1. Ministry Inquiry Day 2017
Would you like to know more about training as a Unitarian and Free Christian Minister and about working with our congregations?
This summer the Ministry Strategy Group will be holding an Inquiry Day for people who are at an early stage of considering this possibility as well as for those who are almost ready to make an application for training. There will be a chance to meet our tutors and recent graduates.
Venue: Leicester Great Meeting, LE1 4SX
Date: Wednesday 2nd August 2017
Time: 11.00 for 11.30am start – 3.30pm finish
Booking deadline: 26th July 2017
Advance booking is essential.
For more information and to book, please contact Mary-Jean Hennis at Essex Hall, 1 Essex Street, London WC2R 3HY or by phone on 020 7240 2384 or by email.
2. Working on our Welcome: Improving Our Hospitality to LGBTQ+ People
LDPA Summer District Quarterly Meeting - a special half-day training course on an important issue for our congregations.
Date and Time: Saturday 17th June - 11am arrivals for an 11.30am start until 3pm. The training will be followed by worship and refreshments until 4.30pm.
Venue: Essex Church, 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, London, W8 4RT.
Unitarians are rightly proud of our historically progressive views on gender and sexuality issues, particularly our part in campaigning for equal marriage, but there is so much more work still to do. As a wider range of voices from across the LGBTQ+ rainbow (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people) begin to make themselves heard, some of us may find ourselves confused by new terminology, and by seemingly conflicting messages about how best to respond to people’s needs.
In this half-day workshop, co-facilitated by Quaker activist Fred Langridge and Jane Blackall from our own Kensington congregation, we will explore some practical ways in which our communities can offer a better welcome to visitors who identify as LGBTQ+ and highlight areas where we could improve our awareness and sensitivity around issues of gender, sexuality and relationship diversity.
You’ll need to book in advance for this training (though the training is free of charge) as the organisers need to know how many people to prepare for. You are also welcome to arrive at 3.00pm to attend a special worship service connected to the workshop’s themes. This will be followed by refreshments and time to socialise with everyone. Finish time around 4.30pm.
To book a place on the workshop or find out more, please contact Jane Blackall on email@example.com or phone and leave a message on 020 7221 6514.
3. The Samuel Jones Fund
The income of the fund is applied ‘in augmentation of the salaries of such conscientious and Dissenting Ministers as shall stand in most need of assistance as the Managers of the Fund shall approve, preference being given to those who have been students at Manchester (now Harris Manchester) College, Oxford’. New applicants are also invited and grants are considered annually. Applications should be in hand by 9 June 2017 and be on a form obtainable from the Secretary:
Rev Peter Hewis
4. The Great Get Together – Friday 16 to Sunday 18 June 2017
On the weekend of 16-18 June, the anniversary weekend of the murder of Jo Cox, former MP for Batley and Spen, the Jo Cox Foundation is organising what it hopes will be the biggest street party since the Jubilee: The Great Get Together.
Organisers say “Jo’s killing was meant to divide us and we think the best response is to show how united we are. We believe there is a groundswell of people who reject divisive politics and simply want to bring our communities together and celebrate all that unites us. This is our chance.” Their hope is that this weekend of community events will demonstrate how united people are.
The events are being supported by the Big Lunch, the Big Iftar, the Eden Project, the Inter Faith Network for the UK, the Church Urban Fund, and organisations of a range of different faiths and beliefs as well from across the broad spectrum of society.
The Great Get Together gives faith communities an opportunity to celebrate their work and to meet with others in their community. If you are a faith or inter faith organisation interested in getting involved and supporting the Great Get Together, here are just a few ideas that you might like to consider:
• Encourage your members to get involved or, if you are a local organisation, plan an event together
• Open your church, gurdwara, mandir, mosque, synagogue, temple, vihara or other place of worship, inviting in people of different faiths and beliefs
• Hold a special Great Get Together breakfast, lunch, or supper for guests of different backgrounds
• If you’re fasting for Ramadan you could hold an interfaith Iftar
• Take part in other Great Get Together events near you – meals, sports events, bake-offs, and more
• Work with other faiths or a local inter faith group to write a Great Get Together message of unity for use in local media
• Field a lead walker for the Great Big Walk (see below)
Your event can be held at any time over the three days. For further information and to take part, visit The Great Get Together website. You’ll then be sent an information pack. You can also email Mike Buckley at the Jo Cox Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are holding an event, please do also keep the Inter Faith Network in touch.
Inter Faith Network for the UK
5. Hull Unitarians Invitation - Visit the UK City of Culture
This is the year to pay Hull a visit. Whatever your taste in culture – Hull has it covered in 2017. See the current programme at the Hull 2017 website. And while you are here, join us at Hull Unitarians:
Meditation: Thursday 1.50 pm for 2 pm (doors close); followed by refreshments from 2.45pm.
Friday Gathering: From 10.30 am to noon. Join us for refreshments and good company.
Sunday Worship: 11 am.
See the Hull Unitarians website for details.
Rev Ralph Catts
6. Worship Studies Course Group report
The following report was unfortunately omitted from the General Assembly Annual Report that has been circulated but has been incorporated into the version on our website and will be included in the version submitted to the Charity Commission.
Here is a summary of where the WSC is at present, and our plans for 2017:
Present members of the WSC Team:
This report does not cover the costs of the WSC Foundation Step courses. These are run in and by Districts, and each course is expected to be self-funding. Students are required to complete all elements of the training, and have two services assessed to receive their Foundation Step certificates. Since our last report, the WSCFS has been run in the Midland Unitarian Association and the Scottish Unitarian Association, and is currently in progress in the Yorkshire Unitarian Union (continuing into 2017). A course is planned by the London & South East District Provincial Assembly for the Spring of 2017, which will be offered nationally, as is the course in the MUA.
Intermediate and Advanced Steps:
Presently we have 26 students on the WSC Intermediate Step (six more than last year) and eight on the Advanced Step (four more than last year), with five enrolled on the USC.
The new structure for the Intermediate and Advanced Steps was launched at the General Assembly meetings this year. An article explaining it has also appeared in The Inquirer. It may be summarised as follows:
To complete the Intermediate Step, students need to prepare one complete service for each of the four modules, with appropriate readings, prayers, opening and closing sections, hymns, and address. Two of the four services are assessed in the same way as the Foundation Step services.
The four Intermediate Step modules are:
1 Unitarian theology/thought.
2 Unitarian history-local/broader.
3 Biblical studies.
4 Earth- Centred Spirituality.
For WSC students this step extends their knowledge giving them more material to use for service content. For USC students this is their first Step, and they are expected to submit four essays, one for each module. It is expected that students will complete this step within twelve months, but we recognise that life happens, and are always open to requests for time extensions.
The Advanced Step comprises further and deeper study of the four Intermediate Step modules, and introduces four new modules, which were launched at the General Assembly Meetings this year. It is similar to the former CLPCW course.
The Advanced Step modules are:
1 Unitarian theology/thought. (Compulsory) [tutors: Revs. Alex Bradley and Sue Woolley]
2 Unitarian history-local/broader. (Compulsory) [tutors: Rev. Ernest Baker and Mr. Alan Ruston]
3 Biblical studies. [tutor: Rev. Ant Howe]
4 Earth Centred Spirituality. [tutor: Rev Celia Cartwright]
5 Intergenerational Worship [tutor: Rev. John Harley]
6 Meditation & Contemplative Practices [tutor: Rev. Sheena Gabriel]
7 Women and Religion in a Unitarian Context [tutor: Rev. Dr. Ann Peart]
8 World Religion within a Unitarian Context [tutor: Rev. Ernest Baker]
For WSC students the step is suitable for those wishing to conduct worship regularly. It would be a useful preliminary for Lay Pastor or Ministerial training. For USC students the step further develops their knowledge and understanding of Unitarianism. Once again, the WSC students submit complete services; the USC students submit essays.
The first two listed modules are compulsory and have six assignments each. Students are free to choose which other modules they wish to complete. However, they must complete at least three assignments per module. It is possible to do six assignments for Biblical Studies, Earth Centred Spirituality, and World Religions, but only three for the other three. Students must complete a total of twenty-four (24) written assignments. In addition, WSC students are expected to deliver six services, including at least ONE from each module chosen, from the twenty-four submitted as written work. These should be assessed by an appropriate person, as with the Intermediate Step.
It is expected that the student will demonstrate a greater depth of understanding and knowledge at this level than at the Intermediate Step. The time limit for completion of each module is nine months, but once again, we recognise that students have many other calls on their time and attention, and time extensions may be negotiated with the Course Administrator.
Rev Sue Woolley
7. Media Coverage
Nazareth Unitarian Chapel, Padiham “First gay wedding set to make history” (Burnley Express, 18 April 2017)
Followed by coverage of the Wedding
”First same sex couple marry at Padiham Church” (Lancashire Telegraph, 15 May 2017)
“Wedding day that will make the history books” (Burnley Express, 15 May 2017)
University of York release of research on same sex marriage highlights discrimination and notes Unitarian churches as an exception
Framingham Unitarian Meeting House to celebrate proud history at Tercentenary Weekend (East Anglia Daily Times, 11 May 2017)
Newington Green Church slams racist graffiti on black lives matter banner (Islington Gazette, 12 May 2017)
Auckland Unitarian Church is still involved with the Indian students deported from New Zealand (Stuff, 14 May 2017)