Chelmsford Unitarian Fellowship

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This picture, taken on 16th September 1986, shows the Unitarian Church in Legg Street that was built in 1879 and closed in 1912. It became the Oddfellows' Hall, a building that has since been demolished and redeveloped, so the building shown no longer exists and represents an earlier Unitarian congregation, that was formed in 1877.

The present Fellowship began in the late 1970's as an informal group. Since then it has gradually grown to the point where, in 1998, it was recognised as a full Fellowship by the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

A chapel in Braintree was patronised by the Courtauld family.

For more information on Unitarian history and well-known Unitarians see Unitarian and Free Christian Churches or The Hibbert Trust

The Fellowship maintains links with a number of different Faiths locally and from time to time arranges interfaith services. It is a member of the Eastern Union of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. Members of the Fellowship take part in events organised at district level and nationally and several are involved individually in Unitarian societies or other bodies.

The fellowship welcomes families and has resources for children but at present no children wishing for separate provision.

27th November 18th December

August – December 20111
All events held at 3 pm at the Friends’ Meeting House,
Rainsford Road Chelmsford CM1 2QL unless shown otherwise.
28th August
Discussion – Can torture ever be right?
Introduced by: Douglas Kingsley
Reflection led by: Jane Howarth
25th September
Service Led by Rev Ashley Hills.
23rd October
Discussion - What feeds your faith?
Please be prepared to share after Debi and John Foster start us off.
Reflection led by: Olga Jennings
27th November
Service Led by Rev Cliff Reed
18th December
Momentous moments – What you would you like to share about 2011 or Christmas-tide?

















24th September

Unitarian Meeting House, Bury St. Edmunds.

10.30am Executive Committee.
1.00pm AGM.

3.00pm Public lecture by Alan Ruston exploring the history of the Meeting House. This is one of the many celebratory events marking the Meeting House’s 300th Anniversary.

Followed by tea










We hold meetings for Reflections & Discussions and Services on the fourth Sunday in the month. All are followed by refreshments.

With rare exceptions all meetings are held at the Friends' Meeting House, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford at 3:00p.m.

The Services of worship are led by invited Unitarian Ministers and Lay Preachers, thus providing a variety of approaches. The Reflection & Discussion is taken by members of the Fellowship and includes music, readings and reflections from many sources, and possibly short periods of meditation, in all some twenty minutes. The discussion may be introduced by a member of the Fellowship or an outside speaker and will explore religious or social issues. The two forms of meeting arose to meet differing needs among members and it is understood that, while many members will wish to go to both, some will prefer one or other.

Affirmations (revised 12th August 2007)

1.       We perceive that the universe has an underlying order and energy which is understood in differing ways by all people.

2.       We value life in its many forms, and affirm the inherent potential of individual human beings.

3.       We see religion, with or without a belief in God, as an awareness of the underlying spiritual dimension of humankind, illustrated by such values as truth, beauty, wonder, reverence, joy, justice, freedom, tolerance and reason.

4.       Whilst acknowledging our religious heritage, we all have a duty and freedom to think out and express religious matters for ourselves, searching for truth according to our understanding and experience wherever it may lead and continually accepting its implications.

5.       Religion thrives best when shared with others. We value the opportunity for spiritual growth and regeneration through personal encounters within this Fellowship.

6.       Our religion points inevitably to an attitude of active, personal responsibility towards our world, its inhabitants and its environment.

We seek to share and promote liberal spiritual values, with or without a belief in God, and an awareness of the underlying spiritual dimension of the Universe, illustrated in our affirmations below. Meetings and services are open to all who wish to take part where we strive to build a fellowship of faith that allows us to believe freely in accordance with our conscience and experience. We value the shared basis that our affirmations provide for the exploration of our personal beliefs.


Articles Interfaith |  Forum | 09Interfaith | Harvest | FestivalInterfaith | Forum


One World Week

 The theme of this year's One World Week was 'Hungry for One World'. Speakers from six religious traditions gave a five minute presentation on things the world hungers for, such as food, water, safe housing, good mental health, education and religious reconciliation. £125 was raised for the Chelmsford Homeless Emergency Support Scheme, CHESS. Children from Newlands Spring School sang, as did Muslim and Baha'i' children, and Quaker children gave a presentation on homelessness


Mid Essex Interfaith Forum's One World Week Celebration

Muslim children with the Mayor of Chelmsford and his wife. 

(The following article appeared in the Essex Chronical

Interfaith Harvest Festival or How many faiths does it take to make a harvest festival?

Opening Mid Essex Inter Faith Forum's third One World Week Celebration, the Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Alan Arnot, suggested that people fall into one of three categories. Those who do not wish to join dialogue with people with different religious beliefs, those who are prepared to dialogue, and those who say "a plague on all your houses". He welcomed the willingness of everyone present at the Quaker Meeting House last Sunday to join in dialogue. Councillor Arnot was accompanied by the Deputy Mayoress, Mrs. Jacqueline Arnot.

The theme for One World Week was 'Growing Together'. Rev Ivor Moody, convenor of the Forum, invited Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, and Quaker children, and representatives of the Bahai, Brahma Kumaris and Unitarian traditions to add their contributions of fruit, flowers, vegetables, and other fruits of the earth to the central table. There were references to special foods used in festivals, the importance of agriculture and of preparing food with love, the need to ensure that the bounty of the Earth continues, and the different circumstances facing people round the world as they work to grow food and bring up their children.

This year's Celebration was a real family occasion. The Chelmsford Youth choir under conductor Simon Warne sang two songs, One World and Green Fields, beautifully and with great confidence. Muslim children attending the South East Essex Cultural Centre and from other local families gave a very lively rendering of Pizza in His Pocket, illustrating it with the foods and dress of the countries mentioned in the song. Together these songs illustrated vividly the themes of the Celebration – that we all share this world, that we need to care for the Earth if it is to continue to feed us, and that we need to avoid greed and ensure there is enough for all, wherever they are.

Victoria Beckinsale spoke of the work of Little Havens Children's Hospice, this year's beneficiary of the event. Following the Celebration people were invited to take away any of the contributions and leave a donation in exchange. £ 176 was raised for the Hospice.


 (The following article appeared in the Inquirer 31st May 2008)

Chelmsford Unitarian Fellowship invited Dr Muhammad Ahsan, FRSA, to lead the discussion at their regular meeting for Worship and Discussion on 13th April. Dr. Ahsan has a PhD in International Relations. The meeting arose from a conversation between himself and Jane Howarth from the Fellowship on an interfaith picnic: what made the golden age in Moorish Spain possible? Could we learn from it today?

We were joined by Muslims and Quakers from the Inter Faith Forum, and a member of the Baptist Church which kindly lent an OHP for the occasion. Pat Baxter's opening worship was a feast for the senses with music for the ancient, universal harp, an exhortation that we hold in our minds our vision of our shared universe and the mystery behind and at the heart of it, a beautiful photograph of deep space from the Hubble telescope, and meditations, one by Rev Cliff Reed on a Surah from the Koran.

The thrust of Dr Ahsan's message was that Christians, Muslims and Jews had lived harmoniously together for 800 years because there was tolerance and goodwill between the communities, and because people from all the communities were involved in positions of authority. He pointed to the high levels of education – 800 schools in Cordoba alone. Contacts between scholars, such as the respected Jewish scholar Maimonides and the influential Muslim scholar Averroes, led to fruitful exchanges of ideas.

Dr Ahsan said that he did not believe that the idea of a clash of civilisations was a natural one. However the conflict that arises from powerful nations seeking to ensure their oil supplies, the huge rise in inequality between rich and poor countries, and writers whose works raise fears about our ability to live together, all make our task very hard. We must realise that global insecurity is in no-one's interest. Muslim countries should explore ways of using their resources more equitably. And in religion we need to focus on what we share – principles of mutual respect and tolerance. These enable us to manage our differences.

The Fellowship maintains links with a number of different Faiths locally and from time to time arranges interfaith services. It is a member of the Eastern Union of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. Members of the Fellowship take part in events organised at district level and nationally and several are involved individually in Unitarian societies or other bodies.

The fellowship welcomes families and has resources for children but at present no children wishing for separate provision.

Contact information:

Secretary: - Douglas Kingsley (click to email)
28 St Anne’s Court

Phone: 01245 354963

N.B. An e-mail or phone call could avoid a journey to the wrong place as twice a year meetings are not at the Friends' Meeting House. Visiting families and individuals are always very welcome.

The Fellowship has always been run co-operatively with the minimum of formality compatible with achieving its aims. We feel enriched by the variety of contributions made by our members. We recognise that members vary in the kinds of contributions they feel able to make to the life of the Fellowship and there are no expectations in this respect.

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