What do you tell primary-aged children about Unitarianism?
So you have 60 primary-aged children, of all faiths and none, sitting in front of you, and it's your job to tell them about Unitarianism. What do you say to them?
This was my challenge. I also had to keep in mind that they were visiting us as a Christian church. The idea was to visit a church, a mosque and a temple, Christian, Muslim Hindu (the main religious communities in Bolton). So essentially, it was also up to me to tell them about Jesus. If I had just talked about respecting all faiths, then I would have been failing to give them something concrete. The whole ethos of the day is about respecting all faiths, they had come to us, specifically, to hear about Christianity.
So this is roughly what I said:
Hello, welcome to Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, my name is Stephen Lingwood, and I'm the Minister here.
This is a Christian church, but a special kind of Christian church called a Unitarian church. And we are a particular kind of Christian church.
This place is a place for the worship of God. But we Unitarians believe that God has many names. There are many different ways of talking about God and understanding God, and we celebrate that there are lots of different ways of knowing God here.
We believe that God has sent many different prophets to tell the world about God's ways and to tell people how to behave with one another. We recognise many different prophets like Muhammad, who was the prophet of Islam, the Muslim people, and Krishna, who was a special teacher for the Hindu people. And because we want to hear from all these different prophets we read from all the different books that tell us about the prophets. So we read from lots of different books here in our worship.
But the most special prophet for us was Jesus. He is the prophet of the Christian tradition. And the most important thing Jesus told us what to love God and to love one another. That's what we're about here, we want to love each other and love God. That's very important to us. And because we want to love the people in the world we have been involved in lots of different things here to make the world a better place. This chapel has been here for over 300 years, and in that time lots of the people from this chapel have served the world and worked hard to make the world a better place. We've worked hard to make sure every person has a vote, women as well as men. We've worked hard to make sure that people who worked in mills and factories had good working conditions, and were treated well. And we've served this town in lots more ways too. In fact the first two mayors of Bolton were members of this chapel. So that's what we're about here, loving our neighbours by serving.
(I then went on to talk about what worship is like by getting them to point out things they can see: chalice candle, organ, pulpit etc.)
Maybe it's not perfect. Is there anything else you would, would not have said?