34 people from eleven MUA congregations gathered on a beautiful Autumn morning at Kingswood Meeting House, to attend the MUA Annual Lunch. Our guest speaker this year was the General Assembly’s Chief Officer, Mr. Derek McAuley. Following some short devotions led by resident minister Rev. Ant Howe, Derek spoke to the assembled for about 45 minutes. He asked what he called “the Big Question” – what are we here for? Derek’s answer was both simple and profound – he believes in the future of the Unitarian movement as a force that can make a real difference to the lives of members, to local communities, and to the world. We offer an open space where individuals can figure out what gives their lives meaning – and this should be treasured. The freedom offered by Unitarian congregations to individuals to explore their own spirituality and grow is very important. He stressed that Unitarianism can be personally transforming, seeing growth as a moral and religious imperative to feed the spiritually hungry and give a home to spiritual seekers.
After this inspirational opening, Derek went on to explain how the General Assembly and the Executive Committee are trying to translate this vision into reality, given limited resources. He spoke of the recent strategic priorities announced by the General Assembly – see our Other News page for details – and stressed that the commitment of staff and volunteers was key to achieving these priorities, asking for support for Unitarian headquarters from congregations, districts and individuals, not just of money, but of energy, time and commitment.
This was followed by a lively question and answer session, after which we moved from the church to the schoolroom to partake in a delicious lunch prepared by Jill Bowie and her team, following a grace by Mrs. Bronwen Taylor. When we were all replete, the Loyal Toast was offered by Mr. Sandy Ellis, and the Unitarian Toast by Rev. Peter Hewis. Mrs. Sue Woolley gave the vote of thanks to the caterers, which was carried with general applause. She also made a presentation of Christmas bulbs to Mrs. Jenny Buckland and Mrs. Kath Forder, former editors of MU Now, to show the District’s appreciation for several splendid issues. She also launched the MUA Fairtrade campaign – see separate news item.