Newsletter June and July 2018

From the desk

Karl Stewart
Dear all,

Firstly thank you. Many thanks to all who made the Redland Fair stall this year a great success. It’s an undertaking in all the time we give and what we donate in the making of the cakes and preserves and items to sell. It was a profitable day, not only financially: we were able to raise £307.00. but we were able to share with those who asked who we were as a faith organisation. It was good we could have light conversations with those who asked what we are about. Hopefully for those who found our information useful, they may give it some thought and arrive to experience the variety of themes and thought at our gatherings, and I’d hope that people will gradually join us as they feel they are able.

We had the UMB AGM, at which we all pledged our serving to the group again this year. I very much look forward to serving as Chair once again, as we discover the future together. With this I personally thank you all as you continue to serve, whilst we journey together; in all we venture.

I do hope we can all keep the vision, by being what we are and continue to be. There has been considerable interest in the retreat we will have in September. There are still places available. If you are interested in the what we have to offer, please do see me either after a service, or meeting or drop me a line in an email. I look forward to talking with you.

In other news with Susan and Peter - on the whole Susan is doing well, and she has been very pleased at the amount of well wishes received, phone calls and visits. Mark and I saw both her and Peter at home - there were many cards and gifts which have been greatly received.

The Rainbow Path which is held at Frenchay is continuing and those attending are enjoying it very much. Speaking for myself and John, we as leaders have found it and continue find it enjoyable and enriching to lead. And thank you to those of you who have led with us. All is very much valued in this, as we find our paths and answers together. We continue looking forward to the route as it develops. Please do drop in if you’d like to see what these sessions are. And thank you to Mark and Paul for leading our newly formed session of the chanting and meditation group on a 4th Sunday.

As we continue to look, feel and discern, in all feel and believe, may we look widely, walk lightly and be at one with every step.

Yours in faith with love and care.

Karl Stewart. Chair UMB.

From our Minister

Rev. John Harley

I am pure light, not just a fistful of clay. The shell is not me, I came as the royal pearl within. Look at me not with outward eye but with inward vision of the heart; Follow me there and see how unencumbered we become. Rumi
I wasn’t going to watch the Royal Wedding last Saturday. I had lined up some other things to occupy my time. Then Lizzie said she wanted to just have a peek at ‘that dress’ so we ended up watching the whole ceremony together on TV. I confess some of my republican views were activated. I listened to my mind thinking things like ‘isn’t it grotesque that the wedding dress apparently cost in excess of £350,000’, ‘what a load of pomp and circumstance’, ‘what a crazy society we are to tidy away the homeless people from the streets of Windsor so that we can create the fairy-tale backdrop to this fantasy’…….and as I watched such thoughts flowed forth.

Then then the human sparkle of the occasion started to shine; Rev Michael Curry delivered that passionate address on love and fire, Harry and Meghan glanced at each other nervously and childishly as any couple would on such a special occasion, Meghan’s Mum’s face expressed a singing garden of emotions and the gospel choir almost blasted the ornate roof off the chapel. Something else that struck me was the roar and applause of the crowds outside reacting to the ceremony – far louder than the noise created by tennis fans of yesteryear on Henman Hill! Those crowds outside could freely express the delight and release that maybe the selected congregation could not or would not.

I wondered if one unconscious motive and fascination in the Royal Wedding for many of us is to be reconnected with the sense of the royal in ourselves. Rumi talks about the ‘royal pearl’ within every human being. He suggests that if we can reside in that place in ourselves and see this splendour in each other we can become ‘unencumbered’. At the heart of all the great religions we are encouraged to find the good and the treasure in our own lives and in the hearts of our brothers and sisters and also strangers. This invitation doesn’t rely on pomp and circumstance at all; it is a daily practice in the backstreets and ordinary homes of our lives. This brings to mind R.S Thomas’ poem Rich which starts with the delicious lines:
I am a millionaire.

My bedroom is full of gold

light, of the sun's jewellery.

What shall I do with this wealth?

Buy happiness, buy gladness,

the wisdom that grows with the giving

of thanks?

So although the Royal Wedding is over I leave you with the challenge of identifying all that is royal in your life and to look for the treasure in the people dear to you.

John Harley


The national Women’s League AGM, held on 5th April 2018 during the GA at Daventry, was attended by over 50 peope and a dog. A cheque for £9,400 was presented to Eddie Kirk from Prostate Cancer UK. last year’s Women’s League Project. Anne Gemmell was installed as National President for 2018/19. A talk on the UK Sepsis Trust, the Women’s League Project for 2018/19 was given by John McCarthy. On Friday 13th April Susan met with Anne Butler to discuss Bristol Women’s League matters. Later that day Susan fell and fractured her leg and Anne and Frank Butler’s windscreen was hit and cracked on their return journey to Crewkerne! Subscriptions of £5 a family are now being collected by Susan to give to Angela Godwin. Many thanks to WL members who helped out at the Redland Fair. Some of us hope to help to serve teas and coffees at UMB during the St Paul’s Carnival on Saturday 7th July. The drumming workshop, led by Matthew Richards, will take place at UMB on Saturday 21st July.

With best wishes to all those with health problems and my thanks to you for the get well cards.



Peter Wildman

There was a smaller attendance this year, but a good number of younger people attending and a good number of first timers meant that the atmosphere of the meeting was very congenial. After the parade of banners, the opening ceremony was give by members of the British Unitarian Young Adult Network (BUYAN). The venue, Staverton Park near Daventry, was comfortable, The exhibition area was small, which made it difficult to view the stands at leisure.

As the UMB delegate I attended all the plenary sessions. There were two outcomes in particular from these which will affect the future of the GA and of affiliated societies. Firstly the Executive committee motion (Motion #1) to shorten the annual meeting to a 3day/2 night format was adopted despite strong objections from some long term attenders. As a result in future all slots will be of one hour. The Executive Committee proposed therefore that in future only four motions and, if appropriate, one emergency motion, should be debated. More importantly, these motions should be chosen by the Steering Committee of the Assembly. There were very strong objections to this and eventually this suggestion was voted down. The motions will now be selected by the Assembly.

The motion (#4) allowing congregations with 8 rather than 12 members to have full voting rights was passed. Honorary membership of the General Assembly was granted to Rev Dr Ann Peart and to Alan Ruston in recognition of their many year’s work for the movement in many fields.

As well as delivering the Keynote address, Rev Dr Paul Rasor, also spoke to the IARF. In the former he stressed that our commitment to social justice and tolerance has been under pressure now for a number of years from factors such as extreme right wing politics fuelled by wealth and income inequality, immigration and refugee movements, climate change and ‘Fake News’. To fight back we must hold on to hope that we can use reason to persuade and must hold on to the idea which has sustained liberal religion over the centuries - the hope, faith even, that something better is possible. Speaking to the IARF he pointed out that many nations restrict or control religion in varying and sometimes contradictory ways.

At the Penal and Social Affairs session, John Lloyd, an impressive former journalist with the BBC and Financial Times spoke of the rise of ‘Fake News’ in many countries. Like religion, journalism is a prime target for authoritarian regimes. His advice to us could be summed up as “Don’t be cynical but do be sceptical”. As well as his two former employers he cited The New York Times as one of the few sources of accurate reporting.

Among the other sessions I attended was that of the Inquirer, where we were told of the need for more congregations and individuals to subscribe, so as to increase our awareness of the national movement’s work as well as for financial reasons. We were also served excellent wine! At the National Women’s League AGM the representative of the Prostate Cancer UK received a cheque for £9,400. The Sepsis Trust will be next year’s Project, and as introduction, there was a moving talk by John McCarthy, a survivor of Sepsis. I also attended the Psychical Society meeting whose presentation included the words “Beyond Belief and Reason” - which says it all! Judging from comments in the following day’s GA Zette I was not alone in thinking this!.

Rev Danny Crosby gave a moving address at the Anniversary Service on our need dream, but to make these dreams a source of creating heaven here and now. He spoke of his love of the sea which to him emphasises the spiritual nature of all life.

I am very grateful to the UMB congregation for making me their representative at a very happy and constructive GA. We look forward to the next twelve months GA Presidency of Joan Cook from the Edinburgh congregation.


Sunday 3rd June

  • 10.30am Gathering at Frenchay with Rev. Deana Stone-Pearce, followed by Congregational Committee meeting.
  • 6pm Gathering at UMB with Karl and Mark Stewart.
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.

Wed 6th June: 7pm Kundalini Movement Meditation at Frenchay with Andrea Clark-Ward.

Sunday 10th June: 10.30am Gathering at Frenchay with John Wilkinson, 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.

Thursday 14th June: 7pm Worship Inspiration Forum at Frenchay Quaker Meeting House, Beckspool Road, Frenchay, Bristol BS16 1NT (opposite Village Hall). For all those interested in leading worship or wanting to widen and deepen their skills. Theme for this session: preaching. All welcome. Please note: different venue than usual.
Sunday 17th June

  • Gathering 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB with Rev. Lindy Latham.
  • 3-5pm Bright Lights at UMB with Rev. Lindy Latham.
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.

Monday 18th June: 6pm Group Meditation - person centred at Frenchay.

Wednesday 20th June 

  • 2pm Craft Club with Diane at Frenchay.
  • 7pm The Rainbow Path at Frenchay - ‘Finding the altars and shrines of our lives’

Thursday 21st June: 10am Scrabble Club with Diane at Frenchay

Sunday 24th June

  • 10.30 am Gathering at Frenchay with Mark and Karl Stewart on 'Gender and Spirituality'.
  • 6pm Chanting and Meditation at UMB. 
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.

Monday 25th June: 2pm Book Club at Frenchay with Christine.

Sunday  1st July

  • Gathering 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.

Wed 4th July:  7pm Kundalini Movement Meditation at Frenchay with Andrea Clark-Ward.

Sunday 8th July

  • 10.30am Gathering at Frenchay with John Wilkinson
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay

Saturday 14th July: Frenchay Flower Show – tea and cakes - daytime.

Sunday 15th July

  • Gathering 10.30am at Frenchay and 6pm at UMB with Rev. John Harley.
  • 3-5pm Bright Lights at UMB with Rev. John Harley and Rev. Lindy Latham.
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay.
Monday 16th July:  6pm Group Meditation - person centred at Frenchay.

Wednesday 18th July

  • 2pm Craft Club with Diane at Frenchay.
  • 7pm The Rainbow Path at Frenchay

Thursday 19th July: 10am Scrabble Club with Diane

Sunday 22nd July

  • 10.30am Gathering at Frenchay with Wade Miller-Knight.
  • 6pm Chanting and Meditation at UMB. 
  • 6pm AA meeting.

Sunday 29th July

  • 10.30am Gathering at Frenchay with Bernice Lashbrook
  • 6pm Gathering at UMB
  • 6pm AA meeting at Frenchay

Monday 30th July: 2pm Book Club at Frenchay with Christine