The lovely URC Communications team have put this new item together:
Daily Devotions, the United Reformed Church’s (URC) series of digital daily Bible readings, reflections and prayers, reaches its 1000th edition on 23 August.
The devotions are written by more than 100 people from across the denomination.
More than 3,000 subscribers receive the inspirational readings in their inboxes at 6am each day, and hundreds more follow online.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston, Minister of Barrhead, Priesthill, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster, created the project when working for the Metropolitan Congregation in Manchester in 2016. He sent out his own reflections on the weekly lectionary readings to members of the congregation. This then evolved into the Devotions we know today.
“I am so pleased that so many people both read the Devotions and have volunteered to write for them.
“Many people have commented that the devotions are a way in which the URC expresses a form of unity, each day, normally first thing in the morning, so many of us are reading, reflecting and praying about the same passage.”
A small team of people work with Andy to advise on themes and sometimes suggest writers for a particular series, for example, the Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington’s series on Job and the Rev’d Michael Hopkin’s series on the Lord’s Prayer.
One of the writers, the Rev’d Fiona Thomas, URC Secretary for Education and Learning, shares her experience in writing a devotion:
“I enjoy the discipline of staying within the word limit and writing a short prayer, always aware that the people who offer these on the day before or after may be coming at the text from a completely different direction from myself. That diversity is refreshing, and as a subscriber to the devotions I find the divergent interpretations of scripture startling and refreshing, whether I agree with them or not.”
More than 50% of subscribers recently took part in a survey which showed long-term engagement with the devotions, and a substantial number of new readers.
Almost 70% of readers were involved in a local URC and another 12% in an ecumenical church that included the URC. Roman Catholics, members of the Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of England also read the devotions.
Around 45% of respondents felt the devotions were relevant almost every day to their own faith journeys and another 53% said they were often relevant.
“Given the diverse nature of our writers and our readers this is quite an achievement; especially as everyone involved are volunteers,” continued Andy.
“One of the most moving aspects of the feedback is that some people use the devotions as they can no longer get to church. This is sometimes due to illness or the fact their church has closed. In this small way the devotions allow people to keep contact with the spiritual tradition which has nurtured them for years.”
The Daily Devotions are a great tool for local churches for use in small groups, Elders’ meetings or even as sermon starters. They are also available in an A5 book for people to print off for those in their congregations who don’t have access to the internet.
You can now listen to the Daily Devotions as audio files here.