1. Executive Committee Key Messages
1. Bowland Trust
For the last ten years the General Assembly has received regular and generous financial support from the Bowland Trust which has sustained its activities and programmes at a national level by matching “live giving”. The EC is extremely grateful to the Bowland Trust for this critically important support.
Originally these payments were intended to continue for a further ten years until 2025/26. But the Bowland Trust and the Executive Committee have now agreed that the funding from the Bowland Trust will come to an end this year with a single donation of £1.5M. This represents an amount slightly in excess of what we might have expected to receive over the full term of the original agreement.
This single large donation presents opportunities as well as challenges for the long-term sustainability of the Unitarian Movement and the Executive Committee will be carefully considering the implications as part of its wider strategic work on our Vision for the Future.
2. Resignation of Executive Committee member
It was with regret that the Executive Committee received the resignation of James Barry. We would like to thank James for all his work on the EC since April 2013.
3. Millennium Fund Grant
£5,000 was awarded to Dukinfield Old Chapel to support professional fees in connection with their major repairs and conservation project. This grant fulfilled a commitment given to them last year and previous to the EC's decision that as of September 2015 the Millennium Fund would be closed to new applicants and the remaining funds allocated to support activities arising from the Vision Project.
4. Annual Accounts 2014-15
The Annual Accounts of the General Assembly and of the Nightingale Centre were approved. Both had performed well financially. The Annual Accounts of the Sustentation Fund were received and they showed that grants of £16,800 in total had been paid to congregations to support ministry during the year.
5. “Turning Vision into Action” Day Follow-Up
The Executive Committee spent considerable time reviewing the outcome of the “Turning Vision into Action” they held in Sheffield on 23 November 2015 and comments received since the successful event. There are lots of exciting ideas and proposals built around the six themes that emerged on the day and the key task of the Executive Committee is to prioritise them and develop them into a coherent plan for the future. This plan will be presented to this year's Annual Meetings for their support and approval, recognising that only if we all work together will these aims be successfully achieved.
2. Death of Rev Eric Wild
It is with sadness that we learned of the death of Rev Eric Wild on 31 December 2015. He was Minister at Swinton, Warrington, Sheffield and Bristol over 34 years and was General Assembly President from 1981-82. The funeral will be held at Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel, Dunham Road, Altrincham, WA14 4NX at 1.30pm on 26 January 2016 with the committal at 3.00pm at Altrincham Crematorium, Whitehouse Lane, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 5RH. For further information please contact Aled Jones at email@example.com
3. Death of Rev David Skelton
It was with sadness that we learned of the death of Rev David Skelton on 17 January 2016. David was Minister at Rotherham, Cullompton with Sidmouth and several Kent congregations.
The funeral will take place on Saturday 6 February 2016 starting at 12.00 midday with a simple service of committal at Charing Crematorium, TN27 0EB. A full service to celebrate David's life will then take place at Tenterden Unitarian Old Meeting House, Ashford Road, TN30 6LL starting at 2.30pm. Refreshments will be provided after the service. For further information, please contact the funeral directors:
David's family have requested family flowers only and that those wishing to make donations in his memory give to either 'Young Minds' (a charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people) or to the Send a Child to Hucklow Fund (a trust which offers countryside breaks to disadvantaged children who would not have otherwise have a holiday. David was very actively involved in this project during its formative years). Please make your cheques payable to the charity but post them to the funeral directors at the address below.
4. Annual Meetings Bookshop – Bulk Hymnbook Orders
If any congregation wishes to pay for and collect a large order of hymnals at the Annual Meetings Bookshop please contact Audrey Longhurst by email or on 020 7240 2384 at Essex Hall as soon as possible to make arrangements.
5. Feeling Drawn to Ministry?
Maybe you have felt an inkling of a call to become a Unitarian or Free Christian Minister. Maybe it’s still a secret that you dare not speak. Maybe it’s something so precious you don’t want to question it.
The Ministerial Fellowship is hosting a weekend retreat for you to discern whether or not you might pursue a path in Unitarian ministry. It will be an opportunity:
• To listen to your Soul
• To talk with experienced ministers
• For personal exploration
The retreat will take place from 27- 29 May 2016 (Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime) at Luther King House, Brighton Grove, Manchester M14 5JP
Cost £40 including meals and accommodation (Costs subsidised by The Millennium Fund). Additional subsidies are available for cases of need. Bookings are limited to 15 places.
Members of the Interview Panel and the Ministry Strategy Group are not involved with the planning or hosting of this retreat.
Note: This is not a replacement for the Inquiry Day (where you can ask questions about practicalities) but rather a precursor.
Further information and bookings contact Rev Nicky Jenkins by email or ring 0161 224 5289
6. Hucklow Summer School
Hucklow Summer School will take place from 20-27 August 2016 at The Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Derbyshire. Applications are due by 11 April 2016.
Hucklow Summer School brings fellow Unitarians together and allows them to get to know each other deeply and form lasting connections. The core purpose of summer school week is religious education: we focus on matters of religion and spirituality and intend to draw out and develop the potential of all participants. We aim to provide a carefully balanced programme, offering a rich mix of activities for both the heart and head, and a wide variety of optional sessions including country walks, poetry, discussions and crafts, which participants might ‘take home’ and try out in their own congregations and communities. We also ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for relaxed fellowship and fun during the week!
This year's theme is 'This Changes Everything'. In a series of daily theme talks our team of speakers will offer their perspectives on the subject of change. Amongst the aspects we may examine are: ways in which we may bring about positive change in our own lives, our relationships, our community, and the world at large; strategies for responding to and coping with the inevitable changes that all life entails; the impact of significant moments which prove to be life-changing; and those social, political and environmental changes taking place on a global scale which have an impact on all life. Our theme speakers are John Harley, Maria Pap, Jef Jones, Colleen Burns and Danny Crosby.
There will also be a choice of morning engagement groups:
• 'A Change is as Good as a Rest' with Jo O'Sullivan and Michael Dadson
• 'All Change!' with Elizabeth Birtles and Lindy Latham
• 'Taken at the Flood - Epiphany Moments' with Margaret Kirk and Cody Coyne
• 'New Brooms?' with Katie McKenna and Robin Hanford
• Children & Young People's Programme - led by Claire Maddocks and team.
Basic Cost for Adults (shared room) is £500. Some bursaries are available to help with the cost of attending and we would appreciate it if you would get in touch ASAP for further funding advice.
Please visit Hucklow Summer School website for further details and an application form.
Alternatively, please telephone Janet Costley on 01732 464211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the event.
Summer School Panel
7. Media Coverage
The Religion of Enlightenment – letter published in The Independent (4 January 2016) – you have to scroll down as it is one of several letters on various topics
An example of how use of a church building can produce publicity in this case by an alternative pop band. “Unitarian Church gig for Empire Circus” (Meath Chronicle, 6 January 2016)
Former Film studio intern thriving in role as Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel Minister (Warrington Guardian, 19 January 2016)
This appeared a couple of years ago but is a fascinating heritage angle on Bridgwater Chapel
Horsham Unitarian Church aims to help Nepal with classical concert (West Sussex County Times, 20 January 2016)
8. Annual Meetings Youth discount
Thanks to a generous Trust, this year we are able to offer an even bigger discount to an even wider range of younger people – it’s a huge 80% discount (plus exemption from paying the conference fee) for anyone aged 18 to 39! This offer is only guaranteed for this year, so please do make the most of it now. For more information about the Meetings, and to download booking forms, please go to our Annual Meetings page.