UUA Presents "It Gets Better" Video
The UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries recently released a video in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, encouraging them to seek out UUism as a welcoming faith community that affirms each person's worth, regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.
The "It Gets Better" project is a collection of videos produced by people across the globe aimed to offer hope and inspiration for LGBT teens.
Watch the video now.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Monday, 6 December 2010
I have scanned and uploaded a PDF of the appreciation of Herford's life and work which was produced after his death by H McLachlan.
Some of his books are available to view at Google Books.
- Christianity in Talmud and Midrash
- Memorials of Stand Chapel
- The Prophecies of the Captivity (Isaiah XL - LXVI)
- The Pharisees
- Pirke Aboth: the ethics of the Talmud : sayings of the fathers
- Talmud and Apocrypha: a comparative study of the Jewish ethical teaching in the rabbinical and non-rabbinical sources in the early centuries
- Pharisaism, its aim and its method
- What the world owes to the Pharisees
- The Effect of the Fall of Jerusalem Upon the Character of the Pharisees
- Judaism in the New Testament Period
- The truth about the Pharisees
As can be seen from this quote (quoted by Andrew Brown), Herford regarded all faiths as divinely inspired:
"The Kingdom of God, as the rule of God in the heart, the love and service of him, and the consequent love and service of all men as children of the one Father, that is not limited by any doctrinal definitions. No one but a Christian ever did, or ever could, work for the Church. But all can work for the Kingdom of God, not Christians only but all who consciously own God, whether Christian or Jew, Mohammedan [sic] or Brahmin, or any other of those to whom God has revealed himself "by diverse portions and in diverse manners" (The Idea of the Kingdom of God, R. Travers Herford, Lindsey Press 1929 p. 13).
I am also glad to see that the plaque commemorating the fact that Robert Travers Herford lived and worked at Dr William's Library is listed at Open Plaques.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
In order to get to the bit where you can add a gadget, you need to click on Design at the top of your blog.
The title of the blog is presumably a quote from the hymn, The King of Love my Shepherd is, by H W Baker.
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
All of these are excellent pointers for Unitarian congregations who don't want to put off newcomers by our funny quirky little habits.
Additional ones for British Unitarians to think about...
Remember to brief the visiting worship leader about what happens with the collection and the notices and the musical interludes. And bring them a glass of water and tell them where the loo is. (Most people do remember most of these, most of the time.)
If you sing the Lord's Prayer / Prayer of Jesus: not everyone knows the tune, or knows the same tune as you.
Children don't always like being sung out of the sanctuary with the same song. Go Now In Peace can get awfully samey. And don't get me started on that Rumi chant, Ours is no caravan of despair.
Please feel free to add your pet peeves in the comments!
Friday, 5 November 2010
Reputable email debunking sites include:
If you get an email warning of a virus, check at:
These are some of the hoax emails that I have received recently, all false (some dangerously so), all forwarded by well-meaning people. Please do a search to check if it's true before forwarding these things.
- "Palestinian child brides" - remember even if there are photos included, there could be an innocent explanation
- "Starbucks refuse free coffee to soldiers"
True once, but five years out of date:
These were true but out of date, as the scams were shut down in 2005:
Mixture of true and false information:
This one sounds plausible but is a mixture of true and false information:
True, but crucial information omitted:
This one was true, but the email missed out some really important steps in the process and both sexes suffer from atypical heart attacks, so both men and women should be alert:
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Web addresses (URLs) can be very long, and if you are pasting them into an email, Twitter, or printing them in your newsletter, it's better to use a URL shortener. This creates a much shorter version of the web address, which redirects to the long version. This saves space in Twitter, prevents the problem of URLs breaking when they are wrapped round to the next line in emails, and saves your newsletter readers from typing out the long version.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
There is now a page on this blog dedicated to blogposts from UK Unitarian bloggers, as well as links to them on the sidebar on the right.
On Developing Spiritual Community, she writes:
This blog has started from my desire to see the development of Unitarian communities in the UK. Many of the approaches that have been suggested recently take a marketing approach where Unitarianism is a product and if we only marketed it differently we would 'sell' more of it. The model adopted in this blog is one which sees local Unitarian communities as just that - communities - which most community members are committed to developing.
On Governance for Unitarians, she writes:
This blog is born out of a desire to make a positive contribution to UK Unitarians' continued discussions (or not) about how good governance works and to offer some hints and wrinkles about how to make it work for Unitarian communities wherever they are, however big or small.
Monday, 19 July 2010
Probably the least obvious barrier is the desire to grow without knowing why you want to grow. If it's just to get "bums on pews" that's not enough. It has to be because you want to include others in your beloved community and share the freedom you have found. You have to put your own house in order and deepen the spiritual life of your community before you can get others to join it. You have to care about an issue that's unrelated to growth, and inspire others to join you in your quest for social and environmental justice. And you have to communicate your enthusiasm to others, using all the media available to you (both online and print).
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Saturday, 19 June 2010
I have tried not to duplicate UALM's worship resources page too much, so if you expected to find something on the Unitarian Communications page and it's not there, have a look on UALM's page.
Monday, 14 June 2010
Sunday, 13 June 2010
If you have a UK Unitarian blog that isn't listed on the blogroll on the right, please let me know and I will add it.
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
The 350th anniversary of the Great Ejection will be in 2012 (something to distract us from the Olympics, I am delighted to say), and doubtless many churches will be marking the anniversary. Unitarians certainly will be.
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Problem is, hardly anyone has heard of us. Fearful of being seen as evangelical, Unitarians have rather been hiding our light under a bushel. But that is changing. It's hard sometimes to get across a more subtle view of religion than is purveyed by fundamentalists and evangelicals, but we are trying.
One example of the effort to encourage like-minded people to join us is a growth initiative created by Andy Pakula, which shows congregations how to be welcoming and to raise their profiles.
Unitarian communities, please sign up for his scheme. He writes:
I am happy to answer any questions posted as comments on the original blog post.
In addition, I will be highlighting online those congregations that have made progress along the steps of the scheme. Congregations, please let me know if and when you have reached any particular level. I will then add you to an online honour roll, which will also help seekers to find the congregations that are keen to have them!
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
New President - Neville Kenyon
Friendly and forward-looking Neville Kenyon, a life-long Unitarian who lives in Bury, Lancashire, was installed as the President of the General Assembly for 2010-2011 at the Annual Meetings in Nottingham on 11 April. He is emphasising the openness and flexibility of Unitarianism, and his wish to encourage the quest for spiritual understanding and innovation, by choosing 'Nurture Your Freedom' as his theme.
Both practical and imaginative, Neville has a long history of energetic service to the denomination. He joined the Unitarian Young People's League in the 1950s and was its President in 1961. He has been a member of the General Assembly's Council and served from its inception on the successor body, the Executive Committee, until he was elected Vice-President in 2009. He is passionate about publicising Unitarianism and is a member of the General Assembly's Communications Commission and a Director of the Board of the Inquirer Publishing Company (2004) which produces the Unitarian paper, The Inquirer. He is chairman of the congregation of Bury Unitarian Church. Among his many achievements is the adoption by the General Assembly of a colour-scheme, typography and imagery which gives the Movement a 'consistent identity'. He is a steadfast supporter of any cause he takes up, is unfailingly genial, and, with a flair for selecting silk ties and elegant suits, is very possibly the best-dressed man in the Movement!
Neville recognises that Unitarians are in an ideal position to provide, in the 21st century, a home for those who have a spiritual hunger but are repelled by the creeds and dogmas of more orthodox faith groups. He says "We are in an ideal position, to reflect a growing imperative for a spirituality unfettered by narrow creeds and dogmas." He wants to encourage social networking between the newer members throughout the country. "People come to us from a myriad of backgrounds", he says "but they have all made a journey to find their spiritual home with us. The mutual support provided by networking on the web adds a valuable communication dimension for newcomers stretching beyond their local congregation".
» Read more
New Vice President - Rev Dr Ann Peart
The Reverend Dr Ann Peart, a distinguished Unitarian scholar and leading woman minister was appointed as vice-president of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches at the close of the Denominations Annual Meetings in April 2010 in Nottingham. She is looking forward to visiting Unitarian congregations and other groups both in Britain and overseas. "I am particularly interested" she says, "in exploring what keeps such a diverse collection of groups and individuals together."
» Read more
Monday, 12 April 2010
But there's nothing for 40- and 50-somethings. As a group, we may have slightly different needs. We may be rediscovering spirituality and religion after a time away from it. We may have changed our spiritual path recently. Some of us may have kids; some may not. We're all working, so can't join in with activities in the afternoon. And we like pubs.
So I have set up a group on Facebook for Unitarian 36 to 65 year olds (if you fall outside this age group but want to join anyway, you are very welcome).
Sunday, 11 April 2010
Saturday, 10 April 2010
It's been a great few days, and more yet to come - the official social evening (as opposed to the random socialising between sessions, over tea and coffee, during meals and of course in the bar!).
Wonderful to see so many new members of the Unitarian twibe and the tweeting (#GAUK) is high volume.
Two equally interesting and informative, but very different, presentations at the CommComm slot yesterday. One from Julie Dadson about the Upper Chapel, Sheffield project to raise the profile of church - a lot of work is going on to renovate the exterior of the chapel and the garden to invite more people into the garden and hopefully through the doors. Yvonne Aburrow introduced us all to social media - from the afficionados to the totally uninitiated, all seemed to take something from the session.
Also been to the sessions on the future structure of the annual meetings, the name change (is it already happening organically, does it need to be done formally?), a report from the growth group and two congregations who have grown - from Ant Howe about Kingswood & Warwick Unitarians and from Kate McKenna about The Octagon Unitarian Chapel, Norwich.
OK - enough - must go and get ready to socialise ... apparently to sound of The Beatles!
Thursday, 8 April 2010
These meetings mark the third year of the formation of the Communication Commission, and - in preparing for the report that I'll be making on Saturday morning - I've been looking back at what we've achieved over the last three years. There have been several leaflets, with more in the pipeline, a new travelling display with accompanying poster, the notice board scheme which has resulted in over 40 new notice boards across the country.
The commission (known fondly as CommComm) has as its mission statement, To encourage the growth and development of the Unitarian community by promoting a clear, contemporary Unitarian message via traditional and innovative means, in accordance with liberal values. It addresses matters concerning promotion of and publicity about the Unitarian movement, nationally and locally, and internal and external communication via a range of media.
Current work is wide-ranging.
- Promotional activities: posters; exploiting new methods of communication (eg this blog); reviewing national advertising and appropriate media; reviewing use of the travelling display which was launched at the 2009 annual meetings.
- Promoting the consistent identity and its use: commissioning merchandise, eg mugs, car stickers, bookmarks; supporting local congregations, eg via notice board grants.
- Providing communication expertise and support: advice and support for local congregations; producing press packs about the President and Vice-President; supporting the online worship project being undertaken by the NUF; reviewing internal and external communication strategies.
- Leaflet development: reviewing the range of leaflets available; reprinting and commissioning new leaflets in liaison with other commmissions and societies.
- Liaison with denominational periodicals.
- Internal communication: optimising messages and modes of communication.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It's a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone to lift themselves out of poverty.
There are also various Unitarian and UU lending teams, so you can join up with other Unitarians on the site.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
The Rev Alex Bradley, of the Unitarian Christian Association, said: "Different people see Jesus in different ways. Everyone to some extent has an image of Him, and writers and artists should be free to form their own interpretation.Excellent, well said. I blogged about this on my personal blog the other day:
"Religious freedom remains indivisible, and freedom of expression remains a core value of democratic civilisation."
I was talking to some fellow Unitarians on Sunday and we all said how much we are looking forward to reading Philip Pullman's new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, as the ideas in it sound very Unitarian. We also remarked that the Unitarian concept of God is far closer to Dust than to the Authority, since many Unitarians are pantheists or panentheists who believe that the Divine is immanent in the world.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (May 10, 1900 – December 7, 1979) was an English-American astronomer who in 1925 was first to show that the Sun is mainly composed of hydrogen, contradicting accepted wisdom at the time.She was also a Unitarian and a member of First Parish and Church in Lexington, Massachusetts. According to Owen Gingerich:
Cecilia Payne wrote a doctoral dissertation, and so in 1925 she became the first person to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe (now part of Harvard) for her thesis: "Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars". Astronomer Otto Struve characterized it as "undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy". By applying the ionization theory developed by Indian physicist Megh Nad Saha she was able to accurately relate the spectral classes of stars to their actual temperatures. She showed that the great variation in stellar absorption lines was due to differing amounts of ionization that occurred at different temperatures, and not due to the different abundances of elements. She correctly suggested that silicon, carbon, and other common metals seen in the Sun were found in about the same relative amounts as on Earth, but that helium and particularly hydrogen were vastly more abundant (by about a factor of one million in the case of hydrogen). Her thesis thus established that hydrogen was the overwhelming constituent of the stars. When her dissertation was reviewed, she was dissuaded by Henry Norris Russell from concluding that the composition of the Sun is different from the Earth, which was the accepted wisdom at the time. However, Russell changed his mind four years later when other evidence emerged. After Payne-Gaposchkin was proven correct Russell was often given the credit.
She published several books including:
"Stars of High Luminosity" (1930),
"Variable Stars" (1938),
"Variable Stars and Galactic Structure" (1954),
"Introduction to Astronomy" (1956),
"The Galactic Novae" (1957)
"Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin : an autobiography and other recollections" (1984) ed. Katherine Haramundan)
Payne-Gaposchkin was a many-sided personality known for her wit, her literary knowledge, and for her personal friendships with individual stars. She became the first woman in the history of Harvard University to receive a corporation appointment with tenure, and the first woman department chair in 1956.My other Finding Ada blogposts:
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Jana Sims of the Institute of Education in London spoke on Mechanics' Institutes in Sussex and Hampshire. The leafy counties of southern England aren't normally associated with Mechanics Institutes, but as Jana revealed there were plenty of them, in places like Brighton, Lewes and Winchester, many founded by members of the Unitarian church. The coastal ones ran classes in navigation, and any ideas of southern softness were dispelled by 5.30am classes in science and philosophy. Music played an important part in most Institutes, dispelling the myth of Engand as a non-musical nation, and although the early 19th century saw resistance to womens' attendance, that was largely resolved by the 1840s.It is fairly well-known that Unitarians founded many educational establishments and projects, but I hadn't come across this one before!
When I last visited Conway Hall in London, however, I did notice that it was built by a group of Humanists who had originally been a Unitarian and Universalist chapel. The group still exists as the South Place Ethical Society, which owns Conway Hall. Their history is fascinating:
William Johnson Fox became minister of the congregation in 1817 which in 1824 it built a new chapel in South Place. This the Society occupied for 102 years and the name is still commemorated in the title of the Society, although it moved from South Place in 1926 to build its present home in Red Lion Square which was opened in 1929.Perhaps those 19th century humanists and progressives would have been surprised at the modern evolution of Unitarianism, which now includes humanists, non-theists, theists, Pagans and Buddhists, among others.
In 1831, Fox bought the journal of the Unitarian Association, The Monthly Repository, of which he was already editor; for five years this was virtually the first ancestor of the Ethical Record. Verse was contributed to it by both Tennyson and Browning -- the latter always spoke of Fox as his"literary father" ; the contributors of articles included John Stuart Mill, Leigh Hunt, Harriet Martineau, Henry Crabb Robinson and a fearless iconoclast, William Bridges Adams, whose outspoken series of articles on marriage, divorce, and other social questions split the South Place congregation again. So came about another evolutionary step that included severance from the Unitarian movement and established South Place as the centre of advanced thought and progressive activity. Among the causes with which Fox identified himself and the Society were the spread of popular education and the repeal of the Corn Laws. In 1847 he entered Parliament whilst remaining minister at South Place for several more years.
The most outstanding of Fox's successors in that position was an American, Moncure Conway, after whom the society's present home is named. He had adopted an uncompromising anti-slavery position at home and came to England in 1863 on a speaking tour. He settled at the South Place Chapel from 1864 until 1897, except for a break of seven years (from 1885 to 1892) during which he returned to America and wrote his famous biography of Thomas Paine. During that interval, in 1888, under the leadership of Stanton Coit, the name South Place Religious Society was changed to the South Place Ethical Society.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
Please join us on March 24 for Ada Lovelace DayAda Lovelace was briefly associated with Unitarians; her mother funded Red Lodge in Bristol, which was run by Mary Carpenter, and Ada was taught science by Benjamin Carpenter, Mary's brother (Woolley, 2002).
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging (videologging, podcasting, comic drawing etc.!) to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science.
Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines, whatever they do. It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about – everyone is invited. Just sign the pledge below (click ‘pledge’ after you have completed the reCaptcha) and publish your blog post any time on Wednesday 24th March 2010.
Woolley, Benjamin (February 2002). The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter
Friday, 19 March 2010
Unitarian chapels in the UK can get a grant of up to £250 to replace or renovate their notice board. I have been responsible for administering the current scheme on behalf of the Communication Commission since its inception and a good number of congregations have benefited. At present, be aware that you can only have one bite at the cherry because funds are limited.
If your notice board needs some TLC, why not suggest that your congregation applies for a grant. The guidelines and application form can be found on the Unitarian web site on the Congregational Support page. The process is very simple. If you are unsure about what you need to do Mary Jean Hennis of the GA staff will put you in touch with me.
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Not to be missed at the Nottingham GA meetings, Julie Dadson, a committed and active Unitarian environmentalist will present “A Unitarian Sanctuary at the Cultural Heart of Sheffield” at the Communication Commission slot on Friday 9 April at 3.30 pm.
Work in progress that illustrates that there are many ways to show who and what you are to a wider audience.
Julie describes her and the Upper Chapel congregation’s role in making Upper Chapel Sheffield a welcoming place for the people of Sheffield, increasing the chapel visibility and improving the cityscape environment.
~ Marion Baker
What are they twittering on about?
The rest of the Communication Commission slot will be a talk by Yvonne Aburrow.
Are you dazed and confused with all this talk of Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and blogs? Want to know what they are, and how you can use them to promote your Unitarian community? This workshop will look at ways of using social networking sites effectively (without excluding the non-technical people), using tags and social bookmarking and RSS feeds. We will look at Unitarians on Twitter, Unitarian photos (and copyright issues) on Flickr, Unitarian groups on Facebook, Unitarian videos on YouTube, and Unitarian blogs.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Amongst the tasks of the Communication Commission, in its remit to make who we are and what we do more widely known, is the renewing and, indeed, originating of leaflets. These are intended primarily for display in our chapels and at Essex Hall in the expectation that newcomers and visitors will find something to interest them and some of the information that they need to encourage them to join us.
We like our leaflets to be attractive and meaningful.
In recent years the leaflets have been designed by Mark Howard of Twenty-five Educational, who created the design scheme for our Consistent Identity branding. They are truly striking.
But they take quite some production!
I have worked for some years on the updating of leaflets and on creating new ones, first with Janet Eldred from our York congregation and, more recently, with Marion Baker of Upper Chapel, Sheffield (and much else).
It is not an easy role!
A huge problem where such leaflets as ‘Weddings and blessings: the Unitarian Way’, or ‘Namings and welcoming: the Unitarian Way’ are concerned has been finding apt and high-quality illustrations. Thank whatever God there is for John Hewerdine. Not only has he provided quite a number of superb photographs, he has also done a little daffying to others that were almost, but not quite, what we wanted. (Some may have noticed that the happy couple on the front of our ‘wedding’ leaflet were the same people celebrating the naming of their first child on the rather later ‘namings and welcomings’ leaflet.)
Happily the Unitarian talent for writing is considerably better than our talent as photographers. Last year we produced a new version of ‘Unitarian Views of Jesus’ with the fresh perceptions of new authors. We have just gathered together more new approaches for a refreshed ‘Unitarian Views of Earth and Nature’.
Janet Eldred and I met over lunch (at the theatre cafe in Wakefield) a couple of years ago to survey the accumulated body of leaflets and to make recommendations about what to reprint more or less as was (but redesigned), what to update, what to replace with new versions, and what to make accessible only on the GA website. The most popular of all the leaflets is ‘A faith worth thinking about’ and it is vital that that remains readily available wherever Unitarians gather. We plan an immediate 10,000 copy reprint. But we thought that ‘Unitarianism – the continuing story’ might simply be put on the website and its author, Alan Ruston, was quite happy (I think) about this. A similar fate met ‘An A-Z of Unitarianism’ and ‘The Principles that Unite Us’. It is a matter of deploying our very limited funds strategically.
Our range of attractive leaflets is a hugely valuable resource for the Movement. But they will do no good unless congregations ensure that they have sufficient (but, please, not too many!!!) copies of each and that they are well displayed.
And, of course, if you feel that there is some amazing gap in our information-range, let the Communications Commission know.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Paganism 101: A Unitarian Exploration of the New Paganism
by Louise Bunn with Fritz Muntean and Kara Cunningham
Today’s Pagans revere the Earth and all its creatures, seeing all life as interconnected, and striving to attune ourselves to the cycles of nature. Pagan practices are rooted in a belief in immanence – the concept of divinity residing within.
The many contemporary Pagans who have found a home in the Unitarian community are grounding our work in the rational structure, the intellectual balance, and the humanist core values that have descended to us from the Enlightenment. We’re working to develop a religiosity that is entirely compatible with, and complementary to, modern Unitarian rationality.
The new curriculum represents contemporary Paganism as:
An interactive curriculum in 10 sessions including:
- A thoroughly contemporary and well-tested approach to Mystery.
- A performative, lively way of attending to the rhythms, wisdom, and demands of Nature.
- A way of using the richness of myth and ritual to build religious community.
- student lesson plans
- leaders' guides related articles
- reading lists
- an audio selection of chants
A Review of Paganism 101
Paganism 101 is a religious education course produced by Vancouver Unitarians. The course can be run along the lines of an engagement group, as time is allocated for check-in at the beginning of each session, and the production of a group covenant.
The CD contains notes for students, notes for leaders, audio files of the chants used in the sessions, and appendices with articles, further reading, and instructions for rituals.
The learning objectives are clearly outlined and cover most aspects of Pagan practice. The course should be suitable both for people who are just interested in learning more about Paganism, complete newcomers to Paganism, and more experienced practitioners seeking to deepen their knowledge.
Each section of the students’ workbook contains introductory material, further reading, an article, a chant, questions to reflect on, and a practical spiritual exercise. The authors reckon each session will take about three hours, which seems quite long for an engagement group or evening session.
The leaders’ workbook contains an outline of each session (with approximate timings). Sessions include activities, discussion, and are opened with a chalice lighting and calling the quarters, and closed with a time for personal reflection.
The Foreword by Rev Dr Steven Epperson points out that Unitarians have diverse beliefs but shared values, so Paganism can be included in the life of a Unitarian community; Unitarian Pagans participate fully in the life of the Unitarian community and its shared historical narrative; and that the course is a valuable contribution to the rich diversity of Unitarian spirituality. It is interesting how this differs from the introduction to the first edition of 1998, which addresses different concerns – the nature of good and evil, the possible irrationality of Paganism, and Biblical narratives about ancient pagans.
The course sets the scene historically with an overview of the revival of Paganism and the reasons for its popularity: feminism, nature and eco-spirituality, and the counter-cultural aspects of Paganism. Many of these themes resonate strongly with Unitarians.
The material focuses mainly on Wicca, because the authors are Wiccans themselves (as well as Unitarians). However, it does touch on other Pagan traditions, and explores the theological diversity among contemporary Pagans – polytheism, animism, pantheism, and polymorphism. It is also realistic about the Pagan community, describing both its virtues and its flaws.
I would recommend this CD to anyone looking to lead a religious education course about Paganism or earth spirituality. Even if you don’t use all the materials on offer, it is a rich resource that you can draw on.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
So I was delighted to see that the Unitarian Christian Association is sponsoring two ground-breaking events:
St Mark's Centre for Radical Christianity, Sheffield: Spring Conference
Nicola Slee - Christa: The Female Christ: Exploring the humanity of Christ through Theology and Art
Saturday 17 April 2010, 10.30am - 4.00pm
At St Mark's Church, Broomhill, Sheffield
St Mark's Centre for Radical Christianity, Sheffield: Autumn Conference
'Mysticism and Contemporary Spirituality'
Saturday 6 November 2010, 10.30am - 4.00pm
At St Mark's Church, Broomhill, Sheffield
Now that's what I call upholding the liberal Christian tradition.
You can find out more about images of the female Christ and the gay Jesus from the excellent Jesus in Love, the blog of Kittredge Cherry, a Metropolitan Community Church minister, and author of several books, including Jesus in Love.
And there's lots of information about Christian mysticism on The Website of Unknowing, the blog of Carl McColman, also the author of several books, including The Big Book of Christian Mysticism.
The congregation that I lead - the Newington Green and Islington Unitarians - has grown extremely quickly over the past several years. What we have done is not magic. It depends on a variety of well-known and well-tested strategies. It depends on steps also that change attitudes from self-centred to 'other-centred' - an absolutely critical culture change.
I want to share what I have learned and what works.
I have outlined a scheme below. It offers a clear step-wise approach to congregational growth. It is important to note that these recommendations do not define the only path to growth, but any congregation that successfully follows this programme has a very good chance of achieving their aims.
Some of the more advanced steps may seem daunting. Any journey must be taken one step at a time. When climbing a mountain, it is best not to start out by focusing on the peak - focus on the natural next step for your congregation. Achieving the next step will give you a sense of accomplishment that will energize you for more.
And so, I offer this programme to you to do with as you wish. The programme is organized into four levels which correspond to levels of accomplishment in working toward growth.
If you want to use them, your congregation may choose to make achieving a given level a cause for celebration. I hope you will! Groupings of congregations (e.g. districts) may choose to adopt the scheme and create ways of recognizing and providing incentives for congregations that complete a particular level. You may use it as the road map for a growth group or growth leader.
I will also be very happy to answer questions and offer guidance and advice to any Unitarian congregation that is interested.
BronzeAt least nine of the following:
- A friendly and welcoming person is always available to greet newcomers as they arrive or enter the chapel
- Signs at your building are clear and include welcoming language intended to draw newcomers
- Worship is held according to a regular, publicly-available schedule
- Newcomers are invited to attend at least one programme or event apart from Sunday services
- Instructions (e.g. when to stand and sit) are offered during Sunday services spoken from the pulpit and/or in writing
- Serve refreshments after services
- A welcome message to newcomers is given from the pulpit at each Sunday service
- There is a congregational web site, and it contains current, accurate information
- Keep records of attendance and visitor numbers. Make these available to the congregation.
- Evaluate the appearance of your building both inside and out with regard to how welcoming and attractive it is for newcomers.
- Launch a process for the congregation to explore its purpose/mission in the world (e.g. facilitated congregational meeting/meetings).
- Follow-up on the input from this purpose/mission process to move toward a clear, compelling statement or identify a consensus feeling from this process.
- Invite an objective person (or preferably two) to visit and attend a service and prepare a 'worshiper report' from the perspective of a newcomer. Share this information with the congregation and the leadership.
- Establish a growth group OR designate one growth leadership person to examine congregational practice and decisions with a view to promoting growth and to voice the perspective of the future members who have not yet arrived.
- Evaluate the appearance of your building both inside and out with regard to how welcoming and attractive it is for newcomers. Seek feedback from newcomers and make appropriate changes as feasible.
- Consider the impression given by your newsletter/calendar and make changes as appropriate so that it is attractive to, and inclusive for, newcomers.
- Begin to study the population within reasonable travel distance from your building with an eye to identifying a demographic segment that you will try to attract. List groups of interest (e.g. newly retired, young adults, families with children or University students)
- Examine your congregation's practices and literature and consider the sorts of people to whom are likely to appeal. Ask whether they are suitable for your context.
GoldAt least nine of the following:
- Develop a clear, compelling congregational purpose/mission statement with congregational approval OR prepare a consensus statement(s) of purpose/mission.
- Keep the purpose/mission in front of the leadership and membership (e.g. printed in newsletters, spoken at meetings and services)
- Place the challenges identified by the 'worshiper report' in order of descending priority. Take action on the top 5
- Select a demographic segment of the local population and compile a report describing this group (e.g. tastes, lifestyles, media used, and interests) OR estimate the number and location of the people in your vicinity who are likely to find your current message and practices appealing.
- Through a congregational process, develop and approve a set of expectations for how members of the congregation will be toward one another. Keep these expectations in the attention of the membership and leadership (e.g. in your newsletter and other appropriate literature)
- Develop and approve a process for dealing with disruptive behaviour in the congregation OR have key leaders trained in conflict management.
- At least one fourth of Committee members are new to the congregation (three years or less)
- Put a process in place to ensure that visitors newcomers are spoken to by at least three people before and/or after the service.
- Visitors to the Sunday service receive a welcome message (email, phone or post) by the end of the following Tuesday
- Committee creates and commits to a covenant for its own practices. The covenant includes the expectation that all decisions will be made in the best interest of the congregation and its future.
- The congregation is mentioned in the media at least four times in the preceding year.
PlatinumAt least eight of the following:
- Make a practice of asking new visitors for their honest impressions either in person, by phone, or using a written survey
- Begin at least one new programme/service/event geared specifically toward the preferences of newcomers
- Hold occasional newcomer orientation events intended to help them understand and feel more connected to Unitarianism and the congregation.
- Train welcomers to help newcomers feel comfortable and connect to the congregation
- Evaluate your congregation in light of your understanding of your target demographic group and list any identified challenges in descending order of importance. Take action on top 5.
- Identify and alter 3 long-standing customs that do not foster growth
- At least one third of Committee members are new to the congregation (three years or less)
- Hold at least one workshop directly addressing resistance to growth.
- The congregation is mentioned in the media at least six times in the preceding year.
(originally posted at Andy's blog, Throw Yourself Like Seed)
Monday, 8 March 2010
Manchester Liberal Jewish Community has joined with local Unitarians in celebrating the amendment to the Equality Bill which will lift the current ban on Civil Partnerships being held in places of religious worship. The vote was passed in the House of Lords on Tuesday 2 March, by 95 votes to 21.Congratulations to all concerned. This is marvellous news.
The amendment to the Equality Bill was jointly sponsored by the Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and the Quakers, with support from other inclusive religious communities such as the Metropolitan Community Church.
The Reverend Jane Barraclough, minister of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester city centre, was enthusiastic about the news: "At last (if the bill is passed) liberal people of faith can register their partnerships in their places of worship. We can welcome all those who share our progressive and tolerant values to our churches and chapels and celebrate the blessing of their relationships and their lives together."
Equality, diversity and justice are core values for both Liberal Jews and Unitarians. Both movements have welcomed lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people into their congregations for many years. Openly LGBT people participate fully in community life and leadership in both movements, which includes some serving as rabbis and ministers. Both movements are to begin amending orders of service for same-sex commitment ceremonies.
Tim Moore, a member of Cross Street Chapel and Associate Member of MLJC added, "I am very proud to be so closely involved in two of the inclusive religious movements who have taken a unified stand for equality and tolerance and against prejudice and discrimination. The latest amendment on civil partnerships is just one more success in the growing national campaign for full marriage equality for LGBT people."
"Liberal Jews, Unitarians, Quakers and their supporters have witnessed to their faith based on conscience, guided by reason, and tested in welcoming communities. We will continue working with our partners on looking into ways of furthering the campaign in the North West for marriage equality."
(via GA Uni-News)
- Pink News: Lords back religious civil partnerships for gay couples
- The Independent: Gay weddings to be allowed in church
- The Guardian: Civil partnership church ban lifted
Related informationWeddings and same-sex blessings
It includes worship materials, background information, a directory of events, and a list of contacts. It was compiled by Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, with two sections by Kay Millard and Rev. Jim Robinson.
(via GA Uni-News)
The Famous UUs site has a biography of Gaskell.
In Gaskell's estimation, true Christianity was not to be found in organized denominations nor in liturgy nor in theology. She believed and acted on a religion of works, "the real earnest Christianity which seeks to do as much and as extensive good as it can." Local action for change by those most intimately concerned, not government legislation, was her solution to social problems. Those who have should help those who have not. For her such charity began at or near home. She took her motto from Thomas Carlyle, "Do the duty that lies nearest to thee." Unitarian rationalist feminist journalist Frances Power Cobbe, after reading a story by Gaskell, wrote, "it came to me that Love is greater than knowledge — that it is more beautiful to serve our brothers freely and tenderly, than to hive up learning with each studious year."
Thursday, 25 February 2010
If your congregation, district or society website looks dated or tired, do consider using this facility by contacting Essex Hall or by looking at www.ukunitarians.org.uk.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Also, three of my blogs (dance of the elements, Stroppy Rabbit and the Bluestocking are on his blogroll - I feel honoured.
He started it in February, so we still have time to catch up with all the posts.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Andy!
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
An introduction to Unitarian Universalism, by Brian Crisan
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that espouses no official creed.
The relationship between the Unitarians and the Brahmo Samaj, by Yvonne Aburrow
During the 1820s, Rammohun Roy made contact with Unitarians in Britain and America. He was a founding member of the Bengal Renaissance, a campaigner for women's rights and the abolition of sati, and founder of the Brahmo Samaj (a monotheistic reform movement in Hinduism). Since the 1820s, contact has been maintained between the Unitarians and the Brahmo Samaj.
Servetus & Calvin, by Standford Rives
Was It Murder by Calvin?
The trial of Servetus for alleged verbal crimes ended in October 1553 with a verdict of death. Servetus was burned alive the very next day. The question whether Calvin murdered Servetus as a judicial witness and prosecutor has dogged Calvin ever since.
Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau, Henry David (12 July 1817-6 May 1862), author and naturalist
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (25 May 1803-27 Apr. 1882), lecturer and author
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
Monday, 8 February 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
They've got some great posts up already, including book reviews, thoughts for the day, information about mandalas, reflections on liberal religion and humanism, and more. Check it out.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
The new website works better in larger screen resolutions, and has a more modern look to it, but you can still find your way around if you are more familiar with the old style of the site.
It's a new day for UUA.org! Our new home page addresses topics of interest to newcomers to Unitarian Universalism, including a video feature and an interactive banner highlighting our principles and beliefs. A short "Find a Congregation" form makes it easier than ever to look for a local congregation. People already familiar with our faith may want to bookmark the new Resources for UUs page, which features expert-recommended resources, multimedia, and more!
Saturday, 30 January 2010
The Unitarian Peace Fellowship are co-ordinating our appeal. If you are a UK tax payer and this is the first donation you are making to the Unitarians (for this or any other appeal) we can claim an extra 28% if you download, complete and return this Gift Aid form.
Friday, 29 January 2010
Twibes is an application that allows people to group together on Twitter, the microblogging site, and tag posts with a particular tag or word so that they appear in the feed on the Twibe's page. The tags for the ukunitarians group are unitarian, unitarians, ukunitarians, uu, universalist (with or without #). We can have up to seven, so if you want extra ones, post a comment here.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
UUA Announce 'Music in Worship'
The UUA now have a new expanded 'WorshipWeb' with a facility called "Music in Worship". Among other things, this includes a UU Composers Database.
Contributed by Rev Dr Linda Hart
MP3 files of all of the songs in Singing the Journey (STJ) can be downloaded at the STJ website. The UUA online shop has a music section with CDs, songbooks, music for children, and hymnals.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
The first episode of the CUUPS Podcast features basic info about CUUPS and an interview with British academic Michael York recorded at the Dec. 2009 Parliament of World Religions provided to us courtesy of the Pagan Newswire Collective.The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans promotes networking among Pagan-identified Unitarian Universalists, and provides for the outreach of Unitarian Universalism to the broader Pagan community.
Michael York has written a book on Pagan Theology.
A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
In the UK the DEC - an umbrella group which launches and co-ordinates responses to major disasters overseas - has launched a Haiti Earthquake Appeal.Unitarian Universalist Service Committee / Unitarian Universalist Association Joint Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund
What UUSC will do
UUSC’s disaster response in Haiti will focus on those survivors less likely to have access to aid, such as child domestic workers (restaviks), women-headed households that work in the informal sector, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Haiti has a vibrant grassroots movement with a vision of empowering people. UUSC will work closely with partners in this grassroots movement to reach those survivors at greatest risk of being overlooked. As of this afternoon, we’ve already connected with three organizations and will be reaching out to others over the next 24 hours in order to shape our response.
We will be updating our website regularly as our plans develop.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
(from Uni-News, 7 January 2010)
In the depths of the global crunch, why would anyone want to waste precious money on pointless junk that ends up in the trashcan after a couple of uses?
But sales of consumer nonsense are still rocketing - stuff such as wand-shaped TV remote controls, desk-top hoovers, and electric toothbrushes costing hundreds of pounds. Even a hollow plastic golf-club you can wee into while playing a round (don't show it to Tiger Woods, please). We're still madly addicted to consumption.
Despite the financial collapse, carbon emissions from fossil fuels rose by 2 per cent last year to an all-time, planet-melting high. Scientists in Nature Geoscience say that much of this was caused by Chinese exports of consumer gadgets to Europe.
So, welcome to the Landfill Prize 2010, a divertingly subversive initiative to help to break this costly cycle.
We want people's nominations for the most needless, wasteful uses of our planet's precious resources that they've seen, bought or been given in the past year. Whether it's an electronic skipping rope, an automatic cucumber peeler or a laser-guided pair of scissors, we want to spotlight such pointless ingenuity as it makes its fast-track journey to the junkheap. This year we're specially interested in 'faux' green goods.
The prize, to be presented to the 'winning' manufacturer in February, celebrates the stupendous creativity of the people tasked with inventing constantly inflated new wants for us to want. It's a monument to perverse imagination and needless consumption. Most importantly, it's a plea for us to say, "Thanks. We've got enough stuff," and to break free from this crazy cycle.
The Landfill Prize site features a list of scientifically backed ways in which you can help to proof your brain against consumerist chicanery, written by John Naish, a national newspaper health correspondent, the author of Enough, Breaking free from the world of more . and the man behind the prize.
Nominations will be judged by a panel consisting of:
The winner will be announced on the 16th February 2010. We'll invite the makers along to a little prizegiving. and if they don't want to come, I guess we will have to pop around to their place to make the award.
- John Naish (author of Enough: Breaking free from the world of more )
- Anna Shepherd (author of How green are my wellies?)
- Carl Honore (author of In Praise of Slow )
- Ben Davis (co-founder of BuyLessCrap)
For more information go to www.enoughness.co.uk
Sunday, 3 January 2010
UKspirituality is an interfaith not-for-profit association dedicated to helping people live more enlightened, compassionate, mindful and joyful lives.
The network was founded by Unitarians, who take an eclectic and open-minded and inclusive approach to religion and spirituality. Because of this Unitarian inclusiveness, they are now an interfaith network comprising leaders, programmes, and events associated with many different religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions.