Welcome to this page specifically for local URC church secretaries in Southern Synod. You may have been in post for many years, newly appointed or just curious about what the role involves. Please feed back to us any ideas, questions or things it would be helpful to see on this page.
If you are new to the role please ensure that the Synod office is aware so you will receive mailings.
An overview of role is set out in the URC document “They’ve asked me to be Church Secretary”. Your church constitution should set out the term of office for the role (for example three or five years, renewable once) and a local role description can be helpful setting out the specific duties to support your own minister, elders and congregation. If your church does not have a constitution, it is advisable to develop one. This can be a useful basis for conversations to happen about how your church is run and ensuring all voices are heard. Please see here for a model constitution agreed by the URC in 2020
Annual return – and keeping synod office up to date!
Each January the Secretary is asked to co-ordinate completion of an Annual Church Return which went online in 2023. This provides Synod and URC Head Office with details of key postholders (including Secretary, Treasurer, elders), plus data to contribute to national reporting and planning. Please keep Synod updated of any changes during the year to ensure communications reach the right people – contacts above. There remains the option of a paper form or guided conversation for those unable to complete online.
Synod Representatives – also known as Synod Together Reps
Church secretaries, along with the Minister, Treasurer, Children and Young People reps and Safeguarding co-ordinators are the main route for written communications to and from the wider URC through Synod. Twice a year there is a whole-synod get together at which Ministers and a nominated representative from each church (often the Secretary but may be any nominated member) attend to listen, feedback and vote on resolutions affecting all churches in the Synod area.
In between these large meetings there are local area meetings within the Synod areas
- South London Synod Area (sub divided into East and West for some matters)
- West Kent and East Sussex Synod Area
- East Kent Synod Area
- Surrey and Sussex Synod Area
- Central Sussex United Area
It is important that the people nominated by the church can actually attend these meetings, hosted by various churches in the Synod area: the dates are communicated well in advance, and alternates can attend if Synod is notified in advance.
Support for you and your church – including during vacancy
There is a Pastoral Committee within the first four synod areas above which meets, usually four times a year. It comprises some local ministers, the Moderator, Mission Development Officer, and a Synod approved Property Adviser. Its aim is to support Ministers and Secretaries in management of their church and pastorate, including the development of its mission. More details about pastoral committee function can be found here.
Members of the Pastoral Committee are expected to make contact from time to time with the secretary and/or Minister to check how things are going and whether there are any issues of concern. Through the Pastoral Committee additional help and support can be sought, to provide impartial reviews, facilitation and mission development.
A key responsibility of the Pastoral Committee is to help the Moderator to allocate the limited number of stipendiary minister posts that are available to the Synod in a fair and logical way. At present (and for the foreseeable future) the URC has far fewer stipendiary ministers than it has had in the past, and than its member churches and pastorate would wish for. The allocation or Deployment process for stipendiary ministers is therefore very challenging for all concerned.
It is the Pastoral Committee that oversees the process of churches declaring vacancies when a Minister moves or retires, and approaches suitable people to provide a Visionary Companion and/ or Interim Moderator role during a vacancy or long term absence of a Minister. In recent months this process has been revised and details of the Deployment Strategy and how this works for local churches can be found here
Churches may also be involved with a Local Ministry and Mission review (LMMR).
Training and Development
The URC offers training for those leading churches – both in ministry and lay leadership. The Church Leadership Programme (CLP) is a comprehensive programme to refresh experienced lay and ordained leaders in authentic leadership, helping church leaders to develop external skills from their core sense of being. To find out more click on https://urc.org.uk/church-leadership-programme
Page last updated 7th April 2023