Key Messages from the July & September Meetings of the Executive Committee

1. MUA Lunch: This will be taking place on Saturday 28th October, at Kingswood. Guest speaker will be Rev. Feargus O’Connor, minister of Golders Green & St. Albans. Please send in your bookings soon!

2. Safeguarding Training: This will be taking place on Saturday 4th November, at Unitarian New Meeting Birmingham, from 12 noon. It will be led by Rev. John Harley and Liz Hills. It is important that someone from every congregation is present.

3. Tamworth Chapel: the lease of this building to the Royal Naval Association will be renewed on 1st January 2019, at a much higher rental, bringing in some welcome income.

4. Change of date for November meeting: the date of the November meeting of the Committee has been changed from 18th November to 11th November.

MUA Lunch focuses on Compassion

Unitarians from round the Midlands enjoyed an interesting talk by our Guest Speaker, Rev. Feargus O’Connor, minister of Golders Green and St. Alban’s Unitarians. Feargus chose to talk about the Charter for Compassion, an initiative launched by Karen Armstrong in 2010, which believes that the world could be made a better, more sustainable place for human beings and all other living beings, by following the Golden Rule, which is at the heart of all religious faith traditions. The General Assembly of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches is a partner organisation of the Charter for Compassion. One practical application of this was the setting up in 2012 of the Clara Barton Emergency Appeal, with a vision of responding rapidly and effectively to the needs of victims, not only of war and conflict, but also of natural disasters, in conjunction with the Red Cross. To date, Unitarians have donated more that £98.000 to it.

Following his speech, those present enjoyed a delicious lunch, prepared by Jill Bowie and her team. It was a joyful Unitarian occasion.


And Nobody Dropped the Baby …

Seven Unitarian lay worship leaders and trainee celebrants gathered at Kingswood Meeting House on Saturday 6th May, to learn the do’s and don’ts about conducting Naming Ceremonies and Baptisms. Following two sessions in the morning, about the practicalities, and how to put a service together, led by Rev. Sue Woolley, and the early afternoon session, on Unitarian Baptisms, led by Rev. Ant Howe, the group proceeded to the practical – and got the chance to go through the central part of a naming / baptism, complete with “baby”, kindly loaned for the occasion by Cressida Pryor of Cheltenham & Gloucester Unitarians.

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Participants took it in turns to be celebrant, parents, and godparents, and a good time was had by all. And nobody dropped the baby …

In a month’s time, we will be back at Kingswood for the session on Funerals, and will then have our final meeting on 1st July, when each participant will deliver their own rite of passage, for assessment.

Wonderfully enjoyable Training Day on Weddings

On Saturday 1st April, eight participants came together from the Midlands and farther afield, to learn how to conduct a Unitarian Wedding. The day was led by Rev. Martin Whitell, District Minister of the London & South East District & Provincial Assembly. The handouts were marvellous – so very useful for the future – but the best bit came in the afternoon, when we all got to practice “marrying” each other, both as men and women, and as same-sex couples. Martin took the photo below, in which Gavin Lloyd is “marrying” Rev. Sue Woolley to Debra Burbery of Shrewsbury. By the time we had all had a go at being celebrant, we felt much more confident about the whole process.

Our hearty thanks to Martin for a splendid and informative day.

Celebrating High Tides and Low Tides at the District AGM

Saturday 25th March saw nearly 40 Unitarians from across the District meeting at Kingswood Meeting House to take part in the 151st Annual General Meeting of the Midland Unitarian Association.

The business meeting was over in just under an hour, and included a special presentation to our dedicated Treasurer, Mr. Sandy Ellis, to mark his 34 years of service to the District. Our new President is Ms. Diane Rutter, of Kingswood, and our new Vice-President is Ms. Angela Maher, of Birmingham UNM. We also gave thanks to outgoing President, Mrs. Jane Couper of Evesham.

Business over, we came together in the Kingswood schoolroom to enjoy an excellent buffet lunch, laid on by Jill Bowie and her helpers. Then it was time to re-convene, for the new President’s service, and to listen to our Guest Speaker, Rev. Danny Crosby, minister of the Altrincham and Urmston congregations in the North West.

Diane spoke about life in terms of high tides and low tides, varying between times of activity and involvement, and times of quietness and reflection. Life and ministry are sometimes brilliant, sometimes the reverse, but mostly about getting through the ordinary days every day. She shared a time of stillness and reflection by Simon John Barlow, which was about the holiness of ordinary days, and concluded with a hymn which she said could be the anthem for Unitarianism in the Midlands: no. 42 in the purple book Remember the past, work in the present to ensure the future.

Danny’s talk was about how Love changes everything, and will be published in full in the May issue of MU Now.  His theme was that impermanence is the energy and beauty of life, and that the spiritual life is about being awake to the wonders of life. There are both wonderful and painful moments, and everything is in change.

He commented that we seem to be living in more fearful times at present, to have lost faith with each other. But lots of people still look at life with loving eyes. He said that Love was equally as strong as fear. Taking up Diane’s metaphor of tides, he explained that love and fear are like two forces pushing and pulling at our lives, and that we as Unitarians need to have faith in life, and try to live it in love. He concluded by asking those present to keep journeying on to new awakenings, and to live out of love, rather than fear.

All in all, it was a rich and enjoyable day.

Participants discover How Unitarians Do Communion

Seventeen participants from seven MUA congregations enjoyed a rich day of sharing and learning at Kingswood Meeting House on Saturday 4th March. In the four sessions, led respectively by Sue Woolley, Cressida Pryor, Diane Rutter, and Simon Hall, we learned about Flower Communion, Earth Spirit Communion, Free Christian Communion, and Water Communion.

What made the day so special was that not only did the session leaders explain the background to each type of communion ritual, we also had the chance to participate in them. The weather was kind, and the Earth Spirit Communion session could take place outside, which added a whole extra dimension to it.

There was also time for questions and comments, and everyone learned something new. Grateful thanks to all the session leaders, and to the participants, for being so open-minded and open-hearted.

Key Messages from MUA EC meeting 21/01/2017

  1. Inviting User Groups to Services: the congregation at Coventry have invited groups using their building to special services, such as Harvest and Christmas. They commend the idea to other congregations, as it improves the relationship between congregation and users.
  2. Spring Training Day 2017: the topic will be How Unitarians do Communion; it is taking place on 4th March, at Kingswood. Secretaries have been sent a flyer for this event, and it is advertised on this website.
  3. The Northampton congregation is in the process of applying for registration for weddings and same-sex weddings.

Key Messages from MUA Executive Committee October Meeting

[my apologies for the late posting of these, due to an oversight]

1. Cotswold Group Ministry: Rev. Dr. Rob Whiteman starts his ministry with the Cotswold Group on Saturday 1st October.

2. MUA Annual General Meeting: the date for the 2017 AGM was set for Saturday 25th March, at Kingswood. Rev. Danny Crosby is to be our Guest Speaker.

3. Sabbatical: Rev. Sue Woolley had circulated a paper, requesting that she be granted a 10-week sabbatical from July – September 2017. This was approved unanimously by the committee, subject to the addition of a week 11, because she is intending to work during week 8.

Jane Couper: tel: 01386-839458 e-mail:
Sue Woolley: tel: 01604-870746; e-mail:

Midlands Unitarians enjoy a convivial meal & stimulating talk (29/10/16)

Forty Unitarians from all over the Midlands and beyond (we had two visitors, from Hinckley and Cardiff) came together at Kingswood Meeting House this Saturday for the MUA Annual Lunch. This year our guest speaker was Patricia Earle, of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. Patricia spoke to us for an hour, sharing her passion for peace and reconciliation, and stories of how, from a very small beginning, she now hosts regular meetings for between 100 and 150 women of all faiths, in her own twice-extended home.
Topics at these meetings are many and varied, from raising awareness of the different conflicts going on in the world, through various issues pertaining to women, such as domestic violence, trafficking, breakdowns in families, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation. She provides a safe and sacred space in which women of all races and cultures and faiths can share from the heart. It was inspirational to hear her speak.





We then moved to the Schoolroom for the traditional, and delicious, Lunch. Jill Bowie and her assistants had performed their usual miracles, and provided us all with a tasty meal, catering for all tastes. It was an opportunity to share food together, and to spend time in conversation, getting to know Unitarians from other congregations around the Midlands. It was a most enjoyable occasion.