Report from Synod Spring Meeting 2024

Alison Tansom reports from Wales Synod Meeting
OPPORTUNITIES for training in lay ministry or exploring a call to lay ministry were highlighted at the Spring Meeting of the National URC Synod of Wales held on Zoom on the morning of Saturday 16 March 2024.

Synod Training & Development Officer Revd Dr Jason Askew spoke on Stepwise, the URC’s main avenue for lay training and ministry, illustrating it with a power point presentation headed ‘Come and Follow Me’.
He said the popular online course ‘Faith Filled Life’ would be available again later this year. Should any church be interested in an in-person course for about three or four people, he could arrange that. A grant to help funding might be available from the Discipleship Development Fund.

Synod Lay Preaching Advocate Maggie Kirkbride reported on Lay Ministry training though the year and said the autumn Away Weekend would again be held at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod. She stressed no experience was necessary. All those interested in leading – or even contemplating leading – worship were welcome to attend. Dates: November 1 – 3.

Opportunities for children and young people were on the agenda, too. Events had been held in Cardiff (Canton Uniting Church), Swansea  and North Wales. The youngsters were encouraged to discuss some difficult questions, including the provocative ‘How do grown-ups
keep children away from Jesus today?’

Children and Youth Development Officer Judy Harris wasn’t able to attend Synod Meeting but sent a report that talked of ways of making  church a welcoming place for youngsters when so few churches are able to provide a Sunday School or Junior Church.
She invited people to consult her on ways to accommodate children and young people in worship, particularly in inter-generational worship. Among resources available were a wooden Communion play set, children’s bibles and story books.

Eco news was presented by Synod Green Advocate Eileen Newington. Three more churches in Wales had been given Bronze Eco-awards. A series of Eco Quiet Days would be run by Rev Dr Jason Askew and Green Coffee Mornings would be held.
Great Big Green Week would be June 8 to 16, and there would be a series of EcoRoadshows titled ‘Good News for God’s Earth’ in the Autumn. She asked that news of any Green events, plus pictures, should be sent to her.
Eileen also talked of the need to engage with Parliamentary candidates in the coming General Election to press them on Eco issues. And Synod Meeting provided a session in showing just how to do that! The Joint Publications Team (JPIT), which includs the URC, have a
useful link on voting: Cytun provides resources for Wales @

Rural Issues-were presented by Synod Rural Advocate Revd Julie Kirby. Further rural depopulation had occurred as traditional industries had disappeared from the countryside. Agriculture remained but many communities were becoming isolated with lack of opportunities and fewer amenities. Rural communities wanted to reach out and it was good for urban areas to know what was happening in the countryside.

Some anniversaries were recalled. One very special one was the return to Wales last year of the Welsh Women’s Peace Pledge, signed by almost 400,000 Welsh women and taken across the Atlantic 100 years ago in1923 to urge America to join and lead the League of Nations, set up after World War One to prevent further wars. A much older anniversary marked was the 1,700 years since the first recorded ecumenical Nicene gathering.
From the present day, Synod Clerk Megan Price reported news of the URC Spirituality Group, formed in 2019 to foster an awareness of spirituality. There will be a link to the group on the Synod Website, where you will be able to access the group’s Quiet Days run by recently
retired URC minister Revd Dr Kathryn Price.
Synod Meeting was chair by Revd Martin Spain, Synod Officer for Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations. Opening Worship was led by Revd Lee Battle, of Pontprennau Community Church, Cardiff, on the theme Wonder and Transform.
Closing worship was led by Moderator-elect Revd David Salsbury speaking on Isiah 65: 17-25 with the theme ‘The Glorious New Creation’.  David will be inducted as Moderator at Beulah URC, Cardiff, on Saturday 6 April at 2pm. The service will be live online.
• Revd Dr Jason Askew will be leading Café Church in City URC this month on 28 April 2024

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