UNI-NEWS 150th Issue 28th May 2015

1. Funeral Arrangements – Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor’s funeral will take place on Friday 5 June 2015 at 12.30pm at Westgate Unitarian Chapel, Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1XR.

This will be followed by a burial at Sugar Lane Cemetery at 2.00pm.  A funeral tea will then be held at Create, the café attached to the Library at Wakefield One. Unitarians travelling long distances will be able to get drinks in chapel before the service.

Chris Pilkington
Westgate Unitarian Chapel


2. Executive Committee Key Messages 15 and 16 May 2015

1. Co-option of Two Executive Committee Members
Following the open application process, we are pleased to announce that Philip Colfox and Rev Lynne Readett have been co-opted onto the Executive Committee with immediate effect. They will serve until the close of the Annual Meetings in April 2017. Philip has led the resurgence of Bridport congregation and has served on the Western Union Council. Lynne recently retired from full-time ministry with the Merseyside District.

2. Millennium Fund Grants
Three grants were awarded by the Executive Committee:
a) Brighton Unitarian Church was awarded £780 towards the cost of architectural survey fees in connection with repairs to the Portico of the church.
b) Simple Gifts Unitarian Centre for Social Action was awarded £5,540 to take forward “The Road Ahead” initiative with local Unitarian congregations to promote social action.
c) York Unitarians were awarded £2,000 towards the cost of an upgrade of the chapel’s audio equipment.  

3. Red Cross Appeal for Nepal
The Executive Committee was pleased to learn that over £6,000 had already been raised for the Red Cross Appeal for Nepal via the Unitarian Clara Barton Fund.

4. Safeguarding Audit – Follow-up
The Chief Officer was disappointed to report that only 63 congregations had so far returned the completed safeguarding audit form to Essex Hall. 80% of those congregations which responded had an agreed safeguarding policy. The Executive Committee wishes to remind all congregations forcefully of the key requirement of the Charity Commission that a failure of a charity – and all our congregations are charities in law -  to adopt and implement rigorous safeguarding arrangements is now considered to be a serious regulatory issue. This includes not having current and robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place, including appropriate DBS vetting procedures and trustees taking no, or inadequate, steps to address safeguarding weaknesses.

Audit forms can still be returned to Essex Hall and advice is also available on what action congregations must take on safeguarding.  

5. Vision Document Follow-Up
The Vision Document which was launched at the Annual Meetings and subsequently circulated to all congregations and Ministers, has been well-received and provoked lots of discussion and debate throughout the denomination. Comments are still welcome from individuals or congregations and should be sent through the website at: www.unitarian.org.uk/news/vision-our-future

The Executive Committee has already started work on the task of translating the Vision into practical steps that will enable us to take the key issues forward and to grow our movement as effectively as possible.

6. Nightingale Centre – Living Wage
The Nightingale Centre was commended for agreeing to register as a “Living Wage” employer; an excellent example of the ethical standards we seek to promote.

7. Copyright
Following the review of a recent incident involving one of our congregations, the legal implications of not complying with copyright law were highlighted. This is a complex issue and advice on relevant licences for various activities is available from Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). 

8. Convenor
Robert Ince was re-appointed Executive Committee Convenor for a further year.

9. EC District Links

Link person: District:
Robert Ince Sheffield and Yorkshire
 Joan Cook  Scotland and Northern
 James Barry  London and Eastern
 Phillip Colfox  Western and Southern
 Lynne Readett  Manchester and Merseyside
 Gwynn Pritchard  South and South East Wales
 Marion Baker  East Cheshire and East Midlands
 Jacky Woodman  North and East Lancashire and Midlands

10. Financial Review Group
The Terms of Reference for a Financial Review Group, consisting of Robert Ince (Convenor), Peter Hanley (Hon. Treasurer) and Derek McAuley (Chief Officer), were agreed as follows:
a) to understand the current pattern of activities and the financial implications for income and expenditure underpinning the work of the General Assembly.
b) in particular, to explore the implications of the ending of financial support for the General Assembly from the Bowland Trust in September 2025.
c) to consider the changing landscape for charities, particularly religious organisations, which may impact upon the finances of the General Assembly.
d) to prepare proposals for the financial sustainability of the General Assembly.

Executive Committee
24 May 2015

3. The Samuel Jones Fund

The income of the fund is applied ‘in augmentation of the salaries of such conscientious and Dissenting Ministers as shall stand in most need of assistance as the Managers of the Fund shall approve, preference being given to those who have been students at Manchester (now Harris Manchester) College, Oxford’. New applicants are also invited and grants are considered annually. Applications should be in hand by 9th June 2015 and be on a form obtainable from the Secretary:
Rev Peter Hewis, 1 Little Blenheim, Yarnton, Kidlington, OX5 1LX
Email: peter.hewis@hmc.ox.ac.uk   Tel: 01865 372 265

4. Fake charity scam: Charity Commission Alert - For information

The Charity Commission has issued a warning about a recent scam designed to trick religious foundations in the USA, and possibly in the UK as well. The foundations were contacted with news that they were due a large gift or donation from an organisation promoted as being a legitimate and registered charity in the UK that did not exist. In an attempt to make the scam appear more credible, the fraudster used false documentation showing parts of the Commission’s logo and a forged staff signature. The Commission was contacted by a number of concerned individuals.

It is highly unlikely that any member of the Churches' Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS), corporately, would be caught by this – but that is not necessarily true in the case of small religious charities. Trustees need to be reminded that before giving out any information, particularly financial information, to another charity they should look up the registered charity number and the charity’s entry on the Commission’s online charity search tool.

Trustees who receive correspondence falsely claiming to be from a genuine charity or from the Commission should report it to the Commission and to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and Internet crime reporting centre. The Commission itself has referred this matter to Action Fraud.
[CLAS - Source: Charity Commission Press Release – 20 May]

5. Media Coverage

BBC report on General Assembly of the Church of Scotland included an item on same sex marriage featuring Rev Maud Robinson. It is at 16 minutes.

Rev Chris Hudson, Unitarian Minister at All Souls NSPCI, Belfast has been involved in campaigning for the exclusion of the NHS from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement and recently spoke to On The Record NI. The General Assembly passed a Resolution expressing concerns about TTIP at the recent Annual Meetings.

Lincoln Chapel gains same sex marriage licence – days after Ireland voted in favour (Lincolnshire Echo)

Derek McAuley
Chief Officer