BELPER UNITARIAN CHAPEL
A Community with living
and loving spirituality
that engages both the
Heart and the Mind
PRAYER FOR THE DECADE OF NONVIOLENCE
I bow to the sacred in all creation.
May my sprit fill the world with beauty and wonder.
May my mind seek truth with humility and openness.
May my heart forgive without limit.
May my love for friend, enemy, and outcast be without
May my needs be few and my living simple.
May my actions bear witness to the suffering of others.
May my hands never harm a living being.
May my steps stay on the journey of justice.
May my tongue speak for those who are poor without fear of
May my prayers rise with patient discontent until no child is
May my life’s work be a passion for peace and nonviolence.
May my soul rejoice in the present moment.
May my imagination overcome death and despair with new
And may I risk reputation, comfort, and security to bring this
hope to the children.
– Mary Lou Kownacki
WORSHIP SERVICES – December 2023 to January 2024
Sunday 3rd December Cllr David Burton
11.00 am Approaching Christmas
Sunday 10th December Revd Andi Phillips
11.00 am Minister, Upper Chapel, Sheffield
Sunday 17th December Ruth Beck
6.15 pm A celebration of Christmas – See page 3
Sunday 24th December No Service
Sunday 31st December No Service
Sunday 7th January Cllr David Burton
11.00 am New Beginnings
Sunday 14th January Kevin Stone
Sunday 21st January Judith Pugsley
11.00 am Books which are Special, Part 2
Sunday 28th January Jan Barrett
11.00 am Sacred Texts
Sunday 4th February Revd Andi Phillips
11.00 am Minister, Upper Chapel, Sheffield
There is so much going on in the world right now that speaks to our deepest
fears. The unyielding terror in the Middle East that heaps more and more trauma
on Palestinians and Israelis, Muslim and Jew alike. The horror of the continuing
war in Ukraine, The constant threat to world peace in the South China Sea. There
are countless other threats to peace that can make us feel powerless and alone.
Our chapel will be open as a prayerful and meditative space for peace on
Saturday the 25th of November from 4pm till 5pm, and every other Saturday
from then on. All are welcome to attend.
All members and friends of the Chapel are welcome to offer contributions to our
newsletter. It could be a 380 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 14th January if they are intended for
inclusion in the February – March edition.
MY MEMORIES OF KATIE BECK
I first got to know Katie when she ran a singing group at Belper Unitarians. We did
music theory and lovely acapella singing, but I got to know her more when visiting
her at home. At that time, we used to spend time chatting , drinking coffee and
putting the world to rights. She told me of her days working in Eastern Europe, her
holidays skiing in Southern France and her love of sailing. But she was also a gifted
potter – I could tell she was gifted at this as I used to teach Ceramics up to A Level.
Her claywork was very skilled – she had a real vision for creating in three dimensions
and showed me such beautiful pieces around her home and garden.
Her home was her sanctuary and she loved its interior. She had collected many
pieces of artwork from all over the world , and together with her daughters’ pieces
and her own creations, she made herself a wonderful personally decorated space
where she could look all around her at her displays of beautiful objets d’art. We
joined the same French group too and used to occasionally chat in appalling French .
When she became ill, I knew that one day she would have to leave her lovely home
and all its beautiful things inside, so I asked her if I could come over and take some
photos of her at home, and in her beautiful garden, knowing that one day, she might
forget where she had lived. Happily, she stayed in her own familiar surroundings
until shortly before she died, and she never needed to look back on where she had
lived. I was worried that she would forget her carefully crafted home if she was in
different surroundings, so I put together a book of photos for her and we talked
about it together. I hope this book will be of some comfort to her family in the
future, although of course, it was of a more practical solution to Katie, should it have
She was still very much part of our chapel, even when she didn’t always understand
what was happening. But she was always so welcomed by us all, and treated the
same as she always had been. I will hugely miss sitting on the swing chair in her
fabulous garden – a suntrap in a little Paradise, and I will miss the jokes and stories
we shared. I’m glad she got to stay in her familiar surroundings for so long. I feel
lucky to have met her, and Belper was lucky to have her.
Sail away, Katie, wherever you are, and enjoy the sea views (which is something you
don’t get a lot of in Belper….)
4 Jan Barrett
In loving memory of Katie Beck – A Tribute By Rowan Beton
A few years ago, I had quite a severe mental health crisis, and as part of
my recovery process, I reconnected with my spiritual pathway. I decided
to try going to the Unitarian Chapel in Belper. One Sunday morning – very
tentatively – I stepped inside the Chapel. I felt immediately welcome.
One of the very first people who spoke to me on that Sunday was Katie.
She immediately made me feel welcome, and there was such a lot that
we could talk about. I left the Chapel that Sunday morning feeling
spiritually uplifted. Indeed, when I did have some difficult times, I found
her very supportive. She invited me round to her home a couple of times
for a meal – I have to say that Katie’s cooking was delightful! She had
such a generous heart
A few months later, Katie received her diagnosis of Alzheimers. In
reflecting about that time, I think it somehow cemented our friendship.
She was one of the people that had been there for me – so I would be
there for her. This was difficult for Katie and it meant that our friendship
had to flower in new and different ways. Walking with Katie was such a
joy. In the beginning we would go for quite long walks. Bessalone Hill,
Belper Parks and Wildersley Farm. Gradually, Katie’s stamina declined
and so we had to restrict ourselves to shorter walks – mainly around
Crich Lane Woods. On Sundays, we would walk down to the Chapel to
attend the service. Katie loved walking, and it was always such a delight
to see her taking such pleasure in noticing the beauty around her. She
also slowed down to really take in the joy of nature. Whether it was
hugging a tree, being amazed by butterflies and the hum of Bees, seeing
the beauty of a wildflower, or the blueness of the sky on a bright
summer’s day, it was a real joy to walk with Katie.
Wednesdays , we
would play music
and sing together.
I’m a relatively
but Katie was
shared such joy in
the songs that we
thought that Piano
and Ukulele would
go together? But we made it work and we had a lot of fun.
Gradually, the focus on a Wednesday shifted to always playing music. Four or five
years ago, I bought Katie a book of Beethoven’s Concertos and sonatas arranged for
Piano. It was always a joy to hear her make the music come alive – and when she
played “Moonlight Sonata” I always felt enveloped in the music’s rich blanket of
A few days before Katie moved into Spencer Grove Nursing Home, I popped round to
give her daughters Dee and Maz a bit of a break. I took my Ukulele and played some
songs . One of the songs that I played was “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby
McFerrin. As some of you will know, there is a whistling part that is an important
part of the song. Well I just completely forgot to do it! At the end of the song, Katie
-from her bed and now being completely non verbal – started trying to whistle and
looking at me very directly as much as to say “You forgot the whistling!”. So we did
the whistling together – for about ten minutes!
Katie loved her family, and she was always talking about her brother and going
sailing with him. Katie was so utterly proud of her creative daughters – Delia and
Marian – and everything that they have achieved with their lives.
Go well Katie, wherever you may be, and may your light continue to shine brightly
in the memory of all those who knew and loved you.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – –
DECEMBER STILLNESS – a poem by Siegfried Sassoon
December stillness, teach me through your trees
That loom along the west, one with the land,
The veiled evangel of your mysteries,
while nightfall ,sad and spacious, on the down
Deepens and dusk imbues me ,where I stand
With grave diminishings of green and brown,
Speak roofless Nature, your instinctive words;
And let me learn your secret from the sky,
Following a flock of steadfast -journeying birds
In lone remote migration beating by
December stillness ,crossed by twilight roads,
Teach me to travel far and bear my loads.
A seasonal entry contributed by Ruth Beck
Katie with friends in the River Gardens, Belper, on her birthday, 2021
0 COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
Young William Ewart Gladstone, who later became British Prime Minister,
greatly appreciated the services at Margaret Chapel in London’s West
End. For one thing, the sermons were short — never more than twenty
minutes! More important, the congregation were ‘the most devout and
hearty that I have ever seen’.
The minister at that time was Frederick Oakeley — one of
the leaders of the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement. He believed
passionately in the power of ritual, religious symbols and fine music. And
before he joined the Roman Catholic Church, he gave his congregation
-and the world — this version of the eighteenth-century ‘Adeste, fideles’.
0 come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
0 come ye, 0 come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him, Born the King of angels:
0 come, let us adore him, 0 come, let us adore him,
0 come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
God of God, Sing, choirs of angels,
Light of Light, Sing, in exultation,
Lo! he abhors not the virgin’s Sing, all ye citizens of
womb heaven above
Very God Glory to God
Begotten not created: In the highest’:
Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing:
Frederick Oakeley 1802-1880
From “Famous Hymns” by Christopher Idle
Note: It being Christmas, perhaps we should let
the Angels into the Chapel this year! – Ed
HOPE FOR THR CHILDREN OF GAZA
Yocheved Lifshitz, a frail 85-year-old grandmother who was one of two
hostages released by Hamas on 23rd October, recounted the moment
that militants snatched her from her home in the kibbutz of Nir Oz and
drove her away on a motorbike towards Gaza, a “painful act” during
which she said she was beaten and sustained bruises.
Shortly after she was released by her captors, Ms. Lifshitz walked back
and grasped one Hamas member’s hands and repeated the Hebrew word
“shalom,” meaning goodbye and also peace.
Coming at a time when her country has declared war upon her former
captors, who have been labelled “terrorists” by the US and UK
governments, Ms Lifshitz’s gesture is, to put it mildly, remarkable. Could
it be that this man has shown some concern for her welfare and is in any
way worthy of her thanks, or her hand on his, or the wish “shalom”?
Should we take any notice of the actions of a frail 85 year old,
grandmother? She is, after all, very elderly -just old enough to remember
the years 1939 to 1945 – and she should know better. She is female and
could be vulnerable to discrimination on grounds of race, gender or age.
But perhaps that makes her better qualified than we are to decide
whether any one person should be condemned. She has, for many years,
been a peace campaigner. She and her husband have spent time bringing
people out of Gaza who could not get the medical attention they needed
in that environment.
So maybe we should conclude that not all Israelis are capable of killing
innocent children in Gaza, and not all supporters of Hamas believe that
Israel should not exist. Maybe we should hesitate before assuming that
everyone in a particular ethnic group should be labelled alike. It may be
difficult, and it may be improbable, but we should still hope that the UN
resolution calling for a cease fire will be heard and acted upon.
LESSONS OF HISTORY FORGOTTEN
It happens all the time. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, because it could no longer
tolerate violence and raids across its northern border from the Palestine Liberation
Organisation [PLO] which was well established and uncontrolled by the weak
Lebanese government. Initially, the Israeli army was successful. They cleared away
the PLO fighters and restored some sort of security on the border. They laid a siege
on Beirut, where the PLO guerillas had taken refuge; for seven weeks – having cut
off the water, electricity and food supplies there were further bombings and
violence and ultimately a cease fire was agreed. The PLO fighters were expelled,
mainly to Tunisia and it seemed that the primary objective of the Israeli invasion had
However, once again it became clear that although an apparently necessary change
had been achieved, nobody knew what to install in place of the weak administration
which had been displaced. The temporary leader appointed soon was found to be
inadequate and there followed years of uncertainty and problems. Looking at
Lebanon today, we see Hezbollah installed and powerful where once it was the PLO,
which all goes to show that once you have decided to remove an unsatisfactory
leadership, you need to have a clear and workable plan as to what you intend to put
in its place.
This episode also confirms that any community that has been displaced from their
lands, buildings and occupations, and placed in refugee camps in foreign places, will
be a seedbed of discontent. You can perhaps identify the malcontents and expel
them from the trouble spots, but you cannot expel the idea amongst the community
that they need to find a way to return to what they see as their homeland – even
though such a prospect is unrealistic and impracticable.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The three-state alternative, whereby Gaza reverts to Egyptian control and the West
Bank again becomes part of Jordan, has proven benefits. We know this can succeed
in stabilising the situation because it did so effectively from 1949 to 1967, when it
was only upended by continuing interstate disputes between Israel and its Arab
neighbours. In neither case was Egyptian and Jordanian control entirely free of
coercive elements, so it is noteworthy that their rule provoked very little Palestinian
resistance. They also acted effectively to limit armed attacks by Palestinian fighters
Extracted from a Guardian Letter by Dr Martin A Smith, 9.11.23.
Chairman and Safeguarding Officer
Cllr 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
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07846 020153
Ruth Beck email@example.com Tel: 07790 656350
Joan Blackham firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01629 733841
Ted Roadhouse email@example.com 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.