Yesterday, the GA of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches held its first ever (and, we all hope, last) virtual AGM, via Zoom. More than two hundred Unitarians from all over the country (including many from the MUA) attended, little tiles on several screens. It was strange, but not strange. There were many familiar elements, conducted in an unfamiliar way. The whole was presided over by our President, Rev Celia Cartwright, with clarity, compassion and grace.
Towards the end, Rev Sue Woolley, our District Minister, was installed as Vice President of the denomination. Incoming President, Anne Mills of Bury, graciously invited her to offer the closing prayer of the day. Here are the words:
Before we extinguish our flaming chalice, and draw our meetings to a close, let us join one last time in the fellowship of prayer.
Spirit of Life and Love,
We are grateful to all the people whose hard work and dedication have made this day possible, so different to our traditional Annual Meetings.
There have been so many words, and there is much that we have missed:
The procession of banners,
The hugs of old friends and the chance to make new ones,
The chat and camaraderie over meals,
The society stalls and breakout sessions,
The bookshop and,
Of course, the bar….
Nevertheless, we have built a precious virtual community,
and have reaffirmed our Unitarian values.
The central purposes of our Annual Meetings have been served:
We have worshipped together and sung together,
We have debated and voted on motions,
We have celebrated the retirement of some ministers and
Recognised with joy and hope some new ones,
And we have installed a new President and Vice-President…
Let us leave these meetings with our hope and enthusiasm rekindled.
Let us commit to becoming living banners for our precious faith.
Let us hope that next year, we will be able to meet in person once again.
And, to paraphrase Dave Allen, until then, may your Deity of Choice be with you.