UNI-NEWS 139th Issue 17th December 2014

1. Christmas Message 2014

In the British Isles Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year when the hours of daylight are at their lowest.

This darkness encourages us to make our surroundings brighter. We decorate our homes, offices and churches with many coloured shiny baubles and glitter. Bright lights are resplendent wherever we go. Life seems full of expectation, enjoyment and happiness.

Christmas time is a time of joy, but it can be for some a time of sorrow. A reminder of those we have lost who will not be with us around the Christmas dinner table.

Christmas is a time of remembrance when we raise a glass to toast not only those present, but remember good times past shared with loved ones who helped to shape the people we have become.

Candles, and Fire, and Star, 

these are the symbols of this most blessed of all seasons.

Candles, for the banishing of darkness,

Fire, to draw our hearts, and spread a golden glow

to the innermost recesses of our being.

Stars, to beckon us onward, guiding our footsteps to the holiest.

Candles, Fire and Star.

My good wishes to everyone within our beloved community as you celebrate this festival of goodwill to all.  

Wishing you love and happiness at this Christmastide and a happy and fruitful New Year

Marion Baker General Assembly President  2014-2015


2. Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund - IMPORTANT

Message from English Heritage

“In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has announced a £15m fund to repair the roofs and rainwater disposal systems of listed places of worship across the UK. The National Heritage Memorial Fund has been asked by Government to administer this scheme on its behalf. 

This fund will be administered by NHMF and not HLF. This is an important distinction. NHMF is the parent body of HLF, and has the legal authority to distribute grant-in-aid (public money).  This money is from the Treasury, not the lottery.

Under this programme, grants are available from £10,000 to £100,000 to help meet the costs of urgent repairs to roofs (e.g. coverings, timbers, ceiling vaultings) and rainwater disposal systems (e.g. gutters, valleys, hoppers, downpipes, gullies, drains and soakaways). Some funding can also be provided towards the repointing of high level masonry, but only where part of a wider project to repair a roof and where the additional works are necessary to prevent water ingress into the building.

There are over 1,100 historic places of worship on national Buildings at Risk Registers across the UK, and the main threat to these buildings is from water ingress as a result of railing roofs and guttering. The announcement of this fund will go a long way towards addressing this problem, and ensuring this collection of heritage buildings remain open and available to their communities for years to come.  It is estimated the fund will make around 375 places of worship watertight.

To be eligible for funding buildings must be listed and used for public worship or vested in or owned by a charitable body that looks after redundant places of worship.  Places of worship that have received a previous repair grant from English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund and/or other Lottery distributor that is still in delivery are not eligible to apply.   

There is only one opportunity to apply to The Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund.  The closing date for applications is noon, Friday 30th January 2015.  

Decisions will be announced in March 2015.  More information on how to apply can be found at www.lpowroof.org.uk

English Heritage


3. The Hibbert Trust - Doctoral Scholarship Competition 

The Hibbert Trust is offering one scholarship for doctoral work in the study of Unitarianism at a UK university. 

The Trustees invite applications under one of the two suggested routes: 

1. Theological: Research locating contemporary British Unitarian theology (either as a whole or in one specific area) within recent developments and debates in one area of mainstream theology. 

2. Sociological/Anthropological: Research locating contemporary British Unitarianism (either as a whole or in one specific location/form) within recent developments and debates in religious studies. 

For further information please contact, by email, the Trust Secretary, Rachel Skelton at: thesecretary@thehibberttrust.org.uk 

Dorothy Hewerdine, Chair


4. John Relly Beard Lecture 2014

Alan Ruston’s memorable John Relly Beard Lecture at the 2014 Annual Meetings “Two Hundred Years Being Legal: Its Meaning for Unitarians in the Past and the Present” is now available on the Faith and Freedom website at:



5. Essex Hall - Holiday Closure

The General Assembly Offices will be closed for the Christmas and New Year holiday from 5.00pm on Tuesday 23 December 2014 until Monday 5 January 2015 at 10.00am. Messages will not be retrieved from the voicemail service on the GA telephone number until our return.  Enquiries of an urgent nature may be phoned to the mobile number 07534 006 860.  Please note this is an emergency number and may only be checked periodically.  

Derek McAuley, Chief Officer