As I write this message, I am preparing to participate in the URC’s General Assembly as a delegate for the Thames North Synod. I am excited about going and representing TNS, as well as looking forward to learning more about the URC and meeting some of my colleagues from around the UK.
My preparation has also prompted me to do some thinking about the relationship between our local churches and the national body. It’s often hard to see and feel the influence of the URC—as a denominational structure—has on the daily work of worship and ministry here in the Heath & Havering Group. But the fact is that almost everything that we do, we do better because of our relationship with the national church.
Often, the words we hear and say during worship come from resources provided by the URC. Our missional objectives are often coordinated on a national and international level by Church House. As a minister, I receive training developed by the national church, as do all of our elders and a handful of other local church leaders. And, collectively, the URC as a denomination has a much more powerful voice in the public sphere than any of our individual churches could ever dream of.
But ultimately, our goal—whether at the local-level, synod-level, or national-level—remains the same: to work to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth. While challenging, that goal becomes much easier to achieve when we all work together…and that’s what General Assembly is all about.
As URC General Assembly Moderator Revd Fionna Bennett observes, “As the General Assembly, we gather as a council of the Church, reliant on the Holy Spirit to shape us into a space of grace. We come from across the diversity of the URC, geographically, culturally, and theologically, to form a space of grace where we seek the mind of Christ together. In that discernment we need to act gracefully towards and with one another. Our General Assembly agenda celebrates the work of the denomination, locally and nationally, as spaces of grace.”
I am looking forward to spending some time in this particular “space of grace,” and I also look forward to sharing with all of you about my experiences when I return.