1. Executive Committee Key Messages, 20 July 2018
1. Moving ahead with the Training and Education Development (TED) Project
The Executive Committee gave its full support to the next stage of implementation of the Training and Education (TED) Project as the current arrangements come to an end on 30 September 2018. The new Unitarian College Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) will assume responsibility for the pilot ministry training programme and the co-ordination of lifelong learning for all Unitarians.
The application for CIO status is progressing and was subsequently submitted to the Charity Commission. A Business Plan for the Unitarian College for the five-year period 2018-19 to 2022-23 was considered in detail and support given to the overall Plan with comment on particular issues. It was agreed to release all the funds from a recently received legacy as reported at the last meeting. It was also agreed to make a substantial contribution to the start-up costs of £45,000 for the years 2019/20 and 2020/21 to enable Unitarian College to become established, including the appointment of a Ministry Training Tutor and a College Director. This decision reflected the understanding of the Executive Committee that the provision of trained Ministers and Lay Leaders was key to congregational development. It was also agreed to develop a three-year financial and budget plan in view of the significant impact of this support on resources.
2. Financial Position
A report was received on the financial position for the nine months to 30 June 2018. This revealed that, even after taking into account the recent legacy, the General Assembly was in a healthy financial position due to underspends, including on staff vacancies. The drawdown from the Bowland Trust donation was anticipated to be less than budgeted. It was also reported that the Sustentation Fund assets had been transferred to the General Assembly with two restricted funds set up as previously (Sustentation Fund for Ministers and the Lay Pastors Fund).
The financial pressures during the next financial year were flagged up; in particular the costs of the recruitment of a new Chief Officer and any transitional costs. It was also reported that as the Youth Coordinator and Communications Officer positions would be in post for the full year, this would need to reflected in the GA budget. There was also a need to replace IT equipment as the last upgrade had been 5 years ago.
3. Complaints Policy
A Complaints Policy, in line with the requirements of the Charity Commission, was agreed and would be placed on the General Assembly website.
4. General Assembly Roll of Ministers
We are pleased to announce that Rev Duncan Voice, having completed the academic requirements of his training, has been admitted to the Roll of Ministers with Probationary status.
5. “Excepted” Status for Congregations
The Chief Officer reported that it was his understanding that the “excepted” status would not continue after the current end date of 31 March 2021. The General Assembly is one of 14 denominations whose congregations can be excepted from registering with the Charity Commission and therefore do not have a Charity Commission number. It is anticipated that the Charity Commission will begin to talk to the various governing bodies in 2019 to develop a plan for registering congregations and trusts. The General Assembly will issue guidance when things are clearer.
6. Executive Committee “Strategy” Meeting
The Executive Committee will make its annual visit to the Nightingale Centre on 23-25 September 2018 and has scheduled considerable time to review the strategy and planning for the future in light of the progress with “Vision: Next Steps”, the effects of the TED project and the forthcoming appointment of a new Chief Officer.
7. District Communication
It was agreed that further discussion take place on how the new Communications Officer could share the work of the Executive Committee, and the General Assembly more generally, building upon key messages and Uni-News.
8. The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland (NSPCI)
Rev John Clifford was thanked for attending the recent Synod of the NSPCI in Greyabbey, County Down, on behalf of the General Assembly and the good wishes from the Synod were well received.
2. ‘Circles of Connection’ Developing High-Quality Small-Group Activities: An Introduction to Engagement Group Facilitation
A half-day training course will take place on Saturday 15 September 2018 from 11.00am for an 11.30am start until 3.00pm at Essex Church, 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, London, W8 4RT. [corrected 10 August 2018)
The term ‘Engagement Groups’ is given to a particular style of Unitarian small-group activity which has the intention to enrich the spiritual life of participants, cultivate right relationship, create community, and deepen their connection to each other and to their congregation. In this taster session, led by Jane Blackall and Sheena Gabriel, we will explore the thinking behind Engagement Groups, consider the diverse forms they can take, introduce some basic principles of facilitation, and give pointers to further training opportunities and resources, in the hope that participants will be inspired to set up new Engagement Groups in their own congregations.
You will need to book in advance by 31 August 2018 (though the training is free of charge) so the organisers know how many people to prepare for, but you are also welcome to arrive at 3.00pm to attend a special circle-style worship service, following the workshop, connected to the day’s overall theme. This will be followed by refreshments and time to socialise with everyone. Finish time will be around 4.30pm. To book a place on the workshop or find out more, please contact Jane Blackall ASAP on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone and leave a message on 020 7221 6514.
3. ‘Working on Our Welcome: Improving Our Hospitality to LGBTQ+ People’
A half-day training course will take place on Saturday 29 September 2018 from 11.00am for an 11.30am start until 3.30pm at St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, St. Saviourgate, York, YO1 8NQ.
Unitarians are rightly proud of our historically progressive views on gender and sexuality issues, particularly our part in campaigning for equal marriage, but there is so much more work still to do. As a wider range of voices from across the LGBTQ+ rainbow (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people) begin to make themselves heard, some of us may find ourselves confused by new terminology, and by seemingly conflicting messages about how best to respond to people’s needs.
In this workshop, led by Quaker activist Fred Langridge and Jane Blackall from Kensington Unitarians, we will explore some practical ways in which our communities can offer a better welcome to visitors who identify as LGBTQ+ and highlight areas where we could improve our awareness and sensitivity around issues of gender, sexuality and relationship diversity.
Advance booking is required for this workshop (though the training is free of charge). Please bring your own packed lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided. This event is open to Unitarians from across the Yorkshire district and beyond – the more the merrier! – as we are keen to spread best practice far and wide. To reserve your place, or to find out more, contact Rev Nicky Jenkins, Minister with York Unitarians, on email@example.com.
4. Getting on the Media
It has been pointed out that we can improve our media presence by contacting, for example, Radio 3 Breakfast:
• Twitter @BBCRadio3
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sms 83111 - text during show times only
Texts will be charged at your standard message rate. Please check with your network provider for exact costs.
BBC Radio 3 Breakfast,
Room 3015 Broadcasting House,
They are generally very good about putting out information they receive and it is free publicity.
Other radio channels have easily-locatable contact details online.
Give it a go!
5. Media Coverage
Installation of Rev Maria Pap at Old Meeting House, Mansfield (CHAD, 22 July 2018)
Former Unitarian Church in Pudsey is up for sale (Yorkshire evening Post, 1 July 2018)
Ullet Road Church are supporting a football team for asylum seekers (Liverpool Echo, 28 July 2018)
The visit of Gandhi to speak at the Carpenter Hall of Cambridge Unitarian Church in 1931 was featured in Lost Cambridge Blog (24 July 2018)
Rev Mike O’Sullivan of Cork Unitarian Church offered an opinion piece for Pride (Irish Times, 31 July 2018)
Octagon Chapel in Norwich celebrated Pride
(Network Norwich and Norfolk)
(Eastern daily Press, 19 July 2018)