The United Reformed Church (URC) celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration on 15 April at the Methodist Central Hall Westminster in London. CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum delivered a sermon during the Service. Expounding on the topic “Together towards Life”, Dr Keum outlined important points during the contemplative service. The birth of Jesus among the lowly and powerless reflects God’s choice of the ‘margin’ to inaugurate His kingdom. Having dignified the marginalised, God encourages us to see this new horizon of mission, and to reveal to them the hope –an agent of change – that comes from the power of the gospel.
In a broken world where injustice seems insurmountable, where racism and nationalism thrive, CWM General Secretary exhorted URC members with a costly discipleship that bears witness to God’s love which defeats the culture of hatred and the politics of fear.
Close to the beginning of the celebratory, meaningful service, “Blessed City, Heavenly Salem“, a hymn sung at the first service of URC in 1972, was sung with candles representing each of the URC’s 13 Synods in England, Wales and Scotland placed on the map by the Synod Moderators or Synod representatives.
The overall mood of the service was festive yet pensive, in gratitude of the past, acknowledging the present challenges, and committing themselves by faith now and in the future. It held in delicate balance introspection of the past 50 years of God’s faithfulness, a keen understanding of current issues in their contexts, and profound concern for suffering communities.
Short films of the work of their partners around the world in Zimbabwe, Palestine and Israel were screened during Holy Communion, together with prayers for the church and the world.
URC General Secretary Rev. Dr John Bradbury said, “At this milestone of 50 years, we celebrate the faithfulness of those who went before us, but also must ask profound questions about who we are called to be, what we are called to do, here and now in the place where God has put us. What does the faithful response to God’s call look like for us here today? The Jubilee year is a moment of deep prayerful discernment about who God is calling us to be today, such that in 50 years’ time, those who come after us might look back and give thanks for our radical faithfulness.”
Those present were called upon for the Act of Re-commitment, to be signs and servants of God’s new creation, walking in the way of Jesus Christ, forged by their quest for unity, and steered by the vision of abundant life for all.
The dignified service concluded with the General Assembly Bible carried out, followed by the General Secretary, Moderator and Moderator-Elect of the General Assembly, and the Synod Moderators.