Whatever else is happening in the world, this summer has been a good one here for Transatlantic Unitarian relations. Eight Americans Unitarian Universalists visited our Chapel on the 2nd of July. They were members of the Beacon Unitarian Universalist congregation in Summit, New Jersey, and also members of that congregation’s choir. Our New Jersey brethren regaled us with gorgeous renditions of “Shalom Chaverim” and “Gaudeamus Hodie” (if you didn’t understand the words, it may not have been the New Jersey accent – those are in Hebrew and Latin, respectively). And the congregation’s singing was outstanding as well, as the walls echoed with “Cym Rhondda” and even, in tribute to our visitors’ heritage (and mine), The “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Rev. Tony McNeile led the service with his customary insight and charm – I had heard so much about Tony’s legendary stories, so it was a rare treat for me to get to experience one for myself. And they are quite amazing.
I’m very grateful I didn’t have to lead the service, as I was utterly exhausted after a very fun week showing the Americans the best of our Unitarian heritage. They spent three days in Liverpool and saw Ullet Road Church and had a very festive Bingo Night and Fish ‘n’ Chips Supper at Gateacre Chapel with the congregation there; went on a hike near Rivington Unitarian Chapel and learned its history from their former minister; had tea at Cairo Street in Warrington and roamed the gardens of Arley Hall; attended the evening service at Northcliffe Chapel at Styal; and somehow found time for Chester and The Beatles Story too. It was a brilliant few days.
I want to especially thank their hosts, including Mr. and Mrs. Snape from Park Lane. To host visiting strangers in your home in no small obligation, and all our hosts were phenomenally kind in their hospitality. They gave our guests an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. Indeed, already I’m seeing the photos from the trip be shared, as they share with folks back home what a fabulous time they had.
I always like having visitors around; it helps remind me how special the place I live in is.
They see it with new eyes, and exclaim about familiar things in ways that point to wonder. It helps that we DO live in a remarkably beautiful part of the world, with amazing scenery and great culture. We are duly grateful for what we have here, the natural marvels and the warmth of fellowship.
And we are grateful, too, for the ways we are connected together across the world, as Unitarians, and even more so as human beings. We can make a joyful noise with one another, give praise, and the sound echoes in our ears in beauty. Here’s to the life we get to share together.
Coffee & Conversation on hiatus (for now)
For a few months now, I’ve been at Park Hotel at regular monthly times, inviting whoever wishes to join me to come and have a chat. I’m cancelling that for the time being, due to lack of interest. A few people showed up at first, but it’s sort of petered out, and usually I meet more people just strolling around Landgate and Ashton. So I’ll do that instead, and also make occasional home visits.
Speaking of which, if you’d ever like to have me over for a cuppa, I’d be delighted! If you’d prefer to meet in a coffeeshop rather than your home, that’s great too. Usually it helps to arrange these things in advance, as I serve at three different chapels and it’s hard to do things at the last minute. Please give me a ring at 07986 826601, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just ask me at Chapel and we’ll get something on the calendar. Thanks and I hope you have a lovely summer.