Monday, 30 May 2011

Unitarian heritage

Unitarian heritage in London

Pulse magazine has a page about a Unitarian heritage trail in London, which could do with postcodes and Google Maps to make it easier to find the places mentioned; but it's a good article. Sadly the photos which seem to have featured in the original article are not included on the web-page.  The trail includes Newington Green Church, Stratford Church, Hampstead, Bethnal Green Church, Richmond Church, Golders Green Church, Islington, Croydon Unitarian Church, Brixton Church, Lewisham, Kensington, Hackney, the Gravel Pit, the Priestley plaque and statue, Bishopsgate Chapel, Lindsey's Essex Street Chapel, Blackfriars, Stamford Street, South Place Chapel, Conway Hall, Stepney College Chapel, Dingley Place Mission, Putney Church, and Bunhill Fields Cemetery (the Dissenters' burying ground).

A Vindication of the Rights of Mary has a series of posts about places associated with Mary Wollstonecraft, mostly around Newington Green, where she attended the Unitarian church where Richard Price was minister. There is also a campaign to get a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft on Newington Green, called Mary on the Green.

Unitarian churches in Wales

There's an excellent Unitarian trail with a tour around the Black Spot (Y Smotyn Du), so called because there was such a concentration of Unitarian churches on the map that they formed a single blob.

Unitarian churches in England

Wikipedia has a list of pages about Unitarian churches in England, including:

Humanism's links with Unitarianism

The Humanist heritage website has a list of some Unitarian landmarks and people (mostly those which were connected with the early history of Humanism).

William Johnson Fox (1786-1864)
William Johnson Fox was a religious and political orator, born near Southwold, Suffolk.
He was trained for the Independent ministry, at Homerton College (then in London). He later seceded to the Unitarians, and in 1817 Fox became minister of a nonconformist congregation which subsequently went on to become the non-religious South Place Ethical Society.

Conway Hall, London
Conway Hall at at 37 Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury, is the home of the South Place Ethical Society and today is a landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life.

Leicester Secular Society
By tradition the Leicester Secular Society dates its formation to 1851, although an earlier “Rational Society” branch is mentioned in No.9 of The Movement edited by G. J. Holyoake dated February 10th 1844.

Moncure Daniel Conway
(17 March 1832 – 15 November 1907)
Moncure Daniel Conway was an American abolitionist, Unitarian clergyman, and author.

Ullet Road Unitarian Chapel, Liverpool
The Ullet Road Unitarian Chapel is known as the English ‘cathedral of Unitarianism’. It was built between 1896 and 1898 to a design by the Unitarian architect Thomas Worthington and his son Percy.
Although founded as a non-conformist Christian faith, Unitarianism has historically been characterised by a rationalist and individualist approach to spirituality, which encompasses diverse religious views. In its anti-dogmatism, it has come to include atheist views, particularly under the banner of Unitarian Universalism in the twentieth century.

See also...

Pagans for Archaeology has a list of faith heritage trails

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Unitarians in the arts

There are many famous Unitarian poets and writers. Examples include:
  • Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
  • Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
  • e. e. cummings (1894-1962)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
  • Edith Holden (1871-1920)
  • Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
  • Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)
  • Kurt Vonnegut
You have to be careful with lists of famous Unitarians, because sometimes they claim people who stopped being Unitarian part-way through their lives (like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Stearns Eliot).

The Poetry Chaikhana recently featured a poem by someone who is not on the usual Unitarian lists: Edmond Bordeaux Székely, although he was the grandson of Sándor Székely, a Transylvanian Unitarian bishop, who was himself a poet, and is buried in Cluj (Kolozsvár).

There are three poems by Edmond Bordeaux Székely at the Poetry Chaikhana site:

Fantastic UU quotes resource

Rev Naomi King has started a tumblr blog with quotes from Unitarian, Universalist, Unitarian Universalist and Brahmo Samaj sources. It's a great place to find pithy quotes for your sermon or address.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Walk of repentance for homophobia

Symon Hill, co-director of Ekklesia (the Christian think-tank) is doing a walk of repentance from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobic attitudes and beliefs.

You can help by turning up to one of his talks and events, or inviting him to stay on his route, or inviting him to speak at your church. If it's not on the route, he can still speak on the issues involved at some time after the walk.

Unitarians have been welcoming LGBT people since 1970, and welcoming LGBT ministers since 1977, but it's wonderful to see other churches doing the same. (Recently the Church of Scotland announced that it will allow LGBT ministers.)

Hopefully Symon's walk will raise awareness in all churches of the need to be inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people. LGBT people have many spiritual gifts and creative talents, so it's downright wrong to exclude us. As Desmond Tutu pointed out, this is an issue akin to apartheid.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Raymond Antrobus on Unitarians

Raymond Antrobus recently visited Stratford Unitarians to read some of his poetry and take part in the service. He shares his experience in this moving article.

It started with a service delivered by a man called Julian.

His presence was gentle, you could feel the kindness in his heart just from the way he stood, smiled and welcomed you as a stranger without looking like he’s trying to work you out. Genuine friendliness is always refreshing when you live in a city.

» Read more

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Why Unitarians don't make good news stories

Ekklesia has an article on why the news always shows the bad side of religion - because "News waits for someone to embezzle or kill or seduce another in the name of God." News is essentially driven by high-profile events with negative impact. The fact that Unitarians never make this kind of news is amusingly parodied by Unitarian Jihad.

Feature-writers, on the other hand, get to explore the personal stories in religion - who knew that Southern Baptists engaged in disaster relief, for instance? Or that Wiccan efforts at charitable giving are stymied by bigoted Christians? Or that Unitarian ministers can also be Druids? (Amazing how many journalists don't know the difference between a minister and a vicar.)

If you want to get your more positive stories into the media, it's probably good to find a quirky or personal-interest angle as a hook for journalists.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chief Officer gives evidence to Parliamentary committee

Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, has given evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the poor prospects for LGBT people if faith-based charities are allowed to run public services.
Faith charities delivering public services 'could increase discrimination'
By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 16 May 2011

Contracts should be awarded only to groups that have demonstrated commitment to equality, Unitarian body warns Public Administration Select Committee

Giving more responsibility for delivering public services to local faith charities as part of the big society agenda could result in increased discrimination against marginalised groups, according to the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, told Third Sector he was concerned that gay and lesbian public sector staff who were moved to local faith charities under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations might face discrimination by other staff at those charities.

His submission to the PASC says: "Non-religious people and those not seen to confirm to the dominant ethos of a religious body, such as being in an unmarried relationship or divorced and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, could find themselves subject to discrimination.

"Contracts should therefore only be awarded to faith-based organisations that have a public commitment to, and can demonstrate compliance with, the promotion of equality in line with the commitment of recent governments."

Derek has also written about this issue on his own blog:
The "Big Society", a policy much promoted by the Government, and built around social action, public service reform and community empowerment, needs to be inclusive. You cannot have a "Big Society" and then implicitly or explictly exclude and marginalise some groups. Unitarians have long worked to promote social justice and led many initiatives for social improvement. We have never applied religious tests to our work.

We need joined up policies. One risk is that encouraging faith groups to be more active in delivery of public services could in some cases lead to a conflict with equality and diversity policy.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New president on LGBT radio programme

Ann Peart, as newly installed GA president, did a recorded interview yesterday evening for the LGBT programme of BBC Radio Manchester yesterday evening, and much of it was broadcast later the same evening. The interview starts at 36 minutes and lasts just over 10 minutes.
It is available until next Saturday.

Monday, 2 May 2011


James Martineau
James Middleton (Kate Middleton's brother)


Are they by any chance related? Yes they are. James and Kate Middleton are descendants of the Martineaus, a prominent family of Unitarians.