Synod Moderator Paul Whittle is – somewhat unexpectedly - to leave his post at the end of 2020 in order to take up a three year appointment as Moderator of the National Synod of Scotland. Paul says – “This has come as a great surprise to me, as it may to you. I was fully expecting to remain as the Moderator of the Eastern Synod until retirement. However, I was asked to consider this short term role in Scotland and, after prayerful consideration, met with the discernment group on Monday (28th September). That was an extremely positive meeting and I felt a strong sense of call.”
Paul adds: “I have loved being the Moderator of the Eastern Synod and will be extremely sorry to leave earlier than planned. Of course, it has had its ups and downs but there have been far more good things than difficult ones. I have had some great people to work with –
Originally, and for some time, Peter Ball as Mission and Training Officer, and Henry Playle, as Children’s and Youth Development Officer, more recently Lindsey Brown and Nicola Grieves in those roles; great office staff, currently Jane Langford-Horder, Penelope Davies-Brown, Sue Drane, David Smith and Shannon Craig, and, previously, Linda Hack, Andrew Perkins and Gordon Heald. I have worked with three Synod Clerks, three Synod Treasurers, four Pastoral Convenors etc. etc. – some great ministers, elders and church members. I will miss you all, but feel, despite the challenges of Covid 19, that I leave the Synod in a good place. God’s blessings on you on all your doing.”
Though not a Scot, having been born in Nottingham, Paul spent most of his formative years in Scotland. His earliest memories are actually from Mundesley, where the family lived for a short while before moving to Greenock in the very early sixties. Paul went to school in Greenock and Paisley, the University of Glasgow, and the Scottish Congregational College, then in Edinburgh, before being ordained in Beith in North Ayrshire. Paul celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination, to the day, at the Synod Meeting in March 2019.
200th Anniversary Celebration - Princess Street United Reformed Church Norwich
A special service held at Princes Street United Reformed Church, Norwich, to mark its 200th anniversary. Revd Nigel Uden was accompanied by The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Vaughan Thomas, and The Worshipful the Sheriff of Norwich, Dr Marian Prinsley
On Sunday 1st December 2019 was 200 years to the exact date that the first act of worship was held in the building. Over 100 people gathered from across all six United Reformed Churches in the Norwich area for the service led by the two group ministers Revd John Potter and Revd Bruno Boldrini. Revd Uden preached the sermon referencing the same Bible text from Exodus 20 that was used in the first service on 1st Dec 1819.
Mr David Uden (a relation of Revd Nigel) played the famous Willis organ and a combined choir enhanced the worship. Revd Nigel Uden (centre) Co-Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church cuts the celebration cake after. He was accompanied by The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Vaughan Thomas, and The Worshipful the Sheriff of Norwich, Dr Marian Prinsley.
The cake was enjoyed by everyone with a cuppa afterwards. Revd John Potter said: “The service was a truly inspirational celebration of the 200 years of this church and an opportunity for us to reflect on Advent Sunday what may be ahead of us in the future.”
HOLY HABITS in HAEBEA
The churches of North Weald, Chipping Ongar and Epping (High Street and Lindsey Street), are benefitting from Andrew Roberts' book 'Holy Habits' (published by Malcolm Down Publishing). The book challenges Christians to adopt a lifestyle of faith based upon the habits of early Christians in the Acts of the Apostles.
By way of an introduction to discipleship last autumn, Revd Cecil White, had successfully rolled out three duplicate sessions across each of the four churches. Now, in 2019, he continues with three themed studies on 'the Apostles' teaching', 'fellowship', and 'the breaking of bread'. He says, "These sessions are best suited to small groups and the way I am programming it is so as not to create weekly study groups for ever, but to do bite-sized studies with breaks in between."
Wrentham Chapel Labyrinth
At Wrentham Chapel we have a labyrinth mown into the front lawn with a suitable explanation fixed onto an adjacent wall. This piece of lawnmower art in the grounds of Wrentham Chapel, Suffolk is ecologically sound, spiritually enlightening and fun!
View Youtube link for a short film of the labyrinth which includes a poem written about it by Suffolk Quaker, Kaaren Whitney.