The United Reformed Church has embarked on a campaign of radical welcome – of saying to people who presently feel excluded from Church and unwelcome, ‘Jesus didn’t turn anyone away and neither do we. Whoever you are, and wherever you happen to be on life’s journey, you’re welcome with us!’
It’s a campaign of evangelism – of inviting people to get to know and to follow Jesus Christ. It’s a campaign of renewal for the churches that take part. It challenges us to take a long, hard, open-eyed look at ourselves and ask whether we’re truly as welcoming as our notice boards claim. And it’s a campaign that we hope and pray will lead to church growth.
The United Reformed Church has defined itself in terms of mission. We express our total life-in-mission through the Vision2020 framework. We measure our effectiveness and faithfulness by the 5 Marks of Mission. And we have been looking for ways to help the whole church to engage in fruitful evangelism (especially through Vision4Life) so that we can respond faithfully to God.
We are committed to two things. Firstly, we are not in the business of ‘sheep stealing’ – persuading disaffected members of other churches to ‘defect’ to the URC. Secondly, we are absolutely committed to reaching the people who presently have no connection with the Church. We want to invite them to make a connection between their own spirituality and following Jesus Christ.
We have two particular groups in view. One group is the 3 million adults identified by Tearfund research who are totally disconnected from the Church, but who would come if only someone invited them. The campaign is designed to issue that invitation.
The second group is far more difficult to reach. These are the people who have got the message that they are unwelcome. This may be due to bad personal experience of the Church, or it may be due to the Church’s negative reputation. Either way, they have the impression that there is no room for them.
The simple fact is that the whole Christian Church is failing to connect with these people. They are shielded behind a ‘communication wall’ that seems to resist all of our communication strategies. The gap between their world and ours is so huge that we ourselves are not able to come up with anything to bridge across it.
We have been inspired by the example of the United Church of Christ, one of our ecumenical partner churches in the USA, who have addressed a similar problem by running an immensely successful media and advertising campaign. Church advertising is often shaped by those who are already within the Church. The UCC’s campaign had been successful because it was shaped by the people for who it was intended: the people outside the Church who feel excluded and marginalised.
With this awareness, we have set up a working partnership with This is Real Art, one of the country’s topmost advertising agencies. We have told them about whom we especially want to reach with the message of radical welcome. They have designed an advertising campaign and said to us, ‘If you want to say that to these people, then say it in this way and you will reach them!’
The agency are so excited about this campaign that the owner, Georgina (‘George’) Lee, said, “I have come to believe that the reason I started This is Real Art is to run this campaign!”
When the campaign hits the streets, it will do so in many different forms as possible: press, magazines, radio, websites, flyers, posters, hoardings and viral campaigns (via YouTube, Twitter, email etc). But the detail of the campaign is under wraps at the moment. That’s vital! If the campaign is going to be as effective as possible, then we all need to wait until the right time to unveil it. That will happen at the Spring Synods. After the unveiling, Churches will then be able to sign up to be advertising and trained as a radically welcoming congregation in time for the public launch towards the end of 2011.
The campaign has grown and changed and been refined, involving task groups and the help of research and development churches. You won’t find the United Reformed Church logo on the posters and literature, for two reasons. Firstly, there is the issue of integrity: we can only advertise and point people to the churches that have opted into the campaign of radical welcome and have been trained to deliver what the campaign promises. We hope that many URC churches will opt-in, but the reality is that not every congregation will make that choice.
The second reason is for ecumenical considerations. The campaign is not seeking to promote the URC at the expense of other churches. Rather, we offer churches an opportunity to opt into the campaign regardless of denominational affiliation, and we anticipate this will also make the decision easier for Local Ecumenical Partnerships.
Therefore the campaign material will not carry the URC logo, but it will carry a form of trademark and/or attribution, identifying the campaign as an initiative of the United Reformed Church.
It is important to recognise that the campaign is intentionally aspirational: it says what we want to be are committed to becoming. That was expressed in Catch the Vision, when we decided as a Church that our continued existence as a separate denomination could only be justified to the extent that we are ‘God’s people, transformed by the gospel, making a difference for Christ’s sake!’ The campaign helps us to turn that vision into reality.
Mission Council 2011
N.B. Watch out for more on this after the March NW Synod!
6th Exodus 24: 12 – 18; Psalm 2 or 99; 2 Peter 1: 16 – 21; St Matthew 17: 1 – 9
9th Ash Wednesday Joel 2: 1 – 2, 12 – 17 or Isaiah 58: 1 – 12; Psalm 51: 1 – 17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20b – 6: 10; St Matthew 6: 1 – 6, 16 – 21
13th Genesis 2: 15 – 17; 3: 1 – 7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12 – 19; St Matthew 4: 1 – 11
20th Genesis 12: 1 – 4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4: 1 – 5, 13 – 17; St John 3: 1 – 17
27th Exodus 17: 1 – 7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1 – 11; St John 4: 5 – 42
3rd 1 Samuel 16: 1 – 13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8 – 14; St John 9: 1 – 41
10th Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14; Psalm 130; Romans 8: 6 – 11; St John 11: 1 – 45
17th Palm Sunday
Entry into Jerusalem St Matthew 21: 1 – 11; Psalm 118: 1 – 2, 19 – 29
Passion Isaiah 50: 4 – 9a; Psalm 31: 9 – 16; Philippians 2: 5 – 11; St Matthew 26: 14 – 27: 66 or St Matthew 27: 11 – 54
24th Easter Day Acts 10: 34 – 43 or Jeremiah 31: 1 – 6; Psalm 118: 1 – 2, 14 – 24; Colossians 3: 1 – 4 or Acts 10: 34 – 43; St John 20: 1 – 18 or St Matthew 28: 1 – 10
Easter Evening Isaiah 25: 6 – 9; Psalm 114; 1 Corinthians 5: 6b – 8; St Luke 24: 13 – 49
1st Acts 2: 14a, 22 – 32; Psalm 16 or Exodus 15: 1 – 11; Psalm 111; 1 Peter 1: 3 – 9; St John 20: 19 – 31
BIBLE STUDY LENT 2011
Wednesdays : 16th Mar, 23rd Mar, 30th Mar 6th Apr and 13th Apr 2011.
Please follow the course at home if you are unable to attend the Wednesday Sessions
2:00pm at Fulwood Methodist led by Rev Peter Sheasby & 7:30pm at Fulwood URC led by Rev Helen Higgin-Botham.
BIBLE QUIZ: TWO INTO ONE WILL GO
In each of the following the names of two familiar Bible people have been run together. The letters are always in the correct order.
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PRESTON GUILD 2012
Have you ever put something away and then come across it by chance some time later? A couple of weeks ago, the Guides were having an overnight event (I refuse to call it a sleepover). It always seems a lot of effort pumping up my air bed just for one night but I remembered that I had a folding camp bed stored under the spare bed do I took that instead. When I was putting it away again I had to move a couple of cardboard boxes so I had a look to see what was inside. In one of them I found copies of the Lancashire Evening post dated September 1992 and various books & leaflets relating to the Guild events of that year, 1972 and even 1952! It is no wonder I had forgotten about them after nearly nineteen years.
I found that in both 1972 & 1952, the Ecumenical service at the beginning of Guild week was held in the open air on Avenham Park and we sang “Guide me, O though great Jehovah” at both events. If you remember the weather in 1992 you will be pleased to hear that the 2012 service is to be held in the tented village on Moor Park and not in the open air…
In a note book I found the accounts for our costs in the 1972 Guild, to hire the vehicles and buy the materials for costumes and decorating the floats we raised £115.78 (which left us £32.30 profit). Hoggarth’s band led the Free Church Procession and charged the princely sum of £67.50. It is going to cost us a bit more in 2012, eg the going price for a brass band is about £1,500.00. We will be doing some fundraising with Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton to cover joint costs, eg a band, and some fundraising ourselves to cover the costs of materials for our section of the procession. The first event we have arranged is a concert by the June Baker Singers, who now rehearse in our building. This will be on Friday May 13th 2011 and will be held at Fulwood Methodist church. Please put this date in your diaries and look out for further details and tickets nearer the time.
At our meeting with representatives from St Clare’s we discussed how we can depict “I am the bread of life”. The idea at the moment is to have a flat-bed lorry showing bread as food for the body, starting with some sheaves of corn, grinding corn to flour, baking bread then using it for sandwiches in a meal and also showing it used for a communion service. We will also be showing how we can take the “bread of life” further afield through things like Christian Aid and Cafod by providing seed & farming tools so that they can grow their own food. To show that Christ is for the whole world it was suggested that we could have children dressed in national costumes from around the world and carrying banners bearing the words “I am the bread of life” in the appropriate languages.
Once we have worked out what we need to decorate the float etc we will be asking for volunteers to help prepare the items – but don’t worry if you aren’t good at DIY, one of the things we will need is people to cut out letters from fabric which can be stuck on the banners later.
At the last meeting we were given cards with the Guild Prayer, these will be available at church for you to take home. We also received a list of prayer requests for Preston Guild 2012 which will be used on the weekly notice sheets.
You can find more information about Preston Guild in general on the website www.prestonguild2012.com
In January, Rev’d Helen spoke about the “Waldensian Church” from her experiences at the Minister’s Summer School in Italy last year. At the February meeting, Dorothy Sumner told us about the excellent work of SSAFA – The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – Forces Help. Dorothy is the SSAFA Lancashire Branch Secretary. After refreshments Dorothy entertained us with a DVD of the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace to which she and her husband Alan were invited last July. Collections of £23 and £36 were made for the speaker’s respective charities.
On Thursday 10th March, Delma and Tony Whitman, friends from Fulwood Methodist will be giving an illustrated talk entitled “Chile, Land of Contrasts”
At the April Meeting on Thursday 14th April, we have a return visit by another friend from Fulwood Methodist Church Ray Armstrong telling about his “Experiences as a Postman”
We will take a collection on behalf of the speaker’s chosen charity.
Almighty God, we bring before you in prayer all the members and friends of our Church family. Be especially close to those who have recently lost loved ones and are feeling alone. Assure them of your love and nearness. Be with all who are anxious, those who are unwell, those awaiting hospital results or treatment,those who are house-bound; those who are unable to come to Church. Make each one of us more aware of the needs of others and more willing to help in whatever way we can,In Jesus Name we pray. Amen
HEARING IS NOT BELIEVING
A wise school teacher sent this note to all parents on the first day school: “If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens tat school, I’ll promise not to believe everything he or she says happens at home“
Thanks to Penwortham URC Contact.
OUT AND ABOUT
REV’D JOHN C. PRICE. 1926 – 2010
We managed to include in the last edition a brief stop-press note that we had just learnt of the passing of our former minister, Rev’d John C. Price on 28th December.
I was privileged to be able, along with Margery Pitcher, to represent Fulwood URC at John’s funeral at Pentrebychan Crematorium Wrexham on 10th January. Also present was Rev’d Paul Pells from Penwortham, who worked closely with John during his ministry in Liverpool.
John Price was born in Barmouth in 1926. We learnt at the funeral service, that John set out in life to be an electrical engineer and was an apprentice at BTH (British Thompson Houston) in Rugby and then completed a BA in Philosophy at the University of London. He was greatly influenced by the baptism of a friend and, in time, decided he wanted to be a minister. His widowed mother was reported to be appalled as she felt John didn’t have the right sort of personality. Nevertheless, John graduated with a BD in Divinity at the University of Bangor in 1953
His first church was in Welshpool, followed by ministries in Ilford 1959-72; Earle Road Liverpool 1972-76; South Central Group Liverpool 1976-80; Christ Church, South Manchester 1980-86 and, of course, at Garstang Road Preston from 1986 to 1991, when he retired to Oswestry to be near Joan, his twin sister.
My memories of John Price are of a friendly, honest minister of deep personal faith; of his scholarly, memorable and beautifully-structured sermons; and the hundreds and hundreds of books with which he shared the Foregate manse.
I was very grateful to be able to pay our respects to a well-loved minister who made a significant contribution to the life of this church, not least to the formation of Churches Together in Fulwood and Broughton, on the original Covenant of which, John’s signature, with others, represents our Church.
In early January, Rev’d Helen, Margery, Vivien and myself spent a enlightening four days at the URC Windermere Centre attending Lawrence Moore’s excellent course, “A Year with Matthew’s Gospel“ which is the gospel covered by this year’s lectionary readings.
We were asked beforehand to re-read the Gospel, preferably in one sitting – that in itself is an exercise worth trying. It is surprising how you get an overall picture of how Matthew is telling his story of Jesus with reference to the Old Testament stories to show the connection of what God has done in the past and what God is doing in Jesus. You also pick up the parts of the Gospel that you don’t clearly remember reading before.
I always find it most helpful to learn more of the reasons why the scholars believe the gospel writer’s wrote their version of the life of Jesus, the audience to whom they were writing and their particular emphasis and the background material they had available.
It was rewarding to be part of a small group – there were two ministers, one of the current national moderators and her husband, and the four of us. In fact, one lunch time we shared lunch with the two current national moderators, the two national moderators elect (Lawrence is to be one of the two elected in 2012) and one past national moderator who were at Windermere for their own meeting – not everyone can claim that!
I am sure the course will prove helpful for our Lent Bible Studies based on Matthew’s Gospel and the lectionary readings during the year.
Last November, several of our members were amongst an audience of something like four hundred, who very much enjoyed an evening of Songs and Stories for a Winter Evening with John Bell, the well-known broadcaster and hymn writer. It was held at St Walburge’s Church and arranged by the charity L’Arche, Preston. I am sure many of you will have seen John Bell on television, either as a Church of Scotland Minister, or on “Songs of Praise”, and will have sung some of his many contemporary religious songs.
When we discovered that there were still vacancies on a course John Bell was to lead in February at the Windermere Centre, entitled “Singing Allowed”, Margery Pitcher and I enrolled whist we were there on the Matthew Course.
Having chosen and discussed our own favourite hymns, we explored some of the reasons we like them – either their content or the experiences and associations of which they remind us. We then looked at the Psalms – the hymns that are in the Bible and were well-known to Jesus. We were reminded that in the past the Psalms and metrical versions of them were the only hymns sung in some churches of the Reformed tradition – not that long ago it was the tradition in the Presbyterian Church to begin each service with a metrical psalm. The one hundred and fifty psalms cover the full range of human emotions, not just praise and elation, but despair, disappointment and even anger with God.
Over the next three days, we were introduced to a wide variety of new hymns and songs, many written by John Bell, which relate to twenty- first century life and were from all over the world. We also heard moving first-hand stories of how some of them came to be written Rejoice & Sing contains seven or eight of John Bell’s hymns, usually written in conjunction with Graham Maule – No 558 “Will you come and follow me…?”, No 178 “ Who would think that what was needed…? “, No 653 “We cannot measure how you heal ..” are perhaps the most often sung. Having met this inspirational man, we look forward to singing some of his many more recent hymns.
You may be interested to learn that our neighbours, Fulwood Methodist Church are to hold Farmer’s Markets with fresh local produce and fairly traded goods. Saturdays, 10am to 2pm on:
2nd April, 28th May, 23rd July, 24th Sept and 26th November.