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

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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


30  Newburgh
The majority of our congregation live in Newburgh which is a small tightknit community of around 9,000 people, there is also a disproportionate level of people who come within the elderly age group for Covid-19. Like other communities many have been helping others with shopping and deliveries from the Chemist; many have ‘knocked’ windows and waved to those isolated. Like all, the community look forward to the easing of lockdown. Again like many, some of our members have become well used to Zoom; skype; facetime etc and are grateful for the technology which has meant being able to keep in contact with family and friends. Within the Church we now share a Pastorate monthly newsletter which keeps us up to date and for those with no internet we share a written monthly service so all have an opportunity to take part in worship together, although many have enjoyed the ‘Worship from the Quays’ on BBC with the ‘Scottish’ flavour to it. We have put our refurbishment on hold during this time and we will once again be considering the impact this will have on our plans – what will be feasible will depend on social distancing rules going forward. The Pastorate has shared in a daily reflection, through e-mail and  face book, from our minister since Churches closed and many have been using this as a time for our own reflection on events around us and where we see and feel Christ amongst us.
Caring God, we give thanks for all the good that has been shown in our community and communities across this country, from simple acts of a wave or a smile to the help with shopping the good of this and many communities have come to the fore. We all reflect on what we have lost and yet know that we have gained in other ways, this is your gift to us in such difficult times. As we move forward, carefully, through easing of lockdown we pray for restraint and sensible approaches to life. We pray that the revived community spirit continues in all the good ways and we do not immediately return to things the way they were. Within our community we give thanks for those who had the foresight to set up a foodbank serving the town and for all who donate to this. Give hope to those who require to call on its services. We think on the other Churches in our Pastorate and Synod, remembering we are just one of a larger Church; guide and protect each one of us as we move through phase 2 and into phase 3 of this stage of lock down. There words we pray through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.


6   Oakshaw Trinity

13  Synod Autumn Meeting 19th Sept

Holy One
in a time when so much is changing, 
both the expected and the unexpected, 
we give thanks for the constancy 
of your presence.  
We pray for our Synod Meeting, 
for the discussions that will take place 
and for the decisions that will be made.  
We pray for our Moderator and Synod Clerk 
and others 
as they lead and facilitate our meeting.  
We ask for your strength 
and for the gift of courage 
as we face the time ahead.  
So much unclear and unknown, 
so many questions, 
so much wondering.  
Guide each of our churches 
as we all make decisions about our future, 
show us what we must keep 
and what we should change 
as we strive to stay faithful 
to the Good News brought by your Son.  
In his name, 
strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  

20  Peedie Kirk
We began renovation work at the end of February on the toilets and kitchen. Unfortunately the workmen had to ‘abandon ship’ at the start of ‘lock down’. We are very glad that work has resumed and is coming on well much to our relief.. Much clearing up and sorting to do!
Friends in Synod may like this blessing at this time.
An Orkney Blessing
May the song of the birds
rise up like Christ,
and fill your hearts with love .
May the vigorous Orkney winds blow away fear
and sorrow, and energise your soul.
May the outpourings of God’s love in your life
be as boundless as the tumbling waves upon the shore.
May the glorious Orkney sunsets bring you deep peace
and the rainbow’s promise
strengthen you with faith and hope in the risen Christ.
Today and always.   Amen.

27  Port Glasgow

In Port Glasgow we are beginning to work slowly at re-opening our building.  For the past few weeks, we have opened the building for an hour and a half, once a week, for private prayer.  It was hoped that this would allow the congregation to see and have a feel for the building before beginning back for Sunday worship, which we hope will be before the end of August.
While the building has been closed we have continued worshipping online.  Our services are on YouTube, and resource sharing with our Cluster Churches the service is also on Facebook.  Our minister also has evening prayers live on Facebook on a Sunday evening.
Loving God, we give thanks to you for your unfailing love for us.  We have been patient and careful over the last few months as our lives changed dramatically, but we are held strong by the knowledge of your unchanging grace for us.  As lockdown continues to ease all us to remain vigilant to the needs and safety of others around  us.  Grant us more patience as we slowly begin to open our Church building once more.  Give us the courage to be creative in our approach to worship over the coming months. 
We bring you our prayers through your Son, Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College
The Church of Scotland Presbyteries of Glasgow and Edinburgh are helping to resource a series of online and in person courses for church members, worship leaders, elders and others, beginning in late September. These courses can be audited or taken for credit at Glasgow or Edinburgh Universities.
Our colleagues at Trinity College Glasgow, New College and the Scottish Episcopal Institute are co-ordinating these opportunities. Details are below:
(online delivery)
September 23 - December 2, 2020
Wednesday evenings, 7-8.30pm

This course helps to chart the contemporary challenges we are experiencing in the church and in practicing Christian faith, intensified now by the global pandemic. Along with Biblical, theological and social science insights, the course explores a range of creative expressions and spiritual practices to sustain people and communities in diverse local contexts this Advent.​
Click here for more information
(online delivery)
September 24 - December 3, 2020
Thursday evenings, 7-8.30pm

A practical introduction to designing and leading Christian worship utilising theologically rich patterns and practices and adapting these to participants contemporary church context.
Click here for more information
(online delivery)
September 28 - December 7, 2020
Monday evenings, 7-8.30pm

This course will help leaders active in local church contexts to identify and interpret challenges facing your church, and equip participants with tools to develop faithful and creative responses to manage difficult church change.
Click here for more information
(Online and In Person)
Thursdays from
24th September 2020 1:00pm - 5:00pm • (8 classes) Mix of classes at New College and online. Class dates: Thurs 24 Sept, 1st Oct, 8th Oct, 15th Oct, 5th Nov, 26th Nov (all 6pm until 8pm); Sat 24th Oct and 14th Nov (both 1pm until 5pm).

This course will be of particular interest to those who wish to explore the possibility of leading worship in their local church setting. It will cover the theology, history and structure of services of Christian worship in a variety of styles. The format will be varied, and will include lectures, discussion and the opportunity to practise preparing the components which make up a service of worship. Click here for more information
(Online and In Person)
Saturdays from
23rd January 2021 1:00pm - 5:00pm • (8 classes) Mix of classes at New College and online. Class Dates: Sat 23rd Jan and 27th March (both 1pm to 5pm); Mon 1st Feb, 8th Feb, 22nd Feb, 1st Mar, 8th Mar, 15th Mar (all 6pm to 8pm)

The course is aimed to equip those who enrol with a grounding in the theological understanding and practical knowledge needed to begin and develop new worshipping communities or ‘fresh expressions of church’, through pioneer ministry and church planting. Click here for more information
Sponsorship from EM3 or other training funds may be available for United Reformed Church members, elders or ministers wishing to take these courses. Please contact

David moves on
Our Synod Moderator, David Pickering has received a call to a return to a pastoral ministry, and has written of that call in this letter.

The news has also been communicated on the URC’s website.

David’s final day as our Moderator will be our Autumn Synod, which is still planned to take place on Saturday 19th September and be an on line gathering. We will have an opportunity to say farewell then. Plans are being made for a transition arrangement after David demits, which will be announced as soon as they are in place.
Inverclyde Cluster News...............

On August 5th 2020, Susan Henderson was Ordained and Inducted at Port Glasgow United Reformed Church to the Inverclyde Cluster, comprising of Greenock East URC, Greenock West URC and Port Glasgow URC.

The service was conducted by the Rev. Dr. David Pickering, Moderator of the National Synod of Scotland and the Rev. Dr. John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish College where Susan had studied, preached.

The service was attended by a small number of representatives from the Inverclyde Cluster Churches and Susan’s family.  Many more family, friends and members of different congregations watched live online.

Susan said that although it was a small gathering at the Church it was felt special knowing that people were with her online.  It was also the first time that Susan had been with family since Christmas and celebrating her birthday on this special ordination day made it doubly special.

Youth Assembly 2021

Year 10/S3 students up to and including 25 year olds, this is your chance to get in quick and sign up for Youth Assembly 2021

At a cost of £110 on or before 11 November 2020, rising to just £140 after that date, you can enjoy a whole weekend from 29 to 31 January 2021 in the company of other young people and adults from URC Youth, full board, at the wonderful Whitemoor Lakes centre. The theme of Heroes and Villains – is there a difference? launches the Heroes and Villains theme for URC Children's and Youth Work for 2021 and promises a weekend which offers something for everyone in its packed and varied programme. 

If cost is a problem, your church or synod may be able to help, so why not talk to a youth leader or your synod CYDO or equivalent? or contact the Children's and Youth Work office at
The Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College and National Synod of Scotland Office closed on Friday afternoon, 20th March until further notice.
The office phone number 0141 248 5382 will be answered – all our emails will be working as usual.

Deadline for next e-news
is 11 September 2020. 

Adventures in Faith
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The latest newsletter from the Scottish Churches Disability Group is available on their website
Sign up for Interfaith newsletter:-

You are warmly invited to join us for the Annual Interfaith Lecture 2020 delivered by Professor Jason Leitch CBE, National Clinical Director.  Professor Leitch will deliver the lecture at 4 pm on Monday 14th September on the topic of ' Science and Religion: my personal approach to the pandemic'.
The lecture will be include a time for Q & A and an opportunity for dialogue.  On registering please include any questions you would wish to ask Professor Leitch and a selection will be chosen for the event. 
Following on from the Annual Interfaith Lecture (from 5-6 pm) will be the AGM of Interfaith Scotland.  It is important that all members attend the AGM and we ask that you please register with us as for the Annual Lecture and AGM soon as possible.   Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the 2020 Annual Interfaith Lecture will be delivered via zoom and will be followed by the AGM of Interfaith Scotland.
To register please email
For more information visit:

Place for Hope are looking ahead to begin our next 10 year journey with the recruitment of a new Director to take over from Ruth Harvey, to whom we sadly say goodbye as she heads off to be Leader of the Iona Community.

We are also delighted to be advertising a new role in partnership with the Methodist Church - Reconciliation and Mediation Team Manager
The two appointments will support Place for Hope in its ministry of reconciliation and peacebuilding through these times of transition that we all face.
We are keen to promote these opportunities to all our friends and networks. Please share the adverts below in newsletters, on websites and via email, and let people know they can download the job packs at The packs are also attached to this email. The closing date for both jobs is 10th July 2020.
Please also share our posts on facebook and twitter.

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

URC Children & Youth Newsletter

The bi-monthly newsletter can be downloaded here.


I took this photograph yesterday along a route I walk most days. I have passed this tree dozens of times but yesterday I “saw” it for the first time. For those looking at this electronically, I think will see more easily. Those looking on a printed page, possibly not so well. It is a picture of a mature tree on the perimeter of a golf course. The tree and the iron fence which runs alongside, and through it have been joined for at least 40-50 years. To extricate the fence could well kill the tree.
I say “through” it ( the tree) because the fence which once ran alongside the tree has now been incorporated into it. The fence runs through the middle of the tree.
I was so struck by seeing this that I immediately began to see it not as a tree, but as a parable of all of our situations.
In certain Christian circles, much is made of “overcoming”, problems, temptation, failure, evil and much more.

The tree has not overcome the fence, it has taken it into itself.

For many of us, isolation and the threat of the virus is not something to be beaten, it is something which we may have to carry with us well into the future. We may be unable to beat the virus, but we can order our lives, the “ new normal” taking the threat with us, not allowing it to defeat us, but not going back to the old ways either.

The tree looks terribly restricted, seeing it through human eyes we may also imagine the pain, but the tree has carried on successfully growing by incorporating the very thing which was a problem into itself.

Remarkable. If we can learn to do the same thing we shall all do very well.
Revd Alan Poolton

The Revd John Proctor, outgoing General Secretary of the United Reformed Church (URC), retired on 14 August having served the Church for 34 years.

Due to coronavirus, colleagues and friends gathered digitally for a virtual leaving do. In his own words, John reflects on his time in the role and offers thanks to those he has worked with: 

There are many people to thank. The General Secretary has a special vantage point across the life of the URC, and I’ve often been mightily impressed by the commitment, care, witness and energy in our local congregations. Our people make a difference in God’s world. There is much we should rejoice in and persist with, and I salute everyone who is a part of it – tens of thousands of you.

The team at Church House in London is an excellent bunch of people – gifted, committed, hard-working, helpful. I enjoy their company and have learned a lot from working among them.

David Grosch-Miller and Alan Yates have line managed me on behalf of the Church, wisely and attentively, for three years each. Krystyna Pullen, Helen Munt and Tasneem Choudhury have given me important PA support. Our Deputy General Secretaries are really outstanding colleagues – Jane Baird, Francis Brienen and Richard Church. The Assembly Officers with whom I have worked give able and generous service to our Church, all of them voluntarily. My wife Elaine, invisible to most of the URC, is an absolute rock to me.

What about hopes? The good news of Jesus Christ – God taking our flesh, dying for our sins and defeating our death – is a hope to hold onto through thick and thin, and a hope to hold out confidently to the world. May God bless you, and may this hope hold you firm.

Our Synod Moderator David said: “John is a gifted and able minister, educator, administrator, pastor and theologian, who has served the URC faithfully, first for nearly 30 years at Westminster College, Cambridge and for the last 6 years as General Secretary. I am one amongst many who have reason to be extremely grateful to John, whose personal care, clarity of thinking, wise counsel and support have been a constant through my time of service. I wish him and Elaine a fruitful, fulfilling and happy retirement.”

Christian Aid
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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.
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