Rev. Tony McNeile gave a challenging and thought provoking service to us on this, our church anniversary (not the building- that is later in the year), knowing that we would all soon be voting on the future of the building. He explained his love of our church’s name, that is, the Church of the Divine Unity. A church that proclaims Unity- no faith or follower can be excluded when you say that. But while considering our long and illustrious past- a past that included suffering exclusion and restrictions for believing in the divine unity- (who among us today would take that same stand for our faith?) we must also consider whether this church now only echoes the past, rather than proclaiming the future.
The past has been good to us, giving us awareness of the divine unity; the courage to seek it, the strength to be individuals. But as for the present and future…in his writings George Gurdjieff, suggests that we are today asleep spiritually, living like machines with our souls shut down. He calls upon us to wake up by becoming aware of ourselves as spiritual beings, wake up to our connection to the divine unity. It is within all things. It is within us.
Can we do this? For perhaps this building represents the whole Unitarian movement. After 75 years of distinction, it is in a physical cul-de-sac, and its name in a spiritual one. It is time for it to break out and find a new centre, to leave the cul-de-sac of tradition and become a place of spiritual awakening on the road where people are travelling. Tony reminded us that 5 times before the members of this church have picked up the church and built it elsewhere, responding to the strengths and needs of their day. He dared us to be as daring and far sighted as them in responding to this latest challenge. But to think carefully about what treasured possessions we will take with us. For Tony, the name would be one.