1. Executive Committee Key Messages 14&15 November 2014
1. General Assembly President 2015/2016
We are pleased to announce that Rev John Clifford will be nominated at the forthcoming Annual Meetings for the position of President of the General Assembly for 2015/2016. Born and trained in the United States John moved to the UK in 1970 and ministered with churches in England, Scotland and Wales as well as spending 13 years working at Essex Hall. He has also extensive experience of international engagement through the ICUU and the IARF.
2. General Assembly Vice President 2015/2016 leading to Presidency in 2016/17
Unfortunately the Executive Committee was not able to make a nomination as no proposals had been received. The deadline for receipt of proposals has therefore been extended until 16 January 2015.
3. Youth Strategy Group
Jen Hazel was invited to present the initial thinking of the group which has been established to consider how work with children, young people and young adults could be developed across the Unitarian Movement. The group has concluded that there is a large gap in our congregations and organisations to support people aged 16-25 years. They have suggested a three-year development project to enrich and develop the experience for young people within Unitarianism.
The Executive Committee has welcomed the approach being taken and asked for further work on a development plan for wider consultation with young people, congregations and others who have an interest for their next meeting in January 2015. The Youth Strategy Group members were thanked for their contributions to date.
4. Red Cross Emergency Appeal
Congregations and individuals are encouraged to support the Red Cross Emergency Appeal for Syria, Iraq and the victims of Ebola. Donations by cheque should be sent to:
British Red Cross,
44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL
Cheques should be made payable to British Red Cross with 'Unitarian Churches Clara Barton Appeal' clearly marked on the back
If you wish to make an online donation this can be done via Virgin Money’s Unitarian Churches Clara Barton Appeal page.
5. Vision Day Follow-up
The Executive Committee thanked everyone who had attended the Vision Day, held on 6 September 2014 at Cross Street Chapel, Manchester. Feedback has been very positive and there was considerable engagement by all those present from across the country.
Work is now underway to produce comment pieces for publication in The Unitarian and The Inquirer on the key issues raised and to gain further input. It is envisaged that these will be published in a booklet at the Annual Meetings. A video is also to be produced in co-operation with UKunitarianTV also to be launched at the Annual Meetings as part of the EC report. It is planned that these will form the basis of a new 5-year plan for the work of the General Assembly in support of congregations.
6. Good Society
Support has been given to a project of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland which will lead to a publication in January 2015 of a shared statement of our vision for the Good Society as a positive contribution to the public debate in the run up to the 2015 UK General Election.
7. Millennium Fund
Portsmouth Unitarians (John Pounds Memorial Unitarian Church) were awarded £3000 for equipment as part of a major capital upgrade of kitchen facilities to support a plan being implemented for more meaningful engagement with the local community through their “Open Church” and “Outreach” projects.
8. Study Motions
The Executive Committee discussed recent comments in The Inquirer about the use of study motions on social justice issues as a way of improving our processes of deliberation at the Annual Meetings. It was agreed that a workshop for those interested in this issue would be sponsored at the forthcoming General Assembly Meetings in Birmingham in 2015.
24 November 2014
2. General Assembly Roll
We are pleased to announce that the following has been admitted to the General Assembly Roll with Probationary status having completed their academic requirements:
Rev Matthew Smith
3. Election to the general Assembly Executive Committee
An announcement has been made of arrangements for the forthcoming election for four members of the Executive Committee. A Call for Nomination has been made and will open on Monday 1 December 2014 and close on Monday 12 January 2015. Further information is available on the GA website and from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elections for members of the Executive Committee will take place in 2015 and further details are available on the GA website.
4. Margaret Barr's Right Hand Man - Dranwell Wahlang - dies in India.
It is forty-one years since the death of Margaret Barr. Margaret was a Unitarian minister who made her home in the village of Kharang, close to Shillong in Meghalaya, NE India, in the late 1940s. Margaret spent time with Mahatma Gandhi at his Ashram, studying his philosophy and way of living. This involved improving the quality of life for the majority of the Indian population, most of them in the villages. Education was an important element and Margaret was well equipped with good skills as a teacher. She asked the Mahatma what she should do and he said, "Make your home in a village and live by example".
This is what Margaret Barr did. She was supported by Unitarians in the UK and America and assisted by the local Unitarian community in the village of Kharang. Dranwell Wahlang was one of her closest friends in the village. He was a young man, married to a woman who became a trained midwife and ran a Unitarian clinic with her husband. Dran had many skills and became Margaret's Right Hand Man, driving her jeep and doing all manner of odd jobs which were needed. He built her a house which Margaret opened as an orphanage for waifs and strays of the community. The children came from a wide Khasi / Jaintia / Karbi community with a variety of religious backgrounds.
Margaret died some 40 years ago but the clinic continued, run by Kyiek Mukhim. Often Dran would assist and he learned much from his qualified wife. Often he would look after the clinic and later opened one of his own in a nearby village. Sadly we have to announce that Bah Dran (Bah means brother in Khasi) died at their village home on 22nd October, just before his 88th birthday. He was a true devotee of Margaret Barr and was involved with the village clinic for forty years. Dran had suffered poor health for some years and was in and out of hospital for the last few. For this reason, as he declined in health, Dran stayed with his daughter in Shillong. Just two days before his death, he asked to be taken back to the family village. Although he was in poor condition to travel, the family agreed to his wishes and (in the traditional tribal fashion) Dranwell died and was buried in the family village where he had spent most of his life. His grave is close to the Annie Margaret Barr Secondary School. About 1500 people gathered for the occasion and 800 took food with the family. Much of the work was done by tribal guests who even dug the grave. Many contributed food and the Mukhim family have expressed their gratitude for all the help they received.
5. Media Coverage
Induction Service at Rochdale
Simon Bass is the Chief Executive of CCPAS; the agency the GA works with on safeguarding. He was recently interviewed by HuffingtonPost.co.uk