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WELCOME


to the January 2016 edition of the United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales eNewsletter.

Please forward this e-mail on to all those in your church who may be interested to read it.  Anyone may subscribe to the eNewsletter themselves from the Synod website.

We hope that this will henceforth be a monthly eNewsletter.

We would very much like future editions of the eNewsletter to include good news stories and details of events from local churches and chapels.  Please e-mail all stories, reports, events, etc. to synodclerk@urcwales.org.uk.
News of People and Places
This month we welcome Revd Dr Jason Askew into the Synod as he is inducted into the Bridgend United Area, with particular responsibility for Maesteg Central Church, Christchurch Ogmore Vale and Tondu Methodist Church.  The induction will take place on Saturday 30th January, commencing at 2.30pm.

On Sunday 31st January the life and witness of Christchurch Llandaff North will be celebrated in a service commencing at 3pm as the church closes.

John Winton is retiring from his post at Churches Tourism Network Wales after more than 14 years. The recent re-birth of CTNW as ‘Sanctaidd’ has coincided with the culmination of a major piece of work alongside the Welsh Government to launch a Strategic Action Plan for Places of Worship in Wales in which Sanctaidd is to play a major role. Since 2001 many of our congregations and ecumenical partners have received help to welcome visitors to their church from John personally and through the amazing network of contacts he has developed and encouraged. Although John has worked closely with the Church in Wales in supporting and developing this Ministry of Welcome he has helped to raise the profile of all denominations across Wales. A visit to Maesyronnen by HRH Prince Charles which was facilitated by John and led to a royal visit to the Plough, Brecon, were memorable events in the life of both congregations.
Information and Requests
Check out the new re-designed Synod website.
(with thanks to David Salsbury and Helen Stenson)

Stephen Best reflects on a recent Consultation at Westminster College:
 
STOP: YOU'VE DONE ENOUGH DAMAGE ALREADY
 
How would you react if these were the words flashed up on the powerpoint at the end of a three day conference you had attended? Adrian Bulley, Sue Fender and Stephen Best recently joined representatives from all the other Synods at Westminster College to explore Transitional Ministry and this was our experience.

Transitional Ministry is rather like a platter of oysters; you are likely to either love it or hate it. It is an option for congregations who feel there are things it would be good to work through before putting together a pastorate profile. This might be achieving a proper sense of closure at the end of one ministry, reassessing a church's mission priorities or focus, or even looking to explore some other developmental option. A transitional minister or other enabler walks the walk with the congregation for a fixed period (normally around 18 months) to explore these goals and then leaves, hopefully with the congregation renewed and better able to move forward in its self-defined direction. It can be a highly creative and experimental time with permission to try out new ideas with no commitment to them continuing after the period of transition. In essence the transitional minister or enabler is a midwife, helping with the  birthing of the new life of the congregation.

Inevitably we ended up musing over resource implications and ministerial deployment issues. It was also acknowledged that every minister at times employs some transitional skills and all churches, today, are in some form of transition. Special circumstances could however benefit greatly from this form of ministry. Thames North Synod has a pastoral team which assists congregations and ministers at times of crisis or experiencing significant difficulties, and one healing option is to offer the services of a transitional minister.

All Synods have been challenged to explore Transitional Ministry, to see if there is anything useful we can bring into our own particular context.

 
PRAYER HANDBOOK 2017 – WE WANT YOUR PRAYERS!

Do you know of children and young people who enjoy creative writing? Do they like thinking about the world around them and what God is doing in it? Do they find exploring Scripture interesting and thought provoking? If so, would they be able to write some short, simple, general prayers which could, potentially be included in the Handbook?

The closing date for entries is 15 January 2016.  Prayer writers of all ages, all traditions and all nationalities are encouraged to submit prayers for possible inclusion.

Each prayer in the Handbook focuses on specific Bible verses from the lectionary, presenting readers with a simple, accessible means of thinking and praying about the many insights, principles, values and lessons which Scripture can give us. The theme for the next handbook is ‘Feasts and Festivals’, particularly relevant given the celebration of 500 years since Luther kick-started the Reformation and the centenary of the ordination of Constance Coltman, the first female Congregational minister.  Please read the guidelines for full information, including the specific lectionary readings for which the editors are seeking prayers.  The guidelines can be found here.

It is recommended that children and young people submit their prayers to the Children’s and Youth Work Office either by e-mail to children.youth@urc.org.uk or by post to URC House, 86 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9RT, but they are free to submit them directly to the Handbook editors as instructed in the guidelines.

 

COMMUNITY AWARDS 2016: OPEN FOR ENTRIES


The United Reformed Church is looking for churches that have found innovative and inspiring ways to engage with their communities. Does that describe your church? If it does, enter the Community Project Awards, and help us celebrate the very best community projects within the United Reformed Church.

 

The award is open to all projects run in the UK by members of the congregation of a United Reformed Church or by a local ecumenical project where the URC is present.

 

The total prize fund is £10,000, with a first prize of up to £4,000 and up to three further prizes awarded to the runners-up. The amounts awarded are at the discretion of the judges.

 

Closing date for entries: 29 February 2016
 

MISSION EVENT FINDS THINGS THAT 'JUST WORK'


A United Reformed Church event in November gathered people from around the URC who are engaged in mission projects that just work. It turned out to be pretty life-changing for all involved!

    

Participants at the conference, hosted at the Windermere Centre, shared stories from local churches that are engaged in mission. They emphasised stories of action that are manageable, effective, and that have made an impact on the church and on the community.

 

Says deputy general secretary (mission), Francis Brienen: "The real outcome is the creation of a resource bank of stories and ideas so that others can find them and read and be inspired."

    

The resource bank is on the mission project page of the things that work website.
 

News of Events

STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN FOR HISTORIC PLACES OF WORSHIP IN WALES
 

Places of worship occupy a special place in the historic environment of Wales. Many are fine buildings. No less than 3,000 places of worship are listed — including 214 at grade I — which demonstrates their architectural and historic significance. But the quality of their architecture and craftsmanship also reflects their importance in cultural life across Wales over centuries.

However, the sustainability of our historic places of worship across Wales is currently under threat for a number of reasons, including dwindling congregations, a reluctance to consider future options or the capacity to take them forward. At the moment, approximately 10 per cent of listed places of worship are at risk or vulnerable. Without intervention, this figure is likely to rise as more buildings fall out of regular use and the resources available to care for them diminish.

The aim of this strategic action plan, therefore, is to find ways in which these cherished buildings can retain or renew their value at the heart of Welsh communities, with their significance sustained or enhanced. The plan should help support the management of change so that it is responsive to the breadth of value that buildings may have and allows a full range of options to be considered when identifying appropriate arrangements for future use and care. To this end, the focus of the action plan is on people and communities using, enjoying and looking after our historic places of worship.

The first forum meeting associated with the Action Plan to be held on 28 January.  Ken Skates - Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport - will be attending to open the session and speak about the action plan.

 

News of Resources
Table Talk is a conversational game that is used by many churches and Christians across the UK to engage in conversation with their friends.
This is the front and back cover of a book by Kim Fabricius (a retired Minister living in Swansea) which is now available from retailers in the UK.
Together in Prayer
Perhaps you might invite those who lead the prayers of intercession week by week in your church to incorporate this prayer calendar into their prayers.  A single document containing the prayer calendar for the whole of 2016 is available by e-mail.
 
Week 01




 
3rd January




 
Pray for Gloddaeth United Church, Llandudno and Temple United Reformed Church, Swansea

Pray for Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

 
Week 02




 
10th January




 
Pray for Northop United Reformed Church and Carmarthen Road United Reformed Church

Pray for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Ira and, Iraq

 
Week 03




 
17th January




 
Pray for St. Paul’s United Church, Penmaenmawr and Christ Well United Reformed Church, Manselton

Pray for Cyprus, Greece and Turkey

 
Week 04




 
24th January




 
Pray for The United Church in Rhyl and Albany United Reformed Church/Methodist Church, Haverfordwest

Pray for Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

 
Week 05



 
31st January



 
Pray for Salisbury Park United Reformed Church, Wrexham and Christ Church, Milford Haven

Pray for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

Prayers for countries and regions of the world are based upon the World Council of Churches publication “In God's Hands: The Ecumenical Prayer Cycle”
 
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