Leeds URC Partnership - Service of Inauguration and Induction
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Posted on: 10th May 2022
It has been a long journey – but at last – here we are this afternoon – coming together in a new way. I can hardly believe it – but I do believe that the time is right and that the risen Christ goes before us.
I want to go back to the cessation of Districts in 2007, when the Yorkshire Synod set up Mission and Care Groups covering all areas of the Synod in order to deepen relationships between local churches. For a number of years, the churches of the Leeds Mission and Care Group sought ways to co-operate more closely and to make best use of often limited resources to further our churches’ mission priorities in their diverse communities.
This led to the induction in 2017 of the Revd Clare Davison to a five year 50% post as Mission and Ministry Enabler. Through Clare’s work with the churches, through Mission and Care Group meetings and through discussions with the Ministers of Word and Sacraments, possibilities began to emerge of a Leeds Partnership served by a Ministry Team.
Early in 2020, proposals to form a partnership served by a ministry team were put to all the churches of the Mission and Care Group but detailed discussions were halted because of the pandemic.
However, interestingly co-operation between the churches grew during lockdown:
- worship resources were shared every week
- those churches which were able to Zoom their services or upload them to YouTube welcomed members from churches without such capability
- printed resources were circulated for those who preferred them
- Advent and Lent courses were shared by members of all the churches over Zoom, with leaders each taking one week and delivering 3 sessions at different times
- Zoom Mission and Care Group meetings and services attracted new people
It was at this point – Summer 2021 that we found we were in a new place……….
Life had changed for many and as churches started to open up after the second lockdown we decided that discussions should take a different form. Our newish Moderator, Revd Jamie Kissack had previously been unable to visit churches in person, so he, Clare, as Mission and Ministry Enabler and members of the Mission and Care Group Steering Group, visited all interested churches and had very fruitful conversations. At the same time, an agreement was reached between Yorkshire Synod and the Leeds North and East Methodist Circuit to appoint a URC Minister to serve in partnership with the Methodist Minister, Revd Helen White at Christ Church Halton for an initial period of 3 years from August 2022, leaving 75% of this Minister’s time to be used in some way across the Leeds Mission and Care Group churches.
Following the meetings with the churches, detailed proposals were drawn up by the Mission and Ministry Enabler and the Steering Group to form the Leeds URC Partnership to be served by a ministry team, accountable to the collective churches of the Leeds URC Partnership through a steering group, which includes one lay person from each of the member churches. The Ministry Team are Alex Walker, Revd Tim Lowe, Revd Angela Hughes, Revd Geoff Ellis with Revd Clare Davison on Zoom.
The proposals have at their heart the vision and mission of individual churches. They acknowledge not only that the days of one church, one minister have gone but that working collaboratively can be both more fulfilling and more effective. There is no suggestion that some churches may close or that others may amalgamate at present but we acknowledge that both may happen in the future and that such changes would be a more positive experience within an effective partnership.
The proposals were approved by the following churches in September 2021:
- Beeston Hill United Free Church (LEP: Baptist, Methodist, URC)
- Christ Church Halton (LEP: Methodist, URC)
- Headingley St Columba URC
- St Andrew’s Roundhay URC
- Stainbeck URC
- The URC in South Leeds
- West Park URC
- Wigton Moor URC
4 Mission and Care Group churches, (3 LEPs and one URC), did not choose to join. They are welcome to do so at a later stage should they so wish and, as members of the Leeds Mission and Care Group, they will continue to be invited to take part in all shared events.
The vision and opportunity of the Leeds URC Partnership is to enable each member church to fulfil God’s vision and mission within its own local community, enabled by the ministry team. Although some activities may involve some or all of the member churches, many will be for churches on their own. Each church has a named minister as their first point of contact. The ministers work collaboratively, in a way that best utilises their skills and abilities. Through the Partnership, the churches will continue to co-operate, encourage each other and make the best use of limited resources.
And so we come to this service of inauguration and induction, led by the Moderator Of the Yorkshire Synod Revd Jamie Kissack, which was postponed from January again because of the pandemic. A landmark day; a culmination of a lot of hard work; the official start of a partnership which we expect will be fluid as it responds to changing times and situations – we already know of imminent changes to the ministry team as Clare moves on to pastures new in the summer and we welcome Dr Nicola Robinson to the team.
We believe that this is where God wants us to be today and we pray that all we do as a Partnership in the future will be to the glory of God.
Angela Hughes - Stainbeck URC
Jenny Poulter - Christ Church Halton
News category: General