Evesham’s Oat Street Chapel was humming on Wednesday 11th May… 41 people from nine Midland Unitarian Association congregations continued the tradition of meeting during Evesham’s asparagus season for an Asparagus Lunch. After the company had gathered for coffee and greeted old friends and new in the chapel’s gatehouse, the Rev. Dr. Peter Godfrey (Chairman of our hosts, the Ministers’ Meeting) treated us to an inspiring service on the subject of ‘happiness’, including a reading by Kath Forder of the Jerusalem Bible’s version of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10) which replaced the usual “Blessed are…” with “Happy are …”. Rev. Ant. Howe accompanied us on the organ with his usual flair; his joyous postlude had feet tapping, and we went back to the gatehouse for lunch smiling.
After a welcome by Oat Street Chair Dr. Peter Forder, and grace by Rev. Don Phillips, we tucked into a choice of chicken princess with white wine & asparagus sauce or an asparagus and mushroom risotto, followed by fruit salad or cheese and biscuits. Lunch, provided by Evesham caterers Cobwebs, was delicious and plentiful; one person, on being served with cheese, was heard to observe ‘It’s a ploughman’s lunch!’ before offering portions of cheese to the rest of the table.
In making the traditional toast To Civil and Religious Liberty the World Over, GA President Rev. Dr. Ann Peart reminded us of the origins of the meeting, which began in 1782 as ‘cover’ for a then illegal gathering of non-conformist ministers. The Warwickshire and Neighbouring Counties Monthly Meeting of Protestant Dissenting Ministers (1782) – affectionately known as ‘The Ministers’ Meeting’ – now consists of current and retired ministers and lay leaders of MUA congregations (currently with a couple of ministry students too), and still hosts the event at Oat Street, with the willing cooperation of the Chapel’s congregation. All involved were thanked, and coffee and mints served, before the hum of conversation faded, and a replete, happy group said its goodbyes and wended its way home.