UNI-NEWS 181st Issue 7th April 2017

1. General Assembly Annual Meetings – Emergency Motion

An emergency motion from Stockton Unitarians regarding the deportation of Irene Clenell has been accepted by the Steering Committee. The full text and the background paper is available online and will also be included in arrival packs for attendees at the Annual Meetings  

 Annual Meetings Steering Group


2. GA Office Closure

Please note that the GA Office at Essex Hall will be closed from 5.00pm on Friday 7 April until 10.00am on Tuesday 18 April 2017 for the Annual Meetings followed by the Easter Break. Messages will not be retrieved from the voicemail service on the GA telephone number until our return. For messages that are of an urgent nature please ring or preferably send a text message to the mobile number 0750 763 1285.  Please note this is an emergency number only and will only be checked periodically.

Derek McAuley

Chief Officer


3. Executive Committee – Co-option of Three Members

The Executive Committee is seeking applications for three members to be co-opted to fill vacant positions arising following the recent election process. The co-opted members will serve from July 2017 until the end of the Annual Meetings in April 2019. The same criteria for an election nomination process will apply.

The declaration form must be counter-signed by an official of a Unitarian or Free Christian congregation(s), comprising in total ten or more quota members as listed in the Annual Report 2016, or of an organisation which is an affiliated body of the General Assembly.

Applications are sought from Full, Honorary and Associate Members of the General Assembly and quota-paying members of constituent congregations. 

Applicants should demonstrate 3 years active commitment to the Unitarian community, be in sympathy with the Objects of the General Assembly and be eligible to stand in accordance with legal requirements for charity trusteeship.

Essential Requirements

(1) Experience in one or other of the following:

• As an officer or member of a congregational/district governing body, a committee of an affiliated body or of a charity trustee body or similar eg voluntary organisations such as a sports club or PTA.

• As a Minister, Lay Pastor, Approved Lay Leader or Lay Person in Charge of a Unitarian congregation.

(2) Good understanding of the Unitarian community.

(3) Confidentiality.

We would also like to strengthen the EC in the following areas:

• Faith and spirituality 

• Marketing, media, PR and campaigning 

• Finance and Fundraising

Those interested should contact Derek McAuley, GA Chief Officer for further information. Applicants should complete the application form and declaration and return to Mary-Jean Hennis by 12.00noon on Friday 12 May 2017 to enable consideration by the Executive Committee at their meeting on 19/20 May 2017. 

Derek McAuley

Chief Officer


4. UNIFEST: play, create, explore, believe - A long weekend of Unitarian family fun

Unifest will take place from Thursday 26 until Sunday 29 October 2017 – two whole days deep in the countryside at The Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 8RH.

Its family friendly and kids go free:

•Workshops for adults on the spirituality of parenting, creative sessions for children and activities for all ages

•Intergenerational worship

•Time to explore Unitarian values and ethics

•Trips out to local attractions

•Enjoy the great outdoors

•Opportunities to share our talents and gifts

•An event inspired by the memory of Family Conferences

The cost per adult for 3 nights and all meals is £140 (reduced fee due to generous grants from the Hibbert Trust and Foy Society)

To book your accommodation please contact Stella or Tarrah and make cheques payable to “The Nightingale Centre”

Any questions email Jonh Harley or Lorna Barry

Look out for us at the Annual Meetings.

We hope to see you there!

Lorna Barry and Rev John Harley


5. Youth Programme Events  

I am pleased to launch exciting 3 events organised by the Unitarian Youth Programme:

Bridging Weekend and London Pride march, 7-9 July 2017. A weekend for 16-21 year olds staying at SimpleGifts Unitarian Centre for social action, Bethnal Green with the Pride march in London, the opportunity to see a show and to get involved in Sunday worship at Rosslyn Hill Chapel. Fee is £35.

Unikids Canterbury Tales, 28-31 July 2017. A weekend for 7-12 year olds in the historic city of Canterbury. Fun, games and storytelling. We will stay at the youth hostel with free transport from London. There are only 12 places available. Fee is £110.

FDA (Five Days Away),  7-11 August 2017. A holiday for 12-17 year olds with the theme of “Me, Myself, I” to explore gender issues, do some cartooning and enjoy a whole day of outdoor pursuits at the Nightingale Centre, Derbyshire. Fee of £125.

Go to Unitarian website for posters, further information and booking forms. Either book online or download booking forms and send to Essex Hall with a cheque.  There are grants available for families who require financial assistance – please contact John

Contact John Harley  if you have any questions

The Youth Programme relies on the whole Unitarian community to help spread the word about our events – please publicise these events in your local church or chapel or website and let any families know who may be interested. 

Thanks for your support and interest

Rev John Harley – GA Youth Coordinator 


6. Heritage Lottery Fund grants to commemorate First World War 

The Heritage Lottery Fund has made an additional £4million of funding available so that more communities can get involved in projects marking the Centenary of the First World War. Projects applying for funding must be able to meet one of a number of successful outcomes based on heritage, people and communities. Grants can be given between £3,000 and £10,000. There is no current deadline for applications as grants are considered on a monthly basis. 

Further information can be found at The Heritage Lottery Fund.


7. Message from Czech Unitarians

Unitarians in Prague are celebrating the 95th Anniversary of the Flower Communion on Sunday 4 June 2017 at 10.30am in the Capek Hall (Central European Time).

We want to make this annual event particularly special this year.  We would like to invite Unitarians throughout the world to join us in this joyful event on Sunday 4 June.  We would be most grateful if you would let your churches know of this special service and invite them to celebrate the Flower Communion service with us.  

A Global Flower Communion will mean that Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist communities throughout the world will be celebrating the Flower Communion service at different times on 4 June  depending on their local Time Zone.  We see this as a wonderful way of enriching the 95th Anniversary of the original Flower Communion service held here in Prague.

We would also welcome photographs and greetings from our sister churches participating in this Global event.  We will display these at our service.

Our service will be filmed and broadcast live on social media.  We will send you more details about this in the near future. A service plan for congregations to use is being prepared.

We realise this is an ambitious project and deeply appreciate your help in making this Global celebration happen.

Further information is available from Rev Mark Shiels using his email dadergaos@gmail.com and any cards and/or photos of your congregation or church and greetings can be posted to him at 53 Roderick Road, London NW3 2NP.  Mail would need to reach him by Friday 19 May 2017.

In Faith,

Rev. Dr. Petr Samojsky

Rev. Mark Shiels   


8. European Unitarians Together (EUT) Ulm/Neu-Ulm, 2 – 5 June 2017

Further information and registration details for the European Unitarians Together (EUT) Conference with the theme “Faith Without Borders?” are now available on the EUU website   

Prof Manuela Kalsky, Professor of Theology & Society, Free University Amsterdam will talk on the topic of “Flexible Believers and the Search for a New We” 

The Rev. William Schulz, President Emeritus, UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) has the theme “The Limits of Dignity: Is Democracy Incompatible with Human Nature?”

"William Schulz... has done more than anyone in the American human rights movement to make human rights issues known in the United States." — The New York Review of Books, June, 2002

The conference will be held at the beautiful Edwin-Scharff-Haus, on the south bank of the Danube, overlooking the old quarter of Ulm, which has the world's tallest church tower. It is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein.

European Unitarian Universalists


9. “Interfaith Dialogue and Minority Concerns in the New Europe” IARF EME International Interfaith Conference 2017, 11-14 September, Bialystok, Poland

Have you been inspired to engage in interfaith dialogue, but not sure where to start? Are you concerned about religious minority issues and curious about other cultures, religions and nationalities and their interaction now and in the past?

“Interfaith Dialogue and Minority Concerns in the New Europe” is the theme of the conference that  is being organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom (Europe and Middle East Region) on 11-14 September 2017 in Bialystok, Poland. 

As the religious and cultural landscape of Europe continues to evolve, the problem of inter-cultural and inter-religious relations and the status and rights of minorities are increasingly capturing Europe’s attention. Regrettably, the tone of reporting and discussion is often alarmist and tends to oversimplify complex problems and processes.  So often there is little room for an in-depth discussion of how society at large as well as new and old minorities can initiate a productive, civilized dialogue and learn to respect each other and collaborate on issues that concern them all. 

Bialystok, the capital of the Podlasie province in north-east Poland, located close to the country’s capital and yet unique, offers an excellent opportunity for people from Western and Central Europe to share experiences and learn from each other.  The region stands out because of  its multi religious and multi ethnic character. Apart from Roman Catholic Poles, there are large groups of Orthodox or Byzantine Orthodox Christians (Poles and Belorussians) and Muslims (Tatars). The Tatar Muslim minority is of special interest and have lived for centuries in harmony with their Christian neighbours and represent a well-integrated, liberal form of Islam.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Prof. Anton Wessels, Professor emeritus of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam specializing in studies of Islam, comparative reading of Christian, Muslim and Jewish literature and intercultural relations in the area of religion. 

The language of the conference will be English. The fee for the conference package is 200 EUR and includes accommodation (three nights), meals and conference materials. There will also be a pre-conference tour (9-11 September)  through north-east Poland and Lithuania for an additional fee. Further information and details of registration are available on IARF website.

Organising Committee

IARF Europe and Middle East 


10. Media coverage

Bury Unitarian Church “New minister quotes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as she is welcomed to church in ceremony” (Bury Times, 9 March 2017)