General Assembly

General Assembly

British Unitarians gather in Birmingham for their Eighty-ninth Annual Meetings from 10 to 13 April 2017. The Meetings are an opportunity for Unitarians and Free Christians to gather together for worship, business, learning and fun. A programme for children and young people will run during the event.

 “Muddling through: Leading Organisations in Today’s World” is the title of the Keynote Address by Reverend Dr Ralph Waller, Principal of Harris Manchester College and a Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He is also the Director of the Farmington Institute, is an Honorary Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge and is the MacWilliams Fellow in Divinity at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. He is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

Dr Waller’s research interests are in the field of Religious Thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and he completed a PhD at King's College London with a thesis entitled “James Martineau: his emergence as a theologian, his Christology and his doctrine of the Church, with some unpublished papers”. As an academic administrator and leader in one of the world’s great universities, yet an ordained minister, he will offer his thoughts on leadership.

The Opening Celebrations on the evening of Monday 10 April have been arranged by Welsh Unitarians and will celebrate the rich Unitarian heritage of the Principality and the life of the Chapels in Wales today.

The General Assembly will honour Rev Cliff Reed, Minister Emeritus of Ipswich Unitarian Chapel, by naming him an Honorary Member in recognition of his contribution to the Unitarian Movement in Great Britain and internationally. 

An emergency motion on the deportation of Durham resident Irene Clennell to Singapore has been submitted for consideration by Stockton Unitarian Church. It calls upon the Government to reinstate her indefinite right to remain in the UK and address UK Border Agency practices.

The Annual Meetings draw people from all parts of Great Britain with visitors from Dublin and the Czech Republic. Rev Sara Ascher, Executive Director of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), the global body for Unitarians and Universalists, will speak to the Meeting and run a workshop about growing international connections.

Other highlights include:

  • The welcome of three new ministers onto the General  Assembly Roll; Rev Dr Ralph Catts, Rev Kate McKenna and Rev Rob Whiteman.
  • Carla A Grosch-Miller delivering the John Relly Beard lecture on “Fifty Shades of Grace: Sex and Progressive Christianity”.
  • Launch of Unifest, a new event for people of all ages and families
  • Presentation of funds raised by the National Women’s League during 2016/17 to the National Deaf Children’s Society and presentation of their fund-raising project for 2017/18 Prostate Cancer UK.
  • Exploration of the impact of equality by Prof Kate E Pickett, author of “The Spirit Level”.
  • Celebration of 175 years of The Inquirer, the Unitarian and Free Christian periodical; the oldest nonconformist newspaper in Britain.
  • Setting out a Unitarian approach to Life-Long Learning and Development for All as part of the TED Project by Rachel Skelton
  • Finding out about working in a multi-cultural community, specifically around food with Simple Gifts, the Unitarian social action project in East London.
  • Addressing the challenge to Religious Freedom with the International Association for Religious Freedom as they seek to “shine a light”
  • Looking at new technologies with UKUnitarianTV, the GA’s Web project and supporting congregational websites

For further information contact Derek McAuley 0750 763 1285

The Unitarian Movement has 165 congregations and fellowships in Great Britain. It is a progressive and liberal religious group that grew out of the radical reformation and is open to insights from all faiths and life philosophies.