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Reform Magazine | May 27, 2024

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Plant gardens - Reform Magazine

Plant gardens

Lindsey Sanderson reports on possible new directions in the life of the URC

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’ (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

Jeremiah writes to the exiles from Jerusalem who find themselves transplanted into Babylon. They have been uprooted from everything they know, nothing seems recognisable, but they are told to do some remarkably simple things: plant gardens, build houses, form relationships, and seek the good of the place that is now their home. They are not to look back but to plant a seed, so that once more, there will be a garden. Garden planting starts with that simple act of hope which is to plant a seed.

This letter has become the key biblical text for the United Reformed Church’s Church Life Review. The innate spiritual gift of the URC to serve the local communities in which we find ourselves is our response to the call to seek the welfare of the places in which God has set us. We may no longer recognise those places, given the rapid pace of social change, but our vocation remains to seek the welfare of the places God has set us…

Lindsey Sanderson is a URC minister and member of the Church Life Review Group. The group’s full report is available at You can contact the Church Life Review Group at


This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2023 edition of Reform

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