UNI-NEWS 186th Issue 24th July 2017

1. Message from Rev John Harley

Rev John Harley has decided, after 12 years in the role, to resign from the post of General Assembly Youth Coordinator at the end of October 2017.

John says: “I have enjoyed working with a wonderful team of voluntary youth leaders over the years and it has been a privilege to work with our talented children and young people and witness them exploring our beloved faith and bringing it to life.

Since moving down to Dorset to start a new life I have realised that fulfilling this national role has been more difficult. I am now delighted to be working part time for the Bristol congregations and I am looking forward to being more involved in the Western Union. I will also be teaching RE and Art on a part time basis in a local primary school.

I would like to thank Lorna Hill, chair of the Youth Panel and all the dedicated youth leaders who lead our youth events and Derek and the Essex Hall staff for all their support. I intend to remain involved in the national scene through projects such as Unifest and Leap and become more active with local Unitarian activities. I have no doubt that the Youth Programme will continue to flourish as it moves into a new era. "

I would like to thank John for his commitment and hard work over these twelve years in co-ordinating our activities for children and young people. It has been a pleasure to work with him and we wish him all the best for the future.

Derek McAuley
Chief officer

2. Executive Committee Key Messages, 14 July 2017

1. Training and Education Development (TED) Project

The Executive approved a proposal to take forward the training and education project from October 2017 building upon the significant progress over the last year. The following recommendations were accepted:

  1. Work with stakeholders, including the Ministry Strategy Group, in developing the Ministerial training pilot programme to begin in September 2018.
  2. Continue the work of the TED Project from 1 October 2017 for the financial year 2017-18 to further develop the Framework for Lifelong Learning encompassing ministerial learning and development.
  3. Set up a Foundation CIO, independent of the General Assembly, and do the preparatory work required for the Foundation ultimately taking responsibility for all Unitarian Learning and Development.
  4. Allocate Next Steps funding for the costs of this development work.

A CIO is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, a new form of charity status. A detailed proposal for the governance of this development work will be presented to the next meeting of the Executive Committee in September 2017.

2. Identity

A paper was received from Robert Ince as a follow-up to the discussion at the May EC meeting. It was acknowledged that the identity guidelines would be helpful in initiating conversations within the wider Unitarian and Free Christian community and that there would undoubtedly be a creative tension which reflected our diversity. This was positive and EC links would be seeking to involve Districts in discussions on how we saw ourselves and then how this is reflected in the way we present ourselves to the outside world.

It was agreed that professional expertise would be required if the work was to be embedded within the community and a draft job description and person specification for a temporary staff position has been requested for the September Executive Committee meeting. 

3. 2020 Congregational Growth Project – Derby Unity

A progress report was received from the Leadership Team of the 2020 Congregational Growth Project on Derby Unity, a initiative supported by the East Midlands District. Over the first 16 months attendance has risen to between 16-22 and a core group of 8 has formed. The learning to date has been shared at the Annual Meetings. It was recognised that to roll-out the 2020 Congregational Growth Project to other locations, which was an integral part of the original aspiration and now a “Next Steps” priority, required additional capacity and finance and this would be considered at a future EC meeting.

4. Grants

The Executive Committee awarded the following grants:

  • £1000 to support the forthcoming Unitarian Theology Conference at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds by funding “Faith and Freedom” journal to publish the papers that are presented. This would be a contribution to the “Next Step” priority of encouraging more Unitarian thought and writing.
  • £990 to the Findhorn Unitarian Network to provide three bursaries for people in leadership roles in Unitarian societies and districts to attend the Findhorn Unitarian Experience Week in January 2018. It was also agreed that the deposit of £2856 would be paid by the General Assembly to assist with cash flow and to be repaid in December 2017. This would support the “Next Steps” priorities of encouraging collaboration with other bodies and providing enhanced training opportunities.

5. EC Links

The EC links to Districts were agreed:

Marion Baker – East Cheshire and Sheffield
Philip Colfox – Western and Southern
Sheena McKinnon – Manchester and Yorkshire
Lynne Readett – North East Lancashire and Merseyside
Christina Smith – East Midlands and London and South East
Matthew Smith – Midlands and Eastern
Rob Whiteman – Northern and Scotland

It was acknowledged that the resignation of Gwynn Pritchard left a gap on the EC and as a link to the two Welsh Districts. As an interim measure, until the vacancy was filled, the Chief Officer will work with the Welsh Department Secretary to ensure two-way communication is maintained.

3. Alan Curren – Funeral Arrangements

The funeral of a leading Unitarian in the NELUM District, Alan Curren, will take place on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 at Chorley Unitarian Chapel at 1pm, then at East Chapel at Overdale Crematorium, Chorley New Road, Bolton at 2.15pm.   Donations are for: “Send a Child to Hucklow.”

The funeral will be conducted by a family friend and British Humanist Assoc qualified celebrant Moyra Summers, who has long-standing Unitarian connections. The eulogy is to be given by the Rev Peter Hewis.   

Among other roles, Alan Curren edited “The Unitarian”, served on the old Northern Sunday School Federation, and served as General Assembly Annual Meetings Press Officer.  He was by profession a journalist. He is survived by his wife Vina, former Lay Leader at Chorley Unitarian Chapel.  

Rev Jim Corrigall
Minister for the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry and for Padiham, Rawtenstall and Chorley Unitarian congregations

4. Server Migration

 1) General Assembly Website
     We will be moving our website and database onto a different server. The General Assembly's website will therefore be down from9am on Wednesday 26 July for the day.
 2) Five Days Away
     For those wishing to book in for the Five Days Away youth event, please be aware that the closing date is Wednesday 26 July. We would therefore recommend that you book online, or download booking forms to print, today or tomorrow.
     Details of the event can be found here.

Andrew Mason
Operations Manager

5. Sacred Wales – Vote for Yr Hen Gapel Llwynrhydowen

I’m writing to ask for your support. Sacred Wales are currently offering people the opportunity to vote for their favourite (Christian) place of worship in Wales. There are over 4,500 churches and chapels in Wales, and I’m very proud to say that Yr Hen Gapel Llwynrhydowen has made it to the short list of 50 – which to be honest has been a huge shock and not one that I expected when I put the nomination in.

However, the competition is quite tough – with 3 Cathedrals in the top 10 at the moment.. Winning this competition would mean so much and the publicity that the Unitarians would get would give us such a boost. If you were in the Opening Ceremony at the Annual Meetings  this year you will know that Llwynrhydowen have a history of beating the odds – and the Establishment – but we can’t realistically do it alone. So I’m asking/pleading/pestering every Unitarian and friend to consider supporting us by voting for the only Unitarian chapel to have ever made it on to any such list.

It’s a really simple process and takes about a minute to complete. Just click on Sacred Wales website, scroll through the pictures to the bottom one (it’s in alphabetical order so naturally Yr Hen Gapel is last) Click on the photo & then on the purple bar below it to vote. And if you could consider asking friends/ family/ colleagues to do the same we’d be really grateful.

The closing date for voting is 31 August 2017. The winner will receive a special trophy and a prize of £500.

Melda Grantham
Secretary of Unitarians in Wales
PS In 2ND place as of today!

6. National Worship Studies Course Foundation Step

Are you thinking about leading a service but not sure how? Looking for new ways to enliven worship for your congregation and beyond?

The National Worship Studies Course Foundation Step, led by experienced ministers and lay leaders, will run for four Fridays in Summer and Autumn 2017

1 September 2017         
5 October 2017
3  November 2017       
1 December 2017

Sessions will run from 11.00am to 4.30pm and be held at Kendal Unitarian Chapel, Market Place, Kendal. Lifts can be arranged from Oxenholme train station.
Cost: Registration: £5.00  Each session £10.00 (£45.00)* (*Can be paid in full or at each session) Cheques payable to "GA of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches"

For bookings and further information contact Rev Celia Cartwright, or phone her on 07 929 341 939

Rev Celia Cartwright

7. The Findhorn Unitarian Network (FUN) Experience Week 2018

Applications are now open to participate in the FUN programme which will take place from 2pm on 27 January to 9am on 3 February 2018 at Findhorn. The programme aims to enable Unitarians to draw ideas that they can apply to leadership and renewal in chapels and the wider movement. The programme provides an experience of Findhorn, with a focus on learning about leadership and change. Additional sessions provide Findhorn members with an opportunity to learn more about Unitarian beliefs.

Who can I talk with about the FUN course?  You can contact the convenor, Valerie Chamberlain (01257 48 2314) FindhornUnitarianNetwork@gmail.com or the secretary Riena Jackson (01473 210 064) both of whom took part in last year’s Unitarian Experience Week.

Applications are now open: A £100 deposit will be required and will be non-refundable from 31/10/2017. For further information please see our event page or download our information sheet. To book, please use the application form.

Valerie Chamberlain
FUN Convenor

8. Media Coverage

The Chief officer, Derek McAuley and Stephen Lingwood, Minister of Bank Street Chapel, Bolton were signatories of a letter on the need for relationships and sex education to be LGBT inclusive. This was co-ordinated by the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education and appeared in The Guardian (12 July 2017) and Pink News (12 July 2017)

For further information see the Accord website.

Oldham Unitarian Church’s “One World Café”  provides meals for low income people and the homeless (Oldham Chronicle, 26 May 2017)

Derek McAuley
Chief Officer