UNI-NEWS 174th Issue 28th November 2016

1. EC Key Messages – 14 November 2016

1. Next Steps - Training and Education Development Project

Rachel Skelton presented a report on the project which officially commenced on 1 October 2016. Lots of preparatory work has taken place to clarify governance, support and communication structures for this important work. She had been in touch with many of those involved in training and education within the Denomination and will be in contact with others who need to be involved.  

The key objective is to deliver a Denomination-wide framework for training, education, and spiritual and professional development which is effective, coherent and sustainable.  A workshop will take place at the next Annual Meetings to feedback on progress and gather views.

2. Next steps - Web-based Spiritual Development & Learning Resource

The Executive Committee gave approval to proceed with commissioning an external agency to design and build a web-based spiritual development and learning resource which is one of the Next Steps priorities. It is intended to attract, and meet the needs of, all those searching online - not simply current Unitarians - and is being taken forward in partnership with Unitarian College Manchester. It will be funded by the proceeds of the Collection that was taken during the Anniversary Service at this year’s Annual Meetings and the plan is to demonstrate an early version of this web resource at the Annual Meetings next year.

3. Next Steps – Identity

The Next Steps process concluded that work needed to be undertaken to develop a comprehensive response to explaining our identity. The Executive Committee agreed to take forward a project to seek external professional support to enable the Unitarian identity and underlying ethos to be explored and developed into concrete actions. A workshop will be held at the next Annual Meetings.

4. Next Steps – Financial Sustainability

A report was received from Robert Ince and Philip Colfox drawing upon research they had undertaken to review financial and building sustainability of congregations and the wider Unitarian and Free Christian Movement. The next steps are to look at ways of supporting congregations, particularly identifying opportunities and Simon Bland, new Ministry and Congregational Support Officer will take the work forward. 

5. Sustentation Fund

The Sustentation Fund provides about £20,000 a year in grants to congregations to support Ministries and is separately registered with the Charity Commission but with Trustees appointed by the General Assembly. The Executive Committee agreed to a request from the Fund’s Trustees that a proposal for merger with the General Assembly be pursued which will, if approved, reduce the administrative and financial burdens. Grants to congregations would not be affected.

6. Investment Management

Advice from the General Assembly’s legal advisers on the current investment management arrangements was considered. In response, it was agreed that advice should be taken from a qualified investment adviser on investments and to review the current investment policy and ongoing requirements. 

7. Nightingale Centre Budget 2016/17

The Budget for the Nightingale Centre for the year beginning 1 October 2016 was approved. The Budget will underpin further improvements to the Centre, building on the success of 2015/16 when the Centre achieved its highest income ever.


2. Annual Meetings Steering Group Motions Workshop, 16 January 2017

A Motions Workshop convened by the Annual Meetings Steering Committee will take place on Monday 16 January 2016 from 1pm - 3pm in the Lindsey Room, Essex Hall, London WC2R 3HY.

The purpose of the workshop is to provide help and advice to those Congregations or Full Members who are considering submitting Motions to the Annual Meetings (Deadline for non-constitutional motions: 10/02/17).

Please bring along ideas and draft Motions if you have them and a packed lunch (drinks provided) from 12:30pm.

If you wish to attend please contact: Mary-Jean Hennis by 9 January 2017 (Tel: 020 7240 2384).

Derek McAuley
Chief Officer


3. New Staff Appointment – Simon Bland, Ministry and Congregational Support Officer  

I am pleased to announce that Simon Bland has been appointed to the full-time post of Ministry and Congregational Support Officer which embraces many of the responsibilities formerly held by the Director of Ministry position along with new ones to support congregations with financial and building sustainability as set out in “Next Steps”. 

Simon joins us bringing a wealth of experience and expertise from work within the voluntary sector over the last 30 years. Early work on social and community development projects, led to him both chairing and leading national charities engaged in issues such as food poverty, affordable housing, employment and training schemes and IT, as well as work to support community-owned buildings. The last 7 years have seen Simon work within an ecclesiastical setting as Head of Parish Operations with the Diocese of Lincoln, covering issues such as governance, appointments, finance, social justice, buildings management and development and stewardship/fundraising.

Simon says "I am delighted to join the staff at Essex Hall, and bring with me a passion for social change, a real desire to serve the Unitarian Movement and a sense of excitement for the future. I look forward to meeting colleagues from across the country in the coming months".

Simon lives in Lincolnshire with his family - Kate his wife of 28 years, and Daniel (18) and Joseph (16).

Simon can be contacted on Simon's email or phone (Tel: 0115 888 2955).

Derek McAuley
Chief Officer


4. FUSE 2017 - a weekend of inspiration and fellowship in serene, natural surroundings.

17-19 February, 2017

This year we are gathering at a new venue – the lovely Horsley Park in Surrey. The accommodation includes modern rooms, pool and sauna, and 70 acres of parkland. Whether you are looking for an energising and inspiring conference with fellow Unitarians, a relaxing, spa-like weekend, or a spiritually enriching retreat, you will find it at FUSE 2017!

There is a fantastic line-up of workshops, social activities and spiritual practices to nourish the mind, body and soul. Join the 100 or so Unitarians and friends who come together for an enriching weekend that will leave your batteries recharged and gain fun, inspiring memories to fire your imagination for months to come. Don’t miss out!

FUSE registration is now “live” at its website.

To register and pay for your registration - Your registration will not complete unless you pay at the same time. Therefore the following people should not register at this time: FUSE leadership team, guests, keynote speaker (You will all be contacted separately with information about how to register) and bursary applicants (you should first contact Danielle to apply for a bursary).

Please bear with us as this is a brand new registration and payment system. If you have any problems, please contact Danielle Wilson. 

Danielle Wilson
LDPA Administrator


5. New funding to boost diverse communities during inter faith week

£250,000 of ‘small grants funding’ is now available to boost diverse communities across the country Communities Minister Lord Bourne has announced today (14 November 2016).

The ‘Common Good’ programme will give pots of funding to projects that bring together diverse communities and different faiths through a range of activities from cookery classes to teaching computer coding.

Managed by The Church Urban Fund, grants of between £250 and £5,000 will be offered to locally-led projects. This includes extending the small grants element of Near Neighbours to new areas that have seen increased diversity in recent years.

“This fund will create opportunities to work together for the common good of all and to show a way of tackling our differences and concerns constructively. It is timely and much needed.”

Circulated by the Interfaith Faith Network of the UK


6. The Jane Barraclough Bursary

A travel and educational bursary of around £500 will be awarded from time to time by the Ministerial Old Students’ Association (MOSA) to Ministers trained, firstly, at Harris Manchester College, Oxford or, secondly, at the Unitarian College Manchester and who are on the Roll of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. The award is for the recipient to travel within the United Kingdom or abroad, or to attend a course, in furtherance of their education. The fund is handled by the Manchester Academy Trust on behalf of the Ministerial Old Students’ Association and the grant is presented during the annual meetings of MOSA for payment at the end of June.

Applications should be made by 3 January of each year.

Application forms are available from the Reverend Peter Hewis by email or by post at 1 Little Blenheim, Yarnton, KIDLINGTON, OX5 1LX.

Rev Peter Hewis


7. General Assembly Directories

We have been trying to ensure that there is a full set in the Archive of the Yearbooks or Directories issued by the General Assembly and its predecessor publication known as the Essex Hall Directory. The following are missing and if you have a copy we would gratefully receive it:

GA Directory 1988 – 89, 1985 – 86, 1983, 1978-79, 1977 – 78, 1967

And I know this is highly unlikely…

Essex Hall Yearbook 1910, 1901, 1897, 1896, 1895, 1892 


Derek McAuley
Chief Officer


8. Women's League Photograph Album

The Central Committee of the Women's League has decided to endeavour to put together a photograph album comprising of Past National Presidents. There are still some missing as below and we would be most grateful if anyone has any suggestions where any of these may be located or, maybe have one tucked away in a cupboard. Ideally a portrait photograph in her Presidential year, however, looking at the amount of years that have passed since some of them were President any photograph would be appreciated even in a group.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have very kindly got in touch since this was last published in Uni-news.

Please contact Mary Wightman  or phone her on 01382 775718.

Photographs still required for Women's League Past Presidents – Can you help

1908   Lady Bowring

1919   Mrs. Bernard Allen

1922   Mrs. Currer Briggs

1924   Mrs. Mary E. Richmond

1927   Miss Ruth Nettlefold

1932   Mrs. Willmer

1934   Mrs. A.A. Taylor

1936   Mrs. E. Lewis Lilley JP

1944   Mrs. M. Severs

1946   Mrs. H. Baily D.Sc

1951   Mrs. A.D. Mitchell BA

1955   Mrs. Jessell MA

1957   Miss Ruth Herford

1959   Miss Margaret Stevenson

1960   Mrs. M. Whitaker

1965   Mrs. I Matheson

1967   Mrs. Sheila Stooke

1968   Mrs.  S.A. Fraser       

1971   Mrs. J. D. McLachlan

1976   Mrs. E.Q. Smith BA

Thank you in anticipation.

Mary Wightman
Women’s League


9. Media Coverage

Hinckley “Dream wedding for couple is first for Hinckley Chapel” (Hinckley Times, 12 September 2016)

Bridport “Surprise! Here comes the bride! Couple spring wedding on unsuspecting friends and family” (Bridport  News, 13 October 2016) 

Also in View News (19 October 2016) 

Bridport’s “Team Calais” to raise awareness of refugees at Chapel in the Garden”  (Bridport News, 19 October 2016) 

Bridport “Bridport volunteers raise money for refugees by cooking up Jungle camp meals” (Bridport News, 31 October 2016)

Bury St Edmunds  (Bury Free Press, 10 November 2016) “Early Christmas market proves a hit” 

Cambridge Unitarian Church gets a mention as a venue for Jazz Festival  (Cambridge Network, 15 November 2016) 

Bury “Church Celebrates Minister’s first service” (This is Lancashire, 17 November 2016)  

Defying the Nazis: the Sharps’ War” was in “What’s on tonight ” advertising the new American PBS programme (the Times, 15 November 2016 – note paywall)  

Newington Green Unitarian Church, described as the “birthplace of feminism”, has been placed on the “at risk” register by Historic England and featured in Historic England news coverage with many photographs being published:

The Guardian (21 October 2016) 

Daily Telegraph (21 October 2016) 

Mirror (21 October 2016) 

Financial Times (21 October 2016) 

iNews (21 October 2016) 

Jezelbel.com (21 October 2016) 

Yahoo.Style (22 October 2016) 

Islington Gazette (25 October 2016)