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Showing posts from October, 2011

172 Congregations

It's the time of the year when the Unitarian Directory comes out. This means I can do some number crunching, and thinking about the health of our community. There are 172 congregations in the Unitarian General Assembly. This is one down from last year (173). Two congregations have disappeared from the directory, though I can't remembering anything being reported about the congregations closing. One is Pudsey in West Yorkshire, and the other is Loughborough in Leciestershire. The good news is that one new congregation has been recognised this year, Bangor, in North Wales, accepted as a small congregation. I'm sure that we going to continue to see about two congregations closing every year, I just hope we can see a few more starting as well. The Directory also lists 133 Ministers (one down on last year) but this is a pretty meaningless number as it includes retired Ministers, and Ministers living in Ireland, America and other parts of the world.

Marriage Equality Gains Momentum

This week the Prime Minister David Cameron said he was in favour of same sex marriage, saying, "I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” I remember reading a similar argument a number of years ago in America. I sort of agree with it, though I'm not a Conservative in any way. Marriage equality is a pro-marriage position: it's valuing commitment, family, love, stability. The Government has announced it's going to hold a consultation on same sex marriage in England and Wales next March, but it has already excluded the possibility of religious marriage. They only want to allow civil marriage as a possibility. This cannot be acceptable to religious progressives who want to allow marriage in their own places of worship. So we're now faced with a major disagreement between religious progressives and religous conservatives. Religious conservatives should not be made to perform marriages of which

Dangerous Unitarianism

In the last few weeks there have been two articles on Unitarianism in the Guardian. In the first Theo Hobson described visiting a Unitarian church in the US . He describes what sounds like a summer lay-led service that might be different to what he would get a month later. He describes three women who led a service based on a play they had recently put on. In his final paragraph he says this: "I came away with the feeling that it was very harmless. And maybe that's the key difference from Christian worship. In Christian worship there's a certain sense of risk: we risk affirming an idea of truth that is somewhat at odds with natural wisdom, inner peace. And we risk affirming a tradition that has an aura of violence – the violent rhetoric about the Lord of hosts and so forth – and the references to death and blood in the sombre ritual. There's a sense of potential danger in Christianity – this religion has been used for violent ends, and people have suffered martyrdom f