The Great Meeting House Unitarian Church was filled to capacity on the afternoon of 22nd July, when Unitarians from all over the Midlands, members of organisations who use the building, and the Lord Mayor of Coventry joined the congregation to celebrate the 350th year of the congregation’s life, and its’ 75th year in the church on Holyhead Road.
Following some welcome words by Rev. Jeffrey Bowes, greetings were offered by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Tim Sawdon, Rev. Sue Woolley, from the Midland Unitarian Association, Mrs. Nicola Harwood, headteacher of the Richard Lee Primary School (which was named after the Unitarian minister who was in post at the time of the move to the new building) and Ms. Kay Dyer, ecumenical officer of Churches Together in Coventry and Warwickshire.
The service was conducted by Rev. Peter Hewis, who is one of the Coventry Trustees, and the address was given by Rev. Peter Godfrey, who had attended Sunday School at the church as a boy.The well-chosen readings, hymns and prayers celebrated the life of the congregation and illustrated Unitarian ideals and values. The address was on the theme of abundant life; after sharing some of the congregation’s history, Rev. Peter Godfrey’s message was one of the importance of living a good quality of life, full of wonder, awe and compassion.
After the service, the company adjourned to the Heaviside Hall, where there was a display of art work and photography by members of the Coventry Art Guild and Coventry Photographic Society, both of whom use the Hall during the week. While we enjoyed a wonderful spread laid on by Ruth Bowes and her helpers, we listened to a medley of Gilbert and Sullivan songs, beautifully performed by the Savoy Opera Group, who also use the Hall.
It was a joyful and fitting celebration of 350 years of Unitarian witness in Coventry.