1. Unitarians UK Facebook Page
An official ‘Unitarians UK’ Facebook page has been launched today!
You can ‘like’ and follow the page here: www.facebook.com/UnitariansUK
Many of our churches, chapels and meeting houses are using Facebook with great success to take our message to new people, to publicise services and events, and to grow their congregations. The new Unitarians UK page will support these efforts and provide shareable photos, news items and information about Unitarianism.
The primary aim of the page will be to spread the word about Unitarianism to the general public. This will be our first official nationwide Unitarian Facebook page and (unlike the many excellent volunteer-run Unitarian Facebook groups) it will be run and moderated by staff at Essex Hall.
If you have any questions or ideas for the new page, please get in touch with the new Communications Officer at Essex Hall, Rory Castle Jones.
2. GA President to take special service in the London District
Joan Cook, our General Assembly President, will be leading a special service and presiding at a meeting in the London District on Saturday 10th November 2018 at 2pm at Golders Green Unitarians, 31 Hoop Lane, London, NW11 8BS. The event will commemorate the end of the First World War and highlight the ongoing humanitarian mission of the Red Cross.
Joan will be handing over to a representative of the British Red Cross cheques for the Red Cross Memorial Peace Appeal (see below) for its lifesaving emergency medical and food aid for the people of Syria and Yemen.
Also speaking will be Louisa McLellan of the British Red Cross, who is the administrator of the Clara Barton Disasters Emergency Appeal, which since its inception has raised over £104,000 for Red Cross emergency appeals for Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza and for the victims of several natural disasters, most recently people recovering from the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.
3. Red Cross Memorial Peace Appeal
On 11th November 2018 the centenary of the end of the First World War will be commemorated worldwide. Let us reflect on the truly terrible scale of death and destruction it caused.
Approximately 10,000,000 combatants were killed. 21,000,000 were wounded, disabled, lost limbs or were blinded. Up to 8,000,000 were confirmed missing. Around 8,000,000 civilians lost their lives. Unknown millions mourned the deaths of loved ones. Millions of innocent animals, including 8,000,000 horses, were sacrificed. The loss of countless billions in economic damage resulted. In France alone around 3,000,000 buildings and millions of hectares of agricultural land and forest were destroyed. The environmental damage of the war was incalculable.
The war’s eventual legacy was unprecedented political and economic dislocation, the rise of Fascism and the even more devastating global catastrophe of the Second World War, which itself claimed over 60,000,000 lives.
It has been estimated that the total number of lives lost in wars over the last century is well in excess of 100,000,000 men, women and children. We are still living with the human and environmental consequences of these murderous conflicts.
It is therefore fitting that we should solemnly remember all the dead of the First World War and all subsequent conflicts and the loss of over 100 million lives not just by commemorative words but by humanitarian action to save millions of lives today in the two most murderous wars being waged in our own time: Syria and Yemen.
It is also appropriate that this life saving appeal should go through the Red Cross, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian works of mercy during and after the First and Second World Wars.
The war in Syria has lasted for over seven years, longer than even the Second World War. More than 11.6 million people have fled their homes and over five million now live as refugees. Working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Red Cross is providing shelter and delivering emergency aid, including food, water, blankets, soap and other essentials, across front lines to reach people most in need.
Yemen was plunged into civil war in March 2015. The economy and health services have collapsed, leaving seven million people destitute. Children are dying of malnutrition. The country has been hit with the fastest growing cholera epidemic ever recorded, with more than half of the suspected cases children. Deadly clashes have left tens of thousands dead and over two million people displaced. Essential medicines are extremely scarce and only half of the health facilities are functioning. If war continues, Yemen could, according to the UN, be facing the worst famine in 100 years.
If you wish to respond this emergency appeal please either donate online or send your cheque, made out to the British Red Cross, to: Red Cross Memorial Peace Appeal, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL and please mark it for the attention of Louisa McLellan. Thank you.
Joan Cook (President, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches)
Rev Celia Cartwright (Vice-president, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches)
Derek McAuley (Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches)
Robert Ince (President, International Association for Religious Freedom)
A total of 50 signatories, including 8 Honorary Members and 15 former General Assembly Presidents, have endorsed this humanitarian appeal.
4. Lest We Forget – Special Appeal from The Nightingale Centre
“How can the Unitarian movement in this country best commemorate the centenary of the Armistice of 1918?”
The management committee of The Nightingale Centre has been giving some thought to this matter as The Florence Nightingale Convalescent Home for Men was originally erected as 'The National Memorial to the men of the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches who fell in the war 1914 - 1918'.
'If I Should Die' is a powerful poem of consolation written by Rupert Brooke in 1914. It intimates that those hopes for the best that life has to offer remain - 'A pulse in the eternal mind no less'. Poetry helps us wrestle with our feelings. Maybe in our remembering we should focus on the hopes for peace and for a better tomorrow of those who lost their lives in the horror of that war. And not just remember but to recognise that faith as alive within their National Memorial, The Nightingale Centre, as the embodiment of those hopes for a better tomorrow and with the words of Rupert Brooke resonating in the life of the Centre.
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day,
And laughter, learnt of friends and gentleness
In hearts of peace....
We hope to raise awareness that we have a National Memorial and one of which to be proud. A living memorial alive to those hopes for a better world.
On the centenary of the Armistice we invite all congregations as an act of remembrance to consider joining the many individual Friends of The Nightingale Centre in helping to financially support the Centre into the future. Perhaps District Associations would also wish to consider joining the Friends in memory of the fallen of those congregations that are no longer active.”
For those congregations and any individuals who wish to join the Friends of The Nightingale please contact the Centre for further details. Email or telephone 01298 871 218.
5. Shrewsbury 300th Anniversary
Shrewsbury Unitarian Church will be celebrating its 300th anniversary with a special service on Sunday 25th November at 10.30am, followed by a shared lunch. If you would like to attend please RSVP by email or phone 07487 531 913.
6. Stipend Review
The Stipend Review Committee invites and encourages congregations and ministers to submit views, comments and recommendations regarding the matters covered in the Stipend Review Report 2018, submitted to the General Assembly Meetings. In particular they would like views on possible comparators to use as at one time parity with the teaching profession was seen as appropriate.
In order that such submissions may be reviewed before the next meeting, please send them to Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, at Essex Hall to arrive by 30 November 2018.
You can read the report here.
7. In The News
‘Three faiths unite at 'joyous' joint Padiham worship’ – Burnley Express (29.10.2018)
'Alex returns to Brook Street Chapel' – Knutsford Guardian (30.10.2018)