<![CDATA[Doncaster Unitarian & Free Christian Church - Blog]]>Thu, 17 Sep 2020 21:52:31 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[Tom & Brigitte's Circulars]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2020 09:43:47 GMThttp://doncasterunitarians.org.uk/blog/tom-brigittes-circulars
Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, Rev Tom & Brigitte McCready have been circulating paper-based spiritual material to those members of the church who are unable to attend our online services. Having received a copy today, I thought it would be nice to share it on this blog. Be aware that if you attend the online services, some material may be duplicated across both.

​Holland x
Hello everyone; Tom here. It is my turn with the circulars this week, and there are two aspects to what I would like to offer. One is quite a serious set of reflections on where we stand in relation to our own history and our own hopes and plans in these challenging times. And the other reflects my own conviction that to be serious about life is to relate to the whole of life; and that means that you have to be serious about seeing the value and importance of the humorous and playful side of life. Since I also believe that any religious belief or spiritual practice that is ‘fit for purpose’ for the times we live in is one that will find inspiration in the blend of human imagination and divine revelation we should not be ashamed to praise the works of human imagination that flow and shine in the best of popular culture. Neither should we be afraid to celebrate the richness and warmth of an artistic vision that found the utmost depth and delicacy in one of simplest and humblest formats that we know: the illustrated children’s story. i.e. Rupert the Bear is 100 years old this year.

Once upon a time I used to buy and sell rare and collectible children’s books and comics and I once bought a job lot of vintage Rupert the Bear annuals that dated from 1946 to 1970. All the ones from 1950 onwards were in pretty good condition and I made a very decent profit selling them on as single books. The earlier books from the 1940’s were in terrible condition: coverless and with torn, missing and scribbled on pages. They were falling to bits, and in fact were only bits of books. The collectors who would have paid hundreds of pounds for these books if they were intact and complete, even if in bashed and battered condition, would not have given me 50p for this lot, so I kept them and put the separate pages and panels that were in better condition into frames and onto cards and gave them away as gifts. I still have quite a few left, and that is what you have in these centenary Rupert the Bear envelopes: genuine, authentic pairs of panels from the late 1940’s!

but if you have any of the books illustrated above hidden away in your attics, they could be worth as much as £500. The better the condition the higher the price.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw.

September Reflection

I am inclined to think that when we look back and remember this September and the six months leading up to it we will remember it like no other September in living memory, and I wonder if the people who come after us will look at this period and say that this was a turning point in history, that this was a time when things changed forever.

That this was the time when many of the freedoms, comforts and opportunities that we took for granted were taken away from us and we had to re-evaluate what mattered most to us; what was most precious and important in this life.

That these were the days when we learned what was truly valuable because these were the days when we gained a deeper appreciation of our connection to the natural world, of our connection to each other and of the underlying bond of our common humanity, holding and protecting all of us in the vast diversity of creed and culture we have created, and in all the infinite variety of the abilities and vulnerabilities that we as a species embrace and express.

There is a verse in the hymn ‘Where are the Voices for the Earth’ (211 in the purple hymn book) which I think is a rich reflection on our rootedness in the natural world and one that leads us to contemplate our responsibility for the care of the natural world, and that could well be the hinge on which our way forward and our hope of recovery turns:

Sacred the soil that hugs the seed,
sacred the silent fall of snow,
sacred the world that God decreed,
water and sun and river flow.

To articulate the intricate connection between the natural world and the world created by our human experience, may I be bold enough to suggest that as well as the words ‘water, sun and river’, we also think about the words: ‘heart, mind and spirit’ in whichever order you prefer?

That the human heart, mind and spirit should not only flow but flourish? That the human heart and mind shall flow and flower in the freedom of the creative imagination?

And that the human spirit shall flourish and rejoice in creative worship; not the worship of a distant untouchable deity beyond all comprehension and communication but in free creative worship that unites the personal and the universal, the intimate and the ultimate in the love and care for all creation?

​By Rev Thomas McCready

The Greatest of These is Love

Each year we recite these words from our litany of membership: “We do not claim to know all the answers. In the face of the great mysteries of life and death we realize our ignorance and our limitations. Not only in our worship but in our common life together we must strive to deepen our understanding and to give of our love.”

These words are even more true in the challenging conditions of today than they ever were in any previous period. Not only regarding the recognition of our limits before the great mysteries of life and death but in the strength of our commitment “to deepen our understanding and to give of our love.”

And these words, and this commitment, will be even more necessary in the days to come than they ever were in the days that have gone. Not only that we ourselves might preserve this sacred space that we might have a place to stand; and a place to rest, where we might draw the strength to serve the common good, but also that we might honour the effort and the struggle and the sacrifice of all of those who have served the common good with courage and dedication; all those have done their utmost to help those who are suffering and to support those who are recovering; that we might join our voice with them; with the overworked and underpaid heroes of our times; that we might look with them upon all that has been offered and all that has been achieved and join with them in dedication and determination and say with them: ”It will not be wasted.”

And thus we commit ourselves to the preservation of this sacred space; of this, our spiritual home; where we may say, in all sincerity that this is a place where you do not have to believe in order to belong. Where you do not have to believe in wisdom and mercy to receive wisdom and mercy and you do not have to believe in God to be at home in this house of God; and you do not have to believe in prayer for your voice to be heard in this house of prayer.

We are here to stand with people at the turning points and defining moments of their lives; to give depth and dignity to life's most important occasions. We are here to offer an access to spirituality, to grace, to wisdom and to the blessing of the sacred that is unconditional and unconstrained.
And what is to be found here is healing for the heart and wholeness for the soul. For here, healing and wholeness and courage and wisdom and mercy are real and achievable; not in the next world but in this world; and not for imaginary perfect beings who have no problems but for you and me and for all of us, for all of our flaws and failings there is a love that frees and heals.
Now freedom, reason and love; these three abide:
But the greatest of these is love.

​By Rev Thomas McCready

We inherit this free faith from the brave and gentle

We inherit this free faith from the brave and gentle
The light we kindle
is set in the lamp of our history.
We inherit this free faith
from the brave and gentle, fierce and outspoken
hearts and minds that have come before us.
Let us be worthy inheritors of this faith
and through our good works, pass it boldly to a new generation.

By Audette Fulbright Fulson

They Are with Us Still
In the ­struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.

We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.

They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.

Those who lived before us,
who ­struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.

They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.

Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.

We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.

We take them with us, and with them choose the deeper path of living.
By Kathleen McTigue


"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love." By Reinhold Neibuhr


But what is this mysterious thing called faith? I think it’s simply acknowledging that we can’t control every detail or plan for every eventuality. It’s having trust in something beyond which we can see right now, whether that’s a trust in God, the universe or the power of love.” Rev Ant Howe Inquirer 5 sept 2020

We come to love a church,
We come to love a church,
the traditions, the history,
and especially the people associated with it.

And through these people,
young and old,
known and unknown,
we reach out --

Both backward into history
and forward into the future --

To link together the generations
in this imperfect, but blessed community
of memory and hope.

By Andrew C Kennedy

History's Road
The road of history is long, full of both hope and disappointment. In times past, there have been wars and rumors of wars, violence and exploitation, hunger and homelessness, and destruction of this earth, your creation.
We have become a global village, with a growing realization of how fragile this earth is, and how interconnected we are to each other and to all creation. We cannot continue to live in the old way. We must make a change, see a new way. A way toward peace with justice and a healthy planet.
O Great Creative Spirit: You have given a vision of the good, and we yearn for a new way. But where are we to find the courage to begin this work? We know that a different tomorrow is possible, but how can we build it?
We think of the prophets, women and men, who voiced unpopular opinions, who made personal sacrifices, and sometimes lost their lives, for the sake of justice.
We think of Isaiah, who called out to let those who are held in captivity go free, to give solace to the poor and homeless. Let us be inspired by all who work to overcome misery, poverty, and exploitation.
We think of Harriet Tubman, who called out to people of goodwill to join her on an underground railroad, to lift a dehumanized people from the bondage of slavery to the promise of freedom, even when it meant challenging unjust laws. Let us be inspired by those who are outlaws for freedom.
We think of Gandhi, whose belief in "Soul Force"—the witness to Love's Truth—helped to overthrow the oppression of an empire and gave witness to the way of nonviolent action. Let us be inspired to become witnesses for peace.
We think of Chief Seattle, who reminded us that we belong to the earth, not the earth to us. Let us be inspired by all those who work for the healing of creation, of Mother Earth and all her creatures.
Who are the prophets who inspire you? They may be well known, or known only to you, offering personal inspiration, courage, and hope.
May they join a great cloud of witnesses to a new way of life—the way of peace and justice, the way of justice lived according to the way of peace, the beloved community.
So may it be. Amen.
By Marjorie Bowens-WheatleyClyde Grubbs
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<![CDATA[Facebook Live added]]>Tue, 02 Jun 2020 13:13:56 GMThttp://doncasterunitarians.org.uk/blog/facebook-live-addedYou can now watch Sunday services on Facebook, without needing to use Zoom. This is a different experience, as you won't see the other people attending, and you won't be able to video chat afterwards. But you can see the speaker and hear the hymns, and you can interact by commenting. If you miss the service, there's also the option to watch it back later. To watch, head over to facebook.com/doncasterunitarians on Sundays at 3pm.

Here's Rev Andy Phillips leading the service on 31st May:
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<![CDATA[Welcome to our online church]]>Fri, 20 Mar 2020 20:47:25 GMThttp://doncasterunitarians.org.uk/blog/welcome-to-our-online-churchIt took a global pandemic to make it happen, but here we are. Some of us wondering how it will work, some wondering if it will work, and a few hopefuls wondering why we never thought of this before. The answer is simple: necessity really is the mother of invention.

So this Sunday is our first ever online service, starting at 11am. To join in, follow this link: https://zoom.us/j/333352251.
Juts follow the instructions on the screen, and we'll do the rest! It works on any kind of computer, tablet, or smartphone.

If you prefer to use an ordinary telephone instead of computers, call this number instead: 0203 051 2874
When prompted, input this meeting ID: 333 352 251

​Everyone is welcome! (except trolls)

Hymns for online services

Some other Unitarian congregations have been wondering what to do about hymns if they stream online services.
​I thought I'd share some things I've learned. There are two main issues:
  • Synchronisation, and
  • Copyright.
Synchronisation is an issue because there is a bit of a delay in the sound. If you're just streaming via YouTube or Facebook live, that's fine. But if your service is an interactive one where everyone can speak via their  webcams, don't expect everyone to be able to sing at the same time. What you need to do is mute everyone's mic except the one providing the music. This may be hard for everyone to sing to, of course, unless there is someone singing along in the same room as the keyboard player or CD player.

The other issue is much more thorny, and that's copyright. Essentially, you can use some hymns, but you have to be careful which ones. There is a very helpful Facebook post over on the Kent Unitarians site explaining more about this.
If you haven't read it, that should be your first port of call.

Further to that, I've decided to make a recording. This is hymn no 5 in Hymns for Living (the green book). It's in the public domain, both for melody and lyrics, and I give permission for my recording to be used freely in any religious context. Get in touch if you would like an MP3 to download. I hope this will be first of many.
As for copyright issues, I know it can be really confusing. I've been navigating these waters for some time, so I'm going to start by listing which hymns are safe to use for Unitarian churches (to the best of my knowledge. You are liable for your own copyright violations, so it's best to check for yourself). Note that "Safe" only means you can perform a hymn. There are separate copyrights that apply to each specific recording.

Hymns For Living (the green book):
  1.  Lord of the Wondrous Earth - NOT SAFE. The music is copyrighted until 2028, and the words for much longer.
  2. Brief Our Days - Probably Safe. The music is long out of copyright, and the words are by a UU.
  3.  Joy of Living - Probably Safe. The music is long out of copyright, and the words are by a UU minister.
  4.  Source of Life. NOT SAFE. Music is copyrighted until 2044, but interestingly the words do come out of copyright next year in 2051.
  5. Fill My Life With Praise - Safe. Music is long in the public domain and so are the words. If you're going to be picky you could worry about the arranger, who died in 1958. If he held copyright, he'd hold it until 2028. But arrangers don't generally control copyright unless they make significant changes to the music. If you're worried, do your own arrangement!
  6.  Sons and Daughters - unknown. The music is safe, but no year is given in the green book for when the writers died, and I can't find anything about them or the Hodgin Press online. Does anyone know?
  7.  Source of All Being - Safe. Music and lyrics long out of copyright.
  8. Life that Maketh All Things New - Safe. Music and lyrics long out of copyright.
  9. So Simple is the Human Heart - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  10.  Thou One in All, Thou All in One - Safe. The music and lyrics are out of  copyright,  and the arranger (David Dawson) is a Unitarian.
  11.  Hymn to Perfect Wisdom - Probably Safe. The music is out of copyright and the writer is a UU.
  12. Hymn to the Sole God - Probably Safe. As above.
  13.  Eternal Ruler - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  14. The Beauty of the Earth - Safe. Music, arrangement, and lyrics out of copyright.
  15.  For All That is our Life - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian.
  16.  Praise From All the Human Race - Not Safe. Both music and lyrics still in copyright.
  17.  Song of Thanksgiving - Not Safe. Music is fine, but lyrics still in copyright and author's tradition is unknown.
  18.  We Gather Together - Not Safe. As above.
  19. Now Thank We All Our God - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  20. My God I thank Thee - Safe. As above.
  21. King of Glory, King of Peace - Safe. As above.
  22. God of Life - Safe. As above.
  23. We Are Met to Worship Thee - Safe. As above.
  24. Transforming Grace - Safe. As above.
  25. Where'er Thy People Meet - Safe. As above.
  26. Spirit Divine! Attend Our Prayer - Safe. As Above.
  27.  To Cloisters of the Spirit - Safe. As above.
  28.  The Tides of the Spirit - Probably Safe. Music is out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian.
  29.  God Within - Safe. Lyrics are out of copyright, and the composer David Dawson has given permission for his hymns to be used in this way .
  30. Immortal Love, for Ever Full - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  31.  The Flow of Life - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, arrangement and lyrics both by Unitarians.
  32.  Kum ba Yah (Come by Here) - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  33.  Do You Hear? - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics by a writer possibly outside our tradition.
  34.  Where Is Your God - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  35.  The Living God - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, and lyrics by a UU.
  36.  Star Born - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian minister.
  37.  Thy Kingdom Come - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a UU.
  38.  Wonder - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics copyrighted until 2028.
  39.  We Move in Faith - Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, music by David Dawson.
  40. The Depths of Inner Space - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a UU.
  41. I Cannot Lose Thee! - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  42.  A Dream of Widening Love - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics possibly from outside our tradition.
  43.  Universal Spirit - Probably Not Safe. Although the music is out of copyright and so are the original Czech words, both the arrangement and the English version of the words are newer.
  44.  Come, My Life - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  45. Come Down, O Love Divine - Not Safe. The lyrics are out of copyright, but the music is copyrighted until 2028.
  46.  Breath of God - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  47.  Work Shall Be Prayer - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  48.  From All the Fret and Fever - Not Safe. Both music and lyrics still in copyright.
  49.  Leisure - Safe. Lyrics out of copyright and music by David Dawson.
  50. Not Always on the Mount - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  51.  Inward Peace and Inward Living - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian.
  52. Divinity Is Round Us - Not Safe. Both music and lyrics still in copyright.
  53.  Calm Soul of All Things - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  54. Every Night and Every Morn - Not Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, but music is copyrighted until 2028.
  55.  Scorn Not the Slightest Word - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  56.  Faith - Not Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, but music copyrighted until 2027.
  57. Teach Me, My God and King - Safe. Music and lyrics long out of copyright.
  58. The Soul's Sincere Desire - Safe. Music and lyrics out of copyright.
  59. Prayer for Strength - Not Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, but music copyrighted until 2028.
  60. Trust in Life - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian minister.
  61.  My Spirit Longs For Thee - Safe
  62. God Moves in a Mysterious Way - Safe
  63. Holy Spirit, Truth Divine - Safe
  64. The Old Hundredth - Safe
  65. O God Our Help in Ages Past - Safe
  66.  The Lord's My Shepherd - Safe
  67. In Praise of Wisdom - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a UU.
  68. Praise the Great and Famous - Safe
  69. Praise to the Living God - Safe
  70. O Worship the King - Safe
  71. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty - Safe
  72. My God and King - Safe
  73. A Mighty Fortress - Safe
  74.  We are the Earth - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a UU.
  75. God of Ages and of Nations - Safe
  76. Immortal, Invisible - Safe
  77. Our Parents' Faith - Safe
  78.  Honourable Saints - Safe. Music out of copyright & lyrics by Andrew Hill, a Unitarian (permission given)
  79. For All the Saints - Not Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, but music still in copyright until 2028.
  80. The Child is Promise - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics by a writer possibly outside our tradition.
  81. Advent Hymn - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a Unitarian.
  82. People, Look East - Not Safe. Music out of copyright but lyrics still copyrighted until 2035.
  83. These Festive Days - Not Safe. Writer possibly outside our tradition. Music fine.
  84. While Shepherds Watched - Safe
  85. O Little Town of Bethlehem - Safe
  86. In the Lonely Midnight - Safe. Lyrics out of copyright, music by David Dawson, a Unitarian (permission given).
  87.  In the Bleak Midwinter - Safe
  88. Silent Night - Safe
  89.  Long Ago, in Manger Low - Safe
  90. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Safe
  91. Midnight Clear - Safe
  92. The First Nowell - Safe
  93. Ding Dong! Merrily on High - Safe
  94. I Heard the Bells - Safe
  95.  O Come, All Ye Faithful - Safe
  96. Joy to the World - Safe
  97. The Universal Incarnation - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, arrangement by a Unitarian, words by a UU.
  98. The Son of Man - Safe
  99. When Jesus Walked - Not Safe. Music is out of copyright, but writer is possibly outside our tradition.
  100. The Presence Everywhere - Safe
  101. Dear Lord and Father - Safe
  102. Hosanna in the Highest - Not Safe. Lyrics copyrighted until 2037.
  103.  O Sacred Head, Now Wounded - Safe
  104. Beneath the Shadow of the Cross - Safe
  105. Now in the Tomb is Laid - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics in copyright.
  106. The Brave of Old - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics in copyright until 2033.
  107. Brightly Breaks the Easter Morn - Safe
  108.  Death's Dominion is Past - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics in copyright until 2034.
  109. Life's Rebirth - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics copyrighted
  110.  Through Human Means - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by Cliff Reed (A Unitarian).
  111.  Mighty Spirit, Gracious Tide - Safe
  112. The Holy Spirit - Probably Safe. Music out of copyright, lyrics by a UU.
  113. Flame of Living Fire - Safe
  114. Let There Be Light - Safe
  115.  Christ Cometh Not a King - Safe
  116. Praise, My Soul - Safe
  117. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee - Safe
  118. All Loves Excelling - Safe
  119. O'er Continent and Ocean - Not Safe. Music out of copyright, but lyrics copyrighted until 2034.
  120. Life of Ages, Richly Poured - Safe
  121. City of God - Safe
  122. One Holy Church - Safe

I intend to continue this list over time (last updated: 21/03/20). If you need to check a particular hymn for yourself, here is my guide:
  • To check if the music is safe, look at the name and dates above the score. The relevant bit is when the composer DIED. If they died more than 70 years ago (so before 1950), it's out of copyright.
  • To check if the words/lyrics are safe, look at the name(s) at the end of the words. Again you're looking for the date the writer DIED. Same again, if they died more than 70 years ago, the words are out of copyright.
  • If they're both out of copyright, it's safe. If one or both are still living or died less than 70 years ago, it's not safe unless you can get their (or their publisher or heir's) permission. However, if you look them up and find out that they're a Unitarian or UU, they probably won't come after you with a hatchet. Though I'm not promising anything!

Hope you're staying safe and positive at this trying time.
Holland Morrell, Doncaster Unitarians
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