30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW Weekly Update #163 2nd July 2023
From Andrew Flourishing Churches
The United Reformed Church’s General Assembly meets this weekend. One of the papers that caught my eye amongst more than 300 pages of reports and resolutions was one arising from the Church Life Review. This was a two-year, multifaceted exploration and consultation regarding how the Church is doing, both locally and nationally.
Paper N4 focuses on how the wider Church can help local churches to flourish, given that mission happens locally. It is here that we bring the Good News of Jesus to our neighbours, through word and deed. It is good to know that Assembly recognises the pressures of finance, personnel and regulation that local churches are facing, and that they are looking into ways that the wider Church may be able to help. The aim is to lighten the load on local church officers and enable service to be a joy rather than a duty. Through living faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ and in operating according to good and best practice, the greatest flourishing of local churches will be found. The ideal would be to combine good governance with mission, in terms of high quality worship, developing discipleship, intentionally reaching out in sharing faith and social action that is recognisably the work of the Church.
Other papers, such as N1 include proposals to provide more support and guidance on some of the governance and compliance issues that affect all local churches, reducing that burden.
I hope you find this wider Church perspective interesting.
Living God, we give thanks for the beauty and flourishing of the natural world. We pray for that same flourishing and abundant life in your Church, and for joy in serving and growing as your disciples. Amen.
WORSHIP SERVICES THIS SUNDAY – Sunday 2nd July
10.30am at church A service led by the Revd Rob Hufton. (The Minister is at General Assembly).
Livestreamed Worship from Saint Columba’s
To watch the morning service live, catch up with it later in the week, or view previous services, click here.
NEXT WEEK – Sunday 9th July
10.30 a.m. at church A Communion service led by Trevor Jamison.
Bible readings for this week Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 22: 1-14 Abraham trusts God when he is asked to sacrifice his son
Psalm 13 An anguished plea from one who feels abandoned by God
Romans 6: 12-23 Freedom from sin, obedience instead to righteousness
Matthew 10: 40-42 Blessings on those who offer hospitality
This week’s readings cover some difficult subjects. Genesis looks back to a time when child sacrifice was practised. In Romans, St Paul uses metaphors from warfare and slavery, which were common in his day.
If we can see past that, we may nonetheless find things we can learn from the passages.
Abraham’s faith in God’s promises is tested when he is asked to give up the most important thing in his life, his son and heir. He gives up control of his future, and trusts in God to provide, which God does.
St Paul explains about the freedom that Jesus brings, but reminds us that we cannot serve two masters – we either succumb again to sin, or we seek to follow Jesus’ teaching. How we use our hands and bodies, brains and mouths, our time and our money, matters. Are we working for good or for ill? There is no neutral position. Serving in sin’s army earns wages that diminish and degrade us, whilst serving Christ brings life to the full – a gift graciously given rather than earned. Here again, we find that we have to give up control, to trust, obey and depend on God for our future.
The Social Events Team would like to thank everyone who supported the summer concert last Saturday evening. The sum of £735.10 was raised for church funds.
General Assembly Meets – 30th June–3rd July 2023
The annual General Assembly of the United Reformed Church takes place from 30th June to 3rd July at the Hayes conference centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Representatives from the URC’s thirteen synods will meet to discuss and make decisions about the life of our denomination. The Assembly sessions will be livestreamed from the URC website.
To see what’s due to be discussed, see the Book of Reports and other documents relating to this year’s Assembly, please click here.
Strawberry Fayre – 8th July
Gifts sought and cakes to be baked
After a three-year gap, the St Columba’s Strawberry Fayre returns on Saturday 8th July! Gifts are being sought for the tombola. Please give these to Evelyn or Norma.
Members of HANDS are baking for the cake stall, but it’s not exclusive and contributions from all bakers will be accepted!
Roberta Ritson’s Ordination and Induction – 22nd July
Roberta Ritson, who had a placement at Saint Columba’s as a student minister, has competed her training and is to become minister at Bellingham, Wark and Horsley. The service of ordination and induction will be at Bellingham Methodist/United Reformed Church, Fountain Terrace (NE48 2BL), on Saturday 22nd July at 2.00 p.m.
CORRECTION TO LAST WEEK’S ANNOUNCEMENT
NOTE: There is no bus going from St Columba’s. Jesmond URC has kindly offered us six seats on the bus going from the Newcastle churches, and our allocation has now been filled.
Louise Sanders’ Ordination and Induction – 29th July
Louise Sanders, who also had a placement at Saint Columba’s as a student minister, will be ordained and inducted on Saturday 29th July at 2.00 p.m. at St Andrew’s URC, Eastfield Avenue, Monkseaton. Please sign the list on the board in the hall no later than Sunday 16th July, so that St Andrew’s can organise catering and seating.
Next Update – Sunday 9th July
John Drew will edit the next Update. To get your information in both the online and printed editions, please have it with him by Tuesday 4th July.
Keeping in Touch
You can contact your Elder, the Minister, or Church Secretary.