28 June 2015 – Chris Pilkington and “Marking Co-operatives Fortnight”

Chris Pilkington travelled north from Wakefield to discuss the links between Unitarianism and the Co-operative movement. He introduced the six principles of the co-operative movement, as set out by the Rochdale Pioneers: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, and argued that both Unitarianism and the Co-operative Movement emphasise self-help, self-responsibility and education. Similarly, both have an inclusive approach to membership and a commitment to democratic control of the organisation. Perhaps not surprising since at least 10 of the original 28 Rochdale Pioneers were Unitarian!

21 June 2015 – Fiona Tait & Helen Pettigrew, and the “Flower Communion”

Fiona and Helen led us in our annual Flower Communion. A distinctively Unitarian tradition, the Flower Communion was initiated in Prague on 4 June 1923 by Norbert Čapek, who was also the founder of the Czechoslovakian Unitarian Church. Members of his church came from a wide variety of religious traditions, including Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish. Čapek devised a service that all could participate in, and, like the members of his church, we continued the tradition of bringing flowers to the front of the church, then choosing a flower from amongst them to symbolise the uniqueness of all members of our church, and our willingness to accept them as our fellows on our spiritual journey.

14 June 2015 – Rev. June Pettitt and “Fear, Courage and the Worry Tree”

Rev. June Pettitt, from Sheffield Unitarians, spoke on the interlinked subjects of fear and courage. Inspired by the “Story of the Worry Tree” (by Rev. Forrest Church, in his book “Freedom from Fear”), and Christ’s famous words “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear …look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” she asked us to consider: is fear the opposite of love, and are the solutions empathy, ecstasy, and enthusiasm?

7 June 2015 – Elizabeth Faiers and “Am I happy?”

Elizabeth Faiers invited us to consider the nature of happiness. Her readings, “Among Friends” by Peter Samson, “Be not afraid of joy” by Elwyn Davies, and “Happiness is a rescued worm” by Jeffrey Lockwood, invited us to consider the many different forms happiness may take. In her address, she asked us to consider the biological happiness of happiness, as changes in the brain and body chemistry, and how our understanding of this shapes our understanding of happiness. We know what is physically going on, but most of us consider that happiness is more than only biology; in the words of Jeffrey Lockwood, “there would seem to be no single path to happiness”.