A Letter from our Minister
Dear Members and Friends,
It is a joy and an honour to have been invited to become your Minister once again. Our chapel is very dear to us, both the people and our lovely ancient building. I deliberately put the words in that order because it is the people who make our chapel the special place it is, just as love makes a house into a home.
One of my priorities as Minister will be to get to know all better. Of course, I already know some of you very well but I still look forward to listening with you and talking about things that matter to you. So, I will be looking to visit those who would like me to do so. However, for others for whom this might not be practical or convenient, my intention is to be available for people to talk privately with me at the chapel on Tuesday mornings between 10.00 and 12.00. Since this is when the coffee mornings take place, you could have a coffee as well and then have a talk with me.
September will be a busy month, beginning with our usual family service on the first Sunday, followed by our Heritage weekend on the second Sunday and the special service commemorating Elizabeth Gaskell (one of our own ‘amazing women’ and special to our chapel) on the fourth Sunday. Our Unitarian and Free Christian forebears put their faith into action and to remember them and their contribution is a way to encourage us and inspire us to live in their spirit of faithfulness and service. Their world was a very different one to ours, but human nature is always the same and the values of love and kindness that motivated them are the ones that we seek to cherish and cultivate in our own generation. History is not about antiquarianism, or nostalgia for a golden age (which probably never existed in any case) but about understanding where we have come from and how we got to be where we are now. Then we can understand where we might like to go in the future.
Faith is about adventure. We enter into the adventure of life (albeit we have no choice in the matter!) when we are born. We enter into another adventure when we make choices about our future careers. We enter into the adventure of friendship when we get to know people better and perhaps the greatest adventure of all for many of us is when we commit to another person in love and marriage. Our own Brook Street Chapel is itself an adventure of faith, friendship and fellowship, in our worship of God and in our desire to serve our world. May we be blessed in our adventuring and in our journeying together.
Rev Alex Bradley
The more observant among our readers will have noticed the ‘new name’ at the end of the Minister’s letter. We are very pleased to welcome Alex Bradley as our ‘new’ minister, I use the term ‘new’ because he was the minister at our Chapel prior to Rev Jean and as a husband and wife team you may have seen him take part in some of Jean’s services. If you haven’t seen him before I have included his photo (upper right) to help you recognise him (not that there is an abundance of ministers in our Chapel to try and pick him out from!)
However, the term ‘new’ will apply to Alex’s return to us as minister. For the past few weeks a group has been looking at the growth of our Chapel in conjunction with Natasha Stanley, MDA development secretary. A number of initiatives are underway to extend our communication with people that currently know about us and the large number of people who don’t know about Unitarianism or our Chapel. For example, Natasha is currently setting up new web sites for the MDA and all the Chapels in the MDA that will be more modern in design and which will tie in with other forms of communication like Twitter, Facebook etc.
Our intention is to gradually develop the type of services we offer and our relationships with different groups of people in a way that will attract more people to attend our Chapel while still providing the type of worship and environment that appeals to those that currently attend. (Very simple when you write it like that!!)
Rev Jean retired at the end of March, yes she did, really, but has very kindly been acting in a caretaking capacity to keep the office ticking over until Alex starts. We are very grateful to Jean for that and we are sure that she will be looking forward to finally relinquishing her role as Minister and being the minister’s wife and attending events like Women’s League as a regular chapel member. However, we are very pleased that she will still be acting as a ‘visiting’ minister by taking the Family Service most months on the first Sunday of each month. For those excited to hear Alex that means his first service with us will be on 9th September even though he takes up his new role from 1st September.
A warm welcome from us all. John Hutcheson
For some time now there has been a Chapel e-mail address and a Web site but in the last few weeks we have moved really up to date. The Chapel now has a Facebook page and a Twitter account—all courtesy of the great work done by Julie Tempest. The Chapel e-mail address has also been changed and the website is being updated every couple of months.
So that everyone has the most up to date contact information the new details are:
In addition to the material that is updated on the web site when every Newsletter is published Julie will be regularly updating the Chapel facebook and twitter accounts so the outside world hears more about what is happening at our Chapel. Who knows, in the coming months #brookstknuts may be trending worldwide!
A Very Special Place
Quiet little chapel on a hill patiently bides her time.
A secret, dignified cosy little teapot with two doors.
The stairs outside quietly outstretched
To welcome Sunday visitors .
She has time to spare for everyone.
A congregation who partakes of schoolroom tea,
Rejoice and reflect and sing of seasons
And listen to reasons in sensible sermons and ministers views,
Observing each-other from opposite pews .
You stand firm, quiet, unassuming,
Hidden from view, unobtrusive, always there, everybody’s mother,
Smoothing sadness, sharing joy,
Waiting, watching, accepting, hoping, thinking of the other.
What have you seen through those leaded latticed
Multi-faceted lozenges of light?
You were born amidst famine and fragile unrest
Secretly hidden in the fields by Darkness Lane
A bid for freedom out of dissent, generous courage, and pain
For three hundred years you have watched over town –
Who comes up the cobbles, who goes down –
To sing “The Hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”
Just how many blackbirds have rehearsed those songs?
Inside whitewashed plain walls NOTHING FANCY,
The low Winter sun casts shadows
And moving beams across the red carpet,
Breathing living green energy in from the garden.
We see organist’s legs ascend the outside stair,
A white cat is moving across the panes, hunting out there
Look closer, there are trapped in the glass, bubbles of air.
Did the glass maker sneeze or stir too fast?
It is a very small signature from the ancient past.
NOTHING FANCY, VERY PLAIN.
You are very welcome,
Please come again.
Poem by Jane Crowther