In August 2015, Rawtenstall Unitarian Church became the first place of worship in the Burnley-Rossendale area to be given permission to conduct same-sex weddings, under recent legislation.  

The news attracted wide publicity, with Rev Jim Corrigall (Minister for Padiham and Rawtenstall Unitarian churches and for the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry) being interviewed live on BBC Radio Lancashire in late August.  There were news stories in the Rossendale Free Press and the Lancashire Telegraph, and coverage on a local commercial radio station, 2BR.

The President of the TS Eliot Society, Graham Fawcett (left), with the Padiham Minister, Rev Jim Corrigall, on the opening night of the TS Eliot Festival of the North, 6th June 2015.

Padiham Unitarian Chapel successfully-hosted a ‘TS Eliot Festival of the North’ in June 2015, in celebration of this great Unitarian-born poet, to mark the 50th anniversary year of his death.    Events were held on the first three Saturday evenings of June, and drew large, appreciative audiences (around 55 people attended each of the first two evenings).   

The new Minister, the Rev Jim Corrigall (on the left), makes his commitments to: (from right to left) Dorothy Hewerdine, Chair of the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry, Tony Cann, President of Padiham Unitarian Chapel, and Lawrence Forshaw, Chair of Rawtenstall Unitarian Church, in the Induction ceremony at Padiham Chapel.

The formal Induction Service of the new Minister for Padiham Unitarian Chapel, the Rev Jim Corrigall, took place at the Chapel on Saturday 28th February, before a crowd of more than 130 – including three local mayors and mayoresses, two MPs, and Unitarian ministers and members from across the North-West of England.

Jim was also inducted as Minister to Rawtenstall Untarian Church and to the wider  Lancashire Collaborative Ministry.   In the ceremony, he exchanged commitments with representatives of these three bodies (see photo), while congregational members from both Padiham and Rawtenstall Unitarian chapels rose to their feet and voiced their commitments in unison to the new Minister.

In giving the charge to the congregation, a former Padiham minister, the Rev Brian Cockroft, congratulated  those involved in creating the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry; it was, he said, ‘a most imaginative model of ministry’, one well suited to  21st Century living.     

In her charge to the Minister, the Rev Jean Bradley (also a former Padiham minister), described the aim to the LCM – to revive the Unitarian cause in East Lancashire – as ‘wonderful’.    She spoke too of the long spiritual journey Jim had undertaken and which had brought him to Lancashire.  

The service was conducted by the Rev Brenda Catherall of Chowbent Chapel, while  greetings were brought from the Unitarian General Assembly by its President,  Marion Baker.   After the service, all retired downstairs to the schoolrooms to enjoy a magnficent Lancashire Tea provided by the Padiham congregation.    

It was indeed ‘a reet gradely do’, as we say in Lancashire. 

There are more images of the Induction Service of Jim Corrigall here