The following extract comes from the 1976 Essex Hall Lecture given by that much loved Unitarian Minister, the late Ben Downing.

These words were prophetic and remain our challenge :


“ Our Unitarian role in religion is far indeed from being played out. On the communal stage we are perhaps still not sure of our new character. What words shall we give it ?

What shape shall it have ? What clothes shall it wear ?

But there is a role and there is a stage on which to play it out. And in the theatre of life there is, as always, the audience.

The best tradition, in the art of life and religion, is to involve the audience in the drama.

In the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence, we must have “ a decent respect to the opinions of mankind “.

Only so can we twentieth-century representatives of the old Dissent be re- involved in the freedom, and the fate, of the human race, and be able to re- discover our spiritual role in the world. “

David Burton


1 ⭐️


                                                         NEWS UPDATES

On January 5th 2022 the funeral service of Dorothy Eva Clamp aged 101 was held in our Chapel. Dorothy had been married in the Field Row Chapel by the Rev. Carrara Davies. Both Ethel & George McAra with their daughter Maureen Chapman had been lifelong friends.


⭐️ Five copies of the book by the Oxford Unitarian Bert Clough “ Dancing with Mortality “ Reflections of a Lapsed Atheist – have been ordered for the Chapel Bookstall at £10 per copy.


⭐️ The East Midland Unitarians, our District Association, will hold its next Quarterly Meeting at Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel, Baines Lane, Hinckley on Saturday 5th March at 2*30pm.

These meetings are open to all members or supporters of constituent congregations. Our Official voting representatives for Belper Chapel are Rowan Beton, Matt St.Lawrence with Frances St.Lawrence acting as voting substitute.


⭐️ Last year East Midland Unitarians voted unanimously to support the funding & placement of a Unitarian Minister in Belper.

The Belper Chapel hopefully, will receive 50% of the appointed ministers time – The impact of such an appointment will substantially support our Lay Led cause at Belper. At the moment we have enquiries for various life ceremonies but no suitably trained person on hand to deal with these important events.

Your District Association recognises the enormous potential at Belper with its vibrant local community where our Chapel is placed.

Over the next few months progress will be carefully made to produce a relevant contract of employment leading to the role being advertised.


⭐️ Please make a note in your diary that on Sunday April 3rd at 11am we will hold our “ Celebration of Spring “

Offers of suitable poems, readings or musical contributions to David Burton please who will conduct this special service.






Your Chapel Trustees have authorised the cleaning of the stone slabs both front and back of the Chapel which have become quite slippy over recent months.


⭐️    Belper Unitarians send their warm greetings to Rev. Robin Hanford who commenced in January his full time ministry at Great Meeting Hinckley.


😁 Here’s A Smile !

The preacher told the congregation, “ Everyone in this parish is going to die “

He then noticed one man with a broad grin on his face, and turned to him, and asked,        “ What are you smiling about ? “ – to  this the man replied, “ I’m not of this parish. I’m only here visiting my sister for the weekend ! “


⭐️    Around early April the Rev. Dr. Arthur Stewart will retire as Minister of Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel Leicester.

Arthur came to Leicester from the Cotswolds Group of Unitarian Chapels in 1989.

For a number of years Arthur served as “ Secretary “ to East Midland Unitarians and also Tutor at Harris Manchester College Oxford.

Many of us have valued the wise outlook and support he has given during his time at Leicester. All of us at Belper Unitarian Chapel wish Arthur well with  a good and happy retirement


At a recent service held in our Chapel David Burton had an unusual theme “ A well maintained notice board ! “

He gave various examples where Unitarian Chapel Notice Boards had significantly influenced people, including this one:-.

“ After the First World War in 1919 the Trustees of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel Manchester appointed Rev. H.H.Johnson as their Minister.

H.H.Johnson proved to be a charismatic Minister filling the Chapel, said to hold two thousand people, Sunday after Sunday and also at Wednesday lunch time services.

It was the Rev. Johnson who introduced “ The Wayside Pulpit “ for the first time into this country !

The messages were renewed each week and published as a booklet at the end of each year. It became a feature of Manchester life and was widely taken up throughout the country.

Originally, all the messages were composed by the Minister – a simple one that achieved widespread reproduction was, “ Don’t worry – it may never happen “

Sadly, Rev. H. H. Johnson had to retire early at Cross Street Chapel because of ill health in 1929. No subsequent Minister ever again drew such large numbers attending Services of Worship at the Chapel.

3                                            David Burton

I am sure I am not the only person to enjoy the coincidences of life and these often happen in relation to travelling. This has happened to me recently after a few days spent in Prague. I think I was vaguely aware that Unitarianism had a history in Czechoslovakia but I was not conscious enough of it to seek connections while I was there.
When I was thinking of something to submit to Ted for the newsletter I mentioned to David that I had been in Prague and he reminded me of the name Norbert Capek. He was the founder of modern Unitarianism In Czechoslovakia and was executed at Dachau. During his life he spent time in the United States and it was there after leaving the Baptist Church , he discovered Unitarianism which he and his wife decided to bring to their homeland in 1921.

In 1923 he created the Flower Celebration where members would each bring a flower to the church and place in central vase. At the end of the service each would take home a different flower, This symbolized the uniqueness of the individual and the coming together in communion to share our uniqueness. We have our flower communion in June .

Where is the co-incidence ? Like most of you I am aware of the strong views regarding the changing of our Unitarian symbol which does not now include a Chalice. In the recent Inquirer 8th January, there is further discussion on this and in Doris’ Column by Dorothy Haughton she describes how a priest from Prague, Jan Hus , broke with the Catholic tradition of only ordained priests able to take of the consecrated wine . He offered his congregation both bread and wine . “effectively declaring as Unitarian Universalists do today that all people have equal access to the divine. “ After his death Hus’ followers continued to share communion in secret and used the Flaming Chalice as their symbol. Dorothy references Noreen Kimball’s The Healing Cup: The Story of the Flaming Chalice .

Prague is definitely a very beautiful , historical city what a coincidence there were references to it in the Inquirer when I had just returned from a visit there.
4                    Winnie Green








                                BELPER REFUGEE WELCOME

This is part of the Government Reset resettlement programme, in which  groups of volunteers work together to create a community sponsorship group which will fund, welcome to the town, resettle and help empower one refugee family.

We are working towards this aim in partnership with the East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership, the regional Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Valley and other local authorities.

This is a national initiative as a practical response to the mass displacement of people due to war, conflict and persecution.

Local groups are working together to raise funds and prepare documents to submit as a bid for a refugee family to be re-settled in Belper which is identified as a strong community and well placed to receive such a family. The  groups are focussing on housing, education, health and wellbeing, access to local services, etc.

The family will be identified by the United Refugee Agency and approved by the Home Office

Recently a major breakthrough for Belper Refugee Welcome was the promise of a 3 bedroomed house with a garden for two years, from a member of the community’ at housing benefit rates.

A number of individuals and organisations have been working hard to raise funds. The Communications group have written to local companies and businesses inviting their involvement

There is a Just Giving fund-raising page, and it is hoped that Belper Unitarian chapel will be the site of future fund-raising perhaps in the form of music and a “Singathon” when Covid restrictions are eased.

The town welcomes this as a mutually beneficial arrangement, accepting that the family’s arrival will enrich and enhance the community’s growth and sense of cohesion.

This scheme has been successful in other parts of the country and there are many forums for sharing these experiences.

A member of the Communications group would be pleased to talk with Belper Unitarian Church members to give further information, which can also be found on the website: belperrefugeewelcome.com

5                                         Ruth Beck











Sunday 6th February          Davd Burton                          Alison Hemstock
11.00 am                           Touch of the Sacred

Sunday 13th February        Jan Barrett                            Fred Barrett
11.00 am                           Intergenerational

Sunday 20th February        Ed Fordham                          Frances
11.00am                            Intergenerational                    St.Lawrence

Sunday 27th February        Revd Maria Pap                     Rowan Beton
1100 am                             Minister, Mansfield

Sunday 6th March             Matt & Frances                       Winnie Green
11.00am                            St. Lawrence

Sunday 13th March           Revd Maud Robinson              Alison Hemstock
11.00 am                          Sheffield

Sunday 20th March            Ed Fordham                          Rowan Beton
11.00 am                           Intergenertional

Sunday 27th March            David Burton                         Winnie Green
11.00 am                           Mothering Sunday

Sunday 3rd April                  David Burton                                    Ruth Beck
11.00 am                           A Celebration of Spring

* Note:  As you will see, the role of Greeters has now been covered for February and March. More volunteers are needed to share the load, please sign up on the sheet in Chapel for any date/dates you can cover or contact Frances on          07410 699931.


HOW DO WE THINK ABOUT REFUGEES?                                                    

I heard on the radio that another refugee died in the Channel today, the 15th of January. Several others were rescued from the sea by the RNLI. Some were unconscious and needed to be resuscitated. One of them was a child. Just an ordinary day on what  was – apparently – a flat calm sea. They were probably hit by the wake of a ship that couldn’t see them. What a horrible, desperate and lonely way to die. More refugees will have died crossing the Sahara desert today. Some will be children, sadly a few will be babies. Some will also have died in the Aegean Sea, trying to reach the safety of a Greek Island. Lampedusa will again see desperate people calling the Italian Coastguard, asking to be rescued from dangerous boats.

Yet,what do we see when we see these people? Do we see them as something to be rejected  because we think that we do not have enough resources in this country to help them as well as “Looking after our own”? Or do we choose to see them as people who have often endured the most horrific of economic and political circumstances in their own country? Circumstances that are so oppressive, that they feel that the only way they can survive is by taking the dangerous journey of a refugee to countries that they have been told will give them the opportunities that they could never have in their own country.

What would it feel like if our government told us that people with red hair had been involved in a serious coup attempt and they were enemies of this country? If you had red hair, how would that make you feel? If you didn’t have red hair, how might that make you feel? What about if you didn’t have red hair, but your child did – again how would that make you feel? How would you feel if your neighbours stopped talking to you, because either you or a member of your family had red hair? Maybe you can’t get anything other than a poorly paid job because either you, or members of your family have Red hair. The answers to these questions might seem very obvious. The point that I am making – albeit in a very clunky way – is that when we read about “The Refugee Crisis” or we see something about it on the television, it is very easy to forget that these are individual people and families who are in the most desperate, appalling situations.
On Sunday the 30th of January, I will be leading the service again on the theme of refugees and the nature of refuge. We will be looking at how we can value the positive contributions that refugees can bring  to our lives – both culturally and economically. We will also be featuring a presentation from “Upbeat Communities” who are a Derby based  Christian Charity that has extensive experience of supporting refugees in general and – more recently – Afghan refugees in particular. All are very warmly welcomed!
7                                          Rowan Beton


“ A powerful voice for equality, peace and reconciliation”  words of tribute from the journalist Ian Burrell :

Very occasionally amid our disappointments ( Politicians & Senior Clergy ) an utterly authentic and truly genuine person of “ Faith “ confronts all our doubt and scepticism.

For many it was the infectious laugh of Desmond Tutu – for myself his ability to embrace and include the small Unitarian Community at Cape Town South Africa. On many occasions Bishop Desmond Tutu was seen at Unitarian events supporting our minister Gordon Oliver a former Mayor of Cape Town.

At a recent service at Chapel I included the following quotations which are worthy of continued reflection and possible action ?

  1. “ There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river – We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in ! “
    2. “ My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together “
    3. “ Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness “
    4. “ When the Missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “ Let us pray “. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the Land ! “
    5. “ If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an Elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality “
    Thanks be for this remarkable human being who did not sell his soul.

David Burton



According to J & J Stibbe “A Bundle of Laughs”


  1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
  2. Dear God, I have a problem; it’s me.
  3. Growing old is inevitable, growing UP is optional.
    4. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.
    5.  Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.
  4. You do the maths. Count your blessings.
  5. Faith is the ability to not panic.
  6. Laugh every day; it’s like inner jogging.
  7. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.
  8. The most important things in your home are the people!


Some readers may have noticed that your newsletter editor has been missing from recent public services and also sent apologies to the recent meeting of the Planning Committee, where it was decided to continue public services, notwithstanding the fact that several million infected people are now circulating within the UK and passing the virus on to  a number of their close contacts.

Since the planning meeting, the infection rate has turned down, and with it the numbers of patients admitted to hospital – a trend greatly to be welcomed. It seems that these trends are also reflected in local statistics for Amber Valley and some Belper postcodes, and the Planning Committee can perhaps be congratulated for their perspicacity. If members and adherents sit well spaced in their box pews, and continue to wear masks surely they should be OK?

However there are one or two dark clouds which can be discerned in the distance which should cause concern even against the blue skies revealed by the plunging statistics – especially for those of us who have to admit that they are “elderly”. It should be remembered that, last time the numbers were going down, they failed to hit the floor. Instead, they levelled off, and we still had several thousand “delta” infections daily, accompanied by around one thousand deaths every week. Is this really the sort of thing we should “learn to live” with? Also, now that it is becoming clear that most infections are with the young and middle aged, most of whom recover and do not need prolonged hospital treatment , the number of deaths is still going up, and the people affected are largely in the age group 60+. In short, the younger ones are surviving, thanks to herd immunity and booster vaccines, but at the same time they are passing on the infection to a limited number of their seniors, many of whom have inbuilt vulnerabilities which, allied with Covid, constitute a fatal combination. On one day, the 20th January, there were 174 deaths of people who had tested positive within 28 days. Of these, 10 were in age group 0-59; the remaining ones, aged 60+, numbered 164.

So, I hope you will forgive me, your newsletter editor, if at my great age, I need to be very, very careful, and I would suggest that any other readers similarly placed should do the same.





HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?  Perhaps you should read this:-

Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, “Certainly the preacher won’t think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this.” Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, “We thank thee, 0 God, that it is not always like this.”


                                                A Review –                                                     


I am a reader of detective novels of various types, and I also know and admire Ted the man, so was doubly keen to read it. I was impressed. The drugs scene is certainly sadly very real, but equally in our faces, and glamourised in media, so to tackle it was brave: it is an experiment that really worked, and philosophically handled.

I could picture the varied scenes immediately, and it kept me on my toes. It is far ranging in its scope, geographically and socially. It showed vast knowledge and research, but as we all know you need more for fiction; and it had it: it was equally human and humane.

I was slow to get round to reading it, and longer to review it. I expect others may also be distracted by media hurling things at us. Also the odd contradiction may be that the appalling protracted situation we are going through globally, can actually prevent real engagement, or seeing things through? Validation, reflection and response may have gone out of the window? I ask you to pause along your way and read this small, quiet, contribution to the world of fiction. Once you open it and read it you will be swept along with it. I have it in kindle form, and my husband has it on his vast to read list. I shall buy the book today for my brother in law.

Sue Castle




It’s the generation that wore miniskirts  and went to university, travelled the

world on gap years and bought their own homes, even if they were in need of renovation. They stopped wearing the same clothes as their parents and listening to the same music – instead they chose Mary Quant and Bob Dylan. They went on protest marches and felt they could change the world. That was the 1960s, the generation when the so-called ‘baby boomers’ became teenagers and the world was their oyster.

A new book, co-authored by chartered psychologist Nicola Madge, looks at the lives of 67 women in their sixties from a variety of backgrounds who are now all middle-class, as broadly defined.

“They see themselves as very lucky,” says Nicola. “They avoided the war and had all the benefits their parents had fought for, such as the Welfare State and the NHS. Every thing was getting better.” They were also able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them through education and reforms such as the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975.

Women of that generation saw that they had more opportunities than their parents had – but things were not always easy. “Only 10 per cent went to university in those days,” says Nicola, who is an honorary professor at Kingston University. “It was something of a luxury to go to university – you knew that if you went to university, you would get a job afterwards. Nowadays there is no guarantee of a job. Women knew that if they chucked in a job on Friday, they could get a new one on Monday. It might not be exactly what they wanted, but it would be a job.”

Looking to the future, many have concerns about their own children and grandchildren. “It’s much more difficult today to get jobs or get on the housing ladder,” says Nicola. “Of course, there is the Bank of Mum and Dad, so the lucky ones in the next generation are benefiting in that way. This generation is sometimes called ‘the sandwich generation’ because they may have elderly parents to care for as well as grandchildren, as childcare is so expensive. But they are more active than generations before them, they have lots of interests, they sit on committees, they do exercise classes, they want to carry on learning and meeting people. And health is important because as long as you

keep healthy, you can continue doing these things.”

Sixty Somethings: The lives of women who remember the Sixties, by Nicola Madge and Paul Hoggart, is published by Quartet Books, £12.




Chairman and Safeguarding Officer
David Burton, Ivy Cottage, 4 Wheatley Lane, Two Dales, Matlock DE42FF
davidburton57@icloud.com                                               Tel:01629 734072

Secretary   Winnie Green  greenwin33@yahoo.com     Tel: 01332 882878        [temporary contact for ceremonies*]                                  or 0796 8823103.

Frances St Lawrence
 fmstlawrence@gmaiLcom             Tel: 01773 824548
Asst. Treasurer
Matt St Lawrence                                                   contact details as above

Communications/Publicity   Jan Barrett
jan_barrett@hotmail.com                                           Tel: 01773 827831

Jean Hemming
144, Far Laund, Belper, DE56 1FJ        Tel: 01773 827869

Trustees’   Secretary/Treasurer
Sue MacFarlane

sue@the-macfarlanes.co.uk                                        Tel: 07774 004240

Newsletter Editor
Ted Roadhouse   tedroadhouse2@gmail.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 Winnie Green to enquire about chapel hire, Christenings, Namings, Weddings/Civil Partnership Ceremonies, or Funeral Services.