BELPER UNITARIAN CHAPEL
A Community with living
and loving spirituality
that engages both the
Heart and the Mind
MARCH -APRIL 2023
Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.
So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play it’s true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
Know you are grateful.
That the gift had been given.
Time passes by, but those of us who can no longer walk confidently, like your Congregational
Chairman or your Newsletter Editor with their heart conditions, still have a part to play, as do we
all whether passing from youth to adulthood, or from middle age to retirement.
More about the American poet Mary Oliver, who wrote this moving poem “The Gift” is to be
found on page 5 of this newsletter.
Our District Association – East Midland Unitarians will hold THE JOINT ANNUAL
DISTRICT SERVICE for all our congregations on Sunday 18th of June at Boston
Unitarian Chapel in Lincolnshire.
The host congregation will provide refreshments followed by an early Evening
Service at 5pm. The invited guest speaker on this occasion will be Vince McCully a
member of Rivington Unitarian Chapel, Lancashire and National President of The
General Assembly of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches. Hopefully, there will be
enough support from the Belper Chapel to hire a Mini Bus. Please indicate on the
sheet provided in the kitchen if you wish to book a seat on the Bus as we need a
minimum of 12 people to make the Mini Bus viable.
Thanks to the Chapel Trustees for funding a copy of “ William Gaskell 1805 -1884”
A Portrait by Barbara Brill. The Book is placed at the front with our information
leaflets and anyone can borrow it should they wish – but please return after use for
others ! This excellent book was first published in 1984 by Manchester Literary &
Later in May at a morning service David Burton will pursue the Theme “ Who were
William & Elizabeth Gaskell ? “
Please on EASTER SUNDAY APRIL 9th by your presence welcome Rev. Derek Smith &
Pauline Smith who will conduct our morning service.
Derek was Minister of Belper Unitarian Chapel with The Old Meeting House at
Mansfield from 1975 until his retirement in 1993. It was in 1987 to 1988 that Derek
served nationally the Unitarian Movement as President of The General Assembly of
Unitarian & Free Christian Churches.
Recently it was a delight to welcome from Belfast a Roman Catholic Lady to a
morning service who was visiting Belper – After the service she expressed to one of
our members how enjoyable the experience had been !
With the visit in April of Rev. Tony McNeile we intend to hold a “ Bring & Share “
Evening of Poems, Readings, Music & Food – at 7pm on Saturday 29th April.
Contributions from everyone to the relaxed evening will be most welcome !
Over recent weeks much time has been given without any fuss by Frances our
Chapel Treasurer liaising with the Heating Engineer who recently flushed all the hot
water pipes & serviced the interior Heating System at Chapel. Our sincere thanks to
Frances for enabling the Heating Engineer access to our building on several
Jean Hemming has been in hospital as most people know, but is now at home and
greatly recovered. She is pleased to be able to drive again. She now plans to sell her
house and move to Arran and is going up there at the end of March all being well.
She should be back in Belper from May while the house sells, and we hope to see
her then. Jean is grateful for the cards, phone calls and good will messages from the
David Burton After his Heart Attack on 8th Jan it is now good to welcome back
David to Services & Chapel Activities. David had one “ Stent “ placed in a main artery
– with a continuing intense phase of outpatient appointments at Chesterfield &
Sheffield dealing with related issues.
Your cards & telephone calls have been much appreciated by David over the past
As we approach the Christian Festival of Easter you may find these words from
L.P.Jacks worth reflecting upon. ( L.P. Jacks had a successful ministry at the Unitarian
Church of the Messiah Birmingham where the famous political Chamberlain family
worshiped – Eventually, Jacks became Principal of Manchester College Oxford &
Editor of The Hibbert Journal )
“ Whoever sets out to follow Christ will have to follow Him a long way, and to follow
Him into some dark places – – – –
Easy enough while the road runs by the shining shores of the Lake Galilee, but not
so easy when it turns into the Garden of Gethsemane and becomes the Via
WORSHIP SERVICES – April – May 2023
Sunday 2nd April Alison and Helen
11.00 am Spring and Hope
Sunday 9th April Rev Derek Smith and Pauline
11.00 am Easter Sunday
Sunday 16th April Jan Barrett
11.00 am “Thankyou”
Sunday 23rd April Mr Francis Elliot- Wright
11.00 am Unitarian College – Ministry Student
Sunday 30th April Rev Tony McNeile
11.00 am Chaplain, National Unitarian Fellowship
Sunday 7th May No Service – Coronation Bank Holiday
Sunday 14th May Rev Maud Robinson
11.00 am Minister of Stannington Unitarian Chapel
Sunday 21st May David Burton
11.00 am “Who were William & Elizabeth Gaskell?”
Sunday 28th May Rev Maria Pap
11.00 am Minister of the Old Meeting House, Mansfield
All members and friends of the Chapel are welcome to offer contributions to our
newsletter. It could be a 350 word article, or a poem, or something arresting or
humorous you have read. Contributions should be in the hands of your editor
[contact details on page12] by Sunday 21st May if they are intended for inclusion in
the June- July edition.
This well known American Poet won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer
Prize. Her work was inspired by nature, rather than the human world,
stemming from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in the wild. She had
strong links with the Unitarians. In fact, all her first 12 books were published by the
Unitarian Printing House, the Beacon Press Boston .
Her poem “The Gift” is to be found on the front page of this newsletter.
Here is another of her poems, reflecting her personal experiences at her home in
“ Finally the world is beginning
to change, it’s fevers mounting,
Its leaves unfolding.
And the mockingbirds find
ample reason and breath to fashion
new songs. They do. You can
Count on it.
As for lovers, they are discovering
new ways to love. Listen, their windows are open.
You can hear them laughing.
Without spring who knows what would happen.
A lot of nothing, I suppose.
The leaves are all in motion now
the way a young boy rows and rows
In his wooden boat, just to get anywhere.
Late, late but now lovely and lovelier.
And the two of us, together – – a part of it. “
D H LAWRENCE & THE UNITARIANS
I am always often amazed at the spiritual impact our small religious movement has
made upon the lives of many significant “ Movers & Shakers “
One such person was the Nottinghamshire author D H Lawrence who was born at
Eastwood growing up in a predominantly coal mining community. At the very centre
of that “ Community “ was nonconformity – known to most simply as “ The Chapel “
At Eastwood Lawrence attended throughout his formative years the Congregational
Chapel with his Mother and later Evening Services with his first girlfriend.
From those Congregational foundations his personal faith moved on into
Unitarianism. On various occasions Lawrence worshipped at High Pavement
Unitarian Chapel Nottingham during the radical ministry of J M Lloyd Thomas. Other
Unitarian Chapels he visited were Ilkeston & Ripley where his Sister Ada lived.
Much later in his life Lawrence was to remark about the impact and value of the
hymns he sung as a boy from the Congregationalist tradition at Eastwood but went
on to proclaim that “ Unitarianism was the Religion of the future ! “
For many of us who value the Unitarian approach or ethos to the journey of faith we
remain perplexed with the comparative smallness of our movement which sadly has
not captured the hearts of most religious seekers.
Easter 1917 while briefly in London before moving to Mountain Cottage, Middleton –
by- Wirksworth , Derbyshire , Lawrence writes these words:
“ Beware of seeing as the world sees, and thinking as the world thinks. – “ Not as
the world giveth, give I unto you “ Christ was right in all those things.
It is necessary to go beyond the outer life, to the life of death and creation, and
take one’s stand there, and let the world which intervenes have its own, merely
secondary place. It is the peace and fulfilment of the spirit, that which is ultimate,
and beyond interference. Now that it is time for your resurrection, don’t drag the
grave-clothes of the old state with you.
The world doesn’t matter; you have died sufficiently to know that – the world
doesn’t matter ultimately. Ultimately, only the other world of pure being matters.
One has to be strong enough to have the just sense of values. “
Much later Lawrence was to express these profound words, “ The greatest virtue in
life is real courage, that knows how to face facts and live beyond them “
There was a brave attempt by Unitarians at Mansfield to establish a Unitarian
Chapel at the coal mining community of Shirebrook. Around this time Lawrence was
occasionally at weekends visiting Shirebrook – I wonder if he ever was present at any
of those services ?
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A message from the Congregational Treasurer
As I write being able to turn off the heating in Chapel still seems many weeks away
with some frosty mornings still reminding us it’s only the beginning of Spring! We
are particularly grateful therefore for the support of EMU (East Midlands Unitarians)
in the form of a £500 grant towards the additional cost bought about by the high
price of gas and electricity. It was confirmed that we qualified for this during the
recent quarterly meeting at Hinckley.
Thank you EMU !
Frances St. Lawrence
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Love-letter lament: [Do not take this too seriously]
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our
engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place
in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you!
Yours forever, Marie
P.S. And congratulations on winning the lottery.
The Lord spoke to Noah and said, “In six months I am going to make it rain until the
whole world is covered with water and all the evil things are destroyed. But I want
to save a few good people and two of every living thing on the planet. I am ordering
you to build an ark.” And, in a flash of lightning, he delivered the specifications for
“OK,” Noah said, trembling with fear and fumbling with the blueprints, “I’m your
Six months passed, the sky began to cloud up, and the rain began to fall in torrents.
The Lord looked down and saw Noah sitting in his yard, weeping, and there was no
ark.”Noah!” shouted the Lord, “where is my ark?” A lightning bolt crashed into the
ground right beside Noah. “Lord, please forgive me!” begged Noah. “I did my best,
but there were some big problems. First, I had to get a building permit for the ark’s
construction, but your plans did not meet their code. So, I had to hire an engineer to
redo the plans, only to get into a long argument with him about whether to include
a sprinkler system.
“My neighbours objected, claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building
the ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning board.
Then, I had a big problem getting enough wood for the ark, because there was a ban
on cutting trees to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists
and the US Fish and Wildlife Service that I needed the wood to save the owls, but
they wouldn’t let me catch them, so no owls.
“Next, I started gathering up the animals but got sued by an animal rights group that
objected to me taking along only two of each kind. Just when the suit got dismissed,
the EPA notified me that I couldn’t complete the ark without filling out an
environmental impact statement on your ‘proposed’ flood. They didn’t take kindly to
the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the Supreme Being.
“Then, the Corps of Engineers wanted a map of the proposed flood plan. I sent them
a globe. – “Right now, I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Equal
Opportunities Commission over how many minorities I’m supposed to hire. The IRS
has seized all my assets, claiming that I’m trying to leave the country, and I just got a
notice from the state that I owe some kind of use tax.
“Really, I don’t think I can finish the ark in less than five years.”
With that, the sky cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow arched across the
sky. Noah looked up and smiled. “You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?”
“No,” said the Lord. “The government already has.”
Extracted from “A Bundle of Laughs”
by J J & M Stibbe
PROUD TO BE BELPER
First known as Bradley and then Beaurepaire
Nearby, Romans, then Anglo Saxons & Normans, lived there
Location determined, where a river runs through
Where the Duffield Frith deer park, and forest once grew
Belper’s a town, that’s been shaped through the ages
Medieval to modern – it’s happened in stages
A geology rich, in charcoal and iron
Horseshoe nails, made in Belper, hunting Kings could rely on
Quality nails became Belper’s renown
Over 400 workshops once toiled, in this town
As the industrial revolution began and progressed
Inventions changed lives – how folk lived, worked & dressed
Mills then took over – their spun yarns and cotton
The Strutt’s family influence – never forgotten
They built a community, houses, farms, schools
A chapel for worship – and, if you followed Strutt’s rules –
Employment, fair wages, healthcare, recreation
A model for mill towns, throughout the whole nation
A workforce enticed – population now soared
Safer iron proofed building ideas, went abroad
Derwent fed power, from a horseshoe shaped weir
Saw that hosiery fit for a Queen was made here
Belper has earned her proud place on the map
With taverns and inns, to replenish, or nap
Whether ‘carriage and four’ or ‘new monsters of steam’
Routes to and from Belper – always busy, it seems!
Eleven brick bridges span Stephenson’s line
Though the station itself, now looks different with time
It’s still one of the many ways you may alight
At the best of the Peak District’s towns to delight
For the festivals, market place, or films at the Ritz
Award winning high street for your bobs and your bits
Wyver Lane nature reserve, gardens and parks
The cafes, bars, restaurants – the music and Arts
For a match at the Raygar – our Nailers home ground
Walking tours round the channels, where real history’s found
View the first UK town supplied with gas light
The Butts, known for horse sales, or archers arrows in flight
Unesco World Heritage status awarded
Winning Britain in Bloom – our flower beds applauded
As the world round us changes and through centuries past
The unique spirit of Belper continues to last
Some things may look different, whilst others remain
But the sense of community still stays the same
Compassionate, caring, inclusive, in touch
The big heart of Belper will always do much
To ensure a warm welcome is always on hand
No matter your age, or where you call your homeland
Proud to be Belper, where you can belong
Proud to be Belper – Hearts of Nailers are strong
Chairman and Safeguarding Officer
David Burton, Ivy Cottage, 4 Wheatley Lane, Two Dales, Matlock DE42FF
email@example.com Tel:01629 734072
Secretary Ruth Beck firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07790 656350
Frances St Lawrence
fmstlawrence@gmaiLcom Tel: 01773 824548 or 07410 699931
Asst. Treasurer Matt St Lawrence contact details as above
Communications/Publicity Jan Barrett
email@example.com Tel: 01773 827831
Jean Hemming 144, Far Laund, Belper, DE56 1FJ Tel: 01773 827869
Ruth Beck firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07790 656350
Joan Blackham email@example.com Tel: 01629 733841
Ted Roadhouse firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07835 727987
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Belper Unitarians aim to be a loving community of spiritual seekers. We are diverse in
our opinions yet united in our common search for truth and our desire to support each
other, and sometimes challenge each other, in that search.
We have our roots in those Christian non-conformists who gathered in Belper in the
late 1660s following the ejection from the established church as a result of the 1662 Act
of Uniformity of belief and worship. The famous industrialist, Jedediah Strutt, had the
central section of the present chapel built in 1788 to replace a Meeting House that had
been built at the other end of Green Lane in 1721, and which still stands there. Today
our present Chapel is a Grade II* listed building.
We are on the Belper Poetry Trail, displaying on the front chapel railings the poem “To
Nature” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
*Please contact David Burton to enquire about chapel hire, Christenings, Namings,
Weddings/Civil Partnership Ceremonies, or Funeral Services.