News from your wider URC Family
The planned meeting on 31 January of representatives of the United Reformed Churches that make up the West Kent and East Sussex Synod Area (WKESSA) was cancelled due to lockdown. Here is some of the news and notices we would have shared had we met.
We congratulate Richard Cannam of United Emmanuel Church in Tunbridge Wells who, having completed the Synod Sacraments Course, has been appointed to the WKESSA Authorised Elders list and so will be able to celebrate the Sacraments in the churches of the Tunbridge Wells Group.
Prayers for People
We are especially asked to pray for two former Church Secretaries who were until recently regular attenders at WKESSA meetings. Phil Goddard of Christ Church, Swanley and Bob Webb of United Emmanuel, Tunbridge Wells are both enduring courses of treatment for cancer.
Currently four of our churches are unable to find people to serve as Church Secretary, which creates a variety of difficulties. We pray for those carrying extra responsibilities and for those whom God might be calling to consider new roles.
News of Churches
Many of our churches returned to some form of physical Sunday worship in their buildings in Advent only for changed Government advice in mid December to make them feel they had to abandon their hopes and plans for Christmas services. Several churches nonetheless found imaginative ways to contact their core and fringe families with Christmas gifts and activity packs using URC and other material. A Zoom Nativity was a novel experience for some of us.
Most of the WKESSA Churches have not reopened for public worship since Christmas and will review the situation in February or March. They are back to using a variety of lockdown ways of keeping in touch and offering some form of worship accessible at home. A minority are gathering for worship each Sunday, with a particular concern for the spiritual needs of those members for whom online access is not straightforward.
Job Vacancy at Kent Workplace Mission
Kent Workplace Mission is a Local Ecumenical Partnership, including two URC Trustees, which provides chaplaincy to a wide variety of workplaces across Kent and the London boroughs of Bexley and Bromley. The Team Support Co-ordinator, who supports both the Trustee body and over 30 chaplains, retires in May and an enthusiastic and efficient successor is being sought.
This paid post is for 15 hours a week and currently based near Maidstone. To obtain more details please contact John Ellis, one of the URC Trustees, on 01732 353914 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Other people well known in WKESSA with close links with KWM include Alex Cameron and Richard Blackwell. The closing date for applications is 19 February.
The 2021 URC Yearbook has just been published and allows for some statistical analysis of membership trends. In line with churchgoing trends in Britain as a whole, the overall membership trend remains downwards and WKESSA is certainly not exempt from this. However it is also worth noting that over the three year period up to the onset of the pandemic, of our 22 churches four fully sustained their membership numbers as they welcomed as many new members as they lost by death or removal. Six more of our churches achieved a net growth in membership over the three years.
1 Corinthians 15.58
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
WKESSA Area Leader