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Small Group Study Material

From time to time we use material from the Daily Devotions to create small group study series. These can be used in person or online, over a series of weeks, or at a retreat or quiet day. Some are seasonal, others could be used at any point of the year.

They can be downloaded and freely used in the hope they will encourage local churches to nurture discipleship. We offer participants notes to download and some leaders’ notes to help facilitate a series.

Small group study materials Edgy Saints

A five-week series of small group studies looking at saints who, in different ways, were on the edge of their world. We look at people from the early Church, the high middle ages and from the 20th Century who each had an uncomfortable ministry which pushed at boundaries. Each week we look at three saints and there’s an image of them to focus minds, some information about them, a reflection and wee prayer. We suggest a hymn to end each week’s session.

The material has been devised by the Revd Professor Elizabeth Stuart, an Anglican priest and academic theologian at the University of Winchester, the Revd Dr Jack Dyce, a retired minister and Professor of Nordic Theology at the Scottish College, the Revd Dave Herbert, Moderator of the Northern Synod, the Revd Dr John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish College and the Revd Andy Braunston, Minister of Digital Worship.

A series of four sessions which reflect on music and inclusion, our ecumenical calling, challenges in our life and mission, and musings about our future.

Each session has the opportunity to sing a hymn, normally written by a URC person, to read some Scripture together, to hear some reflections, to discuss questions arising from the reflections and to pray together.

We’re aided in our thinking by: Susan Durber, Darnette Whitby Reid, Andy Braunston, David Thompson, Lindsey Sanderson, James Breslin, Kirsty Thorpe, Fleur Houston, John Ellis, David Cornick, John Bradbury and Fiona Bennett.

Hymns, old and new, reflect a range of styles and themes but all reflect on our life and challenges.

The reflections on the O Antiphons were written by Elaine Colechin, Terry Hinks, Jonnie Hill, Sarah Moore, Helen Everard, Paul Simon, and Martin Knight. These reflections have been turned into a small group study series that might make good content for a church away day or for three mid-week sessions either in person or via Zoom. You’ll need Bibles, pens and paper for the last session and at each of the three sessions it’s suggest that verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel are sung so you might need a musician or someone with a good voice and accurate timing!

Many of our members don’t realise we have a Statement of Faith.  We use the longer Statement on the Nature, Faith and Order at ordinations and inductions of Elders and Ministers and at the Commissioning and Induction of Church Related Community Workers but we don’t often use Statements, or Affirmations, of Faith in worship and, when we do, we rarely use the URC one.   This small group study resource has been created from material written by the Rev’d Dr Susan Durber wrote for the URC’s Daily Devotions.   We’ve created three sessions, each starts with a hymn to a well known tune – even if the hymn isn’t well known – then there are some pieces to read and some questions for discussion.  In the last session you’re asked to, in groups, think about what you might put into a contemporary statement of faith for your church.  We hope these studies help enrich your discipleship.

Statement of Faith Booklet Format

Statement of Faith Large Print Format

Leaders' Notes Booklet Format

Leaders' Notes Large Print Format

In recent years theologians have started to look at how the world views of people who live in, and under, empires have affected how the Bible has been interpreted.  The Bible was formed, written, and edited in imperial ages - the mighty empires of Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome were the background to all the stories, teaching, poetry, hopes, and despair of the Biblical writers.  When the Psalmist sat down and wept by the Rivers of Babylon the Jewish people were formed anew in the crucible of imperial oppression; when Jesus was nailed to the Cross he was executed in the way the Romans dealt with those it held in utter contempt.  Biblical writers struggled with the advantages and disadvantages of Empire - good roads and communications meant the Gospel could be spread whilst unimaginable oppression was cruel and anti-Christ.

We still live in empires, but our empires now are harder to see - just as, it is believed, goldfish don’t perceive the water in which they live.  We have world powers who seek to rule as ruthlessly as their imperial forebears, we have economic systems at least as cruel as the ancient institution of slavery and most URC folk live in lands which once ruled much of the globe.

The Biblical writers’ experience and critique of Empire has much to each us now.   A series of reflections published by the Daily Devotions project in 2019 is offered now as a small group resource.  The reflections were written by two URC ministers, the Revd Peter Cruchley,  Director of the World Council of Churches’ Commission for Mission and Evangelism, and the Revd Gethin Rhys, Policy Officer for Cytun - Churches Together in Wales.  We hope these studies will help us reflect on the interaction between the ancient Biblical witness in the context of Empire and our own contemporary situation.

The material has been designed to deliver over 4 sessions – these might be mid-week group over four weeks or it might form the focus of an away day for a church group.  It could be delivered in person or on line.  These notes are to assist you prepare to lead a group.

Standing Up to Empire Booklet for participants
Standing Up to Empire Large Print for participants

Leaders Notes for Standing Up to Empire
Leaders Notes (Large Print) for Standing up to Empire

Vocation, or calling, are central facets of the life of the Church and, in our Reformed tradition we’re clear that call is heard in the context of our various Councils.  Local churches nurture and encourage leadership and stimulate discipleship.  Our Elders’ and Church Meetings discern calls to Eldership, Accredited Lay Preaching, Pioneer Ministry as well as Church Related Community Work and the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments – in their many forms.   These reflections, most of which were first disseminated through the URC’s Daily Devotions, help us think about a number of aspects of Call – I reflect on the fact that our Baptism is the basis of all our callings, Leo Roberts, the Children and Young People’s Officer for the North Western Synod reminds us of God’s universal call to serve in the world, Ruth Whitehead reminds us to ask who benefits from any particular sense of Call.  Some are called to the specific task of leadership and John Proctor reflects on what this might mean whilst Gordon Woods reflects on the ministry of Eldership.  I consider the way in which we discern in the URC – never a personal thing alone, always a discernment task done together.  Susan Durber examines the fact that we are all called in multiple ways and John Ellis helps us consider the call to let go and move on.  Finally I reflect on the different ways in which the URC offers a variety of recognised ministries.  We hope that these studies will help you focus on your calling; maybe you are exploring a call to join the Church, to become an Elder, or to candidate for ordained or commissioned ministry.  Maybe you already serve the Church in some way and wonder how that role may develop or if it’s time to let go of that role.  Whatever your situation we hope and pray that you will listen and discern more fully your own vocation.

The material has been designed to deliver over 3 sessions – these might be mid-week group over four weeks or it might form the focus of an away day for a church group.  It could be delivered in person or on line.


Exploring Call Booklet for Participants (482kb)
Exploring Call Large Print for Participants (535kb)

Exploring Call Leaders' Notes Booklet (390kb)
Exploring Call Leaders' Notes Large Print (334kb)

The Revd Dr Susan Durber designed this five-session course for small groups in local churches who want to deepen their understanding and knowledge of the United Reformed Church’s traditions and ethos which are expressed in our Statement on the Nature, Faith and Order.

Statement on the Nature Faith and Order Course (252kb)

The URC’s Church Life Review Group, in thinking about where the URC’s financial resources are located and how they are utilised, became aware of the necessity of reflecting upon our theology (or theologies) of money. A review of General Assembly resolutions on the topic revealed that we have been more vocal on how other people and other institutions should use their money than on how we should view and use our own!

The Church Life Review Group believe that a refreshed theology of money will resource our various Councils as we make decisions together. It seemed particularly opportune to be carrying out this work given the current (2023) cost of living crisis and global economic situation.

The following reflections may help stimulate much thought and debate across the URC.

Study Materials

United Reformed Church