Newsletter February, March 2016

O, Wind, If Winter Comes, Can Spring Be Far Behind?


Today it is sunny and Shelleyʼs words are suddenly believable even though more rain and wind are forecast. The references to Dorothy Wordsworth on page 4, remind us of a time when the Lake District was colder rather than flooded as recently. Nevertheless, the prolonged wet and depressing weather did not deter more members and friends than usual from attending the Christmas Day service at UMB. The same was true of the UMB Anniversary Service with the Lord Mayor in attendance although on this occasion there was the added draw of a buffet tea afterwards - something specially appealing to younger members and guests! On page 3 you will find a short appreciation of the life of Rev Eric Wild the Bristol Unitarian Minister in the 70ʼ and 80ʼs. At very short notice Bernard Omar was able to attend the funeral service at Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel, Altrincham. Our thanks to Bernard for representing us. A number of us still remember Eric.. Frenchay Chapel is now registered for same sex marriages and we look forward to learning of their first ceremony. Always very popular for weddings over the years it will be interesting to see whether gay couples choose a ʻTraditionalʼ village setting at Frenchay or an urban setting at UMB. At both chapels there is often a shortage of purple hymn books when more than a dozen or so attend a service. In the latest UNI-News we are informed that books may be ordered for payment and collection at the General Assembly at the end of March. This is something for both congregations to consider and a member attending the GA by car could collect them. The notice on UNI-News speaks of a “Large order”, which is not defined so some enquiries would be needed. The contact for this is Audrey Longhurst on 020 7240 2384 or by way of the Essex Hall website (Under ʻStaffʼ). The GA begins on Saturday 30th March so we shall have to move swiftly if we want more purple books. Very belated but Happy New Year greetings to everyone.


Rev. Eric Wild, whose death at the age 95 was notified in the most recent issue of UNI-News, was the minister of Oakfield Road Unitarian Church and Lewinʼs Mead Meeting from 1974 to 1985 and also at Frenchay Unitarian Chapel 1982 to 1985 when he officially retired although he continued to conduct a number of funeral and other services. Eric presided over the sale of the 1791 Lewinʼs Mead chapel although he always insisted that the decision had been taken before his appointment as Minister. As well as faithful, dignified and cheerful service to his congregations, Eric served on the Bristol Appeals Panel for disputed Social Security Benefit payments in the 1970ʼs and 1980ʼs. A full obituary covering all the places at which he ministered will appear in the General Assembly Directory in due course.


February take back your gloom I am worth more than sombre hours and blue stained thoughts.


Before Christmas a number of us enjoyed a meal at The White Lion in Westbury on Trym. After Christmas eight of us attended “The Light Princess” at the Tobacco Factory Theatre which was highly amusing. Since then Angela Godwin has had an accident which has resulted in her leg being in plaster. We all send her best wishes and hope to see her at our AGM on 18th February (tbc) at the home of her mother Ros Pratt. We shall be having a social evening at UMB on Friday 4th March at 7.00 pm for 7.30 pm. Matthew Richards will lead a ʻPercussion Workshop”. Please contact Susan Wildman (01454 412993) for details. Contributions to a shared supper welcome.


My youthful wishes all fulfilled ... Wishes matured by thoughtful choice, I stood an inmate of this vale, How could I but rejoice?


Dove Cottage, Grasmere as it was when Dorothy and William Wordsworth lived there Drawing by Trevor Galvin A TEA PARTY When Agnes Fisher, sister of the Wordsworthʼs housekeeper Molly died, Molly left her employment with William and Dorothy and moved back across the road to Sykeside and became her brotherʼs housekeeper. It changed her life. She quickly put into practice all the household skills she had learned from Dorothy. She transformed the cottage from being the dirtiest house in Grasmere into a model of cleanliness and brightness. Her brother kept a cow and she made butter and cheese. Now she could meet Dorothy on a more equal footing, no longer as servant and mistress. Proud of her independence she invited the Wordsworths to tea. This may not seem a very special occasion, but to her and Dorothy it was a mark of her change of status. There was tea and coffee, piles of toast and as much cream porridge as little Johnny could eat. Molly was a proud and happy hostess and remained friends with Dorothy for the rest of her life, often taking her small presents such as a bowl of curd, a pound of butter or a basinful of gooseberries. When she died she left her best gown as a legacy to Dorothy. From “Housekeeping with Dorothy Wordsworth at Dove Cottage.”
By Margaret and Robert Cochrane


I am grateful for an opportunity to write a few words about PAP The panel meets about three times a year in London and convenes at General Assembly meetings each year where there is an established ʻslotʼ. Excellent presenters have drawn good attendances at recent GAʼs In 2015 this featured, attenders understanding or otherwise, on the level of immigration to the UK. One speaker said that his parents escaped persecution and almost certain death as Jews. Those present were able to record their level of understanding. An earlier GA PAP meeting considered drug taking and whether decriminalising some drugs might reduce illegal drug trafficking and, of course criminal convictions. Homelessness was considered in 2014, especially for people released from prison or on leaving the armed forces. with staged help afforded by some charities. In 2013 women prisoners were considered by a speaker recently retired as governor of a prison for women, many of whom were on remand but never sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Mental illness or incapacity causes concern that prison is the only option open when sentencing often hapless offenders in the absence of suitable alternatives. Government proposals are offered for a brief period of comment. There is much to be done and the PAP is very concerned that “Social Issues” are being said not to be a focus of Unitarian religious activity”. In the Bristol area Mary Carpenter is a reminder of one personʼs concern for children imprisoned. What can be done” Making oneʼs MP aware of concern over doubtful legislation in the absence of provision for rehabilitation and training as well, of course, of prison as punishment. OUR views are important and I intend to provide draft letters for readers to consider and, if necessary to amend, then hopefully to submit. Please read copies of the PAP News.


UMB - Unitarian Meeting Bristol, Brunswick Square, WL - Women’s League, WA - Wedding Anniversary, IM - In Memoriam, tba - to be arranged, tbc - to be confirmed 


Wed 3rd Frenchay 7.00 pm. Kundalini Movement Meditation 



Wed 10th Frenchay 2.00 - 4.00 pm. Craft afternoon

THUR 11th UMB 7.30 pm Group Committee Meeting 


UMB 4.00 pm - Congregational meeting NO SERVICE AT UMB

Thur 18th UMB 2.00 pm Women’s League AGM (tbc)

SUN 21st FRENCHAY 10.30 am - Rev LINDY LATHAM 

UMB 6.00 pm - Rev LINDY LATHAM

SUN 28th FRENCHAY 10.30 am - Mr GERALD WITCHER Followed by Frenchay Committee meeting at 12 pm

UMB 5.45 pm. 4th SUNDAY DISCUSSION GROUP, TOPIC: What basic human needs should the state provide for us? 


Wed 2nd Frenchay 7.00 pm. Kundalini Movement Meditation 

Fri 4th UMB 7.30 pm Women’s League - ‘Percussion Workshop’ with Matthew Richards. 

Sat 5th Western Union meeting at Bridgwater, 11.00 am 


 UMB 6.00 pm - tba Wed 9th Frenchay 2.00 - 4.00 pm. Craft afternoon

SUN 13th FRENCHAY 10.30 am - tba 

 UMB 3.00 pm UMB Trustees AGM 

UMB 4. 00 pm UMB Congregational AGM 

Wed 16th UMB 7.30 pm. Stokes Croft Educational Foundation: AGM and Regular meeting 

Sat 19th Frenchay 10.30 am onward. Meditation Day with Richard Bober. Bring your lunch, tea and coffee provided. reserve your place with Diane roberts 0117 856 6963.

Sun 20th FRENCHAY 10.30 am - tba 


SUN 27th EASTER DAY FRENCHAY 10.30 am - tba 

UMB 6.00 pm - tba 


The collection at the Group Christmas Day service at UMB for the British Red Cross Syria Appeal raised £90.00.

The collection at the UMB Anniversary Service raised £75.00 for the Lord Mayor’s Children’s Fund
The General Assembly will be held this year from Wednesday 30th March to Saturday 2nd April, at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, the same venue as last year. The closing date to avoid the late booking supplement, is 11th February, with a final closing date of 3rd March. Sally Pugh has application forms or they can be downloaded from: <
PLEASE NOTE The next ʻCatch up sheetʻ, covering March and April 2016, will be issued on 28th February. Please send articles, details of services, articles and dates of events to both Karl and myself by Wednesday 24th February - at the latest!


Karl Stewart, UMB President, with The Lord Mayor, Councillor Claire Campion-Smith and husband Ian, her Consort, at the UMB Anniversary service on 17th January. On Sunday 17th January The Lord Mayor, Clare Campion Smith attended a service with her husband Ian, to celebrate the opening of the Meeting House in Brunswick Square. Karl Stewart conducted the service with dignity during which he read “I Remember” by Sarah Quartel to a background of “The Music of Gabrielʼs Oboe” by Ennio Moriricone. Karlʼs theme was not only to celebrate Unitarianism but also diversity and the capacity to cooperate in spite of differences and approaches to belief. Mark Stewart gave a reading and Susan Wildman gave a summary of Unitarian history in Bristol. Andrew Rosser played the piano and the congregation of almost 30 people sang well. At the end of the service the Lord Mayor spoke in response to a candle of concern which had been lit by one of the congregation. She said that it was important that people of all faiths and none worked together in Bristol to ensure that the city remained peaceful in times of uncertainty. Afterwards we all enjoyed a buffet tea. Thank you to everyone who came.


The history of Valentineʼs Day and of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentineʼs Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentineʼs actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. While some believe that Valentineʼs Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentineʼs death or burial which probably occurred around A.D. 270– others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentineʼs feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the Ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture as well as to the founders of Rome - Romulus and Remus.


Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent is often called Mothers' Day, but has no connection with the 20th Century American festival of that name, Traditionally it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family. Today it is a day when children give presents, flowers, and cards, often home-made, to their mothers. Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their 'mother' church - the main church or cathedral of the area. Inevitably the return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. (It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old.) Most historians think that it was the return to the 'Mother' church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.


No matter how much we practice our Glass Half Full” attitude there is no avoiding the fact that we live in a troubled society-health problems (IBS, Cancer, tonsillitis and even coughing at Christmas!), money bills, paper, moving house, weight, clutter, anxiety and stress can make life an everyday chore. And we havenʼt even considered the massively important part of life which is relationships. I tell my son that living with a partner will be the hardest part of life! Yet the joys of sharing, caring and commitment can be the best. Did anyone watch the TV programme on ʻLonelinessʼ? If you did it is probably because you have experienced just that. Itʼs hard to imagine those with active social lives would relinquish an hour of their precious time to watch something so sad. Which is a great pity as it would probably promote a greater understanding of the increasing number of people who live alone - and not by choice, such as the young man who watched TV all night and slept most of the day. Most people find it hard without a special person to encourage, motivate, lend a hand and create meaning to deal with mundane necessary domesticity and without someone making them a cup of tea once in a while! The need to belong is a basic aspect of being human. People often join a church for that very reason, community, a common creed or values, a sense of goodness or intention. When you are singing the same words from the same source or arrangement, life can feel good especially when the words are about making the world a better place. So whatʼs all this got to do with “Songs 4 Peace” which is what I intended to write about? The pen is strange when held in reflective pose and thoughts pour out when when I strive to give a rationale to the subject; concepts which I didnʼt think needed to be expressed from my heart. My vision for “Songs 4 Peace” came from a variety of sources and feelings all mentioned here and others yet to be acknowledged. Loneliness, the mundane, stress, the need to belong and a greater desire for meaning and purpose. When people of all faiths and none come together to sing and talk through the medium of music and language, the added value can be more emotional support, community spirit and a sense of personal spirituality: the higher plane of life. Joining together for a common purpose and inviting others to join us could well help us to transcend the mundane and give a deeper meaning to each of us.


The human need for ritualization in many areas of life has not diminished. What has diminished is the availability of knowledgeable 'ritual elders' who understand the archetypal human need for ritualization throughout life, and who are prepared to respond competently and effectively by providing ritual leadership to those who need it.” (Robert Moore, Professor of Psychoanalysis, Culture & Spirituality at Chicago Theological Seminary 


The Western Union has identified a need for lay people in the congregations. to be trained as celebrants for Rites of Passage. As a first step to addressing this need we will be leading a course of four training sessions, starting in September 2016 : Saturday September 24 in Unitarian Meeting, Bristol Saturday October 29 in Plymouth Unitarian Church Saturday November 26 (Bristol) Saturday 28 January 2017 (Plymouth). We will invite participants to explore the purposes of ceremonies, the role of celebrants, the core elements of ceremonies and rituals (including thanksgiving, letting go, commitments and transition), and forms and practicalities. Participants will be invited to co-create a ceremony for a real situation that has been part of their life experience. There will be an invitation to complete a (nonwritten) assignment before attending the first session. We look forward to working with participants from Western Union congregations who wish to undertake training to be celebrants for weddings, same sex blessings, child dedications, funerals and other rites of passage. Please contact your congregational leader if you are interested in attending. Information about fees and grants will be available shortly. For further information please contact Lindy at: <> Rev LINDY LATHAM and Rev LIZ BIRTLES


 You, darkness, that I come from I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world, for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone and then no one outside learns of you. 

But the darkness pulls in everything shapes and fires, animals and myself, how easily it gathers them! powers and peopleand it is possible a great presence is moving near me. have faith in nights.