Newsletter April / May 2015

From the Desk

Dear All,

Its that time of year again, it seems: the change in day light, the clocks moving again and Easter has just passed by. I thought about Easter and the time of year, and I looked at the various clumps of daffodils emerging from their roots as they appear shooting up again like periscopes looking out into nature, and varying in their colours of white or yellow or even both mixed together, as if they were a community of their own. Even more prominent I noticed on a journey to Crewkerne one recent Sunday, to take a service, was a single white rabbit just sitting there within a bunch of daffodils on its own in a field.

If I had a camera I would have had a good picture for a home-made Easter card, having seen that it was surly a sign of Easter. And that is where we are this time of year, Easter to some other religious beliefs (putting aside the sadness of that fateful story of Jesus being crucified on the cross) more so I see this time of year in the part of resurrection, the dark cold nights have passed, and the light hours lengthen - we are surly going in to a time of new birth, and maybe what we have put away for the winter, we can resurrect and restore for the Summer as it gently arrives to greet us.

This occurred to me as well, as we all would have seen the eclipse, in the darkening of the sun and the turning of the earth, in the silence of that moment, there was a message to me that; if it's dark it's not really for very long, and as that light reappears the season has bought about new resurrection for the years to come until it meets us again.

I look forward to the way and the journey that we will live and walk together in the highs and lows, the times of darkness and despair, where there will be light and clarity again. We are all part of this great tapestry in this life and mission together.

All we do matters for one another. Enjoy the daffodils!

Yours with warm wishes, hope and love.

Karl Stewart.

The GA Meetings in Birmingham

Karl Stewart

The GA meetings in Birmingham have as usual been a feast of things to think about and act on. There are so many great attributes that continue to make our faith and movement what it is. I hope that we will all still see the reasons why we should always be united in all the cores of what we believe in. I enjoyed all it had to offer, as with all the GA's, it had something to give and there was so much going on, it was not possible to be at everything. You can find yourself lost in words - for some this is just enough, for others too much. I was somewhere between the two, so it goes to show that all who work in various ways paid or unpaid have a lot to give. And this of course contributes to a growing and all inclusive ministry, across our movement here and to those in our other churches, further afield. To be part of this is such a great thing.

There was also a large collection of over £800.00 from the work of the women's league; in their project of the year, for dementia called Singing for the Brain. And another of £1000, to the Send a Child to Hucklow - these were two great achievements. It shows that all these achievements are the result of commitment and therefore, whatever it is we do, big or small, or even somewhere in the middle, we are all playing a part in the a greater picture, which I hope will continue to keep us on the map for a long time to come. We may small in number, but big in heart and that is really what matters. I look forward to playing the part with all - so well done us, and keep up the good work.

Conducting Rites of Passage:

Foundation Step

Lay worship leaders are often asked to "do" christenings / namings / baptisms, weddings and funerals. And it can be a daunting prospect, without any training. Let the Midland Unitarian Association of Lay Preachers and Service Leaders show you the way.

We are offering a four-part course, leading to a GA-recognised qualification – the Rites of Passage Foundation Step.

Session 1: Weddings: 9th May led by Rev. Martin Whitell, District Minister, LDPA

Session 2: Christenings / Baptisms / Namings: 18th July led by Rev. Lynne Readett

Session 3: Funerals: 26th September led by Rev. Ant Howe, Minister at Kingswood

Session 4: Putting it all into practice: 14th November led by Rev. Sue Woolley, District Minister, MUA

Where: Kingswood Meeting House, Worcs. B47 5DQ

Dates: Saturdays 9th May, 18th July, 26th September & 14th November 2015

Times: 10.00 a.m. to 4.15 p.m. (coffee/tea from 9.30 a.m.)

Total Cost: £55.00 (£15.00 in advance; £10.00 for each session)

This includes a £15 registration fee, covering both national & local registration (payable in advance) and £10 for each session. Or you can pay the whole amount up front. You must attend all four parts to get your certificate. Refreshments will be provided during the day, but please bring your own lunch.

Name ……………………………………. e-mail …………………………..............

Address ……………………………………………………………………………….

Please return this slip, together with your cheque for £15.00 / £55.00 (made payable to ‘GA of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches' to Sue Woolley, District Minister, The Midland Unitarian Association, 5 Martins Road, Piddington, Northampton NN7 2DN, by Friday 17th April 2015.

Upcoming Worship in Further Detail

Mark Stewart

Please bring your friends along to experience some of our upcoming worship!

As many of you will know, our minister, Rev. Lindy Latham, retired at the end of 2013, and since then, despite Bristol being on the Unitarian Vacant Pulpit list, we haven't received any applications for the post thus far. Therefore we're having to think broadly in our approach to planning worship across both our Unitarian chapels.

In 2014 six members from across both chapels completed the Worship Studies Foundation Step course, hosted by the Western Union of Unitarians. Along with several others from the Bristol congregations, we are all regularly taking services. Please come along and support us in our developing ministries!

Furthermore, we have been looking outside of our Unitarian movement, for sympathetic worship leaders from other denominations to come and lead worship with us. To this end:

On 19th April Graham Davey from Bristol Quakers will be coming to lead our 6pm service at UMB.

On 17th May Lisa Saffron from the Bristol Progressive Jewish Synagogue will be coming to lead our 6pm worship at UMB, based on her workshop 'Beyond Right and Wrong' about putting an end to all holocausts and genocides.

We also have several other Quakers, a Buddhist and an Anglican Minister lined up to come and lead worship in the coming months. So please do come along and support this new venture, which will hopefully lead to an enriching of our movement from other faith traditions and perspectives.

Just to conclude, we had 10 members from the Bristol Group attend this year's General Assembly meetings, which shows a real commitment from Bristol members to the wider Unitarian movement. I think we really made our presence felt at this year's GA, and we've all come back enriched by what we learnt at the meetings, and ready to feed these things back into the life of our Bristol congregations.

Also, on the subject of worship, as well as inviting people from other faith traditions to lead services, we are still inviting Unitarians from outside of Bristol, for example Wade Miller-Knight from Golders Green Unitarians, whose theme for the service at Frenchay at 10.30am on 3rd May will be "May Day/Beltane, abundance, and spiritual protection."

Upcoming Retreats Led by Rev. John Harley

– National Unitarian Minister

1) Embracing Balance at Purley Chase Retreat Centre, Warwickshire from 8th - 10th May

2) Playful Groundedness at the St.Joseph's Centre in the New Forest from 3rd - 5th July

3) The Wonder of Trees at Hilfield Priory Dorset from 17th - 19th July

The web site for all of these is

Diary for April / May 2015

Sun Apr 12, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay wth Karl Stewart

12pm - 1:30pm Frenchay Congregational Committee Meeting

4pm - 6pm UMB Congregational Committee Meeting

Sun Apr 19, 2015

10:30am – 11:30am Service at Frenchay with Gerald Witcher from the Western Union

6pm - 7pm Service at UMB with Graham Davey from Bristol Quakers

Mon Apr 20, 2015

6pm - 7:30pm Group Meditation - person centred, relax into peacefulness, Frenchay Chapel. Person centred meditation - relax into peacefulness. Contact Andrea Clarke-Ward on 0117 9565826 for further information.

Fri Apr 24, 2015

2pm - 5pm Women's League Tea and Chat, UMB

Sun Apr 26, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay with Frank Butler / Bernard Omar

5:45pm - 7pm

4th Sunday Discussion Group: Is there any way of combating apathy at election time? Where: UMB

Wed Apr 29, 2015

All day Deadline for Aprl / May Catch-up Sheet - email Peter or Karl

Sun May 3, 2015

10:30am – 11:30am Service at Frenchay with Wade Miller-Knight: 'May Day / Beltane -abundance and spiritual protection"

6pm - 7pm Service at UMB

Mon May 4, 2015

Redland May Fair, Redland Green: The UMB Stall needs plants, bric-abrac, preserves, cakes, books. Plus people to help. Contact Peter or Susan.

Wed May 6, 2015

7pm - 7pm Kundalini Movement Meditation, Frenchay Chapel.

Sun May 10, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay with Bernard Omar

12pm - 1:30pm Frenchay Congregational Committee Meeting

4pm - 6pm UMB Congregational Committee Meeting

Sun May 17, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay

6pm – 7pm Service at UMB with Lisa Saffron from Bristol Progressive Jewish Synagogue

Mon May 18, 2015

6pm - 7:30pm Group Meditation - person centred, relax into peacefulness, Frenchay Chapel

Sun May 24, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay with Karl Stewart

5:45pm - 7pm

4th Sunday Discussion Group at UMB: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Wed May 27, 2015 

Deadline for June / July Newsletter

Sun May 31, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am Service at Frenchay with John Wilkinson

6pm - 7pm Congregation Service at UMB

Wed Jun 3, 2015

7pm Kundalini Movement Meditation, Frenchay Chapel

Sun Jun 7, 2015

10:30am - 11:30am

Service at Frenchay with Gavin Lloyd from Oxford Unitarians

6pm – 7pm Service at UMB with Wade Miller-Knight