Presented at the Unitarian General Assembly meetings, April, 2012:
I have only been a member of the Octagon in Norwich for about 18 months and this is my first GA. I therefore feel privileged to be invited to be part of the opening ceremony. I cannot guarantee that my contribution will be “inspiring and inspired” but I promise it will be enthusiastic.
I had been attracted for several years by what I had read about Unitarianism and the outlook of Unitarians I had met and so, in September 2009, I attended my first Unitarian service
Coming from a Church of England background, and being very British, I could not leap to my feet and shout “Halleluiah and Amen” but, when I heard the opening words, that was just what I felt like inside. The words were: “We meet here in a spirit of community, openness and love, and I hope that this morning’s worship speaks to something in you, inspires you and makes you think.” It did, and it continues to so.
I think the Unitarian church is uniquely placed to respond to the spiritual needs of the twenty first century. It provides a supportive religious community in which everyone can seek their own truth and express themselves without fear of criticism or condemnation. It has the potential to resolve the dilemmas of those whose own religions traditions have proved more of a hindrance than a help, but who still feel the need to belong. Belonging without believing is a philosophy which many people would find liberating. Unitarians are proud to be able to extend their welcome to people of all religious faiths and none – what could be more appropriate in multi-cultural Britain? I believe that Unitarianism has the power to make the current acrimonious disputes between atheists and believers irrelevant. We are a faith tradition for today’s world. But not enough people know about us.
I hope that together we may find new ways to offer our special gift more widely.