king edward street chapel
Welcome to Macclesfield Unitarians
Macclesfield Unitarians are an open and welcoming community of diverse individuals who together nurture one another’s lifelong spiritual journey.
Our Covenant statement expresses our wish and intention to welcome all into our community. Unitarians value diversity, recognising that we all can learn from one another – so the richer the mix, the greater the learning!
Here in Great Britain, we have a proud heritage of commitment to equality and Unitarians play a proud role in this. For example, in the 19th century, Unitarians were instrumental in bringing about many reforms: such as the abolition of the slave trade as well as equal rights for women, freedom of conscience, and votes for all.
Certainly, we have been leaders in the field of inter faith understanding: Establishing the world’s first multi-faith organisation, known as The International Association for Religious Freedom. Furthermore, we have long campaigned for legal and social equality for lesbians and equally, gay men. Accordingly, for decades same sex relationships have been celebrated and blessed in Unitarian ceremonies.
Of course, the Macclesfield Unitarians chapel is now licensed for same sex marriage.
We proudly provide same-sex marriages!
We proudly provide same-sex marriages at King Edward Street Chapel! Get in touch with us today for more information.
We are currently looking for a new minister for this congregation. Hence, for the moment, we have ministers from our other congregations helping with the services.
Macclesfield Unitarians services of worship can be seen as a celebration of our deepest values. Additionally, we see our beliefs as relevant to all aspects of life, including the wider community.
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What was originally Back Street Chapel has stood in King Edward Street since 1689, however the principle for which it stands is far from being a thing of the past. Indeed, we call to honour and respect the freedom of the individual to form and follow their own beliefs about ‘life, the universe, and everything’. We prefer this, to the requirement of people to subscribe to a unified catalogue of set beliefs and practices.
When the Church of England required absolute subscription to the doctrines and rituals contained within the Book of Common Prayer in 1662, significant numbers of voices were raised in question and resistance. Resistance not only to specific doctrines or practices, but also resistance to the authority of the Church so to dictate religious belief and behaviour.
Some 2000 clergy were ejected from the Church that August, and hence, the congregations they took with them were all branded Dissenters. Gradually, over years and decades, these groups clarified their distinctive views and thoughts, and henceforth began to be identified accordingly – Presbyterian, Baptist, Independent, Congregational, Quaker and so on. The laws of the land forbid such dissenting groups to gather for worship, or additionally, for the ejected clergy to convene services within five miles of any major town.
So it was that for much of the 17th century the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, and the Catholics (who were just as unwelcome) were to be found – or preferably NOT found(!) meeting in barns in Sutton for years.
King Edward Street Chapel
With the passing of the Act of Toleration in 1689 groups could now come in from the cold and build places of meeting in the towns, and soon after, the King Edward Street Chapel was built that very year. To this day Macclesfield Unitarians are reminded of that background story because it was built as a barn – a Cheshire Barn – and to this day it is still technically required by law that the Chapel doors must stand open during services so that the Magistrate may be able to hear if sedition and heresy are being preached!
The classic understanding of Unitarians is that they denied the doctrine of the Trinity, thus they came to be known as those who believed in a Unitary rather than Trinitarian God. This misses the fundamental point however; the distinctive philosophy; which is simply a demand for the freedom to think and to question, to entertain and explore reservations. It’s all a question of authority.