The Reverend Dr Michael Hopkins, minister of the Spire Church in Farnham, will be moving on to a new role in the Church in January 2024.

Michael is going to serve as moderator of the United Reformed Church’s Wessex Synod. This role is to be minister to the ministers and a friend of churches across the region.  

Moderator is church-speak for one who chairs a church body, and in the United Reformed Church Wessex covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire, much of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

Michael has served at what is now the Spire Church in Farnham since September 2005, and also at Elstead United Reformed Church, and in the Hants-Surrey Border Methodist Circuit, particularly at Hale and Rowledge Methodist churches.  

Michael said: “I have never felt able to leave Farnham for another church, but a large number of people encouraged me to consider whether God might be calling me to this different role, and some of them also sent in formal nominations.

“After a process of discernment, I came to sense a possible call from God. This was tested by the United Reformed Church, after which they chose to issue a call, which I have accepted.  

“After a good and fruitful, and very long, ministry here, I believe I would benefit from some change and new challenges, and I am certain the church will also benefit from new ideas, however hard it may feel for some at this moment.”

He added: “I am excited, delighted, privileged and humbled to receive and accept a call to serve as the next moderator of the Wessex Synod. 

“God is clearly at work among the people and churches in Wessex, and I look forward to joining in with that and to sharing in the leadership of this part of the United Reformed Church family.”

Speaking on behalf of the United Reformed Church’s Wessex Synod, Karen Bell, the Synod clerk, said: “We have been privileged to have Michael as a minister in our Synod for a number of years. 

“We have benefited from his vast Assembly and Synod experience in committees and at Synod meetings and are delighted he has accepted the call to be the new Wessex Synod moderator.

“We look forward to sharing this next stage of his ministry and supporting him in his leadership as we discern where God is leading our church in 2024 and beyond.”

The Rev Philip Brooks, one of the United Reformed Church’s deputy general secretaries, added they were impressed by Michael’s “prayerful and considered” responses to the questions posed by the panel.

Rev Brooks said: “He will bring many valuable gifts to the role of Synod moderator, not least his heart and passion to serve the Gospel in a part of the world he knows so well. I congratulate Michael on his nomination.”