United Reformed Church LogoWhile many of us associate 31 October with the “B-Word”, let me explore another “scary thing” (as we don’t discuss politics publicly): Halloween, which is remembered at the end of October. The culture in which we live challenges a Christian lifestyle daily. Halloween is certainly a festival which challenges our lifestyle: by letting small children be scared of haunting dead spirits and violence we may not take the psychological dangers of this day seriously. Organising parties for Halloween may well not be the cup of tea of a Christian. Wiccans think of Halloween as a pagan worship day. However, Halloween also has its potential, for no Christian festival is without pre-Christian beliefs and pagan cultural context. So where are the roots of Halloween to be found? The Celts celebrated their New Year on 1 November with the festival Samhain, Gaelic for 'summer's end'. The beginning of the Celtic day was at dusk so Samhain actually began on 31 October. The Celts saw this as a sacred time when the veil between the worlds of the dead and living was so thin that the dead returned on that night. Some of the rituals and festivities included:

• Bringing the animals in for winter, culling the weakest, gathering the last of the harvest.

• A big bonfire that burnt the bones from the cattle that had been feasted on, ('bonfire' comes from 'bone fire') during which all lights would be extinguished. Each family would relight their hearth from the common flame, often taking it home in a carved out turnip.

• Setting out food and drink for the visiting dead, and carving spirit guardians on turnips, set at the door to keep away unfriendly spirits.

• Convention was dissolved for the night. Young people would dress in disguises, boys and girls swapped clothes, were boisterous and played tricks on their elders.

Sharing God's Love in a practical way has always been our aim, whether that be overseas or in our local community. We support overseas mission projects via Commitment for Life and Nailsea Water Project. We also support Samaritan's Purse, Children's Hospice South West and local community projects by raising funds through special events and offerings.

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Induction Rev.d Janos Nagy

Dear Friends,
I am John, a Hungarian and British national who moved to England with my family 12 years ago. In 2002 I had a transfer from the UCC, Calvin Synod, USA to the British URC. Prior to that, I served in the Hungarian Reformed Church as a local church minister, a part time teacher and an editor for a church publishing house.

Since May 2002, I have served at Horfield and Argyle Morley URCs in Bristol, and I am still their minister, so they must be a very patient people!

What's it all about?

Church Membership is the way in which Christians who have made their home in the local church are encouraged to express their commitment to that congregation of God’s people.

Who are they?

Well Church Members are not Super-Christians, just ordinary people who meet regularly to try and make sure that the continued life and witness of the church is in line with how God wants it to be. You can still be effective within the life of the church without being a member, but only members have a vote at Church Meeting, and are therefore the people who, as a body, make decisions.