New Wessex Synod Moderator nominated

The Revd Dr Michael Hopkins has been nominated to serve as Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) Wessex Synod after the Revd Clare Downing became the Moderator of the North Western Synod in June.

Michael has served in pastoral charge of local churches since his ordination in 2002, and also as Clerk of the URC General Assembly since 2014. His term of office as Clerk finishes at the end of General Assembly 2024.

Michael currently serves as minister of the Spire Church (a Methodist and United Reformed Church local ecumenical partnership) in Farnham, Surrey; Elstead URC, also in Surrey; and in the Hants-Surrey Border Methodist Circuit.

“I am excited, delighted, privileged, and humbled, to receive and accept a call to serve as the next Moderator of the Wessex Synod,” Michael said. “God is clearly at work among the people and churches in Wessex, and I look forward to joining in with that and to sharing in the leadership of this part of the United Reformed Church family.”

Michael grew up in the family of Rugby URC, Warwickshire, and graduated from Durham University in chemistry, biology, and geology in 1997. He went on to train for ordination at Mansfield College, Oxford, and graduated with a theology degree from Oxford University in 2002, just before his ordination.

Most recently, Michael undertook a MPhil research degree in church history at the University of Birmingham, and in 2021 gained a PhD by studying through the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Examination in Theology writing a thesis on the history of the Presbyterian Church of England, particularly after 1876.

Michael’s wider service in the URC has included Convener of one of the Wessex Synod’s Area Pastoral Committees from 2007-2014, many years’ volunteering on the Assembly Arrangements Committee becoming Convener in 2014 (from which he was appointed Clerk of the General Assembly), many years’ service on the Wessex Synod Listed Buildings Advisory Committee, and currently Ecumenical Officer for Surrey since 2019.

Michael’s other contributions include serving as Trustee of the URC History Society since 2001, and as its Secretary since 2019. Since 2016, Michael has been a Trustee of the Coward Trust, which funds ministry in the dissenting tradition, and a Trustee of Dr Williams’s Trust, which funds scholarship and education and a research library of Protestant Dissent.

Speaking on behalf of Wessex Synod, Karen Bell, Synod Clerk, said: “We have been privileged to have Michael as a minister in our Synod for a number of years. We have benefitted from his vast Assembly and Synod experience in committees and at Synod meetings and are delighted he has accepted the call to be the new Wessex Synod Moderator. We look forward to sharing this next stage of his ministry and supporting him in his leadership as we discern where God is leading our church in 2024 and beyond.”

The Revd Philip Brooks, URC Deputy General Secretary (Mission) added: “The Nominating Group was impressed by Michael’s prayerful and considered responses to the questions posed by the panel. They identified a clear sense of call to the role of Wessex Synod Moderator. On a personal note, I have always valued working with Michael during my time at Church House. His commitment to and knowledge of the URC, as well as wider ecumenical matters, are always evidenced in his clear and insightful responses. He will bring many valuable gifts to the role of Synod Moderator, not least his heart and passion to serve the Gospel in a part of the world he knows so well. I congratulate Michael on his nomination.”

The Officers of the URC General Assembly will be invited to confirm Michael’s appointment when they meet in early October.


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