Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bolton Street Angels relaunched

After a pilot scheme last summer, a period of review, volunteer recruitment, and fund-raising the Nite Cafe has relaunched as "Bolton Street Angels" and the "Safe Space Cafe."

The Safe Space Cafe is based in Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, and is the home to Street Angels, which are groups of volunteers who go out on the streets to chat to and help out anyone enjoying Bolton's nightlife.

Street Angels operate Saturday nights between 10pm and 3am.

An article appears in the Bolton News here. There was also an interview at BBC Radio Manchester, and you can listen to that here for another few days (push the time forward to about 0.44).

Still in need of more volunteers, get in touch if you're local.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Manchester Pride 2009

Once again the Unitarians marched in Manchester Pride. And it's good to see the faith contingent in Pride getting bigger and more organised. Here's a good report from Changing Attitudes. Let's hope this just keeps getting bigger and better.

YouTube Ministry

I've been considering starting some kind of YouTube ministry, or, if you like, video blogging. A couple of things got me thinking about this. One is the Unitarian video that I recorded at the Annual Meetings this year, that is now on YouTube. The other thing is doing a few "Thought for the Day" things on a local community radio station, that I could easily do to a camera. I was thinking about doing a few short videos with those, plus I'm talking to someone in my congregation about recording a few sermons, though I'm unsure how the sound quality would come out. Anyway, watch this space.

New Chief Officer

Just reporting. Significantly it's on the GA website before I've posted, which is different from last time when I reported before it got on the official website.

Well done, Derek.


The Executive Committee is pleased to announce that Derek McAuley has been
appointed to the post of Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and
Free Christian Churches. It is anticipated that he will take up the position in
December 2009.

Derek, aged 50, has been active within the Unitarian movement at
congregational, district and national levels and has been a member of the
Executive Committee since April 2008 and General Assembly Treasurer since April
2009. He served as a member of the Hibbert Trust collaborative inquiry into the
future of liberal religion: “Shaping the Future”.

He has been a senior manager in the National Health Service for 17 years in
Merseyside and Manchester and also brings long experience as a voluntary sector
trustee and chair.

Derek said;

”I am excited to be offered this opportunity to serve the Unitarian
denomination in a new way and look forward to working closely with current
staff at Essex Hall, members of the Executive Committee and Unitarians across
Great Britain and Ireland.

I want to play my part in developing the movement across the spectrum of its
activities and for Unitarianism to grow both numerically but also as a group of
communities sharing common values of liberal religion.

I have benefited immensely from my association with Unitarianism and I want to
see others share that experience. I have a lot to learn but am looking forward
to starting work as soon as I can at Unitarian Headquarters.”

Executive Committee Convenor, Sir Peter Soulsby said;

“The Executive Committee are delighted to be able to appoint Derek to the
post of Chief Officer. He brings a wealth of experience in leadership and
management from both outside and within the Movement. His commitment and
experience will be a tremendous asset and we look forward to working closely
with him to take forward an agenda of change.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Yewtree asked in a comment on the last post what I mean by 'missional' (thanks for the book recommendation by the way Yewtree).

What I mean is that the church does not exist to serve itself; its own instutional growth, survival or health. The church exists for others. The church is an agency with the purpose of the transformation of the world, the building of the Basileia (realm) of God, the Beloved Community.

A church that does not concern itself with the outside world is failing to be missional and failing to be church.

The church is in the business of salvation/healing/enlightenment. Salvation is distorted if it is too individualistic ("personal wholeness" or "getting into heaven") or too communitarian (all that matters is the next piece of political legislation). Missional church seeks to change lives which may or may not involve an invitation to go walk with us in our spiritual community.

Being missional means being immersed in the surrounding culture, understanding it, understanding the lives of those outside the church, and discerning what is life-giving and what is not in that culture.

Being missional means facing outwards, not inwards.