LATEST SYNOD NEWS
It’s that time of year again when our minds turn to regional and national meetings. Planning is well underway for the Northern Synod meeting in March and there are places for URC members to attend the next General Assembly in July. Book the dates and step forward if you have ever fancied being a Northern Synod rep at General Assembly – it’s not that scary and you know you want to!
With an ageing population, there are two events that may be of interest to those either involved in worship and pastoral care for those in later life or looking at faith in later life. If you are involved in any way with young people, don’t miss the online youth mental health course, especially at the moment when we hear of the increasing pressures for younger people.
We may be only three weeks into 2022 but this doesn’t stop us from thinking about events later in the year. Join us on the Synod spring retreat or sample a flavour of the autumn residential on ‘Leading Your Church into Growth‘. Don’t forget the Big Harvest – start planting now, and if you want to be super organised, there are only 338 days to Christmas!
Have you noticed that the days are getting longer? Isn’t it wonderful! That’s not to say that the worst of the cold and damp is behind us but we can begin to see signs of new life and Spring not too far away.
While St Mark’s in Amble have closed their church building they are looking forward to a new form of ministry in the community. Read a poignant farewell in the closing stages of the move. St Cuthbert’s Centre is also looking forward to developing its ministry of hospitality on Holy Island and seeks new members for its management group.
Feeling creative? Then why not enter the URC at 50, Worship Resources competition and make a mark on this special anniversary. Or if sewing is more your thing, then you could make a panel for a very special quilt that will be seen worldwide. For the young and young at heart, colour in a picture and a donation could be made on your behalf to the Christian Aid Afghanistan appeal.
If you run an innovative community project then you could be in for a chance of receiving a £2000 award. And ICYMI, make sure that if you run a cafe or sell food you comply with the new Natasha’s law.
Happy New Year to you all! We hope you had a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and New Year.
As we start 2022 we are delighted that the URC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Don’t miss out on the many events and resources that are being made available. 2022 also sees the 70th anniversary of the reign of Her Majesty the Queen and there is a special URC service for churches to use.
COP26 might be a distant memory but the climate crisis continues apace. Find out what churches can do going forward and rather than sending red roses in February, send a green heart instead. If you’ve wondered what to do with your old plastic Christmas sweet, cracker, or biscuit tubs, maybe St George’s URC in Morpeth can help.
Have a good week and stay safe.
We hope you are surviving the latest round of extreme weather brought to us courtesy of storms Dudley and Eunice. It has been a miserable few months weather-wise but you could always brighten your day with one of the stunning new limited anniversary edition URC ties!
Next week sees the first of two online events when you can help shape the future patterns of ministry in the Northern Synod, Please make the time to join this very important discussion. And for the first time in over two years, we are delighted to be able to meet in person for the next Synod meeting.
If you are curious about learning opportunities to develop your faith or role within the church, then check out what the URC Resource Centres have to offer.
Take action to stop further drilling for fossil fuels in the North Sea and see how you can help to challenge tax inequality. Find out about the financial implications of the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill and help reduce clothing going to landfill whilst raising money to tackle poverty.
Don’t forget next week sees the start of Fairtrade Fortnight and the Christian Aid online conference with lots of interesting and informative sessions. And how about striking the #BreakTheBias pose for International Women’s Day.
There is no newsletter next week but we will be bouncing back on Friday 4 March.
Another bumper issue this week. Grab a cup of URC Jubilee coffee, find a comfy seat and enjoy!
We are delighted to invite you to the Synod day of celebration in July for the URC 50th anniversary year. We hope to see lots of you there.
Read important safeguarding information about meeting in private dwellings, don’t miss the excellent worship and learning resource for Racial Justice Sunday this weekend, and apply for free Bibles for your young people.
There are loads of things to do and join, as well as read or watch for Lent and Easter including a new children’s Easter booklet written by Bob Hartman who is also now leading two great workshops for us.
If you are working towards ensuring your church is open and inclusive to all, then a new booklet on children and young people with autism may be of interest and you might want to be added to the inclusive church directory.
Have a great week everyone!
Well, what a weekend that was with storms Malik and Corrie bringing more disruption and damage to our area. We do hope that you managed to get away with little or no loss of power, roof tiles, or worse.
Things are really starting to take off this year with lots of events coming up in the Synod and so many vacancies this week. Book the dates for our online creative conversations on the future of ordained ministry and sign up to have a healthy church. Places are still available for the great session with Bob Hartman and join in one of the many events to be hosted at Hartlepool URC.
Is your church a friendly church? We would all like to think so but maybe churches are dying due to friendlessness.
And finally, meet Lisa Stoker in our Meet the Team series – she is definitely very friendly!
Have a great week everyone!
Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with those who are affected by the conflict and violence in Ukraine and those who are working for peace and reconciliation.
As the fighting intensifies and people continue to suffer, we may find ourselves struggling to cope with the constant stream of distressing news that bombards us. Take time out to care for yourself. Listen to the beautiful new music from John Rutter, make peace prayer doves, pray, complete craft activities, or go on reflective walks.
Find ways to help those who are affected. You may want to stand with women and children fleeing Ukraine with calls for their better protection and read the statement produced by West End Refugee Service.
The Northern Synod meeting takes place tomorrow in person and we would love to see you after so long.
Sadly, no newsletter next week but we will be back on 1 April.
This week has seen further atrocities in Ukraine, the like of which we had not thought we would ever see in Europe again. Read a thoughtful reflection from Roberta Ritson and access prayers and other resources to support us as we support those involved in this conflict.
Don’t miss the ‘How to Do: Community’ session which is being held this evening – the first session was a great success.
Lots of events for those involved with children or young people. Sign up for the Parenting for Faith course, appropriate for anyone with child-caring responsibilities, find out how to engage with schools and colleges, and join a special information event for those involved with siblings of children who have a rare disease.
Who would have thought when we issued the last newsletter two weeks ago, that the world would be so radically different now. We are all shocked and horrified by the military attacks on Ukraine and its people and we pray that peace can quickly be restored.
While we as adults watch on in horror, how do you talk to children on matters of war and conflict? We have some guidance that may be helpful. Want to do something to help but not sure what? We have some suggestions that may assist you.
Closer to home the URC nationally along with other faith leaders have challenged MPs and the Prime Minister on two key Bills passing through Parliament. All Christians are invited to sign a letter to the Secretary of State in support of banning conversion therapy and don’t forget to send your comments to the URC Legacies of Slavery consultation.
Lots of local news and events this week. New safeguarding training dates have been released and the second in the series ‘How to‘ looks at working in the community. The first session was a great success so don’t miss this one! Read the latest news from our Rural Consultant and meet Trevor Jamison, our Green Apostle.
Can you believe that it is almost two years since the first issue of the Northern Synod e-newsletter was first produced? Circulated at the beginning of the first COVID lock-down it was hoped that it would act as a link between churches and provide a platform for sharing the ever-changing news and rules during the pandemic as well as providing local, regional, and national news from the URC and beyond.
Two years on and COVID is still with us although we are ‘learning to live with it’ and we are facing another totally unexpected crisis, a war in Europe. No one’s lives have been untouched by the events in the last twenty-four months and I hope that the e-newsletter has informed, guided, and maybe inspired, challenged, and occasionally amused you during these difficult times.
The reason for these musings is that this is my last issue as editor. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter in any way. I would especially like to thank those who have provided a weekly reflection without complaint even on the second or more times of asking, photographers, event sharers, news providers, and feedback givers. Big thanks also to Wendy and Andrew who helped steer things in the background.
The e-newsletter is now taking a short break but will be back in a few weeks.
Have a very happy and blessed Easter.
We continue to be shocked and saddened by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The support for Ukraine and the people affected by the crisis grows daily and unsurprisingly there are a number of items this week regarding the situation.
Take part in an act of witness from the Christian community in the UK and Ireland this Sunday as we pray for Ukraine. Kevin Watson’s thoughtful reflection echoes the thoughts of many at this time and do support a lent lunch for Ukraine if you can.
On a happier note, we send our congratulations to Roker URC and Fliss Barker and invite everyone to join us for a fun day at Beamish and a special anniversary service to celebrate the URC’s 50th Anniversary.
For those looking for creative activities don’t miss the deadline for submitting your entry to the anniversary worship resource competition or maybe make a heart to send to your MP. Find out what happened to all those wonderful pom-poms that were made before and during the lockdown and read the final COVID prayer from the URC at the end of two long years.
Last but not least welcome to Bonnie, our latest Synod team member.
After taking a short break, the Northern Synod Newsletter is making a welcome return. Many thanks to Maureen for all her hard work in sending out the Newsletter over the past two years. The editorship of the newsletter is now in the hands of Lisa and Wendy in the Synod office.
If you have any items that you would like to be included in the newsletter, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will do our best to include it. The newsletter is going to be sent out fortnightly from now on, so please bear that in mind when submitting your articles and information. Due to the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, the next newsletter will be published on Friday 10 June.
In this issue we are including further details of the Beamish celebration event in July as well as a round up of news from around the Northern Synod and further afield.
Hope you enjoy the Bank Holiday and let us hope for good weather !
Lisa and Wendy
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
It’s the end of July already – where is the year going! The wonderful weather has helped us all to feel better and get out and about more. Enjoy it while you can as this week we include our first item for Christmas – just 148 days to go!
We hope you have been able to enjoy the glorious weather this week. With temperatures like these who needs to go abroad! Let’s hope it stays hot a while longer.
COVID-19 has delayed many things including the opportunity for the Durham and Gateshead group to get together and welcome their new minister Marcus Hargis, but this will soon be rectified. Welcome again, Marcus!
You may have picked up that 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the URC. With lots planned to help us celebrate, could you contribute a song, poem, or rap?
Christian Aid week was in May but Helen Cunningham from Christian Aid invites you to consider continuing your fundraising through their autumn appeal with the theme Sisters Stronger Together.
And did you notice the change to our URC Northern Synod logo? We hope that you like it. Look out for it as we gradually introduce it across the website and other communication channels.
We hope you have all recovered from the excitement and disappointment of last weekend. Those of us who were fortunate to attend General Assembly were equally excited, encouraged, and challenged by the many presentations, discussions, and resolutions and the decisions made, Read more and find out about who from our Synod became a General Assembly overnight super-star!
You may have been following events in Mozambique where continued conflict, as well as the pandemic, is having a huge impact on the lives of the people there. The Northern Synod has had a long association with Mozambique and has made a number of visits, most recently in 2019. The Northern Synod Mission Committee has agreed to a Synod-wide appeal to support the humanitarian efforts of our partners, the Presbyterian Church in Mozambique. Mary Davidson who visited the country on behalf of the Synod launches the appeal.
Monday sees the ending of legal COVID restrictions on our everyday lives. Read the latest guidance from the Synod Moderators. Next week also sees the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill and JPIT is asking for your help.
This week the Government won the vote to reduce the international aid budget. Read the response from church leaders including from the URC. Wednesday was also non-binary day with the release of a video featuring URC Minister Rev Alex Clare-Young.
And don’t forget to sign up for Climate Sunday. Let’s send strong messages that are heard by the world leaders ahead of COP26!
Wow! What a week and what a weekend ahead! The weekend event on everyone’s lips is…
… the URC General Assembly that starts today! Online for the first time, it is sure to be interesting and stimulating with plenty of debate. As a first-time attendee read Alison’s reflection and join the worship on Sunday morning. Find out what decisions have been made on a wide range of topics including action towards an anti-racist church, a new URC learning hub, URC’s 50th jubilee, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, the future of pilots, ministerial disciplinary process, safeguarding, and the pension scheme.
With temperatures across the world increasing and with North America and Canada experiencing the hottest June since records began, preparations for COP26 in Glasgow are also hotting up. Read a really helpful briefing guide from JPIT, find out how you can participate in the relay to COP26 with our own Green Apostle but don’t forget to look after yourself as well.
Young people are invited to enter a film competition, and a new monthly online drop-in for volunteer children and youth workers starts soon. Join a focus group looking at developing an ethical purchasing guide for churches, help to clean up fashion, support cocoa farmers, and join URC Minister and poet Lucy Berry as she discusses lectionary readings for this Sunday. And if this is all just too hectic, make your way to Jesmond to relax with Monday organ meditations.
Have a fun weekend whatever you do and whoever you support!
In a week that saw England beat Germany in a major football tournament for the first time in 55 years, there was much celebration! With so many spectators allowed to the match, we may be starting to feel as if life pre-COVID is slowly returning.
This week we notice an increase in the number of events being offered onsite rather than online. There are music and organ meditations in Jesmond, a weekend away at Cliff College, and bookings are now being taken for the URC Youth Assembly 2022. However, the URC General Assembly remains online with the bonus that everyone can get involved! Read the papers and find out what is being discussed, follow the daily reports to see what decisions have been made, and join the worship on Sunday morning – numbers and distance is no barrier!
Looking to the future, the URC has established a review group to consider the way ahead for our denomination which includes our very own Melanie Campbell, the Northern Synod Clerk.
We are delighted to welcome Angela Feather and Esther Bailey to the Synod staff team as Pioneer Workers to develop work with children, young people, and families.
Last but not least, we welcome back the Moderator, Dave Herbert, after his sabbatical. Great to have you back Dave!
As the crisis deepens in Afghanistan the reflection this week looks at the future of its refugees. Locally WERS invites us to take action to increase the number of Afghan refugees the UK will resettle and to campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill. Not sure why people are so concerned about this proposed new bill? Then sign up for the webinar ‘What’s Wrong with the Nationality and Borders Bill?’ to find out more.
Still lots to read in the run-up to COP26 and plenty of resources to help you plan your own services or events. The Relay to COP26 is now in the Midlands and will be coming through our Synod area in October. The pilgrimage still needs volunteers in the North East to support the walkers. Could you be a regional section team leader? Other roles also need filling.
Volunteers are also needed by the URC to help implement the new Ministerial Disciplinary Process.
If you have any IT queries about using your laptop, phone or tablet, then come along to one of our IT drop-in sessions for free friendly help and advice.
Enjoy your long bank holiday weekend and watch where you walk!
During a week of escalating tensions and a changing political landscape in Afghanistan, our thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this situation.
The climate emergency and forthcoming COP26 conference continue to generate many events and activities. Find out why COP26 is so important or sign up for one of the many conferences that are being held. Join or assist with a European ecumenical pilgrimage to Glasgow passing through Northumberland. If you are thinking of going to Glasgow yourself, why not apply to join the Jubilee Debt team. And don’t forget to make a canary for your MP!
Resources are available to support your work across the generations with toddler group reopening guidelines, leaflets to help you support students leaving or arriving in your communities, and a tool to help talk with those who may be dying or facing bereavement.
If you need to relax, why not go on a woodland walk – the healing properties of trees are bound to help.
Firstly, a big shout out to all our young people who have received A-level, BTEC, or GCSE results this week. You should be very proud of what you have achieved during such difficult times. We hope you are now able to look forward to the next step in your lives with excitement and enthusiasm!
You may have read Greta Thunberg’s recent comments on fashion and climate change. You may not get an interview with Vogue but you can still make a difference for those working in fashion. If you or your church want to lobby your MP on the climate emergency ahead of COP26 but are not sure how there are some very useful workbooks that may be of interest.
After the release this week of the IPCC AR6 report it is even more important not to miss the online NE Environmental Conference. Hear some inspiring speakers and meet up with others who care about climate change.
For younger members, there is a new bumper edition of children’s activities and for young people don’t miss the next Trialogue discussion or Youth Assembly 2022. If you are looking for something in your gap year then you may be interested in these opportunities.
Welcome to August! The month for holidays, BBQs, and weddings.
Talking of weddings, we are delighted to send our congratulations to Fliss Tunnard and her partner Carl Barker, for their special day next week. You may remember Fliss’s reflection back in August 2020 when she wrote about cancelling the wedding due to the pandemic.
If you are a Trustee in the Church then don’t miss the essential safeguarding training on your responsibilities. New dates are now available.
Watch Mary and Eric Davidson talk about their child Dory for Out and Proud Parents Day and if you are struggling to find things to occupy your little ones during the school holidays find some ideas in summer of play or get a giant poster to colour on wet days.
September is often the start of new beginnings and this year is no exception. We are delighted to offer a very warm Northern Synod welcome to two new ministers, Revd Alex Mabbs and Revd Ryan Sirmons. And our new Pioneer Workers, Angela Feather, and Esther Bailey have now started in their new roles. It is great to have you all here!
Young people are invited to book now for the next Youth Assembly and if you want to develop your leadership skills, take a look at the Growing Young Leaders course. And for all the Youth Leaders out there, bookings are now open for the URC Youth Leaders Gathering. Please share with others who may be interested.
Your help is requested with the Relay to COP26 whose walkers are still in need of accommodation on their way from Newcastle to Holy Island and church leaders are invited to sign an open letter to the PM to share concerns about the imminent removal of the Universal Credit uplift.
Following the recent report from the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, it is vital that strong and effective safeguarding measures are integral in all we do. Don’t miss out on free URC safeguarding training and you may want to take part in Safeguarding Sunday.
With little to report on COVID-19 recently, we have removed the news and updates section from the e-Newsletter but rest assured we will keep you updated with anything that you need to know as they arise.
Have a good week everyone!
Wow! What amazing news! A big thank you to all you lovely people out there who helped raise over £4,200 in our Mozambique appeal. An amazing amount and such generosity.
Money is a theme running through this week’s newsletter. Don’t miss out on the government’s new funding for faith groups or the URC grants for hybrid church. And if you’re keen to use your money to help tackle the climate crisis, sign up now for a great in-person event in Newcastle. The ACAT conference also looks at mission-driven finance post COVID.
We are delighted to be receiving more news from you! Find out how people in Northallerton are responding to the climate emergency, read about a special wedding in Guisborough, go for prayer and refreshments at Widdrington and St. Mark’s congregation Amble have a new place to worship next year.
And just what did our Moderator get up to on his recent sabbatical? All is revealed!
Have a good week everyone!
Have you noticed that the nights are creeping in earlier now and as schools return and holidays fade into the distance we look forward to what autumn will bring. Why not set up a scarecrow trail or get involved in the many events and activities for the Season of Creation and COP26?
Not everyone has been relaxing and taking it easy over the summer. The Children’s and Youth team have been busy preparing new and exciting Advent boxes while other departments are planning and preparing for the URC 50th anniversary celebrations.
There won’t be a newsletter next week but watch out for the bumper double issue out on 17 September.
After many weeks of preparation, COP26 will be starting in Glasgow on Sunday. Read a COP 26 reflection from our Green Apostle, Trevor Jamison and if you want to join in but can’t get to Glasgow then join a global prayer vigil and daily prayers for COP26 from home,
More locally we welcome Ian Ring as our newly appointed Rural Consultant. Read his first newsletter and help him help you. Our next IT Drop-in session takes place tomorrow but unfortunately, our event re-Connecting with Children, Young People, and Families due to be held on 6 November, has had to be rescheduled to March 2022.
Matt Knowles, Northern Synod Safeguarding Adviser, is running more free online foundation and intermediate safeguarding courses. Young people are invited to join a special online youth Stepwise course and everyone is invited to join in the 50th-anniversary celebrations at a special service in October 2022.
Do you know anyone who would benefit from a Braille Bible or do you have any large outdoor nativity figures you can share? And don’t forget to put those clocks back an hour on Sunday or you’ll arrive too early for church!
The Northern Synod Meeting took place last weekend and we were delighted to welcome seventy people to the Zoom gathering where many important issues about moving forward were discussed.
With just nine days to go until the start of COP26, there are still many events scheduled. Read how some of our churches welcomed the Euro pilgrims recently, consider joining a climate crisis global day of action, and find out more about money, consumerism, and the climate crisis. If you’re feeling creative you could weave a fish!
Young people are invited to a Palestinian brunch and a New Year holiday in Scarborough. Or if you are under 30, looking for a job, and fond of football, then the Football and Faith Worker vacancies may be just for you.
Well, you might have thought we had been away for a month, not just a fortnight with all the news and events in this week’s issue. Grab a coffee and have a good read!
The Synod meeting is on Saturday and all are invited to join on Zoom. The Synod Trust Board is looking for new directors– could that be you? Other local events include a gathering for Lay Preachers and the next IT drop-in event.
Can you believe it is only 16 days until COP26 starts in Glasgow. The Young Christian Climate Network pilgrims and the Euro Ecumenical pilgrims are now making their way up the Northumberland coast having received a warm welcome from a number of our churches on the way.
October is Black History Month and there are interesting events, books, and other resources available. Listen to some powerful music, read about those who have pioneered racial justice, and follow the URC Youth programme on anti-racism this month.
Things are hotting up ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow and we have two pilgrimages making their way through our Synod in the coming weeks – the Young Christian Climate Network Relay to COP26 and the European Ecumenical Pilgrimage to COP26. Are you planning to walk with the pilgrims as they pass through your community? North Shields churches are welcoming and walking with the Euro pilgrims and Widdrington URC is hosting a group of walkers overnight. Do let us know if you are participating at all.
If you thought it was too early for Christmas planning then you may not be ready to think about celebrating the New Year but all young people are invited to Breakthrough 2021 and to find out more about Youth Assembly to be held in January 2022.
We are invited to be grateful for all the good things in our lives during October and to take action to help stop the ending of the Universal Credit uplift.
Regretfully there is no e-Newsletter next week but we will be bouncing back on 15 October. In the meantime, send us your news and tell us what is happening in your church or community – we would love to hear from you.
Looks like a busy time up here in the Northern Synod with lots of events and activities to get involved with. Lay Preachers, don’t miss the gathering tomorrow and if you have IT queries, pop along to the last in the present series of free drop-in sessions.
Join Jane Rowell, Synod Mission Enabler for an advent calendar experience with a difference and if you are keen to explore the call to discipleship then Stepwise is for you. Sign up for a Northern Synod course or a course for youth, both on Zoom in the New Year.
Read a thoughtful and challenging reflection on listening to and making connections with your community to make a difference.
Looking for a new opportunity in the New Year? Then come and join the amazing Northern Synod team as our Learning and Development Officer. We would love to have you work with us.
There is no newsletter next week, but look out for a bumper issue on 3 December.
Next week is both Inter-Faith week and Transgender Awareness week. Read about a parent’s journey with their non-binary transgender child and all are invited to a vigil to remember those who lost their lives through anti-trans violence.
With Advent starting in only two weeks, you might want to begin a reverse advent calendar or sign up to challenge injustice in twenty-four simple ways. Nominate a charity, not-for-profit organisation, or CIC to receive £1K in twelve days of giving.
Days are getting shorter and the weather has turned colder but don’t let that get you down! In this week’s newsletter, there are lots of interesting things to read and do to keep you busy especially with Remembrance Sunday around the corner and Advent fast approaching.
There are activities for children to help explain Remembrance Sunday and poppy crafts. Sing a special remembrance hymn, attend a concert for remembrance and admire the amazing poppy display in Berwick.
We have received heartfelt thanks from Mozambique for your support for the relief work in Cabo Delgado. Your generous donations will make a big difference.
Elders and lay preachers are invited to attend training for lay presidency at communion and new guidance is available for churches considering sharing their building with other faith groups. Church Secretaries and Safeguarding Officers have an important update on annual returns this year.
With Christmas around the corner and New Year peeping over the horizon, this is our last e-Newsletter for 2021.
Read a seasonal reflection from our Moderator and see if you can find someone you know wearing this Christmas’ must-have sweater. Join in a carol service from Bethlehem, watch a modern retelling of the nativity story, and have a bit of Christmas fun with our Synod team fun fact quiz – you might even win a prize!
Looking for things to do in 2022, then you might like to go to Kielder Observatory, find great ways to share God’s story with Bob Hartman, or sign up to encourage your local council to take action now to become Net Zero.
Watch out for the next e-Newsletter bouncing its way to you on 7 January.
We wish you all a very Happy Christmas!
See you next year.
Following the Government announcement of new restrictions in light of the spread of the COVID Omicron variant, there is updated guidance from the URC Moderators and changes to working arrangements for Northern Synod staff.
With only fourteen sleeps until Christmas Day, how are the preparations going? Are you beginning to feel frazzled at all you still have to do and frustrated with all those queues that are beginning to form at the shops? Stop, count to ten, and read this week’s reflection inviting you to walk three miles an hour with God.
Can you remember our Pom-pom appeal last year before the first lockdown? Read the latest on what will happen next with the many woolly bobbles being stored in drawers across the Synod and the Synod Prayer Diary for 2022 is now available.
Looking for something different, then the ZacTax Toolkit may be of interest or the new ecumenical report on the impact of the pandemic on faith and relationships with the church. Or maybe go on a virtual pilgrimage from the warmth and comfort of your home!
Looking at the beautiful autumn colours on the trees above, we wonder if they survived Storm Arwen at the weekend. We know that at least three of our churches and two manses have sustained damage, not to mention the many communities that experienced the loss of essential services and continue to struggle without power. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are affected.
We are delighted to welcome Alan and Trish McGougan to the Synod.
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….
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.