Around the URC in seven days: 31 May – 5 June 2023

Last Updated on 30 May 2023 by Ann-Marie Nye

A round-up of news from around the United Reformed Church over the past seven days: 31 May to 5 June.

Yorkshire Synod

How wonderfully fitting for Pentecost that people from across the Leeds URC Partnership came together to share a picnic and worship at Stainbeck URC.

Stainbeck URC celebrating Pentecost with a picnic.

West Midland Synod

Twenty-three churches have benefited from £220,000 in grant funding to help improve their energy efficiency.

In total, West Midlands Synod has set aside £1 million to help churches tackle rising energy costs and climate change, with grants starting at 100%.

The benchmarked funds follow on from the URC’s 2019 decision to divest from fossil fuels.

Mervyn Davies, West Midlands Synod’s Finance Officer, said: “Clearly this has been well received by our churches who have received an investment that they will benefit from for years to come.”

North Western Synod

After 11 years of fun, faith and friendship, Altrincham Pilots company sadly closed in March.

Anne Hatch, the Synod’s Pilots Officer, said: “With our six Pilots, all girls, being in their teens, we were aware that the time would come when one or two would start to feel they had outgrown Pilots. Two members decided to finish at Easter and, with no new younger members joining, it wasn’t viable to continue. It was a sad decision to make but, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and we have made many memories over the years.”

The company went out on a high note and finished with a ten-pin bowling trip.

“It was a bittersweet occasion,” continued Anne, “but we had a lot of fun and it was rewarding to hear how much the girls have enjoyed being part of Pilots and to see the strong friendships they have formed.”

Highlights since 2012 include: fundraising at the Christmas fair, carol singing in the local community, preparing sandwiches for a homeless charity (every other month), and sleepovers in the church hall. Plus show-and-tell evenings, treasure hunts and nature trails, ice hockey with Manchester Storm players, behind-the-scenes visits to Tesco and Pets At Home, wall-climbing and cooking. No Pilots session would be complete without games, running around and letting off steam at the end of a busy week at school.

Pilots has been a big part of Altrincham URC. Its original Hale Pilots company started in 1986 and continued until 2017 when the leaders retired.

Hale Pilots celebrated its 25th anniversary (and Pilots 75th anniversary nationally) in 2011 with a big party, filling the church hall with members, past and present.

In 2012, a second company began at the synod’s Woodlands Timperley church building. The two groups came together several times a year to lead worship with drama and singing and to stage the annual church pantomime. Many big day outs and fun-filled weekends have also been enjoyed.

“Over the years, we’ve shared our faith with many youngsters and their families, offering children and young people a safe and caring environment to flourish in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. During the Covid pandemic, we kept in touch with families by email and ran successful Easter and Christmas sessions on Zoom with doorstep deliveries beforehand of craft materials and treats,” continued Anne.

Rebecca McGonnell receiving her Master Mariner’s Award.

“As our remaining Pilots have grown older and their interests changed, we adapted our content, introducing more discussion, prayer and use of video clips alongside craft, cooking, puzzles and games. With the closure of Pilots at Altrincham, we took the opportunity to present a Master Mariner’s Award to 16-year-old Rebecca McGonnell who has been a Pilot for 10 years and plays an active part in church life.

“It’s been a pleasure running both our Pilots companies and we hope that we have planted a seed that will bear fruit in the future.

“Lord Dismiss us
with your blessing
God be with us
Until we meet again
All ashore!”


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