Newsletter for April and May 2017

From the desk

A well known hymn from the purple book: Hope is born in springtime

“Hope is born in springtime, when we plant the seed,” (a few words from that hymn).

Dear All,

We venture from the winter to the spring then summer, and all our climate presents us with. It is at least my hope that we can hope all year round. As earnest it sounds, I believe that hope is the foundation that holds us together in the most uncertain of times, as with the current political climate. This a prayer as opposed to a prophecy. As believers I know we have the roots that hold us close and the wings that set us free.

There is so much we do and there is so much to do, and we as a faith people maybe the example to help solve some of these problems, in doing what we can to calm or assuage all that challenges us. All we do matters as all these seasons lead us to follow.

It is with understanding, compassion and using our words in discernment, to build bridges as opposed to barriers, that we might see a way forward. And in that, I with many, look forward to the time of ministry that our beloved friend and minister John Harley will share with us.

As we all come with our aspirations, hopes, expectations we welcome John Harley as he joins us over the coming months; working with us, in a way where we all find our answers together; and leading us in the way we want or need to be led.

As we look to this, may we do it with an undefended heart, and with no cherished outcome. And hold this space we share while in church together and as we are connected without; as we are the church of people during the days that pass until we meet again.

Where we share our hospitality in faith and friendship, let’s make the guest always welcome.

Yours with love and care, in the sharing of all that is our ministry.

Karl Stewart.

Chair. UMB.

And now over to John.

From the Minister – Rev. John Harley

Dear all 

I am delighted to be starting an exploratory ministry with UMB and Frenchay Chapel for the months of April, May and June. It will be a part me ministry which will consist of around one weekend a month. I will be staying in Bristol over the third weekend of each of these months and conducting worship for both congregations on the Sundays of 16 April, 21 May and 18 June. I will also be attending some mid week meetings and events. As some of you know I live in Bridport, Dorset and so over the next few months I will find out how living at some distance from Bristol will affect what I can bring to you all. Our plan is that in June we will look back on the experience and work out the way ahead.

Some of you will know I have been visiting the Bristol congregations for many years and especially during my London years. I have got to know some of you and I have fond memories of our conversations after worship and Bright Lights at UMB. At present my main role for the Unitarians is part me Youth Coordinator which I have been fulfilling for nearly 12 years. I am hoping to make some pastoral visits over the coming months and these are going to be most possible for me on the Saturdays of the above weekends. If anyone would like to request a visit or contact me on another matter my email address is and mobile: 07985 900935. I will be meeting with the UMB and Frenchay congregations in April to discuss your priories for developing congregational life. I am looking forward to getting to know you all more, supporting you in your spirituality and accompanying you in growing the Unitarian witness and faith in Bristol. In the vibrant, multi‐cultural, creative city of Bristol I believe our liberal and open minded faith has so much potential. I will work with you in deepening the Unitarian community in your city and bringing our unique approach to a wider number of people. A happy Springtime to you all!

Rev John Harley


The fair will be as usual, on Redland Green on Monday 1st May. There has been a delay in allocating stalls this year and the UMB stall has not yet been confirmed. As soon as we have been told anyone interested in helping on the stall or providing preserves, plants, bric á brac and books will be informed.


The Bristol branch has contributed £200 to the National Women's League Project for 2016/17 which was the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) The national cheque will be handed to a representative of NDCS at the National Women's League AGM to be held in Birmingham on Tuesday 11th April during the General Assembly. The Project for 2017/18 will be Prostate Cancer UK. We have also sent £20 to the India Fund. Sylvia Bartlett has had to stand down as our Treasurer due to health problems. We all send our thanks and best wishes to Sylvia. Our next meeting is with Anne Butler from Crewkerne for tea in Debenhams at 2.30 pm on Wednesday 5th April - all are welcome.



The Civic Inter Faith Celebration with the theme "Inter Faith Understanding and Co-operation took place in the newly refurbished Civic Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Jeff Lovell lit the first peace candle and was followed by representatives of faiths in the city. Bernard Omar lit the candle on behalf of the Unitarians. Presentations were made by Sufis (Muslims), The Salvation Army, Jews and Bahai's and ended with a prayer for the welfare of the city. Refreshments were appreciated.


Supporting Homelessness services & Saving on Utility Bills

For many years our congregations have supported homelessness charity Caring in Bristol, whose focus has been on providing shelter and services to homeless people around Christmas.

The charity has written to tell us that they have made a significant step up in the services they provide by taking on the management of a central Bristol homeless shelter. They are looking to generate extra income to support this extension of their services and have brought to our attention that locally based gas and electricity supplier Bristol Energy has agreed to donate £15 per utility to Caring in Bristol for each new customer switching their supply to Bristol Energy quoting the code CARING001, so if you switched your gas and electricity they would donate £30.

Bristol Energy offers competitive gas and electricity prices and special reduced tariffs for customers with a BS post code.

Paul Wheeler

Sponsor a Pane

I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you about the latest position regarding the Chapel Windows. As you may know, there is a special Contingency Fund which is specifically for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the windows. A very successful way of boosting this fund is the ‘Sponsor a Pane’ scheme. Each plaque mirrors the 16 panes in the window and I am still trying to find the remaining 5 Sponsors for the fourth plaque.

It is now 5 years since the two front windows were completely renewed at Frenchay, the other four were repaired and the frames were all painted, inside and out. We have been advised that the two side windows are in need of some repairs, but fortunately do not need replacing as originally thought. All of the outside window frames and any necessary repairs will need be done this year. Quotations have been obtained for this work which it is hoped will be commenced in the next few months.

I would be very grateful if you would let any friends or family also know should they be interested in this ‘Sponsor a Pane’ scheme.

I saw these photos below the other day which reminded me of how far we’ve come and how wonderfully the windows enhance the beauty of this special Chapel.

With best regards,

Pauline Furnivall, Frenchay Chapel Windows Appeal Fund Secretary