39 Unitarians from 15 of our 19 congregations gathered on a beautiful Spring day at Warwick Unitarian Chapel, for our 146th AGM. After a brisk and uneventful business meeting, chaired most efficiently by President Mrs. Bronwen Taylor, we enjoyed a sumptuous bring-and-share lunch, courtesy of the good folk of Warwick and each other. As we had finished our business meeting so early, we started the afternoon proceedings slightly early too. Our Guest Speaker was Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, President of the General Assembly of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches. After taking us on a whirlwind tour of British and Midlands Unitarian history, Rev. Dr. Peart started a two-part ceremony. Firstly, she invited someone from each congregation to come up and share a memory or tradition that is special to their congregation, and to add a stone to a cairn. This proved to be both moving and enlightening – we all got to know one another that bit better.
Then Rev. Dr. Peart spoke of her hopes for the Unitarian movement and the wider world, commenting that the congregations that are growing in the UK have an inclusive ethos and welcoming attitude. She hoped that Unitarian congregations could become compassionate, caring communities, working together closely in their Districts – and she complimented the MUA as a good example of how this might work well. She then invited a representative from each congregation to come forward and name a hope for the future, while lighting a candle. It was one of the most unusual and moving Guest Speaker sessions I have attended. We left with a respect for each other’s traditions and memories, and a determination to make the hopes come true.