A Happy Celebration of Fifty years of service

A large crowd of friends from eight different MUA Congregations gathered at Warwick on Sunday 17th May to join in a Service of Celebration marking fifty years of service to Warwick Unitarians by Malcolm Sadler. The service was conducted by the Rev. Ant. Howe and accompanied on the piano by Malcolm. The Chapel was a different place when Malcolm first joined it in 1959, said Ant, with traditional pews, inadequate heating, a crumbling fabric and a dwindling congregation. Ant then invited Malcolm to describe some of the musical events which followed his arrival. Malcolm explained that he had been the organist at Waverley Road Church when he was invited to move to Warwick. In those days, the old pipe organ stood at the south end of the chapel and playing it created a loud howling sound from the blower motor situated in a corrugated iron shed in the garden outside. It had to be switched off after each hymn to avoid complaints from the neighbours! The organ gave up the ghost in mid-hymn during the second time that he played it, necessitating the use of a piano to complete the hymn! It was replaced with a smaller portable instrument which is still present in the upper room. In the ensuing years, he was able to recruit a series of musical ensembles to enliven the services and when it became impossible to recruit a minister, he accepted appointment as Lay Leader himself. There followed a long struggle stretching over many years to complete a massive programme of renovation which involved replacing the ceiling, removing the pews, replacing the floor, redecorating the chapel in bright colours, creating a new kitchen and reclaiming the now beautiful garden behind the chapel. Three flats were created in the adjacent building to form the basis of future income. Ant said that without Malcolm’s determined leadership over so many years, the congregation was unlikely to have survived. He pointed out, that, not content with these Herculean efforts on behalf of the congregation, Malcolm had made a significant contribution at both District and National level, being a Past President of the Midland District, Secretary of the District Ministers’ Meeting,  and Secretary for many years of the Unitarian Association of Lay Leaders. He then read letters of congratulation from the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Midland Unitarian Association and from the Rev. John Clifford, a former Minister of the congregation and handed over a thick batch of additional congratulatory cards. At the conclusion of the service, the congregation offered drinks and refreshments whilst those present swapped memories and reminiscences.

Sandy Ellis