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Welcome to the URC Synod of Scotland monthly e-news.
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Synod Prayer Cycle 2020

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

October

25  Saughtonhall

Like so many congregations in the synod, Saughtonhall United Reformed Church - and its joint pastorate partners at Duke Street United Reformed Church - has been experimenting with online worship and fellowship during the lockdown. Sunday services have been held on Facebook, Bible studies and meetings have taken place on Zoom, and those without internet access have called a telephone hotline for a new reflection each week. As lockdown continues to ease, the congregation prays for guidance -   which elements of our "old" life should we hang onto and which elements should we abandon, so we can harness "new" tools for spreading the Good News?
 
Prayer
Creative God,
Thank you for helping us spread your word beyond our church family during lockdown, through
Facebook services and Zoom Bible studies. Please help us keep the best elements from our online evangelism to build a “better normal”, not just a “new normal”.
We pray in Jesus’s name, Amen.


November

1    Shawlands

Shawlands suffered a break in during Holy Week where the church was ransacked.  Nothing was taken but £11,000 worth of damage was caused; happily this was covered by insurance.  We have used lockdown to replace the kitchen using the skills of church members and whilst worship isn't likely to start for some time we have been able to allow many of the groups who use the church back in.  Sadly we have suffered other losses over the lockdown period - three long term members have died (two from Covid 19) and two others are now in nursing homes.  Whilst spirits are good and everyone is getting very proficient with Zoom there is a sense we have to navigate significant changes in our next steps together.
 
O God,
from the start you have called us to sing new songs to your praise and glory,
to find new ways of serving you,
new ways of proclaiming your love and liberation,
new ways of seeing things,
help us during these long days of Covid
to praise your name,
love your people,
and see where you call us next.
Amen.


8   Stewarton

Stewarton's new church is lovely but, with social distancing, could only hold a handful of people.  We are, therefore using the Daily Devotions recorded services which people can get via the internet or Andy posts to them on CD or we are joining in with the Southside Cluster Zoom service on Sunday mornings.  We are pleased that the local Boys Brigade are making use of the building.
 

Loving One,
we lift to you all our churches who are currently not open for worship,
and our members who wish to shield as infection rates rise,
governments blunder, and the NHS comes under renewed strain.
Give give grace to those who seek to lead during this crisis,
give strength to those who work in our hospitals,
and comfort to the bewildered.
Amen.


15 Stonehouse
St Ninian’s has taken the decision to remain worshiping online at present.  We have been pleased that a wide range of people have been able to join us on YouTube, Facebook, our website at st-ninians-stonehouse.org.uk as well as our podcast version and by telephone. As we continue to plan in these uncertain times we would ask that you pray for all those who bring imagination and enthusiasm to try to reach our community and meet their needs as we turn our preparations towards Advent and Christmas.

Lord,
We give you thanks for all the ways that we can join together,
Even in these times where we stay apart to keep each other safe.
We pray for those for whom the coming months bring uncertainty,
unsure of work, 
unsure about physical health, 
unsure about mental wellbeing.

Surround us all with your love,
Helping us to reach out to others,
To bring joy, hope, peace and love
In the days and weeks ahead.
Amen


22 1st in Advent (29th)
Light a holy flame of hope, O Lord.
in our weariness give us taste for new beginnings,
in our confusion clarity of heart.
Darn our threadbare longings for your kingdom
and make them fit again for the work of a new year.

Make us strong in patience
resolute in hopeful love,
expectant, incessant,
until the day of dreams. Amen.


29 St Andrew's Day (30th)
God of all things, lover of creation,
on this day of St Andrew,
where we are timid renew in us the impetuous
commitment of Christ’s first-called apostle.
 
God of all people, lover of the nations,
refresh in us a love of nation that is
holy, pure and open -
that seeks the common weal,
that rejoices in the gifts of culture, language and artistry,
that strains forward to what might be,
that seeks justice in our life together,
that nourishes kingdom-love for all the peoples of our world,
and works and longs for light and peace
wherever darkness is. Amen.

Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College
 
CALLING ALL LAY PREACHERS AND WORSHIP LEADERS!

Following on from recent conversations the College has been asked to co-ordinate some activities to support lay preaching in the United Reformed Church in Scotland.

Lay preachers and other regular leaders of worship are invited to join 
  •     a monthly Zoom conversation, 
  •    a WhatsApp group for keeping contact and 
  •    training sessions on 
    •    Zoom practicalities 
    •    copyright issues in online worship
    •   Café-style worship online
    •    … and more
To sign up 
please click the link below:
https://forms.gle/Nk12F7fTSsWjDK1p7

Any questions please call 0141 248 5382 or email jmscott@scottishcollege.org

Deadline for next e-news
is 13 November, 2020. 

Adventures in Faith
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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


Autumn Appeal Service 
If you have not yet held a Harvest Service for your church, take a look at our Autumn Appeal resources.   
Web: christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/autumn-appeal/autumn-appeal-worship-page 

  
You might also find our Harvest sermon useful. Bob Kikuyu, our Kenyan based theology advisor, was the speaker. He says “In the midst of the many calamities that have befallen us, I have heard people crying ‘O God where are you?’”  
Web: youtube.com/watch?v=gVazn9y4en4&feature=youtu.be 
 
Christmas Resources 
We know that when crisis threatens some of the world’s toughest places, love builds hope.  
  
In Ethiopia, and around the world, people living in poverty are on the frontline of the climate crisis. Locusts are swarming, encouraged by the long droughts and heavy rains.  
  
Farmers like Mekonnen are digging for water with their bare hands. ‘We pray for rain’, he says. ‘But when there is no rain, we have to dig.’ 
Women like Borgodo have witnessed plagues of locusts larger than ever before.  
‘The locusts suddenly came out of nowhere and ate every green plant in their path. They left us nothing useful,’ she said.  
 
Borgodo’s crops were so quickly destroyed that she didn’t know if anything would grow again.  
This Christmas, help us build hope.  
 
 
Look out for resources coming soon on the Christian Aid and Church of Scotland Weekly Worship websites. 
 
Cancel the Debt Campaign 
We have all been affected in some way by the devastating impact of coronavirus. As the pandemic has spread in many of the poorest countries, our neighbours around the world have been hit even harder, often without the safety nets we’ve been provided. 
 
The most vulnerable have been falling ill, and the economic impacts have left people who were already struggling without a way to feed their families and survive this crisis. Debt re-payments take away resources which are vital for coping with the health, social and economic crises resulting from the pandemic.  
 
We need rich nations, private creditors and multilateral bodies to cancel the debt of the world’s poorest countries. 
Act now - email the chancellor, join our photo petition, and explore our resources. 
Web: christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/cancel-debt-campaign-hub  
 
Building Back with Justice resources 
We have produced a new campaigns toolkit for life after coronavirus: Building Back with Justice.  
Find out how we aim to make justice central to our COVID-19 rebuilding efforts or download our discussion guide for use with your small group.  
Web: christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/building-back-justice-campaign-resource   
 
Gatherings Save the Date – 16 February 
We might not be able to gather in person, but we can still bring some of our amazing partner work to you via online platforms. Please do save the date and invite others to join us. RSVP to receive log-in details to: edinburgh@christian-aid.org

Christian Aid Speakers Available 
While it’s true that we are working from home under the current restrictions, we are still available to join your guild or committee meetings online or to speak at a virtual service. If you would be interested in having a Christian Aid staff member or volunteer speak to your group, please get in touch: cmeiklejohn@christian-aid.org
Scottish Churches Housing Action newsletter
 
All the latest news from See Me is available here...

See Me have launched a new resources for young people - "It's Okay". This includes: a video (clean version), a downloadable "What's on your mind" card for young people suggesting ways to explain how they're feeling and places can turn for help and tips to identify good listeners to approach for help and resources for adults and linked to curriculum for excellence including activities that could be used with groups of 11-18yr olds in the 'What's on Your Mind?' pack.
Update of the work of
Synod Committees:-

Synod Pastoral Committee
 Since lockdown the Pastoral Committee has been meeting every other month by Zoom.  Our role is to exercise the Synod's ministry of oversight of local churches.  To this end we receive reports from each of the four Links and try to respond to the needs of our local churches where we can.
 
The Committee was interested to find that around half of our churches have re-opened for in person worship and half haven't.  We are going to act as a "fail safe" to ensure that every local church has followed a relevant risk assessment.
 
We noted the sad decision of Avonbridge URC to close and have asked their Interim Moderator, the Rev'd Steven Manders, to continue to offer appropriate pastoral support to their members.
 
A review of the scoping of one Cluster is due and a small team have been set up to look at this and report back to our next meeting.  
 
There was great concern at the latest deployment figures which forecast just 10 stipendiary ministers will be available to the Synod in 2025 with the current quota of 14 dropping between now and then.  The Committee will be making firm representations to the Ministries Committee about this believing that the proposed figure is unworkable.  Given this we were not able to make any progress in declaring vacancies.
 
The Committee approved a "Basis of Dissolution" of the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting and hope the URC congregation that emerges from this dissolution will be recognised as a Synod Mission project with a viable mission and vision in due course.  
 
A new approach to the Synod Sunday Services will now involve a list of all local churches offering an online worship service being circulated to all our churches so people can join in where they wish.  
 
The Committee concurred with the Call of the Rev'd Penelope Smirthwaite to serve with a Church of Scotland congregation in Inverness in a non-stipendiary role alongside her work as North Link Convenor.  
 
The Committee was interested in ecumenical working on a new housing estate in Motherwell and asked the Rev'd John Bremner, ecumenical officer, to explore whether a Church Related Community Worker project might be a suitable URC offering there.
 

The Committee meet again in early December.

Revd Andy Braunston (Secretary)
 
Policy Planning and Strategy
(PPS) Committee

We are waiting for Mission Council to meet and consider the nomination of Revd Paul Whittle as Interim Moderator. At present, PPS is continuing to meet on a frequent (six to eight week) basis for a shorter duration of approximately two hours.

Recent business has been concerned with:
Synod Meeting – the September meeting was a “first” on line meeting as we were unable to meet face to face as planned. Consideration as to what options we have for 2021 meetings has commenced.

Governance – this is a regular item as we continue to work to improve governance of synod activities. This includes provision of suitable training for trustees.

Synod Office – the decision to close the office again was made for the benefit and health of staff. Work is underway to provide updated I.T equipment.
Finance – the Synod accounts for 2019 are currently with the auditors.

W Robson – Synod Clerk
Feedback from the General Assembly Mission Committee
September 2020

 1. Partners in Mission
We continue to give thanks for the work of our mission partners through the Council for World Mission. The Taiwanese Fellowship in Lumen, London continues to be blessed by the ministry of the Revd Yufen Chen from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Much of her ministry has taken place online, but this has enabled her to reach people well beyond the fellowship, London and the UK.
Ms Alison Gibbs, who is working with the United Church of Zambia, had to return to the UK for a medical emergency. After treatment and a long recuperation, she has now returned to Mabel Shaw school in Mbereshi.
Ms So Young Jung continues her ministry in South London with Korean young people, developing lots of creative ways to reach and keep in touch with them, especially during lockdown.
 
Please pray for the work of our Partners in Mission, both in the UK and overseas, and the people they are working with.
 
2. Global and Intercultural Ministries
New resources from Global and Intercultural Ministries team and Legacies of Slavery task group
The Global and Intercultural Ministries team at Church House recently offered two webinars led by Revd Dr Peter Cruchley of CWM. Titled 'What does it mean to be white in a world where Black Lives Matter?' and 'Legacies of Slavery', the recordings of these webinars are now available on https://urc.org.uk/legacies-of-slavery (see Black History Month).
 
The Legacies of Slavery task group, a group set up by the Mission Committee, group has collated and produces a set of materials collating/producing a body of materials for synods and local churches to resource conversations, reflections, Bible Studies and worship services. You can find the material here https://urc.org.uk/legacies-of-slavery
 
3. Christian Aid
Christian Aid furloughed most of its staff during the lockdown. Staff are now returning and beginning to implement the new strategy that was adopted in 2019. A key part of the new strategy will be enabling churches to be a prophetic voice and key faith actors in ending poverty. New regional teams have been put in place to engage with local churches. Christian Aid’s fundraising takes place mostly online and if you have feedback to offer on the online fundraising offers of Christian Aid www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising, then please contact Kevin Snyman at kevin.snyman@urc.org.uk.
 
Please pray for Christian Aid as it implements its new strategy in challenging times and pray for the regional teams as they find their feet and start building relationships with the churches in their area.
 
4. Church and Society
The Church and Society team, together with others, were involved in the development and launch of the ‘New reality, same mission’ booklet, to enable individuals and local churches to explore questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the new reality which we all face. To download the resource, go to www.urc.org.uk/same-mission
 
 The Joint Public Issues team conducted research into poverty under lockdown and identified the build-up of debt by low-income households as a major impending problem. JPIT has now developed a campaign to ‘Reset the Debt’: www.ResetTheDebt.uk
 
 
What will you do to end Homelessness? Through August and September JPIT has been releasing a series of films and stories about people’s lived experience of homelessness, to start a conversation about what we can do differently to end homelessness. Some are very moving and thought-provoking. Do take a look here: www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/poverty-and-inequality/endhomelessness/  
 
In the Thick of It: a book on God’s kingdom in the margins, arising from the gathering of the same name held last year. Printed copies are available on request. Contact: roo.stewart@urc.org.uk
 
5. Interfaith relations
Working with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the URC has taken the lead in a pilot initiative for National Interfaith Week (8-15 November 2020), whereby a small number of churches commit to hold conversations with their local mosque. URC churches from Surrey, Salford and Blackburn are taking part in this year’s pilot. The hope is that this programme might become a model for larger scale conversations in future years.
 
Please pray for this new initiative as it seeks to bring our faith communities closer together.
 
Israel-Palestine: Two General Assembly themed digital discussions were held in July, the first one featuring a panel drawn from participants of the 2019 educational visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the second a lecture from Rev Dr Munther Isaac of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Both were extremely successful and drew large audiences. We have recorded Munther Isaac’s lecture and will be re-running it on Tuesday 17 November at 7.00 pm using Zoom. Anyone who wishes to attend this closed session should email carole.sired@urc.org.uk to register for a link.
 
Please pray for Bethlehem and all those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. An already impoverished population has been hard hit by Covid-19, the lack of tourism and a vulnerable infrastructure. Life is more difficult than ever and so our prayers and practical support are so vital.
 
6. Greenbelt 2020
The traditional Greenbelt August Bank Holiday Weekend for 2020 was limited to online activity. Our creative URC team have contributed with blogs from URC Youth and Roo Stewart, craft ideas and other website material. There is even a virtual treasure hunt. Check out the dedicated URC at Greenbelt page for more details: https://urc.org.uk/greenbelt
 
For 2021, URC at Greenbelt will continue our ‘revolting Christians’ theme and we are aiming for a larger presence at the Festival.
 
7. New resources from Walking the Way, living the life of Jesus today
The latest versions of the Walking the Way resource map, steering group resources and synod/local church recommended resources are now available. Walking the Way resources for Harvest have been published, considering how whole-of-life disciples of Jesus ought to be responding to the challenges faced by farming communities today. Materials for use around Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, thinking about how whole-of-life disciples of Jesus can remember those who have lost their lives in conflict, will be released soon. A URC information booklet entitled ‘Doing online differently’ has been released to help open up fresh thinking about online technology in relation to discipleship development, along with suggested additional materials which might be useful in this. https://urc.org.uk/information-guides.html
 
8. Fresh expressions and pioneering: a new app has been developed for those interested in developing new Christian communities where they are. If this applies to you, do have a look at
https://www.fxresourcing.org/godsend/contents/
 
9. Rural Mission
Farming has had a very tough year. The weather is, once again, proving to be problematic for many farmers and it is predicted that the wheat harvest will be the lowest for about 40 years. Alongside this there are great concerns about the effect of any trade deal on farming standards. There is also concern about a lack of a trade deal with the EU, which could affect exports.
 
The change in work patterns as a result of the pandemic is also affecting rural communities. Many villages are home to groups of commuters who are now working from home. If you have seen this dynamic in your community, the National Rural Officer would like to hear from you? What happened in your community? And how did your church respond to this new opportunity? Contact Elizabeth Clark at Elizabeth.Clark@arthurrankcentre.org.uk  
 
Please pray for members of the farming community and those who work to support them.
 
9. Resolutions
The Mission Committee agreed to bring two resolutions to the Mission Council meeting in November: one asking the URC to commit itself to a journey from being not racist to being actively anti-racist; the other expressing concern about the increased use of single use plastics during the current pandemic. The full text of the resolutions will be available in the Mission Council papers, which will be published online in due course.

Faiths Unite: Visions for Transformative Climate Action

The Interfaith Liaison Committee welcomes friends from around the world to learn, discuss and explore climate action in the run up to what should have been COP26. We welcome members from different religious communities, alongside scientists and policymakers, to meet and share their visions for faith-based climate action in 2020.

A 3-part interactive online series organised by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC. Every Tuesday, October 27th-November 10th

 

Online Event #1The World We Want
Register here

27 OCTOBER 2020

9:00-10:30 AM GMT

10:00-11:30 AM CET 7:00-8:30 PM AEDT

Our first online session will provide a space to explore the response offered by different faith traditions to the current climate crisis and COVID-19. The discussion will focus on how these perspectives might help us to navigate through this precarious moment.

This interactive event is in English.
 

Online Event #2COP26 – Ramp Up Ambition!
Register here

3 NOVEMBER 2020

4:00-5:30 PM GMT

5:00-6:30 PM CET 11:00:12:30 AM EST

Our second online session will bring together representatives from the scientific, policy and faith communities engaged on climate change. This will be an interdisciplinary discussion on the agenda for COP26 and what this means for climate action now.

This interactive event is in English with Spanish translation.
 

Online Event #3Hope For The Future
Register here

10 NOVEMBER 2020

4:00-6:30 PM GMT5:00-7:30 PM CET

11:00-13:30 AM EST

As we reach the time of what should have been the COP26 in Glasgow, our final session will offer a space for dialogue on faith-based climate action. We will share and reflect on stories of hope in action from faith communities around the world. The session will offer interactive opportunities for participants, facilitating connections and raising motivation for the year ahead. 

This interactive event is in English with Spanish translation.

Ankit Duggal the president for this year in Edinburgh Napier student Association at Edinburgh Napier University for this year would like to host dialogue event for students & staff members on 10th November 2020 at 6pm.  The topic for the webinar is “Faith plays a role for good mental health”. The point is to make students learn to use their faith for hope and keep peace in mind and other aspects in life. It’s going to be virtual, I would like to invite speakers to share thoughts for 5 to 7 minutes with our students in webinar.   
During the contemporary issue of Covid 19, faith provides the students & staff a hope that things will be all right soon. As there is no vaccination yet for the virus, faith plays a big role for mental health and wellbeing.  It’s difficult not to become anxious in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a degree of concern is necessary for us to take the precautions and protect ourselves, those we love, and those who live in our neighbourhood.  Interfaith is an avenue of seeing and seeking the endless possibilities of Divine expression.   
 
Please contact Ankit for more information.
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