our news

March Synod Round Up – Expanding the Tent

Apr 2, 2024
Lindsey Sanderson
News | Prayers

The Synod met for its residential meeting from Friday 8th-Sunday 10th March. The theme for the meeting was ‘Expanding the Tent’ as the profile prepared by the Synod in preparation for a new Moderator being appointed speaks about growth as a focus for our life as a Synod. It affirms that the Synod is called to demonstrate loving God and neighbour, through growth, which can be expressed in many ways - ‘ a growing love for God as our faith deepens; a growing love for our neighbour as we feed the hungry, heal the sick, and free the prisoners; and growing in number as our congregations spread the gospel in our communities.'

Isaiah, addressing the returning exiles, who find themselves in a vulnerable position, encourages them to expand their tent, rather than close in on themselves. (Is.54.2) The Synod meeting explored the Isaiah passage in worship, bible study, workshops and presentations as well as receiving reports from our Synod committees and engaging with their work.

Catherine Newman and Martin Rhodes from The Scottish Fair Trade Forum made a presentation on the current fairtrade agenda as Scotland looks to renew its status as a Fair Trade nation. The Synod has been a supporter of Fair trade since 2005 (if not longer) and it was good to be reminded of the importance of fair trade, and its role in addressing the climate emergency. Members of Synod were encouraged to find out if their MSPs had taken the fair trade pledge and encourage them to do so if they haven’t. You can access the pledge at Fair Trade Pledge - Scottish Fair Trade Forum Look out for a new resource being produced by Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and the Fair Trade Forum which is launching in a couple of months.

The Synod meeting is an opportunity to celebrate our community. During the Communion Service we celebrated a number of ministry milestones. Revd. Susan Henderson has completed EM2, Revd. Gerald Moule celebrates 50 years of ordination this year and Revds. Bob Philip and Ross McLaren 60 years of ordination. The Moderator was able to present Susan, Gerald, Bob and Ross with certificates. Lindsey also has ordination anniversary certificates to present to Revd. Dr. Willie McNaughton ( 50 years) and Revd. Leslie Newton (75 years)Learning together through workshops is an important part of our Synod life and it was good to welcome back David Bradwell, the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer to help us reflect on how churches can engage with the political process, especially with a General Election on the horizon. Churches can become voter registration champions, encouraging people to register to vote. Follow this link to find out how to do this Home - Voter Registration Champion - a Citizens UK project (voterchampion.org.uk) Resources for the upcoming election to help churches prepare for hustings or become more informed on the issues are available from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland - Elections - Home Page (churcheselection.org.uk) and the Joint Public Issues Team Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) | Churches Working for Peace and Justice

Revd. Jenny Mills, Secretary for Education and Learning, offered a presentation on vocation and call encouraging us to all think about how we might live our ‘wild and precious life’. Our journeys of faith always lead us into new and exciting adventures and she encouraged us to grasp these. To support folk on the way you can sign up to the URC Learning Hub URC Learning Hub to access online learning and self access courses. There are also grants available to support lay learning. Contact the Synod Office for more information.

News from local churches included feedback from people who had been on the Leading your Church Into Growth Conference in November who shared their ‘take aways’ and how they were implementing their learning in their congregations. Mary Taylor from Morningside United Church told us about the Eric Liddell 100 plans to mark 100 years since Eric won his gold medal in the Paris Olympics. You can find out more at The Eric Liddell 100 - The Eric Liddell 100 - The Eric Liddell Community and advance notice was given of the Spirit Justice art exhibition coming to Aberdeen and Morningside United later in the year Spirit Justice Tour — Elizabeth Gray-King (elizabethgrayking.com)

Papers from the Synod meeting can be found on the Synod website and minutes will be circulated shortly. Among the items discussed in the business sessions were ideas for marking the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Synod, with the creation of the United Reformed Church in 2000 and an invitation from the Church of Scotland to explore a Declaration of Friendship as well as the Committee reports. The Communion offering for Christian Aid’s Middle East Crisis Appeal totalled £400. Middle East Crisis Appeal | Christian Aid

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the meeting in a huge variety of ways.