Cluster news

 1 May 2021 |

Some years ago, Moat was linked with Horsham and Crawley URCs in what Southern Synod call a cluster. This broke down before I arrived at Moat but in other areas the idea lived on with churches participating in a range of ‘cluster’ activities. At Redhill, the church is linked in to the North Downs Cluster and at my first meeting, the rota of ministers taking the chair fell to me. One of the strengths of the cluster is to provide support to churches, in a support one another sort of way. At one of our meetings we decided to widen the cluster and ask Crawley and Moat to join the group, especially as Crawley had recently become vacant and including Moat meant that they could take advantage of having other churches to talk with and explore ways forward.

And so, only recently, Crawley and Moat have joined Redhill, Reigate Park, Banstead, Walton on the Hill, Marsh Green, Oxted and Caterham. Although during 2020 most things were put on hold, this year we plan to hold an annual walk, with tea and a joint service, at Reigate Park on 18th July beginning with the walk at 2pm. You might wish to put the date in your diary. We also have a cluster supper in the autumn and at our next meeting a date and venue will be decided. In 2022, we hope to run a retreat day to reflect and pray. The first issue soon to arise is the support we give to the many churches that are becoming vacant this summer, adding to Banstead and Crawley. We will be saying goodbye to Graham Dadd, minister at Oxted and Marsh Green, who retires, and George Watt, minister at Reigate Park, who becomes the Synod Moderator of Thames North.

As part of the cluster’s activity this year, Reigate Park Church is organising an on-line Quiz in aid of Christian Aid on Friday 7th May from 7pm. The questions have been provided by Christian Aid with rounds on General Knowledge, Sport, Music and 2020. Reigate Park are adding two rounds on Easter and Food & Drink. If you think anyone from Moat might be interested, or keen to join in then more details can be found by contacting either:
[email protected] or [email protected]

Reigate Park will need to know numbers attending by Wednesday 5th May. Perhaps some of you might be interested in joining and raising some money for Christian Aid.

Notes from the minutes of last Synod

Racial Justice Advocacy: at the last synod meeting in March, the Moderator welcomed Sharon Henriques from Kingston URC and Janet Layne from Charlton URC who had agreed to serve as Co-ordinators of Racial Justice in the Synod. Janet described how historically a concept of white superiority had arisen which today persisted in education, employment, society generally and even in our churches. Mission Council had agreed on a need to be “anti-racist”. Sharon talked of disproportionality within churches and unseen barriers to inclusivity and described measures taken at her own church. She hoped that every church would appoint a racial justice advocate. She and Janet would support this network. Over the next 12 months she and Janet offered to attend church services to inspire this. John Bunker asked that details of the presentation be circulated. Cliff Elmore asked about the technical side of adding subtitles to make meetings accessible to those with hearing difficulties. The Moderator recommended reference to Mark Rigby of the Tech Team for advice.

Another key initiative to support small churches: Martin Hayward, Synod Mission Officer, talked firstly of resilience. He felt that resilience could be a mark of a small church (rather than failing). Smaller churches faced many difficulties in finding resources to carry out their mission. He planned to create a “small church network” within the Synod which could look at research and others’ experience and reconsider what it is to be church. Churches could survive by finding a few things and doing them well. On Saturday 11th September the network would be launched from 10.30 to 2.30pm. To register contact [email protected]

Other issues raised at the synod included Eco-Church and an encouragement to churches wishing to address the care of God’s creation in a positive and practical way by auditing five areas of Church life: Worship, Buildings, Land, Community Engagement, and Lifestyle of members; and, for those who wish to engage in theology in the context of modern life, the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC). Revd Andy Twilley, Synod Training Officer, talked about how the lockdown had revealed new ways of what a church could look like. He recommended a course run by LICC which had already been piloted by ten churches in the Synod all of which had benefitted and discovered what it means to be missional churches.