The Synod was held on Saturday 19 October at Fairford Leys Church, in the Chiltern Local Area Group, which comprises fourteen churches, five of which are LEPs. Fairford Leys Church was built in 2002 and looks very modern and spacious.
After being welcomed by Revd. Dr. Andrew Prasad, we proceeded to the business part of the meeting.
The Minutes of the previous Synod were accepted. Four ministers had joined Thames North Synod and a special welcome was given to Revd Yufen Chen, from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. She
ministers to Mandarin and Taiwanese speaking students and others, at Lumen URC in Regents Square in London.
Lorraine Downer, from High Cross URC, was commissioned as Children’s Youth and Development Officer.
The Synod Clerk then went over the procedure for selecting a new Synod Moderator, as Andrew Prasad will be retiring in February 2021. Those who have been shortlisted for the post will be told in
June 2020 and Andrew’s successor will be announced at General Assembly in July 2020.
Nigel Udin, Moderator of General Assembly, gave an address in which he praised the URC’s Children’s and Youth Work, which is also commended by other churches. He said we should be a ‘listening people’.
The church’s task is to help the world see what God offers in Jesus Christ. We must continue to press for justice and be instruments of reconciliation in our world. Although some churches are shrinking in Britain, God is faithful and will work through us. We mustn’t change with the times but for the times. We must be a church which is engaging with the world and constantly changing.
The Synod Accounts, which show an increase in funds, due mainly to the closing and sale of Queen’s Park church, were approved by Synod.
Synod agreed to follow the resolution from Mission Council that the URC should not invest in companies whose total turnover is more than 10% derived from the extraction of fossil fuels and/ or the supply of fossil fuels.
Rachel Williams reported on her recent educational visit to Israel/ Palestine. We saw slides depicting scenes of settlements built illegally on Palestinian territory, young Israeli soldiers carrying guns
at check-points and horrifying signs saying, DANGER and FIRING AREAS! Encroachment onto olive tree plantations meant Palestinians are losing the means to earn a living. It is a complex situation and prayers for reconciliation are needed. Rachel is keen to visit URCs to talk about her visit.
A letter had been received from John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC, about the management of General Assembly. His proposals are that should meet annually and only one moderator should be
elected for a year. That person could be a minister, a CRCW or an elder. He also proposed that Mission Council’s name should be changed to Assembly Executive. Synod agreed to these proposals.
James Fields, from the Pastoral Committee spoke about bullying being a reality in our churches, which is never acceptable and should be dealt with.
After a break for lunch, Anne Sardeson, the Synod Training Officer then told us about Stepwise, a programme for Christian Discipleship for all of us. It can be accessed on the Internet and shows how God is present in our everyday lives. By following the course we learn how to follow in the steps of Jesus, learning from each other.
We were then asked to discuss this question at our tables: Where have I seen God this week?
At my table, some of us talked about seeing God in the beauty of creation, in help given to us by
other people and in stillness.
Anne told us a new Stepwise group would soon be starting in Enfield and on 22nd January, and a day for mentors will be held at the Synod Office in Bayswater.
A TLS Lite course for potential lay preachers will also be set up. Three accredited Lay Preachers were then asked to come forward and were congratulated. Sadly, Joan Manning, known to us in The Forest
Group, was unable to be present to receive her congratulations.
There was an update on the Adeyfield project, due to be completed in November after sixteen years. There had been a £2m shortfall in the cost of the project so a loan had been obtained from Synod.
The building project at Christ Church, Newham is awaiting planning approval, with tenders going out for the work. So far, Christ Church has received a grant from the Synod, but as costs have risen, a loan of £940,000 is now needed from Synod, if work is to start in April 2020. Resources Committee will look into this and Synod approved.
The Synod budget was then put forward, with a possible deficit envisaged. This was accepted by Synod.
Terry Hinks led us in Closing Worship before the Synod finished at 4:05 pm. It will next meet on Saturday 21st March 2020 at Western Road URC, in Romford, hosted by Heath and Havering
Local Area Group.