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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Building communities

"Where will the Big Society happen?" was the question at the RSA last evening. Loyd Grossman argued that historic but "redundant" parish churches returned to community use were the perfect place for the Big Society to meet. He argued that social networking will happen in real places where there is real inter-action with people not just one's pre-selected friends. This view was challenged. Are former christian churches an independent space or do they come with negative connotations for people of other faiths and none? More so with functioning church buildings. Unitarians pride themselves in being open to community use of their premises but I wonder if our buildings are always seen as neutral and welcoming. I was in Bury St Edmunds last week to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the Unitarian Meeting House and since its refurbishment it certainly is a busy place, used by the community as a resource, and open to all. Respondent Architect Chris Nash argued that community facilities such as railway stations and the workplace were better at making the connections we value. Christian Busch, of Sandbox, promoted virtual spaces as complementary to physical space. People between the ages of 20 and 45/50 are more interested in themes and shared interests not place and neighbourhoods. This was the power of social media. Jonathan Douglas thought that libraries were more useful spaces to build the Big Society. All agreed that the quality of life in this country was not good enough. Certainly faith groups hav something to contribute; sceptical or not about what the term Big Society means.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - the Unitarian connection

For the Unitarian Church of Montreal, the death of movie star Elizabeth Taylor brought back memories of when she and Richard Burton were married on 16 March 1964 in a civil ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev Leonard Mason, the Minister of Montreal's Unitarian Church of the Messiah.

Leonard Mason was born in Ainsworth, Lancashire, and served Unitarian congregations in England before becoming Minister of the Unitarian Church in Montreal. He was one of the most outstanding preachers and public speakers of his generation. As a result of all the unwanted publicity he received for performing this celebrity marriage he initiated the introduction of civil marriage in Quebec.

It is funny what we are remembered for. He was promised no publicity and here again his name is in the news.

Friday, 11 March 2011

2011 Census - Response to comment

Stephen,
Regarding the numbers they were hard to find but eventually goggle came up with:
England & Wales on Multi-Faith Centre website:

http://www.multifaithcentre.org/other-faiths/77-some-other-religious-groups-in-the-uk-key-information-

Scotland

From Scottish Pagan site http://www.scottishpf.org/data.html

I have seen an e-mail to this effect from the ONS about inclusion of Unitarians in "Christian" numbers, however, in my research I never found the total "Christian" number to include any of the "Any other religion" eg Multi-faith centre data. As long as the number of Unitarians can be extracted this is important data.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

2011 Census - What is your religion?

The first census forms were posted out on 7 March 2011 and will begin to drop through people’s doors over the next few days. Census day is 27 March 2011.

One of the questions is again; “What is your religion”? You can use it to record your religion, or to specify that you have no religion.

This is a voluntary question as Parliament was concerned that a mandatory religion question would be seen as an infringement of respondents’ civil liberties.

We would respectfully urge all Unitarians and Free Christians to use “Any other religion” and enter “Unitarian” in the space provided. This is the abbreviation for “Unitarian-Free Christian” provided on the list from the Census authorities. So whether you are a Unitarian or a Free Christian, or indeed both, in this context “Unitarian” means all of us.

In the 2001 Census 3604 Unitarians were recorded in England and 383 in Wales. There were another 30 Unitarian-Universalists in England and none in Wales. There were 167 Unitarians in Scotland and 3 Unitarian-other. The total was 4187.

This is your opportunity to ensure that as an accurate as possible count is taken of the number of Unitarians (in the interests of truth and to contribute to knowledge) and also to declare your allegiance.