I am posting a letter I received (with permission) from a relatively new attender at my Unitarian congregation in north London. She has come to us after years of trying to find her place in the Church of England. Now, she travels two hours to get to us, passing by a vast number of Anglican and other churches along the way.
My pledge today is to do all I can to make the author's vision of New Unity increasingly real...
I had a thoroughly inspiring time today - thank you. I'm looking forward to the 3 facets course and to coming to services whenever I can.
The journey itself is becoming something I enjoy - it gives me 2 hours of reading time- and I am looking forward to what will happen when I get to you, as there is usually something to challenge, inspire, move or enthral me, and sometimes all of these at once!
People here keep asking me what it is that makes you so different to normal church that I'm willing and keen to travel this distance for it, when I constantly refuse to go to regular church services.To answer this would require an essay! But words like 'freedom' 'space' 'encouragement' 'respect' 'vision' 'energy' 'a sense of adventure' 'trusting people' 'belief in goodness' and a hopeful mood of 'we can' all convey what your community says to me.
Though Jesus is seldom mentionned, I find more of his spirit amongst you than I ever did in 20 years of attending an Anglican church.
I like and respect everybody I have so far met and talked to in your community; they are all so intelligent and caring and thoughtful, and a privilege to know. I can honestly say that I have never before felt this in any church, and it is a healing experience for me, restoring something that got broken and jaded through disappointment and disillusion.
Your leadership is in such a contrast to the paternalistic and often suffocating authority of priests, who treat their congregation like children. It feels like all things are possible here; that everyone has faith - in themselves and eachother - and that nobody is afraid to take that first brave step on a long journey towards a better society.
I think that the only reason your church isn't packed on Sundays is that people don't like 'church'. That word gives the wrong idea and puts people off. Your community is nothing much like any church I've ever been to in my entire life, and that is its strength and 'selling point'. We need to spread this around. Something very good is going on here and a lot more people should come in and benefit from it...