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Welcome to the URC Synod of Scotland monthly e-news.
Welcome to Synod of Scotland Enews.


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Synod Prayer Cycle 2021

Prayers for churches around the Synod and the world are on the synod website and Facebook Page.  Please join with the rest of the Synod in prayer, and pray for the following congregations

March

28  Cumbernauld

April

4    Easter

Yesterday I spent some time cleaning and tidying up my greenhouse ready for this year's growing season.  It is an exciting time of the gardening year, choosing seeds, planting them at the right time, tending the plants and looking forward to the harvest.  I also cleared a garden preparation space in the garage to enable this work to be done.  
 
Scotland is currently in a time of preparation, waiting for and watching while coronavirus restrictions are lifted.  Some of us and our neighbours have received vaccines but at the time of writing many folk continue to wait.  But we still make ready.  Church life when we return cannot be quite the same as it was in the ‘before’ times, however much we might wish it could be.  Some consider that this is golden opportunity rather than ‘coming back’ to start a different way of living, serving, and witnessing.  
 
God of re-creation and new starts, 
you call us back and call us on.  
As we contemplate a time of ‘return’ 
we ask what you want of us.  
Show us where we should go, 
guide our feet to be faithful to your call.  
 
We ask for the gift of freedom in this 
and in every season.  
 
Freedom to be open to your call, 
whatever it might be 
and however it might come.  
 
Freedom to be open 
to what we least expect. 
 
Freedom to see beyond 
and through our assumptions 
about how church and discipleship 
’should’ be 
to how they might most fully be.  
 
Strengthen us for service
and witness.  
Help us to be brave
in our faith and work. 
In the name of the Risen Christ, 
strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  
Amen.  
 

11  Duke Street
This month Duke Street begins a process of discerning what it means to be Church in a post COVID world and what this will look like.  Having worshipped live at 10am most Sundays using Facebook over the last 12 months, the congregation has welcomed many new friends and has reconnected with people who had once been around and were part of Duke Street.  This has also meant that some of our regular worshippers join from various locations in the UK and beyond.  Unfortunately the impact of COVID restrictions has taken its toll on other activities and the youth organisations.   The Brownies, Guides and Boys’ Brigade have managed to keep in contact with members using Facebook, Zoom and by setting various tasks and challenges, realising that it is unlikely any of these groups will meet in the building this session.  This month a team from Duke Street will be out at night in the Bethany Care van offering direct support to folk sleeping rough in  Edinburgh city centre.  A collection of Easter Eggs is also being co-ordinated for the families that are supported by Home Start, an organisation that has a long association with the congregation.  As Duke Street looks to the months ahead we are asking two big questions.  From all that has been experienced over the last year, what do we leave behind and what do we take with us?

God of the past, present and future,
as we reflect on our experience of the last year;
show us the direction we should travel.
Give the congregation of Duke Street resilience, vision, energy and courage,
so that it can be the worshipping community you are calling it to be.
Make Duke Street be a beacon of your grace in the community of Leith,
working and serving in Jesus name.

Amen

18  Dumbarton
This past year has been a difficult one for the congregation of Dumbarton URC, just as it has been for us all. The decision was taken in March 2020 to cease Public Worship and the congregation has not met for their own worship since then. We have depended on phone calls and email to keep in touch with one another.
 
Some members have been able to join the weekly online worship in our Joint Pastorate shared with Helensburgh URC, and since April 2020, also joined by Essenside & Morison through our minister being asked to give oversight to them.
 
When public worship has been possible in our host congregation, St Augustines Scottish Episcopal Church, a small number of us have been able to attend in person worship. Most recently we were able to attend an online joint service with ’St Augs’ hosted by their new Rector, Rev Heller Gonzalez, with our own minister as the preacher for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
 
Dumbarton Churches Together has organised online prayer events occasionally and will do so again for Holy Week.
 
We look forward to being able to sIng from copies of Rejoice and Sing donated to us from our friends in Aberdeen!
 

Please pray for our congregation, unable to meet together at this time, especially for those members who feel isolated.
 
Prayer also for our families, especially those who are grieving, facing illness or hardship.
 
Give thanks for the wider church that we are are able to be part of through our Joint Pastorate, local Ecumenical links and the Synod.
 
Ask God to continue to bless the new ministry of Heller and the congregation of St Augustine’s as he starts his role with them in the most challenging of circumstances.
 
As we begin the slow journey out of Lockdown may God renew us and guide us so that we can regroup once again for worship and discern our future as a congregation in Dumbarton.
 

25  Dunfermline
The Elders are looking at options for our building and will be having discussions with Sarah Moore in April to help us look at our options, and also help us identify what our future mission might be. Our options are 1. Do nothing; 2. Refurbish our building; 3. Sell the building and move elsewhere. Like all churches we have not met in person for a year now, but as we look to reopen in the coming months there are many things for us to consider as we prepare.
 
Heavenly Father, we ask for your wisdom and guidance as we explore what it means to be your church in Dunfermline. Be with us in our discussions and help us to hear what you are saying and see where you are leading us. Help us to be open with each other and listen to each other’s views.
As we begin to look forward to reopening our churches in coming months, be with us. Help us to be inclusive. Although lockdown may be easing, there will be many who find this to be a time of anxiety. Many have been shielding and for them going out may be far from comfortable. Some will still be waiting for their 2nd Covid vaccine jab, so may well be anxious because of that. Help us to be aware of the fears and anxieties of others.
We give thanks for those who have enabled us to worship in new ways throughout this Pandemic. For those whose IT skills have enabled us to join with others albeit remotely, through Zoom, or providing services on YouTube which can be watched whenever it is convenient for someone. For those who lead our worship in this new way and have had to develop new skills in doing so.
 
Father, we ask these thing in and through the name of Jesus, your Son.
Amen

Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College

Video, Social Media, Digital Worship and Communication Skills Workshops
April to July 2021
 
The United Reformed Church is offering a series of eight free online workshops on video editing, social media, sharing stories and using signs and symbols for more inclusive worship.
 
For details and to sign up:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/series-of-workshops-building-skills-confidence-and-capacity-in-comms-registration-144181152709
 
Marriage Law and Procedure in Scotland Seminar
This seminar introduces the procedures for ‘religion and belief marriages’ in Scotland and what solemnisers must know.
 
Ministers who have recently moved to Scotland and ordinands (of any denomination), as well as others authorised to solemnise marriages, both same-sex and opposite-sex are invited to this online event.
 
Thursday 15 April 2021 16.00 to 17.30 on Zoom
 
To sign up please contact pdickie@urcscotland.org.uk
 
Church Leadership Programme
The United Reformed Church’s Church Leadership Programme is a comprehensive programme to refresh experienced lay and ordained leaders in authentic leadership. A mix of physical and virtual learning, the course threads from September to June every academic year. The programme combines virtual and residential sessions in central England and there are up to 16 places each academic year. The course is one of the gems of Education and Learning provision in the United Reformed Church. Further information from jmscott@scottishcollege.org or philippa.linton@urc.org.uk The deadline for initial expressions of interest is Friday 31st July 2021

 
The Churches North of the Clyde*
 

A year ago, like many of you, I moved to worshipping online and began uploading weekly video services on 22nd March 2020. As I prepare to record portions of the Video service for our group of four churches north of the Clyde for this Sunday, 21st March 2021, I am hopeful this might be the last pre-recorded service - if we are able to resume in person worship, where appropriate, on 28th March for Palm Sunday as hoped.
 
It was a steep learning curve though we have found fellowship online, especially via Zoom every Sunday evening since last Easter, has allowed people from our four churches to be together without having to travel, This is something we are likely to continue in one form or another. I will also carry on broadcasting in-person services via Zoom for those unable to attend in person and afterwards upload an edited Zoom recording as I did throughout the second half of last year. This is something too which we may decide to continue as it allows people to be part of Sunday worship when they are otherwise unable to attend, for whatever reason but have internet access.

In our group of four churches two hope to re-open on Palm Sunday, one hopes to re-open on Easter Day and one will remain closed for the time being. When we do reopen we are also needing to think of service times and trying to find local worship leaders to reduce unnecessary travel but we feel in a good place to explore new possibilities in our ongoing adventures of faith as we journey through Lent and Holy Week to the promise of new life in Christ at Easter.
 
Happy Easter!
Bungie <><
 
*The Churches north of the Clyde are Dumbarton, Essenside, Helensburgh & Morison Memorial.



 
Update of the work of
Synod Committees:-

 
 
 Policy Planning and Strategy
(PPS) Committee

 
At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, a decision was made not to furlough lay members of staff. Our staff have worked conscientiously on behalf of Synod and we are extremely grateful for their support. The past year has seen very different patterns of working, mainly from home and with visits to synod office reserved for those activities that are essential and necessary.  When we entered the current “lockdown” phase, PPS reviewed the situation. There is no current intention to change this approach.

Staff have ensured that we have been able to submit our 2019 accounts in March this year. As this year progresses it is intended to seek an accountancy firm to provide professional support, to relieve the pressure on our Synod treasurer Revd Alan McGougan (who has taken on a great deal of extra work which has been in addition to his pastoral duties).  We are now engaged in upgrading the synod I.T. provision to meet present and future requirements.

We are looking towards the future and continue to work through governance matters. This includes work being undertaken and funded by the URC Law and Polity Advisory Group (LPAG) on property ownership and churches are being contacted, by the LPAG Convenor, asking for assistance.  

Training for trustees is being planned for April, while Officers are to receive Risk Management Training later this month.

2021 heralds a change in URC presence in Aberdeen following the dissolution of the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting LEP with the Church of Scotland. Our remaining URC members are working with Revd Sarah Moore (Transition Champion) to determine how they can best continue their witness in Aberdeen.

W Robson
Synod Clerk

 
World Church
 
Dear friends 
 
At our Synod Meeting on Saturday 13th March it was agreed that I create a World Church resource on our Synod website
 
I have some material in order to start this but it would be good to have your help. Please send me stories and photos from your Church, or people in your Church, of World Church links that you have. It will be great to share and celebrate these experiences and so encourage others. 
 
There is an intention to focus on the Council for World Mission so that we can rekindle our longstanding links with our global partners. I would be glad to hear from anyone who has or has had involvement with CWM locally, though the European Region or globally so that we can share your experiences. I have two short video clips of Douglas Hay and George Sykes recorded at Tulliallan in 2019 reflecting on their time in Botswana and Kiribati. It would be great to be able to add to these videos.

 
I look forward to hearing from you
Bungie <><

Deadline for next e-news
is 10 April 2021. 

Adventures in Faith
To receive the newsletter email adventures@dioceseofedinburgh.org or visit www.facebook.com/DioceseEdinburgh
To sign up to the Eco Congregation Newsletter click the link below

http://www.ecocongregationscotland.org

 
JPIT
to receive the Joint Public Issues Team newsletter http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/whats-new/newsletter/
The latest newsletter from the Scottish Churches Disability Group is available on their website
For more information visit: http://www.placeforhope.org.uk/events

 
URC Update and Newsletter
Please click here to join the URC Newsletter.

Supporting Communities Safely 
from Public Health Scotland


The website gives advice for Community Groups, Organisations and Volunteer Networks fighting Covid-19
 
https://www.scdc.org.uk/supporting-communities-safely

URC Children & Youth Newsletter

The bi-monthly newsletter can be downloaded here.
Christian Aid
 https://www.christianaid.org.uk

 

Get your kilt on! 

If your boots are made for walking, why not take part in the Kiltwalk? 

You can take on any Kiltwalk-inspired challenge you wish. Go for a walk (of any length), cycle, jump on a trampoline or take the family on a scavenger hunt! 

The Kiltwalk is happening virtually all across Scotland from 23-25 April. Get moving for Christian Aid and The Hunter Foundation will increase your sponsorship by 50%! 

Sign up today and don’t forget to name Christian Aid as your chosen charity. 

Lauren will be delighted to support you to get set up lmcfarland@christian-aid.org 

 

Scottish Churches webinar and pledge  
COP26, Divestment & Investment in Just & Green Recovery 
Wed, 3 March 2021
 7pm 

Register to join the webinar here: 

https://scottishchurcheswebinar.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

Join Christian Aid’s Alejandro Alemán Treminio and leading Scottish church campaigners to discover how fossil fuel investment is endangering the lives of our global brothers and sisters.  

Alejandro Alemán Treminio works in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti.  

Nicaragua is one of the three countries in the world worst affected by weather catastrophes, and the UN has warned that storms here will only get worse. In November 2020, Hurricane Iota caused devastation across the region with millions of people affected. Homes and crops were flattened. 

These emergencies push back the country's economic development. 

Christian Aid works with local communities in Nicaragua to monitor and adapt to the climate crisis. As climate change is affecting the coffee yield, we are supporting local communities to diversify their crops with cocoa plants.  

 

Stand together with Scottish churches to fight this climate crisis 

·         Join the Scottish Churches Webinar 

·         Sign the Scottish Churches COP26 pledge. 

 

Migration, Refugees and Climate Change 
Thursday, 18 March 2021, 10:00am 
 
How does conflict and climate drive displacement? Faith Impact Forum and Christian Aid will host this panel discussion on migration, refugees and climate change. Fiona Kendall, Rev John McCulloch, and Val Brown will each bring their own experiences to this lively and topical discussion. 

Find out more at: christianaid.org.uk/events/migration-refugees-and-climate-change 

 

International Question Time  
11 March 2021, 6.30-8.00pm 

Quiz politicians and have your voice heard on Scotland’s role in building a greener, fairer world. 
Hosted by The Alliance, this event is an opportunity to encourage our politicians to shape Scotland as a global leader in tackling poverty and climate change. 

More details available from The Alliance. 

You can also read Christian Aid’s election manifesto recommendations here. 

 
Christian Aid Week speakers 

Do you need a speaker this Christian Aid Week? We would love to be invited to speak at your worship service and this year we are not constrained by geography!  

With the wonders of technology, staff and volunteer speakers can appear on your screens and let you know a bit more about biblical justice and the amazing work that our partners are doing to lift people out of poverty.  

To book a speaker, please e-mail Charlie on cmeiklejohn@christian-aid.org 

 

Fancy a Film Night? 
Thank You for the Rain tells the story of Kisilu, a smallholder farmer in Kenya who has used his camera to capture the life of his family, and the human costs of climate change. This film is a great way to share the bigger justice story of the climate crisis with your community. 

Christian Aid’s Campaigns team have made the film available for our supporters to watch online. Why not host an online watch party and use it to start a discussion about climate, creation and COP in your church? 

Request the Thank You for the Rain download link from campaigns@christian-aid.org 
More info can be found here: christianaid.org.uk/news/thank-you-rain 

Scottish Churches Housing Action newsletter
 
All the latest news from See Me is https://www.seemescotland.org/news-and-blogs/
 
See Me Scotland launched several new resources for those working in health & social care at the end of 2020. You can explore them here: https://www.seemescotland.org/health-social-care/ 
 
It was Time to Talk Day on 4th February 2021. The theme this year was "The Power of Small" (A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference).The resources are still available on the See Me website (https://www.seemescotland.org/movement-for-change/campaigns/time-to-talk/time-to-talk-day-2021/) including a Time to Talk bingo (including young people's version)
 
Don't forget their children & young people's resources include #FeelsFM - an emoji driven playlist/activities for CYP to access https://feelsfm.co.uk/
Below is the link for:-
information and guidance for churches holding election hustings for the Scottish Parliament elections to be held on 6 May 2021.
 
We are suggesting online events, and recommend they be held in the week beginning Monday 19 April, or earlier, as postal ballots will be delivered around this time.

 
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