The renowned ecologist and writer Alastair McIntosh will give the final Future of Faith Lecture -- 'Towards Third Millennium Christianity: Activism, Non-Violence and the Mystical Imperative' -- at Rawtenstall Unitarian Church, Bank St, Rawtenstall, Lancs, BB4 7QY, on Saturday 23rd March .
A vibrant Multi-Faith service took place at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on Sunday 28th October, when members of the Jewish and Sufi Muslim communities joined the local congregation for a celebration of faith.
The worship programme included prayers for peace from different traditions, songs from Muslim and Jewish women, as well as Christian hymns. A theological justification for joint worship was given by Orthodox Rabbi Ariel Abel, who travelled from Liverpool to co-lead the service, with members of his synagogue.
Tribute was paid to the victims of the racist shootings the previous day at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in America, where up to 11members of that congregation were killed by an extreme-right gunman. A minute’s silence was held in their memory, and candles lit.
A central theme of the service at Padiham was ‘The Sanctity of Women in Faith and Community’, and the 70-strong congregation heard talks as well as prayers from Jewish, Christian and Muslim women. The day ended with a shared meal.
The Minister at Padiham Unitarian Chapel, Rev Jim Corrigall, said afterwards: ‘We were honoured that Rabbi Ariel Abel and members of his congregation joined us this year … we’ve had successful joint services with Sufi Muslims at our Chapel for the past several years, but this was the first led by three different faiths.’
“People sometimes ask how we can worship together, but our differences are not that great. Our faiths are known as the three Abrahamic religions (we all come from Abraham), and also the three great Monotheistic faiths (believers in One God). We showed today, I believe, just how joyous joint worship can be.
Also playing leading roles in the service were Rev Shannon Ledbetter, an Anglican priest currently working with Padiham Unitarians, Sadia Bashir, a Muslim schoolteacher, and Sufis from the Free Spiritual Centre in Nelson.
A one-day Poetry Festival focusing on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes held at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on 9th June 2018, gained highly favourable reviews.
One younger attender wrote on Facebook: “I attended an amazing Poetry Day at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on Saturday, it was fantastic … with two amazing speakers and a wonderful poetry workshop to finish with.” Another present wrote in thanks afterwards to say that she’d: ‘thoroughly enjoyed the day … revisiting Ted Hughes and being introduced to Sylvia Plath’.
People of faith need to develop ‘theologies of resistance’ if they want to counter the rise of anti-liberal ideologies in the world today. This was the view of Dr Paul Rasor in a lecture to a lively, 50-strong audience at Rawtenstall Unitarian Church and Unity Centre on 6th October.
The lecture was the first in a series on ‘The Future of Faith’ organised jointly by Unitarians of the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry and Pendle Hill Quakers, and supported by the Progressive Christianity Network. Dr Rasor is an academic theologian currently living in Holland and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister in America.
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