services & worship
At the heart of Unitarianism is worship, which usually takes place on Sundays. Unitarian worship reflects what each particular community regards as being of supreme worth. A Unitarian service may include:
- celebration of life;
- affirmation of shared values;
- recognition of our failings;
- worship of the divine;
- commitment to the meeting of human need;
- encouragement of human potential.
Many elements may be used to contribute to the worship experience including, in some congregations, communion. Where practised, communion expresses in simple sharing and fellowship our thanks for Jesus and all ‘great souls’, solidarity with the cause of human welfare and recognition of our dependence on the earth’s divine bounty.
We are very proud to offer a number of beautiful venues for weddings. Our buildings serve as a wonderful backdrop for all the wedding finery and can help that create a day that the happy couple will never forget.
Each wedding is written especially for each couple. The minister sees the importance of spending time in discussing all the details that allow their wedding day to be a happy and relaxed occasion. We also offer opportunities for Wedding Blessings and renewal of vows.
We make no distinction between those who have previously been married, nor between those who have a particular faith or indeed no faith.
Our ministers create unique services for each couple: The couple may wish to write their own vows, give gifts to each other during the ceremony, use candles or other symbols. It is also important that we find the right music, readings and theme for the day. The families of both bride and groom can also be considered for the part they can play on the joyful day.
We are able to offer legal same sex unions at a number of our Chapels, please get in touch to find out more!
We hold an open-minded view of Baptism. We believe that by bringing a child for Baptism, we as a community of family and friends celebrate the life of that child.
We ask for God’s blessing on both the child, his or her parents and the God parents. It is a time when the parents and Godparents make a commitment to welcome the child into a loving and safe kinship, offering protection, teaching right thinking principles and being honoured as a valuable person.
We also respect those who prefer to organise a naming ceremony rather than a baptism or Christening. We have no restrictions on the number of Godparents or sponsors. The Minister wishes to meet both parents and Godparents before the ceremony to ensure that all those involved are committed to their role.
The planning of a funeral may be one of the most difficult tasks that a family member or friend may have to do. Our Minister will help share the burden of loss and create a service which honours and celebrates the life of the deceased with calm sensitivity.
This ceremony is the final farewell and is important, therefore, it is planned with care. The minister will visit you as often as necessary, as well as keeping in touch both by email and telephone. Your sense of loss is recognised and pastoral support will be offered during this difficult time.
There are no set rules or regulations to the funeral service, so the family may choose music, readings or a setting that reflects the life of their loved one.
The minister will also conduct memorial services and services for those who were not able to attend the funeral of a loved one who may have died abroad.
The association of the words ‘baptism’ and ‘christening’ with original sin and hell – two things unitarians disavow – means that many Unitarians are uncomfortable with them and instead prefer the term ‘naming ceremony’. Although the title is different the event is just as meaningful: naming ceremonies celebrate new life, the commitment of parents to their child and the love created. The ceremony also welcomes the child into the religious fellowship, the ‘universal church’, and the wider community of humanity and of life on earth. It does not have to take a christian form.
We respect those who prefer to organise a naming ceremony rather than a baptism or Christening. We have no restrictions on the number of Godparents or sponsors. The Minister wishes to meet both parents and Godparents before the ceremony to ensure that all those involved are committed to their role.
Many of our chapels offer frequent meditation sessions; we can cater to everyone, whether you have experience or are new to meditation and are looking to explore the many benefits that it can bring.
Discussion is a big part of the Unitarians; understanding the people and world around us is key to create a better society for everyone. Join one of our discussions to intellectually challenge yourself, and learn about a wide range of topics. Get in touch to find out more!
Many of our chapels have choir groups. If this is something that you are interested in joining us for, feel free to get in touch to learn more about the nearest choir to you!
Founded in 1908, the Women’s League’s objectives are:
- To quicken the religious life of our churches and to bring Unitarian and other other Liberal Christian Women into closer fellowship.
- To promote the formation of branches in connection with the Churches and Fellowships.
- To suggest ways and means of providing for the needs and extending the influence of such Churches and fellowships and to collect and spread among members, information of Liberal religious interests.
There are now 22 branches, grouped in 10 Districts throughout the United Kingdom, all represented on a Central Committee. There is a gathering for the Annual General Meeting at the Denomination’s General Assembly Meetings and a Triennial Conference with a Rally in the years between.
At District and Local Level, the branches serve their churches communities in many interesting and varied ways such as educational talks, craft work, care of the elderly and disabled, money raising and social gatherings. Each branch arranges its own unique programme.
At National level there are many activities associated with the League. They include:
- Publishing a bimonthly League Letter, communicating news and events; various publications are issued from time to time:
“Miscellany” – current publlication
“Prayers and Meditations” – still available
“Anthology – History of the League” – published 2008
- Keeping in touch with isolated and overseas members through the Fellowship Secretary.
- supporting Health and Educational work among members of the Unitarian Churches in Assam – through the India Fund.
- Memorial Fund and a Capital Fund created by gifts to commemorate Past League members. The income from this fund is used for the relief of poverty, financial distress among Unitarian women.
- an Annual Project raises in excess of £5,000 for charities such as Macmillan Nurses, Alzheimer’s Disease, Breast Cancer, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, Lupus and Motor Neurone Disease.
the nightingale centre
The Nightingale Centre and its Unitarian links go back to the early 1930’s when a convalescent home for ex-servicemen was built on the site in Great Hucklow. It replaced a more primitive building at Windmill village a mile along the road. Also in existence was a similar establishment for women, a large property called Barleycrofts. This has now been converted into three residences and is situated opposite the village chapel. It is these buildings along with an area of ancient woodland that makes up the present-day Nightingale complex.
In the early 20th century ‘deprived’ children from the inner city areas of Sheffield and Manchester were brought to the centre on open-topped lorries. Typically they stayed for a week, often introduced to country life for the first time. They were accommodated in a Children’s home complex which has long since been demolished. By today’s standard it was all rather primitive but some 1500 children each year benefited from the fresh air and outdoor experience the beautiful Derbyshire countryside had to offer.
Our commitment to social responsibility and the needs of children has continued and is an intrinsic part of the Nightingale Centre. With up to 14 weeks set aside each year to provide children in need with a holiday arranged by the ‘Send a Child to Hucklow’ organisation.
Over the years the Nightingale Centre has been much developed and extensively modernised, but throughout it has provided a place where groups of people of all ages can meet in a caring, warm and friendly environment allowing everyone who crosses the threshold to benefit from its unique ambience.
The Florence Nightingale Convalescent
Home for men founded 1917
The national memorial to the men of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches who fell in the war 1914-1918. These premises were erected in 1930-31 and opened on 16th May 1931 by Harry Hirsch Esq. of Leeds.