government offices in August. Or if music is more your thing, then the workshop on worship songwriting might be of interest.
Things may not be opening up as quickly as we hoped but if you are looking to restart Messy Church then the online session next week is for you. Or you may find a new training course for your toddler group team helpful. If you have views on the delays in the lifting of the COVID restrictions, then Reform magazine would like to hear from you.
As Pride month continues, read Gordon’s story and consider how a new resource can help your church look at safeguarding issues for those who are trans and non-binary.
If you want to stretch your legs, have great company, and see some gorgeous scenery then join John Stephenson on his pilgrimage this week. He would love to have your company, even if it is only for a mile!
And don’t forget it is Father’s Day on Sunday!
With the promise of glorious weather over the weekend, there will be lots to watch and listen to with the G7 summit in Cornwall and the start of the UEFA European Championship. There’s sure to be heated debate, controversy, fallouts, brinksmanship, and possibly some dubious decisions!
Along with the lovely sunshine, we are delighted that the first shoots of normality seem to be emerging with organ recitals, resuming, and with only 197 days to Christmas, festive performances on offer. You can also let people in your community know when your church is open again with one of the new URC banners.
Lots of people are now more aware of the wonderful things that the North East has to offer including Harrison Ford who has been seen out and about the area this week in between filming Indiana Jones 5 at Bamburgh Castle. The BBC has also been filming here along the Northern Saints ‘Way of Learning‘ trail for Songs of Praise this weekend.
If you are passionate about the climate emergency but aren’t too keen on taking part in traditional forms of activism you may be interested in craftivism. No, we’d not heard of it either but it is a more gentle approach to campaigning, one stitch at a time. Join with other like-minded people to make a yellow canary for COP26 or find another cause you are passionate about and stitch away!
A mixed bag of goodies for you this week! As our thoughts turn to holidays near or maybe afar, many of you will be planning your church holiday clubs. Don’t forget to take to look at the new URC Supersleuths material and get an application in for a grant to help make your event a success.
If you only do one thing this weekend then you might want to email your MP to encourage their support of the restoration of the 0.7% GNI international development aid budget on Monday.
As we approach another Bank Holiday with the promise of sunshine and dry, warm weather, there is no better time to think about how we can influence the two major international gatherings taking place in the UK this year. Get involved with the G7 Summit descending on Cornwall in June and COP26 in Glasgow in November. Whether you send the PM a postcard or support the Relay to Glasgow, everyone can do something. And why not send your MP an invite to a climate parliamentary event.
We are pleased that the ceasefire in Gaza and Israel seems to be holding. Read a personal reflection on the situation from Andy Lie, our Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Officer.
Lockdown may be lifting but Church online will remain going into the future. Get up to date with training on Zoom, Livestreaming, video editing, and social media. Or download the many excellent URC digital information guides.
We are glad that many of our churches are re-opening but going back into church buildings may be a bit scary for you. If you want to ensure appropriate physical contact with others, then wear one of the new URC stickers to let others know if you are OK to hug, handshake, elbow bump or just smile.
Join with others to say Thank You to those who helped during the lockdown and continue to do so. Who needs an excuse for a party!
Another turbulent week. Tensions and violence in the Holy Land, continuing lack of resources in India and elsewhere to treat and combat COVID-19 and coronavirus variants in the UK leading to a rise in cases here again.
We give thanks for our vaccination programme and the greater freedoms we are now allowed and the ceasefire now agreed between Israel and Palestine, but we also remember those who do not yet have access to the same medical facilities or treatments as we do and those who have suffered loss or injury in countries in conflict.
The URC has taken positive action to support those in countries with a limited supply of vaccinations and is campaigning for refugees forced to flee their homes. There are calls for prayers for the Holy Land and a new publication of praise songs and protests has been released.
There are lots for children to watch, read, make and do for Pentecost on Sunday, and grown-ups can join in too! Read about Widdrington URC’s wonderful new plaque and hoodies to support their children’s work. Take part in the Environment Sunday competition and watch a powerful song using words from Greta Thunberg.
We are looking forward to the next stage in the relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions that starts on Monday. How wonderful it will be to meet and hug family and maybe even friends and meet up for a drink and natter inside rather than brave the wind and rain of recent days.
As we step tentatively into the new normal we are asked to consider the challenges facing the URC as we look to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year. We are also asked to get out our cameras and share photos of our church buildings for a special 2022 URC calendar. And if you have original worship material for Harvest /Season of Creation please share!
If you are missing singing, then you might be interested in a singalong to Roger Jones’ ‘Saints Alive‘ or if poetry is more your thing then don’t miss the next Black History Monthly event reflecting on poems from Black writers across the ages.
It is nearly a year since the murder of George Floyd. Sign up for the events being held to commemorate the first anniversary of his death.
Book now to attend the national parliamentary prayer breakfast from Westminster Palace or organise your own event and invite your local MP.
To those who are walking 300,000 steps this month for Christian Aid – keep going! Nearly halfway through the month!
We hope the weather is better with you than we are experiencing. It feels as if we have already zoomed through spring and summer this year and headed straight back to autumn!
Climate change is an issue that affects us all and the climate emergency is the central theme of Christian Aid week starting next Monday. Read the reflection from Christian Aid Church Engagement Officer, Helen Cunningham, and join in the many fundraising activities taking place. Have you started your 300,000 steps yet?
This year will see many global leaders coming to the UK and Crack the Crises hopes you can join them to raise crucial issues with these key decision-makers. In case you are not familiar with the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, join Green Christian to find out why we should support it.
Some great opportunities this week. JPIT is looking for House of Commons interns to work with MPs, and URC Youth needs an equalities and diversity rep. Don’t forget the closing date is looming for any last-minute applications to work with the Northern Synod team.
Work is progressing in the Synod on children, young people, and families initiatives and across the five Northerly Synods, there are developments on dementia-friendly churches. Both of these projects would love to hear from you if you could spare a few minutes to complete some simple questions.
Be challenged by this month’s re-ASSEMBLED theme of ‘Hostile Environments’ from URC Youth. Relevant for everyone.
Take care and stay safe.
A big thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our recent E-Newsletter circulation survey. From the replies that we received it would appear that our news travels to many more people than we had anticipated which is great. Thank you also for the kind words of feedback that people left. It is good to know that the newsletter is appreciated and not just disappearing into a black hole each week!
We are always keen to hear your local news to share more widely, so tell us what you have been up to, and now with churches slowly opening up again if you have an event to share, please let us know and we would be pleased to promote it for you. And don’t forget we always need new photos from across the Synod for our header. Urban or rural, we want them all to reflect this wonderful region we live in. Just click on ‘Send us your photos’ at the bottom of the newsletter. – you don’t need to be an Annie Leibovitz or David Bailey!
Talking of photography, don’t miss a webinar showcasing photos taken during BLM protests. Take action to help ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone globally and find out how you can help to eliminate child trafficking.
The easing of lockdown may mean you have less free time but if you are looking for something to do away from the house then Newcastle Cathedral would like to hear from you. Or if you are still looking to book a holiday, look no further than the URC Holiday Forum.
Don’t forget to vote next Thursday if you haven’t already returned your postal vote. Still not sure who to vote for? Then you may find the YourChurch event on Sunday helpful.
Hasn’t the weather been glorious? Just what we need to meet up outside and have those early summer BBQs with friends and family but you still might need a warm jacket for those northeast breezes!
We have a mixed bag of goodies for you this week. There’s lots going on with climate emergency issues. Book the date for a North East Eco conference in September and start preparing now for the relay to COP-26. You may not fancy walking the 750 miles from Cornwall to Glasgow but the planned route goes through many of our towns and villages so just walk a mile or two, plan an event or host a walker for a night while the world’s media focus is on us and COP-26. You might also want to consider how you can make your money work to benefit the environment or just plant some seeds and help the butterflies and bees.
Don’t miss the All Together for Worship training event that starts tomorrow. A must-attend event for anyone with children or adults with dementia in their congregation and look at a helpful booklet giving ideas for outreach and mission to older people.
If you have ever fancied working as part of the amazing Northern Synod staff team, you might want to apply for one of the new Pioneer Worker – Children, Families and Young People vacancies. We’d love to have you join us.
We were saddened to hear of the death of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh last week. Our thoughts and prayers are with the royal family at this difficult time.
Would you believe that it is exactly a year ago that we circulated the first Northern Synod E-Newsletter, and what a year it has been. We hope that our contribution has helped you to keep in touch with what has been going on while churches were closed and the COVID-19 rules and regulations were changing on what seemed like a daily basis. Things are looking better now as we continue to applaud the NHS as they roll out the vaccine programme and we have a roadmap back to the new normal but we still have a way to go. Thank you for sticking with us and to everyone who has contributed in any way.
For many, life before, during and ongoing is one of continuing hardship and insecurities. Find out what the recent Government Family Resources Survey revealed about food insecurity and find out what Christians in the North East and across the UK have been doing in response to poverty and injustices.
Taxwatch has published an interesting report ‘Equality Before the Law’ on the disparities between criminal prosecution for tax fraud and benefit fraud and find out about banks’ increased financing of the fossil fuel industry.
On a lighter note, encourage bees to your garden this summer and sing along with the children to a fun song – such an earworm! If you have any old cycle inner tubes lying around, Cycle of Good would love to save them from going to landfill and help people in Malawi.
Thank you to everyone who completed our quick and simple survey last week. If you didn’t have the chance, it is still open and will literally takes less than 2 minutes.
We hope you all had a wonderful Easter and are enjoying the pleasure of meeting with others again, even if it is outside in this inclement weather! Still, we did have a brief taste of summer and the thought of going away is on many people’s minds. Find out about holidays for children and the whole family with reNEw North East or book a place on the URC Holiday Forum. All take place in August, so not that far away and something to look forward to.
In the meantime, there is still time to book for ‘It Just Works’ on Saturday and join with others across the five northerly synods to hear about the many wonderful things that have been going on in the churches during the various lockdowns. It is sure to be a great day, full of ideas and inspiration. Not to be missed.
There are details of two very interesting Zoom lectures on Christianity and disability and the legacies of slavery as well as a free webinar on the recent Sewell report and the Christian response. For the young and young at heart, don’t miss those cheeky pandas!
And if you could spare us two minutes of your time to complete a simple survey of just three questions, we would be most grateful. Thank you.
With Holy Week and Easter just around the corner, this week’s newsletter is full of fun things to do, make, listen to and watch for all ages.
Hannah Middleton has produced a bumper pack of resources for our younger members including a series of videos telling the Easter story. Music is available from Roger Jones with others as well as a beautiful version of In Christ Alone with Alison Krauss. For all you knitters and crocheters, why not make some hearts or mini woolly hats.
Looking beyond Easter, read about Dave Herbert’s sabbatical which starts in April and the Northern Synod Children’s and Youth Work Committee want to hear your ideas. Join them for a coffee and chat. Sign up for your basic safeguarding training with Matt Knowles – open to anyone in the URC. Book your place on the All Together for Worship training to find out how to more fully include children,families and adults with dementia.
There will be no E-Newsletter next week but we will be back with another packed to the brim issue on 9 April.
In the meantime, don’t forget to turn your lights off for an hour tomorrow night for Earth Hour and then put your clocks forward an hour before you go to bed!
Who would have thought just twelve months ago, the huge impact COVID-19 would have on everybody’s lives, not just here but worldwide. On 23 March it will be a year since the first UK lockdown. Since then there have been many deaths from the virus, personal and financial hardships, long term separation from friends and family and much more. But we have adapted to new ways of living and of doing things, developed our IT skills beyond recognition to stay in touch and look forward to the freedoms that the vaccine programme may be able to provide.
A year on, Marie Curie invites us to come together for a day of reflection on our collective losses and to support those who have been bereaved. The World Council of Churches is convening a week of prayer and reflection and holding a global online prayer service.
St Columba’s URC in Billingham invited their community to make a rainbow of ribbons at the church gates during the first lockdown. Now they share the beautiful woven ribbon banner they have produced.
There has been a lot of church business this week. Read news and updates from the recent Northern Synod meeting and URC Mission Council. Please note that the coffee morning for church secretaries and elders scheduled for next week has been postponed.
For those interested in green issues, there are a number of interesting items this week. You may want to join a new monthly allotment group or attend the 5th-anniversary service to celebrate Eco Church. Look at the new climate justice resources from Christian Aid or host a virtual escape room adventure.
Take care and stay safe.
There’s a lot going on ‘Up North‘ and you won’t want to miss any of it! Join us for the Northern Synod meeting tomorrow which has a theme of listening and waiting together, and church secretaries and elders, clear your diaries for the next Northern Synod Zoom coffee morning.
Sign up for the Northerly Synods conference ‘It Just Works‘ and hear about success stories from across the five northerly synods during the pandemic. And if you would like to make a short presentation of what has worked for your church, we would love to hear from you – don’t be shy, we know you want to!
If you have some spare time and want to make a difference, then find out more about the Climate and Ecology Bill, cancelling debt to fund vaccines or action for tax justice. You may get to know your MP a lot better!
See you on Zoom tomorrow!
Guidance from the Synod Moderators on the reopening of church buildings
As lockdown/stay at home requirements are gradually eased across the United Kingdom in the coming months, we know that churches are now keen to make plans to re-open for public worship and other activities.
The Moderators want to urge continued caution, both in the timing for re-opening and what happens afterwards.
A bumper issue this week for children, young people, families. For young people, The re-ASSEMBLED March theme is Conflict in the Holy Land and there is some very interesting material to read and watch as well as a competition to complete during the month, with prizes from Bethlehem.
Anyone aged 18-30 available in August and September 2022 is invited to apply to serve as stewards at the WCC Assembly in Germany, while closer to home, why not set up an Easter story trail and follow those eggs!
Read the influential Kairos Document and join others to discuss how it may impact our responses to Black Lives Matter today.
For any budding hymn writers, why not submit a new hymn for inclusion in a collection of hymns for a contemporary world out later this year.
With lockdown scheduled to gradually ease over the coming weeks, why not consider inviting others to a Big Brew event with any donations received by Fairtrade Exchange between 8 March and 7 June, being doubled by the UK Government. You may also like to contact your MP about the proposals to cut the international development budget after reading a briefing from UK Churches.
For anyone with a sweet tooth or who loves baking, round off FairTrade fortnight with some Fairtrade espresso mocha brownies – truly scrumptious!
What a wonderful week! The sun has been shining, spring flowers are beginning to brave life above the ground and we have been given a tentative roadmap out of lockdown and back to life as we knew it.
We have all been promised to be vaccinated against COVID over the coming months but for many in poorer countries, this is only a dream. You may want to support the Just Vaccine Appeal, a partnership between Christian Aid and the URC.
With the weather improving, why not dust off those walking boots and walk 100km in April for Traidcraft Exchange and then as you are so fit, walk 300,000 steps for Christian Aid in May. Take your dog along – they will love it!
Elections are around the corner. JPIT offers guidance on how to organise virtual hustings as well as having resources to help you understand how to make change happen. And for young people and the not so young, URC Youth offers some advice on how to write to your MP.
If you have an Alexa smart speaker you have no excuse to miss the URC Daily Devotions. Just ask Alexa and she will do the rest!
We are now in Lent and hope that you enjoyed some delicious pancakes last Tuesday!
There’s a lot going on in the Synod at the moment. Sign up for our Holy Habits Lent course and if you are a church secretary or elder don’t miss the virtual coffee morning next week for a chat and a catch-up. There’s always room for more at our regular morning prayers. They’re a friendly bunch and you’d be made very welcome. If you’re in year 10 or above, come and join the Big Story sessions for young people run by John Stephenson.
The lockdown continues and with it, hardship, loneliness and poverty that are for too many, the realities of day to day life.
This week we hear about the great work being done in the community by the Roker Life project in Sunderland. Find out about pandemic poverty in a special North East event with the Joint Issues Team and read the report about the impact of local Pantries – could your church open one? Set up a telephone support service or join one of the final COVID Cash Recovery Courses.
For church secretaries and elders, join an online coffee morning with our one and only Jane Rowell – not to be missed and internet access is not essential!
We are delighted that this week’s reflection has been jointly written by the Northern Synod youth interns and reps. They are a shy group who has asked not to be named individually, but you know who you are and we are grateful for your contribution.
The start of Lent is just around the corner so don’t miss registering for the Northern Synod Holy Habits at Lent group. It is bound to be fun and thought-provoking.
Make a date on the third Monday of each month and find out more about Black history – ‘because Black history is too important to leave until October.’
Take care and stay safe.
Who can forget the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK just 12 months ago this weekend, when people arrived back from Wuhan for 2 weeks of quarantine in the Wirral and the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. What a year it has been, the like of which none of us has ever experienced.
We thank Ray Anglesea for his thoughtful reflection and other URC members for their thoughts on managing in the pandemic. Join a prayer vigil from Orkney on Saturday and let others know about the national day of reflection to be held on the first anniversary of the first lockdown.
But amidst the sadness, there is much to look forward to and still campaign for. You are invited to lobby your MP to end child poverty and sign a petition to get the UK government to sign up to a green trade agreement.
If you have an old banger that you want to get rid of, then you may want to consider donating it to raise money for a local or national charity and why not take a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament from the comfort of your armchair!
Take care and stay safe.
Our new banner photo is aptly called ‘Winds of Change‘. and what a week of change indeed. We have seen a new President installed in the White House, experienced storm Christoph and been delighted for neighbours, friends and family members who have had their first vaccine jab.
This week in the newsletter we include events to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day as well as planning for the anticipated arrival of thousands of people from Hong Kong from 31 January. We look back at a spectacular Christmas story grotto in Northallerton, where Rishi Sunak was seen serving refreshments and we highlight the Church Action for Tax Justice’s recent report.
There are lots for young people with our weekly stories and activities for younger members, the fortnightly online Trialogue and a new online youth group for anyone in year 10 and above. If you work with young people, then don’t miss two exciting online events to support your work and encourage future developments.
Get the fantastic contributions your children and young people make to your church recognised, with a Lundie Award. Amelia Turner, from Roker URC, was awarded this in the autumn, so let’s hear it for other young members from Northern Synod. Apply now!
Take care and stay safe.
How are you doing this week? Were you delighted to get some snow or did you just get rain and longed to see some of the white stuff?
We are well into winter now and the memory of the very unusual Christmas may be fading but keep your spirits up because Lent and Easter are just around the corner!
You may have just packed away the Christmas decorations or recovered from collating and distributing Christmas packs but we are delighted that URC all-age Lent packs will soon be available along with other Lent and Easter resources.
Make a date to Show the Love in February. No, this is not a reminder to remember Valentine’s Day (although don’t forget it!) but a call to campaign in our climate emergency.
If you have got any photos that show the life of the URC, then the URC Communications department wants to hear from you and if you have been asked to take on a specific role in your local church, attend General Assembly or to consider becoming a CRCW or Minister then don’t miss the series of booklets that tell you more about what’s involved.
Take care and stay safe.
Happy New Year! What a busy year it has been already and we are only 8 days in. Out of Europe, into the third lockdown and the COVID vaccine rollout picking up apace. 2021 promises to be as exciting and unpredictable as last year but in more positive ways we hope.
The new lockdown will be difficult for many. Short days and cold weather can do little to lift the spirits in the best of years. You may know a friend or family member who needs extra support but are unsure how to help. Why not use some of the free time you may have to join one of our mental health awareness or first aid courses.
You may be aware of people who are struggling with their finances as a result of COVID. Then the COVID Cash Recovery course may be of interest.
Many people are isolated as a result of the pandemic and would love to speak to a friendly voice. Your church may be able to help with a telephone befriending service.
Why not get a group together in your church for one or all of these events and look at ways to share your new-found knowledge and skills in your community. No community is immune to these issues and they will continue to exist long after COVID has been beaten.
Church doors may be closed again, but the Synod morning prayers continue. Everyone is welcome to join for prayer and fellowship and you can participate by phone as well as Zoom.
Take care and stay safe. Click here to read the latest weekly E-Newsletter 8th January 2021
If you’re still looking for presents to buy, then there are some book suggestions for those interested in green issues and you could watch a short video that may change the way you shop – and not only for Christmas.
Feeling frazzled by all the festive activities, then MIND has some tips and information that might help.
Read The Moderator’s reflection which includes the amazing ‘Christmas star’ that is coming to a sky near you – a once in a lifetime experience. Enjoy the poignant version of the Wexford Carol. and for something completely different, the fun version of Ding-Dong Merrily on High.
Just a reminder that the Synod office will be closed between Christmas and the New Year – details below.
This week in our e-newsletter, there are videos galore including a musical gift from Roker URC, an animated Christmas story and readings from the URC book Colours of Christmas. And don’t miss checking out this year’s MOBO Gospel Award winner.
This week in our e-newsletter, there is music to watch, listen to and join in with plus lots of items for children. There are Covid 19 updates now that lockdown has ended. Plus news of the Synod’s Durham and Gateshead Group minister, Marcus Hargis who has been selected to be an exhibited artist at next year’s Baltic Open Submission Exhibition.
This week in our e-newsletter, we reminisce about Advents past, and look ahead to virtual and physical activities for Advent and Christmas. There’s also plenty to make you think.
Our 31st e-newsletter brings more ideas and inspiration for you. There is a reflection on the rich history of trusting in God, and we have some tasters ahead of our Christmas concert.
This week’s e-newsletter is a veritable potpourri of goodies for you. There are learning opportunities, and things to do, read, or join in! There’s even a cute relaxing animal video. We also share a word of encouragement from the Old Testament.
After the success of October’s Festival of Tents, our e-newsletter issue 29 follows on with a chance to see again John Bradbury’s reflections at Synod, the winners of the photography competition, continuing morning prayers, and news of a Lundie award, a Holy Habits at home group, and an Advent concert. Peter Rand reflects on patience and learning a new skill, and there’s lots more inside to read…
Issue 28 of our e-newsletter reflects on the wonders of the world, and our need to take better care of it, and the people in it. Read more about online church, holiday hunger, and resources for Christmas, along with news, information and events… and find out what you can do with 2000 marbles!
Our 26th E-Newsletter marks half a year since the start. Who would have thought it? Our Moderator reflects on our fortnight’s Festival of Tents, which opens tomorrow. Read also more ideas, events and activities, a face-mask song, and looking ahead to One World Week
Our 25th e-newsletter reflects on an abundance of apples, with thanksgiving for the harvest and for sharing. There is also news, details of our Synod meeting and Festival of Tents, a photography competition, resources on black history month, a call to reset the debt, world mental health day, events, ideas, and more
In this week’s e-newsletter, we reflect on the dilemmas around returning to worship in church buildings, and how different it feels. We also welcome a new member to the Synod team, and share news, ideas, resources, events, including how to have creative conversations….
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