Welcome to this January 2017 edition of the File.
First of all Thank You to everyone who has written for this edition of the File and thank you to everyone who subscribed or donated to the Network over the year. Your contributions keep us afloat and help to fund this File as well our presence at the Unitarian General Assembly Annual Meetings which this year are being held at the NEC Hilton. It is a posh venue but well suited for the mix of attendees. It means whatever a person’s age or physical abilities they are able to manage the geography of the building where everything is near to everything else, there is table service in the restaurant and the weather stays outside.
On the down side, the cost of having a stall to promote ourselves is high and the room for our meeting is expensive. But we go there to inform the whole Unitarian Movement about ourselves and encourage people to join up with us. More importantly we wish to encourage the formation of new local groups based in Unitarian areas.
Our Bolton Group hire a room at the Unity Unitarian Chapel but we also go to the Unitarian Chapel at Hindley. In addition we support the Bolton Area Pagans and attend their events at the Sweet Green Tavern in Bolton.
The Chorlton Chapel in Manchester have started an earth spirit group and it has attracted a good number of local people to its ceremonies.. Members from the Bolton group attended their Samhain celebration. I enjoyed remembering ancestors and the talks of how we became who we are through their influence.
I notice many Unitarian congregations celebrate the Solstice Festivals as part of their regular annual worship calendar . The Bolton Group attended Bank Street Chapel for a special winter solstice ceremony led by the minister. As the day gave way to darkness we sat around a solitary candle until only its light remained. Then it was extinguished. A new candle brought new light and we all lit our own candles from it to herald the return of light and the beginning of a new year.
Our cousins in the United States, the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans is a well organised and well subscribed. They now have their own organisational committee and officers. They have their own annual meeting and have a regular blog on the Patheos website. However they are still part of the mainstream Unitarian Universalist fold. Most groups are based within their congregations.
I admit with our Network we struggle financially and would like to build up a kitty so that we could do more than just attend the annual meetings and publish the File. Grants from organisations even within the Unitarian Movement are difficult to obtain as we are not strong enough to meet the criteria of having a constitution, charity number, committee etc. We do have a bank account though !
In time, as we grow, we can develop all the formal structures that would help us to fund more adventurous projects. At the end of the day though we are an earth spirit group. Our ethos is about recognising and celebrating the cycles of the year. Being close to nature and the seasons enriches our spiritual life. When we are tuned into the energy of the earth with its cycles of growth and decay, we understand ourselves better and we can live in harmony with this wonderful earth. We realise we ourselves are the transition between the past and the future. For our generation to abuse this sacred home of ours is a folly which will damage us all and the future.
The full File can be purchased for £2.50 via the donate button and an e mail to me with postal address or e mail if you are happy to have an electronic copy.