Staff changes to boost URC’s commitment to mission and discipleship

A series of proactive changes have been made within the Mission and Discipleship teams at Church House to broaden the United Reformed Church’s commitment to evangelism, ecumenism and social and community action.

In recognition of the close working relationship of the two departments, the changes follow the departure of Simeon Mitchell to the Methodist Church where he continues his role as Team Leader for the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).

The changes are as follows:

Roo Stewart will take on a new role as the URC’s Head of Public Issues, bringing the considerable skills he has developed during his time as Programme Officer for Church and Society.

Drawing on his long and valuable experience in overseeing the URC’s Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) network, Steve Summers will become the URC’s Head of Community Engagement with Samara Andrews providing administrative support to both Roo and Steve. Samara and Steve will continue to support and promote CRCW and its accredited projects throughout the URC.

As a team Roo, Steve and Samara will be very active in the work of JPIT, strengthening links with local churches’ engagement with social action and advocacy.

In addition, Lindsey Brown who began a two-year contract with the URC as Mission Support Officer in October 2022 now becomes a permanent member of Church House staff as the denomination’s Evangelism and Ecumenical Officer. The new title reflects the concentration of her role on these two areas of mission.

The changes come into effect on 3 June.

“I’m thrilled to be working alongside Steve and continuing to work with our Methodist and Baptist partners (and a growing number of organisations) within JPIT, as we seek to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God,” Roo said.

“The URC has a life-giving message to bring to our neighbourhoods, country and world, rooted in our understanding and experience of the love of God for all people.

“As Head of Public Issues, I plan to focus on building upon the work of ‘Church & Society’ within the URC to help us to pray, speak and act together on issues of peace and justice – the huge, often daunting, obstacles that impact on the day-to-day lives of all of us.

Steve said: “After 25 years of working as a disciple and lay employee with the URC, I’m excited and humbled in equal measures about my newly adapted role.

“Encouraging and supporting local churches to be present and engaged within their neighbourhoods and with local communities and in turn, to grow and flourish more themselves, is such an important and challenging responsibility.

“It can surely only be undertaken as a shared process by developing relationships and building collaborative partnerships ‘on the ground’ with church and community members, as we collectively attempt to confront injustice and to demonstrate God’s transformative and inclusive love in action alongside our neighbours.

“Perhaps the ‘Foot of Community Engagement’ would have been a more telling job title!”

Lindsey explained how she is delighted to be able to continue in her role, focusing on these two missional areas.

“Exploring how we share our faith and hope with those around us, and working strongly with our Christian partners both nationally and locally, are both very close to my heart,” said Lindsey, “particularly when they come together: there is nothing more energising than local churches working together to plant and nurture new green shoots.

“To be able to do this work as part of the strong, inspiring Mission team at Church House is a real joy.”

The Revd Philip Brooks, Deputy General Secretary (Mission) added: “These developments within the Mission and Discipleship teams are important and exciting. They reflect the ever-closer working of the two departments within the denomination in these core areas of the URC’s outreach.”


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