Following government guidance, all our churches have ceased public worship.
All our groups and gatherings are cancelled until further notice.
For pastoral support, if you'd like to speak to someone or need help if you self-isolate, call one of the Elders or Rev Ulrike Bell 020 8505 5542.
We follow the government’s advice and await further guidance.
1) All services and weekly groups will go ahead as planned, following URC and CofE practical considerations.
a) Hand washing and keeping body distance:
2) If you are ill and need to self- isolate:
3) Local Community
a) Please support your local Foodbank: demand will rise when schools will be closed and children eligible for free school meals will go hungry
b) In your street: if you are able, reach out to your immediate neighbours, maybe sending something like the postcard below through your neighbours’ letter boxes.
Stay safe, healthy and blessed.
Yours in Christ,
"Is there a spare Christian around?” asked Rabbi David Hulbert at the latest Three Faiths Forum event, held at an Orthodox Synagogue in Ilford.
It was one of their 'Scriptural Reasoning' evenings which they do every now and then, where the attendees are asked to gather in groups of 7-10 to talk about three texts from the three gathered faiths (Judaism, Islam and
Christianity), and in my group we needed one more Christian to
come over and join us.
It was a great evening, with deep, curious, respectful, challenging conversations around Who is God and How our faith must show in our ethics, our behaviour towards others.
We also got a tour of the beautiful, very recently built synagogue, with
more conversation about prayer spaces and times.
The equally long-and-grey-bearded orthodox Rabbi and the Imam who works for Scotland Yard in counter-terrorism exchanged thoughts about facing east for prayer, about what else we can do for peaceful community living, and then invitations.
In case you’re intrigued, these meetings are open to anybody! Do come and join next time!
“Is there a spare Christian around?” – It’s such a great question!
In our secular society where not many people care about God and discovering His great works in this world; where God is put on the back burner (if at all), or kept imprisoned in family history (“my grandfather was a chorister…”); where people sometimes don’t know who to talk to when they’d actually like someone to pray for them or to tell them about the Christian faith.
Let’s make sure we are noticeable Christians, and that there will always be “spare” ones around when needed!
Come and join us for training to become better capable of using our skills where we are, on our 'frontline'.
So this year, we take this challenge ON, in Lent, learning about whole-life discipleship, instead of giving something UP.
Anyone want a spare copy of the booklet?
Our Marriage Preparation Course is a series of five sessions designed to help engaged couples or those exploring the possibility of marriage to build strong foundations for their future together.
It’s designed for those who want to give their marriage the best possible start, whether they’re exploring marriage for the first time or have been married before.
The course is based on Christian principles but designed for all couples with or without a church background. You do not need to be getting married in a church to come on the course.
Over the five sessions, the course will help couples learn to communicate well, understand and appreciate their differences, and prepare for potential challenges.
This course starts 3 May at St James' URC.
The first of a series researched by Sheila Tanner about the origins of
some of our favourite hymns.
O Perfect Love
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom thou forevermore dost join in one.
Many years ago, Dorothy Blomfield was wandering over the hills of Windermere thinking of her sister who was soon to be married.
She thought of the happy days the couple would share and times of sadness they might face.
She sat down and prayed for them, and on returning home she decided to write down her prayers.
Soon before her she had the words of ‘O Perfect Love’.
No bride could have had better words written for her.
O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life's day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.
What is worship?
I like to think of it as “worth-ship”, when we try to tell God his worth.
When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, he said to her, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
It would seem that He was implying that the worship of the Jews and the Samaritans was a worldly kind of worship, a set of rituals and an external show, and that He was bringing about a new kind of worship that would be deeper and more heartfelt. Are we this kind of worshipper, or do we sing hymns without really taking in the words or meaning them, and when we pray in church, do we really want what we are asking him for?
I am not saying this to make anyone feel inadequate or guilty, but to be realistic about our worship.
If our worship is less than it ought to be, maybe that is because we do not yet fully understand the extent of what the Lord Jesus has achieved for us.
When we come together to worship in church, it is not just to honour God, but also to remind ourselves and each other just how much God has done for us.
The kind of worship that we take part in during our church services, however, is only part of the picture. Our whole lives are to be given over to him and to his service.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
In March and April, we move on to the next Holy Habit in our study series and the following is taken from the introduction to the holy habit of WORSHIP found in the series booklet.
Worship features prominently in Luke’s writings. He presents people praising God in response to experiencing God’s loving help or saving grace.
Praise and Worship flow from gratitude for who God is and what God has done.
There is a risk that we think of Worship only as something that happens when Christians gather for an hour or two. While gatherings are a habit to be encouraged, there is much more to Worship than this.
Worship is a way of life, one encapsulated in the Jewish Shema: a prayer which is the centre piece of Jewish morning and evening prayer services. It includes these words from Deuteronomy 6 v 5: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Worship offered as grateful response involves all of our lives; our work, rest, enjoyment of creation, service, eating, giving – and, yes, our gatherings for the focused activity of services of Worship.
Tending crops, forming an algorithm, building a house or serving a customer can all be done as acts of Worship to the glory of God, as can the singing of songs, the offering of dance, sculpture or art and the praying of prayers.
Our March newsletter is now available.
You can access it below, click here to download it as a PDF or contact Rev June Colley on firstname.lastname@example.org for a paper version.
The Three Faiths Forum meeting at 8pm on Thursday 13 February was held at the Ilford Federation Synagogue, which is near Gants Hill.
The topic for the evening was, God’s Moral Law and was a Scriptural Reasoning session, when we split up into groups, with at least two Jewish
people, two Muslims and two Christians in each group.
In my group we first looked at a Jewish text from Ethics of the Fathers, sayings of Jewish sages who lived from 300BC - 200AD.
It tells us to reflect on where we came from, where we are going and before whom we are destined to give an account of our lives. It also instructs us to respect those in authority and to pray for them, and if we sit and reflect on God’s law we will receive a reward.
Next, we looked at a passage from the Christian scriptures, Luke 10:25-37, where Jesus tells the parable of The Good Samaritan in answer to the question, Who is my neighbour?
Jesus here instructs us that it is more important to help someone in desperate need than to ignore them because we are too concerned with religious duties and obligations.
Then we looked at some verses from the Qur’an where Muslims are told to respect their parents in old age and to be kind to everyone, not just fellow Muslims.
Orphans’ rights must be protected and everyone should prepare for life after death, not committing adultery nor killing without good cause and worshipping only Allah.
It was interesting reading these texts from the three faiths and again to see how much we have in common.
Before the end of the meeting Rabbi Hulbert thanked Revd. Ian Tarrant from St. Mary’s Church in South Woodford, who has been a leader of the Forum for ten years and soon will be moving to Gibraltar to take up a church leader’s post there.
The meeting finished with refreshments and then Rabbi Singer, the leader of the synagogue invited us to go downstairs to see the worship area of the synagogue. It was a beautiful space with six stained glass windows on each side of the Ark, taken from an older synagogue in Ilford.
It was good to see how special the place is to the Jewish congregation.
The next meeting of the Forum will be at 8pm on Thursday 26 March,
discussing Environment or Extinction? which should be interesting. The
venue is yet to be announced.