At the start of 2021 we were filled with hope. Nothing could be as challenging as the previous year…. could it? The
miracle of the vaccination programme was beginning to be rolled out. Life would return to normal before too long. But,
of course, it wasn’t until Easter that some churches re-opened and indeed many waited until much later in the year.
Even then some members still feel uncomfortable about attending in person. Live streaming and Zoom services which
had become very strange new phenomena for last year continue to play a central part in the life of many churches.
Last year was a wakeup call about some of the injustices in our world. Marcus Rashford used his status as a Premiership
football player to highlight family food poverty. The Government very quickly, with the onset of the pandemic, ensured
that some of the most vulnerable were supported through the Furlough Scheme and the additional Universal Credit top
up payment of £20 – things that continued into this year. The death of George Floyd made the world stop and consider
that Black Lives Matter. The stories of historical and contemporary discrimination and persecution opened our eyes to
the reality of what it is like to be part of an ethnic minority group not just in other parts of the world but here in our
own nation and local communities.
Over the last 20 months we have experienced as individuals, churches and communities some of the darkest of days and
yet there have been some glorious glimmers of hope. And as 2021 comes to a close there is much to give thanks for, but
the challenges continue, and the biggest frustration is that there are some times when it seems that we have forgotten
the lessons learned.
I was excited about taking on my new role as Moderator. I came into post knowing that there would be joys and
challenges….and that has certainly proven to be the case. The Spirit is at work in small and bigger ways through his
people – you and me. The churches in Thames North Synod demonstrate that we are all one in Christ, whatever our
background and whatever our age. But these have been, and continue to be, challenging times with Ministers under
great pressure because of having to minister more widely as well as leading churches into a post pandemic world (and
of course that also applies to Elders, Office Holders and volunteers generally) and churches are anxious about what the
As we move into the Advent season (again) it is an opportunity to rediscover hope. Surely God has given seasons like a
heartbeat to keep us alive. Surely that is true of Advent with its important focus on hope. No doubt at the end of 2022
there will still be challenges but in the meantime we are called to live, share and proclaim the message of hope which is
at the heart of the Scriptures, our faith and the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Myself and my family (Linda, Nathan, Emily, Jacob and Reuben) would like to wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful
New Year. Despite the frustrations of living and commuting from Surrey and searching for a new home, we can now look
forward to moving to Watford in early December which will complete our new beginnings in Thames North Synod.
May the words of the prophet Isaiah encourage us all and fill us with hope as we finish 2021 and move into 2022.
A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,
from his roots a budding Branch.
Revd. George Watt
Moderator, Thames North Synod