Who are Unitarians?
Unitarians are a community of people who take their religion, or their spirituality, liberally. That is to say, we hold that all people have the right to believe what their own life-experience tells them is true; what the prompting of their own conscience tells them is right. We say that each person’s spiritual or intuitive experience deserves respect; that everyone’s deep reflection and reasoning on religious and ethical questions should be taken seriously.
Unitarians form a movement that tries to put these affirmations into practice. Our local religious communities offer a setting where people can worship, explore, and share faith together in an atmosphere of freedom and mutual respect, regardless of their spiritual persuasion.
For more information about Unitarianism from our national Unitarian website please click here. Alternatively you can download our leaflet A Faith Worth Thinking About (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). Other leaflets may be downloaded from our Links page
What happens at our services and meetings?
In the past Unitarian services took the form of a liberal Christian service. Nowadays Unitarian worship in many of our chapels and fellowships has moved on from this, and at Cirencester we have evolved a pattern of service which better reflects the diverse nature of our Fellowship and which we feel is more inclusive and participatory.
We meet in the round so that everyone faces each other as we find that this gives a unity to our worship which is so often lost when the seating is arranged in rows.
Our services are normally taken by our Minister or, in his absence, by a member of the Fellowship or by a visiting Worship Leader. Members of the Fellowship also contribute by doing the readings or other elements in the service.
We always commence our services by lighting a chalice. The chalice, which is simply a candle in a cup-shaped holder, has become the symbol of Unitarianism. Light is a common symbol of purity and enlightenment.
Music has an important role in our services. A piece of music is played at the beginning and end of our services and also during the time of meditation in the middle of the service to calm our minds and to help us centre our thoughts.
We also sing hymns. Unitarian hymns often have traditional tunes, but the words are inspired by the whole breadth of the spiritual experience and generally speak in terms of broader holistic themes
There is normally an address and then we often join in conversations in which anyone can contribute a point of view. It is always fascinating to find out where these open conversations lead us and it is a great time for everyone to share their insights and concerns if they so desire.
The end of the service is marked by extinguishing the chalice flame.
The pattern of our meetings at Swindon is less formal. We do start with music and our chalice is lit, after which a short period of devotion is followed by one of our members presenting a topic for more far-reaching conversations. We deliberately use the term ‘conversations’ rather than discussions as the emphasis is on sharing rather than airing our different points of view.
All our services and meetings end with social time with tea, coffee and refreshments