As their time as United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly Moderators comes to a close, the Revd Nigel Uden and Derek Estill reflect on their two years in office.
Derek Estill: My two years as General Assembly Moderator – visiting churches, being welcomed and appreciated – have been a joy and a privilege.
These visits have reinforced my opinion that we are blessed to have dedicated people living out their faith in active and positive ways and, in the process, being a real blessing to many more.
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It has been great to meet many young people at their meetings, in their churches, and at Youth Assembly, which demonstrated again that they are full of new ideas and keen to make a difference for God’s sake wherever they can.
URC young people are wonderfully supported and guided by great leaders nationally and locally and I feel sure our future is safe in their hands.
My interest in interfaith provided me with opportunities to visit Israel with Rabbis and Christian faith leaders and more recently as part of the URC group visit to meet Christian Palestinians in that conflicted country. Representatives from all 13 Synods took part with a remit to relay their experience to the rest of the URC and this is actively ongoing.
I have been delighted to have been involved in supporting action to raise the profile of climate change and eco-church and was able to go along to support the anti-fracking action near Blackpool which has yielded positive results.
Helping to judge the Community Awards highlighted for me the community focus of many of our churches with 27 great project entries received.
You may remember that my ambition at the beginning of my term as General Assembly Moderator was to focus on faith in action. I am pleased to say that from my experience, there is no shortage of this as many of our worshipping communities are reaching out in love to meet needs by getting alongside people and living out their faith in action.
The Revd Nigel Uden: At General Assembly 2018, I spoke of my aspiration to listen – with one another in the church, to the insights of the world, and for God.
Gratefully partnering Derek Estill, I’ve met someone worth listening to. He has insights from local church life and interfaith relations, and a passion for justice. Two years on, and thankful for the privilege the church bestowed, I have heard much else, but two things stand out.
First, I heard anxiety about the world and the church. Ignored, it eats us away; heard, it prompts us to keep changing – only a dead thing doesn’t. In the last four months, Covid-19 enforced a reset of daily life. It’s equally true for the Church. If we listen to the pandemic’s impact, there will be some things from the past to which we discern we must return, but there will be much that needs resetting if we are to flourish for today and tomorrow, and for the glory of God.
Secondly, wherever I went, I heard profound trust in Jesus Christ, the truth about God, the way to God and the giver of new life in God.
Hearing the second will strengthen us to answer the first.
Image: Derek Estill, left, and the Revd Nigel Uden, right.
Published: 3 June 2020