Newsletter October and November 2017

From the Desk

Dear all,

It doesn't seem five minutes since the last newsletter, just as we though maybe things might have slowed down-it all seems to have taken off again. Its just round the corner, w will be starting our first session of the Rainbow Path course. This will be running this month and November; a break in December and off we go again in January.

And what with autumn now joining us we’ve to adjust to the temperament of nature. In recent events, there was the Raja day at the Arnos Vale cemetery, which I was invited by Carla Contractor to give a Unitarian blessing and reading at. It was a pleasure to be there to represent Bristol Unitarians among all our fellow brothers and sisters, of different faiths. It was well attended. And a very well well attended fund raising concert at Frenchay Chapel, for the remaining money to raise for the next phase of repair work to the windows fund. The Frenchay congregation are very grateful to Mark Stewart for an evening of entrainment; in his solo act as the Elton John Experience. This raised £218.00, so thank you for all the time and effort to make that special event what it was. 

Its also good news that our all age group Bright Lights has started again, and well attended by new and previous participants. Its good to know that we are working our presence as a faith community at differing levels of accessibility. Thank you to those of you who are making this possible again, great work all round.

As we continue to work together for the purpose of our community, may we do it with strength in all of what we learn, teach, give and share. As we welcome the newcomer at our gate, may no one be a stranger here. With the flame of the chalice, that’s special to us all and that we keep in us. May we keep its spirit as we share it with others, and allow it to keep in warmth together.

I look forward to the coming weeks as we journey to what we will harvest, and what we look to give when we sow again.

Yours in faith with love and care.

Karl Stewart. Chair UMB.

Looking through windows together

Rev. John Harley

Sunday 19 November – Windows Dedication Service – Frenchay:

I’ve always loved stained glass windows and I love to experience sunlight shining through coloured glass in chapels and churches around the world. On one of my visits to Paris a friend advised me to check out Sainte-Chapel le. Nothing could have prepared me for the windows in this medieval church – I was speechless, and overwhelmed by the jewel like panes lighting up this sacred space. I felt lit up inside. Nowadays I have to visit as much as I can, like making a pilgrimage.

I have recently fallen in love with the engraved windows of St Nicholas, Moreton and I recently had the opportunity of leading a creativity workshop inspired by these exquisite windows designed by Laurence Whistler. These window designs are very rare because they are engraved on clear glass; themes such as destruction and restoration, rejoicing and grieving, sun and rain and life and death are held in balance.

And then we have the absolutely clear windows of our beloved Frenchay Chapel. Since 2012 these beautiful windows have been restored through the ‘Sponsor a Pane’ scheme and a varied range of fundraising events such as Summer Music Festivals, Quiz Nights, Wine Tasting Experience, Cash in the Attic, Easter Egg Hunts, a list too long to mention every event. Mark Stewart put on his glittering Elton John Experience Night for the windows Fundraising Appeal also. Raising money for the windows has been a massive team effort from Frenchay and UMB.

The two front windows have been completely replaced and the side windows have been refurbished. We are looking forward to another Windows Dedication Service on 19 November when we bless the recent restoration work and light candles for each of the recent sponsors. We will also be affirming our unique Unitarian heritage that celebrates humanity’s diversity of beliefs and finds common ground.

John A. Buehrens, a UUA minister and author writes:

‘Religion is dangerous, of course, because its power is independent of the universal validity of its claims. Every generation has its terrorists for Truth and God, hard-bitten zealots for whom the world is large enough for only one true faith. They have been taught to worship at one window, and then to prove their faith by throwing rocks through other peoples’ windows’.

Frenchay’s crystal clear window panes remind us of the brightness of our Unitarian vision in today’s troubled world; we need to continue our work as liberal thinking community to defend our brothers’ and sisters’ right to have a faith or none and to challenge institutions or individuals who preach their vision as the only vision and claim that other paths are wrong. Our Unitarian faith to look with curiosity in different directions at the world to find spiritual inspiration is increasingly precious.

To find out more about the Sponsor a Pane contact Pauline Furnival, Hon Fundraising Secretary at

Many thanks to Pauline for all her work on this flourishing fundraising project and indeed both congregations for all their fundraising work.

A thought on Autumn - ‘I remember Autumn’

Karl Stewart

I remember Autumn I remember the turning of the leaves, they turn each individual shade of orange from green, as the mornings start to look a little darker, and clouds change and stay a little longer. I remember the cool crisp winds as they brew up a little more. And the falling temperatures of the beautiful summer that have kept my heart and mind warm.

I look at the turning of the leaves as they take their time to turn to that warm orange, and start to fall, one by one; I look at the branches of the trees as they become a little more bare. I remember feeling the impression of time as it passes I wonder if time has its own sense, does it know when to turn the leaves. I remember the mornings that follow one from the past to the next and then to afternoons which hold the sun, that little lower in the sky.

I feel the rain as it washes through the branches, and more turned leaves fall, and the drizzle that sits in the air, I remember the smell in the air that is there to let you know Autumn is here, there’s no turning back now the turning of the leaves has started its journey. We are one with what it shall bring. I remember the coldness becoming more as the sun sits yet lower in the sky. And there it is it belongs to us with nature. The turning of the leaves, I remember seeing my breath in front of me as the light fades a little more each day. Autumn is here and not only do I remember, last Autumn. I know this Autumn now as I see the sun through all the bare branches of the trees. Its winter soon. But I keep Autumn with me, for as long as it shall be my guest.

Women's League

Susan Wildman

In June Ros Pratt, our President, Susan, and Angela met at Ros' house for very nice tea. Ros never forgets to send us a birthday card. Ros celebrated her 94th birthday in June. In July a very successful percussion workshop was again organised ably led by Matthew Richards. Thirty people of all ages attended and after much drumming we all enjoyed a generous tea. In August Susan attended the 91st birthday party of Grace Cooper who is now in a nursing home in Oldland Common, Bristol. Entertainment was provided. In September Susan plans to visit Olga Jennings. Rev. John Harley has now become part time minister to the Bristol Group. Susan, Sally Pugh and Jane Hulin helped John with the first meeting of the 'Bright Lights' all age group which has restarted after a break of three years. Thirty people attended. We are collecting money for the National Women's League Project 2017/18 - Prostate Cancer UK. Sally is making marmalade, Ann Butler is making cards and knitted mice and Susan is selling children's books. Angela Godwin who has taken over the treasurership from Sylvia Bartlett, remains cheerful in spite of having to resume chemotherapy. We all wish Angela well.

Windows Dedication Service

Pauline Furnivall 

You are warmly invited to the Windows Dedication Service at Frenchay Chapel, which will be led by Reverend John Harley on

Sunday 19th November 2017 at 10.30 a.m, to celebrate the completion of the fourth ‘Sponsor a Pane’ plaque for the restoration and repair of the Frenchay Chapel Windows. Please join us for this special service and for refreshments afterwards. RSVP by 1st November 2017 to

Worship Inspiration Forum (WIF) 

Rev. John Harley

I just want to bring to your attention the launch evening of our brand new Worship Inspiration Forum (WIF) 7-9pm on Thursday 12th October at Frenchay Chapel. The purpose of this bi-monthly group is to share inspiration and ideas for worship. Everyone welcome – those just starting to lead worship, those who are considering leading services in the future and those who have been conducting services for years. On our first evening we will explore what worship is, our experiences and thoughts for future services. We will be learning from each other and sharing good practice. Let me know if you intend to join us. Our next meeting with be on Thursday 14 December. I am looking forward to a creative and thought provoking evening

Bright Lights

Rev. John Harley

I was very encouraged by our relaunch in September – I believe we had around 19 people of all ages. The theme of the next Bright Lights on 15th October, 3-5pm at UMB, will be Harvest – and we might be even doing some baking! Spread the word – all welcome!


On 15th October we are holding our Harvest Services – 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB. Please bring items to donate. Any donated items will be given to Julian House. At the moment they are asking for the following:

Corned beef, tinned custard, hot chocolate, tinned chilli, large sandwich bags, sweet biscuits, tinned meatballs in tomato sauce, UHT semi-skimmed milk, tinned peas and tinned mixed beans. As far as clothes are concerned they will only accept the following as they have enough of everything else: mens jeans, trainers and boxer shorts.

Frenchay are unable to have their normal shared lunch on this day (there is a naming ceremony after service) so they thought they would go to the White Lion on Frenchay Common to eat. Diane needs to book this in advance which she will do for 12.30pm. So she needs names please by the end of next week so that she can book. She is making the cut off point for this Sunday 8th October and she cannot guarantee that you will be able to come after that date.

The Rainbow Path – Adult Spirituality Group

Rev. John Harley and Karl Stewart

Starts Wednesday 18th October, 7-9pm at Frenchay Chapel, meeting monthly on the third Wednesday of each month (not in December). Come and explore your roots and wings with like-minded people through creativity, discussion, meditation and fellowship. Contact John at for more information and to reserve a place.

Christmas Services

Advent 1, Sunday 3rd December: Tree Trimming / Festival of Lights Services at 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB both led by Rev. John Harley.

Advent 2, Sunday 10th December: Gift Services at 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB both led by Andrew Rosser.

Advent 3, Sunday 17th December: Group Carol Service at 10.30am at Frenchay with Rev. John Harley, Bright Lights Christmas Party (tbc) 3-5pm at UMB, 6pm Gathering at UMB with Rev. John Harley (tbc).

Advent 4, Sunday 24th December (Christmas Eve): Gathering at 10.30am at Frenchay, Carols by Candlelight at 6pm at UMB.

Christmas Day, Monday 25th December: 10:30am Gathering at UMB, led by the congregation.

New Year’s Eve, Sunday 31st December: No gathering at Frenchay or UMB.