Newsletter December 2016 to January 2017


Dear All,

We journey together.

As this year comes to an end we may find ourselves reflecting on what has been good and bad, and as we look towards the Christmas period, it’s good to know that we as a congregation are doing something to make a difference.

Particularly with the Julian Trust in our giving, the charity of our ministry is very greatly appreciated. Thank you for the giving of yourselves, and the time you spend doing things for our church family.

Hopefully during Christmas and the lead up to it we’ll have time think and put aside the everyday and enjoy the company of others, in knowing how nice it is to share, give and receive.

On a personal note I would like to thank everyone as chair, for all the work and dedication that goes into the ministry we have and share: tea, food, music, flowers, services, meetings, note taking, treasury, lift-sharing, home-visiting, the web-site, to mention just a few. I have enjoyed another year as chair in all our sharing and learning as we journey together, and look forward to the new year.

All we do matters,

Yours with love and care,

Karl Stewart.


Hello and welcome to Advent 2016 with Bristol Unitarian. If you’re joining us for the first time, or just passing by, here’s a little about our services:

There is a service every Sunday thorough Advent. On the first Sunday of Advent we had the Tree Dressing, on which we put the decorations on the tree during the service.

On the second Sunday of Advent we have the festival of lights, where we celebrate the light of the world. On the third Sunday of Advent, we have the Gift Service; this where we gather gifts for the local charities as our giving ministry. On the fourth Sunday of advent we have the Carol Service. This is similar to Nine Lessons and Carols. Then on Christmas Day we have we have the morning service, which is informal, family and all age service.

We welcome you to all or any of our services over the festive period.



Susan Wildman attended the National Women’s League Rally held a Hinsley Hall Catholic Retreat Centre, Leeds on 18th/19th October. A service was taken by Janet Poole, the National President, who also chaired the Central Committee meeting. A talk on the sexual abuse of children by adults was given by Rosemary Frances. She said that there was often reluctance to report chi;d abuse by adults. Money is coming in for the National Deaf Children's’ Society (NDCS), this year’s National Women’s League Project. Tony Foster was congratulated on the production of the Women’s League Letter.

On Wednesday 9th November Susan went to London to the AGM of the Women’s Advisory Council which is associated with the United Nations Association. There has recently been much discussion about gender equality. Afterwards she went to Kelvedon in Essex to visit Olga Jennings who sent her best wishes to everyone. Olga attends the chapel in Bury St Edmunds from time to time.

Anne Butler’s visit has been postponed until the spring and we all wish Angela Godwin better health in 2017.

A Happy Christmas to all



Twenty one representatives attended the Western Union Development Day at Taunton on Saturday 13th November. The theme was ministry in the Western Union and the meeting was facilitated by Rev Don Philips. A report will be produced by Kay Millard. Ground rules were set so that what was said remained confidential and individuals were not to be quoted. Ample tea and coffee was available throughout the day.

Generally speaking the topics discussed in groups and all together came under the headings of Priorities, Resources and the Use of Resources. Under Priorities we discussed promotion, services, both traditional and experimental, buildings, responsibility and visibility. On this last point there was emphasis on Wayside Pulpits which many thought they were one of the ways people came into contact with the word ‘Unitarian’. Under Resources we talked about money, people and skills. Using resources, together with promotion and vision led to some interesting ideas such as opening the chapel for an hour once a week come what may, making soup for those who need it, community singing and the promotion of an interfaith banner. There was a suggestion that chapels could introduce more colour.

It was also agreed that the Western Union ought to promote itself more, as not just existing to meet the requirements of a charity which distributes money, but also as a facilitator in the Western Union district for courses such as ‘Rites of Passage’ and other training days. It also supports chapels which feel isolated nationally and can give small capital grants grants for items such as hymn books.



Mark Stewart

There was, or there was not, a girl whose name we have translated as Mary.

She was, or she was not, engaged to be married to a man called Joseph.

He was, or he was not, a carpenter by trade.

They lived, or they did not live, in a town called Nazareth in Galilee.

She was, or she was not, visited by an Angel of God.

The Angel told her, or did not tell her, that the holy spirit would overshadow her and she would become pregnant with the son of God, who would, or who would not, save humanity from their sins.

She was, or she was not, a virgin.

Joseph dismissed, or did not dismiss her.

Mary was, or was not, unfaithful.

Joseph dreamt, or did not dream, that an Angel told him that what Mary said was, or was not, true.

The baby was, or was not, conceived by immaculate conception.

The baby was, or was not, conceived in a night of passionate, physical, yet tender love-making.

A decree was, or was not, sent out.

A census was, or was not, announced.

They journeyed, or did not journey, to Bethlehem, the place, or not, of Joseph’s birth.

This happened, or did not happen, two-thousand years ago.

There was none, or there was, a room at the inn.

The time of year was, or was not, Winter, Summer, Autumn or Spring.

The baby was, or was not, born in a manger in a stable.

Angels appeared, or did not appear, to shepherds telling them to pay homage to the baby.

They were, or they were not, sore afraid.

Wise men from the East followed, or did not follow, a star to the place of his birth.

There were, or there were not, two, three, four, five, six or any number of them.

Their gifts included, or did not include, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

King Herod ordered, or did not order, the execution of all Bethlehem’s baby boys, for fear that one of them might grow up to usurp his crown.

An Angel told, or did not tell, Joseph to flee with Mary and the baby to Egypt in order to escape Herod’s massacre.

This all happened, or did not happen, exactly as I have told you.

In this way an ancient prophecy was, or was not, fulfilled.

This story proves, or does not prove, that miracles can happen.

The veracity of this story is, or is not, important.

This story does, or does not, give us hope.