All who took a lead in the service at Padiham


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.

Leaders of the joint service included (l. to r.): Rev Shannon Ledbetter, Rev Jim Corrigall and Rabbi Ariel Abel

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.

Muslim women singing at the service, accompanied by tambourine.

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.

Lighter moment during Panel discussion at Rawtenstall (l. to r.): Shannon Ledbetter, Paul Rasor, Ben Dandelion and Jim Corrigall. [Photo: Jenny Jacobs ]

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.

Several videos of special events at Padiham Unitarian Chapel are available to view on the website:

Two lecture from the 2018 Poetry Festival of the North are available - The Poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath - Beyond Confession

A Joint Multi-Faith Service entitled ‘Sacred Songs of Hope’ on 24th September 2017, with women’s Inter-faith choir Sacred Sounds and Sufi Qawwali singers Shahe Mardan, can be seen in two parts, the first part is here and it continues here

The Poetry Festival of the North on the English War Poets in June 2017, (Part 1).  First lecture by Theresa Sowerby entitled ‘Never Such Innocence’ exploring the impact of the Great War through its poets, particularly Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg.  It can be seen here.

Poetry Festival of the North on English War Poets, June 2017, Second lecture (Part 2) by Rev Jim Corrigall on: ‘Edward Thomas: Nature Poet or War Poet?’ commemorating centenary of the poet’s death at the Front.  It is available here.  

Our Anniversary Service on Sunday 17th April 2016 can be seen here 

A lecture at the first Poetry Festival of the North at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on T.S. Eliot, in June 2015, was recorded at the Unitarian annual conference in Birmingham (in April 2016).  It was, given by the Rev Jim Corrigall (with readings by Rev Gillian Peel) on: ‘Religion and Poetry in T.S. Eliot’, focusing on ‘Four Quartets’.  It can be viewed here:    


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’.

Service leaders Rauf Bashir and Rev Jim Corrigall in  Padiham Unitarian Chapel.     Photo: John Hewerdine 

A vibrant multi-faith service attracted 200 people to Padiham Unitarian Chapel in Lancashire on Sunday 24th September 2017, for an extraordinary celebration of music and songs from around the world.

The large congregation joined in as an inter-faith women’s choir, Sacred Sounds, led songs from many traditions, including Jewish (in Hebrew), Christian (Gospel), Hindu and Muslim, and from Celtic spirituality.

They were followed by the Shahe Mardan group, who introduced a form of Sufi Muslim devotional singing known as Qawwali.  This combines South Asian musical instruments, including drums, with haunting devotional songs of great power.

Sufi Qawwali musicians from the group Shahe Mardan begin their devotional singing.     Photo: John Hewerdine.

The service was introduced with prayers and readings from Sacred Scripture (the Bible and the Qur’an) by the organisers, the Unitarian Minister Rev Jim Corrigall, and Rauf Bashir of the Free Spiritual Centre in Pendle.
In a short address, Jim Corrigall said while those taking part were from different traditions, it was vital that people of faith joined in celebrating what they had in common, above all the core teaching of all faiths, that “love and peace should rule our hearts and our societies”.   “In this spirit, we raise our songs of joy and hope to God,” he said.

Rauf Bashir said the essence of Sufism is about striving for nearness to God – and music represents a key pathway for this.   He explained about different types of Sufi music and songs -- which express “the longing to be closer to God”.

Rauf Bashir concluded: “Just as the rain and the sun do not differentiate between peoples, neither should we.   Only when you experience friendship across cultures, do you understand that there are good people in all communities.  God showers unlimited love and mercy on us all, if we choose to receive it.”