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Showing posts from April, 2009

What is Unitarianism?

I'm working on our new website at church, and writing a bit about Unitarianism. This involves striking a balance between my understanding of Unitarianism, my congregation's, and my national community's understanding. Here's what I've got. Unitarianism is a liberal and creedless faith, rooted in the Christian tradition, yet on a spiritual adventure in search of truth, justice and healing for the world. We are a faith community for those on a spiritual journey, for those who believe there is still more to be discovered in religion. We believe in religious exploration – through the intellect and through the spirit. Through the intellect we explore religious questions in sermons, lectures, courses and dialogue. Through the spirit we explore through worship, music, ritual, meditation and prayer. Though we are on a spiritual journey, we are not only concerned with our own spiritual enlightenment, but know that the world today cries out for justice, compassion and healing.

GA 09: Day Four

I managed to agree to do the 7.30am worship on this last day of the Annual Meetings. Urgh. It was a shame I couldn't enjoy the last night of GA but had to go to bed reasonably early. I was suprised that a good number of people actually turned up. The crazy idiots, they should have been in bed like any reasonable person. Last day of Business Emergency motion came from my district where Unitarians have suddenly been banned from a state-funded Church of England school: passed. A motion calling for a set of "behavioural principles" I guess what they mean is something like the Seven Principles of the UUA. But just observing the debate about the revision of these in the blogosphere has got me feed up of it all. I can't be bothered with arguments about words. And I don't think we should be directing our energy at this when we could be investing in practical mission and spiritual renewal. I voted against. The motion passed. A motion calling for the Scout Association to al

GA 09: Day Three

Business Meeting Motion calling for a shorter, more dynamic title for the denomination to be brought next year was passed. I supported this. See post below. Two motions naming James McClelland and Eric Jones as Honorary Members. That's about it. Growth session We finally got somebody who actually knows something about growth to talk to us. Jane Dwinell, a small congregation specialist in the UUA (we're all small congregations in American church growth terms) spoke very well about a lot of good things. I was reading an Anglican book a while ago that was talking about the so-called "Decade of Evangelism" (1990s) being in fact more of a decade of learning about evangelism. I think that's kind of where we have been in the last few years, learning, thinking, not really doing. This can be a bit frustrating. But I hope we're moving on now. It's not brain surgery to learn best practice from thriving congregations in our community and in other communities. Anyway i


I wrote this piece for the GA Zette last week, and seeing as its made it into the Bolton News today, I might as well share it here, slightly adapted: I have been asked by the Ministry Commission to write an article here to explain the fact that the honorific title of “Reverend” was not used for me at the Anniversary Service. I must explain that this is entirely at my own insistence, and is a matter of personal conscience. The title “Reverend” meaning literally “one worthy of being revered” was a medieval title of respect that in the fifteen century began to be restricted to clergy. This was despite Jesus’ specific condemnation of special titles for religious leaders (Matthew 23:6-12). As someone who considers himself a follow of Jesus, I feel the use of such titles runs against Jesus’ teaching, which warned against the love of status and religious pomposity. This is the main reason I don’t feel like I can use the title. Also, as a Unitarian I am committed to the inherent and sacred wor

GA 09: Day Two

OK, so sorry. I've done what I often do and got so busy that my blogging has become less than "live." I'll try to catch up. Business Meetings The first day of business meetings. Reports given and the first motion passed approving the statement with the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland . Then two motions calling for the appointment of salaried Information and Social Justice positions at the Unitarian headquaters. Both of these were passed. I voted against them as I feel like this decisions need to be made on the ground, not by a large assembly. I might be proved wrong, but it will be interesting to note what the new Executive Committee do now, having been strongly instructed on details by the assembly. I definitely remember one candidate who got elected saying in an interview that "we don't need any more staff at headquaters." Unitarian Christian Association - a taste of Taize We watched this video . Hopefully next year we will have a full T

GA 09: Day One

Evening. I'm back here in the computer room in Chester, after coming out of the bar, offering a few relfections after the first day of the Unitarian General Assembly Annual Meetings 2009. After a number of a travel hiccups I managed to get here in time for the start of the Minister's Pre-Conference. Nothing much to say about that. Went to the John Relly Beard lecture with someone talking about ministry and trade unions. Then I was in with the youth group helping them plan their worship for tomorrow. I went to the Ministerial Pension Fund AGM, nothing much interesting to say about that, but thought I ought to go because, well, it is kind of important to me now. Opening Celebrations - seem to have become less and less celebratory over the last few years. It has become another service like the Anniversary Service, when I would really like it to be something a bit different. Then UniPride (the GLBT Unitarian group) - where Andy Pakula, the Minister of Newingoton Green and Islington

GA 09

As Tim commented in the last post, I will be blogging live from our national Unitarian Annual Meetings. Reignite remains the only place to find info about what will be going on in Chester day-by-day. I'll be offering my own, entirely personal, biased, subjective reflections on what's going on, when I get a chance between meetings, or after the bar. It'll be fun. See you there.

Unitarians in the Guardian

I should probably say something about Easter, but other than saying, "Happy Easter" I won't. You shoulda come along to church this morning if you wanted to hear what I had to say about that. Instead I wanted to mention the coverage Unitarians have got in the Guardian. One, an article written by a Unitarian is here. And another, more critical (not overly negative, but critically engaged) is here. I only found the second article while searching for the first, I haven't heard anyone mention it before. Both articles, and their comments, are worth considering. I want to make one point. In the comments section of the first article someone says something like, "If I were going to belong to a religion, I might do this one." I expect a lot of Guardian readers would have thought something like that. Unitarians probably get all excited about that, but the problem is that "if." Many people will agree with the kind of thing we're saying, but will never join