Guide to Church Life
A guide to church life at Abbey Hill explaining the organisation, groups, structure and events with explanations of some of the words which may be heard in church or at meetings.
UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
A GUIDE TO CHURCH LIFE, ORGANISATION, GROUPS
AND EXPLANATIONS OF SOME WORDS YOU MAY HEAR
Abbey Hill Church is a member of the United Reformed Church.
‘Called to be God’s people, transformed by the Gospel, making a difference in today’s world. Although one of the smaller mainstream denominations, the United Reformed Church plays a dynamic and challenging part in the British Christian community. It has brought together English Presbyterians, English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists, and members of the Churches of Christ, through unions in 1972, 1981 and 2000. Sixty-eight thousand people make up 1500 congregations, with nearly 700 ministers, paid and unpaid. The United Reformed Church combines its commitment to the Reformed tradition with a passionate belief that all God’s people should be one.’(From the URC Website).
Nationally, the main decision making body of the URC is the General Assembly led by the Moderator.
The national church is divided into 11 regions called Synods. We are in the West Midland Synod which covers eight midland counties. The synod meets twice a year and is chaired by a Synod moderator who is elected for 5 years terms. Each church may send two representatives to synod meetings.
Each synod is divided into smaller Areas. We are in the Warwickshire and Coventry Area which contains 21 churches. There are four area meetings a year to discuss local matters. Each church may send three representatives, one being the minister.
Each individual church is organised by the Church Meeting which consists of the minister and Church members. The church meeting is responsible for the running of the church including the appointment of ministers. There are four church meetings a year. For practical purposes some of the responsibilities of the Church Meeting are delegated to the Elders and Managers.
The main act of worship is on Sunday mornings at 11.00 am. The whole congregation, Adults and children attend for the first 20 minutes. Then the children and Junior Church staff leave the church for their own worship and activities. Occasionally the children stay for the whole service especially at parade services when the uniformed organisations, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, attend. There are four parade services a year.
Communion is included in the worship on the third Sunday of each month.
Special services are also held on Good Friday, Maundy Thursday and Christmas Day.
The children of the church belong to Junior Church. This is run by volunteer teachers and helpers who, in conjunction with the minister prepare a programme of Christian teaching and worship suitable for the different age groups.
Children under three attend the crèche either for the whole service or perhaps attend the first part of the service then got to the crèche when the other children go to Junior Church.
This consists of the minister and a group of people who are interested in helping with the worship. They usually help to take two or three services a year singly or in pairs. They meet regularly to discuss worship and offer and accept advice from each other.
All who attend Abbey Hill whatever their background become part of the Abbey Hill Family and may play a full part in the life of the church, attending worship, joining in activities and clubs. Eventually some feel that they would like to join the church on a more formal basis as indicated below.
Members of the Church who have made a public commitment to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and serve within his Church. They are entitled to attend church meetings and vote on any resolutions such as the acceptance of new church members and minister. They also elect the church secretary who is also the secretary to the elders
Elders are members of the church who are willing to accept a call by God to accept further responsibilities in the church. If they are willing to accept the call they are elected at a church meeting to the ministry of eldership.
The elders meeting are responsible for the spiritual life of the church, buildings and finances. Among other things, this includes seeing that worship takes place, pastoral care, recommending to the church meeting a secretary, minister, and new members. The meeting consists of the Minister and 10 Elders. Elders normally serve 6 years on the elders meeting then having a break. (Elders not in the elders meeting are known as ‘Non-serving elders’)
The care of the buildings and financial responsibilities are delegated by the elders to Managers. They are elected annually by the Church meeting. The treasurer also is a member of the managers
Clubs & Societies
A weekly social meeting open to men and women to give an opportunity to meet people in a friendly atmosphere. Church and non-church people attend. Various hot drinks and biscuits are available. Home made cakes and marmalade are on sale for church funds.
Meets on Thursday’s from 9.30 to 12.00 noon.
This monthly group meets on the first Monday of the month to discuss topics suggested by the group.
A monthly meeting for the ladies of the church. Giving opportunity for a talk or activity and a chance to chat. Meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 2.00 p.m.
Craft Ministry Group
This provides an opportunity fir those with craft skills to use these making things like pew cushions and hangings for the church or items to sell for church funds. Meets on Tuesdays, 10a.m. to 12 noon.
Tannery Court is a residential home close to the church. We provide a short monthly service in the lounge for the residents some of whom find it difficult to go to church. The service is held on the second Sunday in the month at 7.00 p.m.
The communion offertories are donated to local and national charities chosen by the church members. During the years we also
raise money for Christian Aid, and two organisations who work with the homeless, Norton House in Coventry and Leamington Mission.
Abbey Hill is part of Churches Together in Kenilworth & District (CTK&D) which includes 7 Anglican Churches, 3 Free Churches and 2 Roman Catholic Churches.
This seeks to increase cooperation between the churches organising such events as a parade on Good Friday, joint services on special occasions like Christian Aid Week, Women’s World Day of Prayer, lent groups and a Christmas card advertising services.
Three groups, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides meet in the Abbey Hill Halls. Details are in the entrance to the halls. These are open to all children not just church goers.
Our main let is the Daniels Dance School which meets most days. We also have lets for Young at Art, Martial Arts and Pilates. Details on the notice board. The hall is also available for parties. Details from the lettings officer.
The church would not function without volunteers tackling a wide range of jobs.
Stewards who greet people attending services
Readers who read the scriptures in the service
Coffee makers who prepare the refreshments after the morning service for two Sundays a month
Car drivers who bring people to church on Sunday
We try to have enough people doing each task so that people are on duty at about 6 week intervals. Volunteers are always welcome and it is a good way to meet people.
The Church Treasurer is responsible for the finances of the church looking after the bank accounts, income and payments.
A Building Fund treasurer looks after the day-to-day accounts of the building fund.
The Building Fund
This is run by the managers . Its income comes from the general church funds and from money raised by events major repairs to the building. Regular contributions can be made through the ‘Dare to Dream’ envelopes to be used for future developments to the buildings.
The Ministry and Mission Fund (MAM)
The biggest single outgoing from church funds is our MAM contribution which is used by the URC central office to pay ministers, administration, pensions and other running costs for the nationwide church. This is based on the number of members a church has. Our contribution for 2012 is £20,088.
Tax efficient giving.
Churches are classified as charities and so can use the different forms of tax efficient giving. The most common one, if you pay income tax, is Gift Aid. This involves signing a form indicating that you wish your donations to be gift aided and the church keeping a record of your donations and making a claim each year. The record keeping is simplified by using envelopes or bank transfers.
You are invited to give your weekly offering in a numbered envelope. The treasurer notes down the donation against the numbers so that at the year end the total giving may be calculated and income tax reclaimed. The envelopes are distributed by the envelope secretary who is the only person who can relate the numbers to actual people so confidentiality is assured.
Recently some have found it more convenient to make their offering through a direct debit directly to the church bank account.
A Very Short History of the United Reformed Church.
The United Reformed Church was formed from a union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England in 1972. Subsequently the URC united with the Churches of Christ in 1981 and the Congregational Church of Scotland in 2000.
The present church has sixty-eight thousand people in 1500 congregations, with nearly 700 ministers, paid and unpaid.
The National Church issues a monthly magazine ‘Reform’ which contains news from the churches and headquarters and articles about Christianity and topical events. Sample copies are available before paying an annual subscription for your own copies.
Abbey Hill Magazine
This is produced monthly. It contains news of the fellowship, the diary, letter from the minister or member. Contributions are welcome. A voluntary contribution of 50p per copy or £5 for the year helps keep the cost down. Copies are placed on the tables in the porch and in the entrance to the school rooms.
This is issued at the Sunday Service and contains a diary for the coming week with the latest news
Who to contact.
Contact details for the minister, secretary, elders and other leaders are listed on the back page of the magazine and in the website
The Lettings contact is on the board in the entrance to the school rooms.
Church website: kenilworthabbeyhill.urc.org.uk