Musyck Anon Christmas Concert – 16 December

The local madrigal group, Musyck Anon, will once again hold a Christmas concert at Oat Street Chapel, at 7.30pm on Friday 18 December,  with refreshments available afterwards. All welcome!

There will be no admission charge, but a retiring collection will be taken in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

George May Memorial

Readers of the Evesham Journal (19th May), or any of its sister publications, will have noted with interest the report of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society’s project to replace the memorial to George May in the grounds of Oat Street Chapel. Echoing a similar project at the turn of the 20th century, the Historical Society is inviting donations from both its members and the public to meet the four-figure cost of a replacement. As Chapel members may be aware, the existing memorial dates from 1903, when the then incumbent, Rev Rudolph Davis, called upon 32 members of the public to donate 5 shillings each towards the cost of replacing the original memorial that had been erected at the time of George May’s death in 1871 and which, by then, had become badly eroded. Both the Chapel Trustees and Committee are providing support and encouragement to the Historical Society for the new project and a number of events, jointly hosted by the Chapel and the Historical Society are currently under consideration.

Further information regarding George May and his memorial are to be found in the articles on the Chapel website, written by Chapel member Mrs Maureen Butler:

Peter Forder

Sylvia Slocombe (1928 – 2011)

The last wishes of long-term Chapel Member, Committee Chair and Trustee, Mrs Sylvia Slocombe, were honoured on the afternoon of 29th May when her ashes were interred in the Remembrance Garden at Oat Street Chapel. The brief ceremony was conducted by Kath Forder in the presence of close members of Sylvia’s family. A memorial plaque will be installed on the Wall of Remembrance in due course. The Chapel is grateful to the family for a generous donation in memory of Sylvia which will be used to finance a number of improvements to the Remembrance Garden.

Cotswold Churches Festival

“Churches ready to throw open doors. Lots planned for celebration of historic sites” – or so announced the banner headline on the inner pages of the Evesham Journal and its sister publications some weeks ago. Heralding the start of the Cotswold Churches Festival on 14th May, the newspaper article noted that whilst the 9-day event originated from the Diocese of Oxford it was nevertheless intended to give churches of any denomination within the Cotswolds an opportunity to open their doors and welcome visitors. Church registration was duly invited at the Festival website: http://www.cotswoldchurchesfestival.org/

As a late registration, Oat Street Chapel achieved unexpected publicity as the 100th place of worship to register its intent to participate. Open mornings on Saturday 14th and 21st May were duly included in the list of events and thanks go to John & Eileen Green, Don & Sheila Taylor and Lesley Harris for providing a welcome and refreshments for visitors on these occasions. Special thanks also go to Don Taylor for providing the scones for which he has achieved some renown. Despite the few visitors who were received, those concerned in the hosting considered their efforts worthwhile, particularly since the only other places of worship which had registered in Evesham were the Anglican churches of All Saints’ and St Lawrence adjoining Abbey Park. The Festival is intended to become an annual event so perhaps next year we can look forward to better things.

Peter Forder

Asparagus Lunch

Evesham’s Oat Street Chapel was humming on Wednesday 11th May…

Forty-one people from nine Midlands Unitarian Association congregations continued the tradition of meeting during Evesham’s asparagus season for an ‘Asparagus Lunch’. After the company had gathered for coffee and greeted old friends and new in the chapel’s gatehouse, the Rev. Dr Peter Godfrey treated us to an inspiring service on the subject of ‘happiness’, including a reading by Kath Forder of the Jerusalem Bible’s version of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 1-10), which replaced the usual ‘Blessed are…’ with ‘Happy are’ . Rev. Ant Howe accompanied us on the organ with his usual flair; his joyous postlude had feet tapping, and we went back to the gatehouse for lunch smiling.

After a welcome by Oat Street Chair Dr Peter Forder, and grace by Rev Don Phillips, we tucked into a choice of chicken princess with white wine and asparagus sauce or an asparagus and mushroom risotto, followed by fruit salad or cheese and biscuits. Lunch, provided by Evesham caterers ‘Cobwebs’, was delicious and plentiful; one person, on being served with cheese, was heard to observe ‘It’s a ploughman’s lunch!’, before offering portions of cheese to the rest of the table.

In making the traditional toast ‘To civil and religious liberty the world over’, GA President Ann Peart reminded us of the origins of the meeting, which began in 1782 as ‘cover’ for a then illegal get- together of non-conformist ministers. The ‘Warwickshire and Neighbouring Counties Monthly Meeting of Protestant Dissenting Ministers (1782)’ – affectionately known as ‘Ministers’ Meeting’ – now consists of current and retired ministers and lay leaders of MUA congregations (currently with a couple of ministry students, too!), and still hosts the event at Oat Street, with the willing cooperation of the Chapel’s congregation. All involved were thanked, and coffee and mints served, before the hum of conversation faded and a replete, happy group said its goodbyes and wended its way home.

In Memoriam

The funeral service for Sylvia Slocombe was conducted by Kath Forder at Cheltenham Crematorium at 12.00 noon on Monday, 14th March (Eulogy on page 13). Those who came to pay their respects included seven Members from Oat Street Chapel, some of whom were able to join the family for lunch after the service.

Peter Forder

Annual General Meeting

Evesham Unitarians held their AGM on Sunday, 13th March following the usual morning service of worship, led by Chapel member Jane Couper. The current Chairman Peter Forder thanked all for coming and invited the meeting to observe a few moments of silence in memory of the three Members who had passed away in 2010 and 2011: Basil Shufflebotham, Brenda Staines and most recently, Sylvia Slocombe.

Annual General Meetings are an important opportunity for Members to take stock of the year just gone and, through the discussion of the Annual Reports and Accounts, to satisfy themselves that, apart from the ever present concern over gradually declining membership, the Congregation remains in good health. The meeting also allows Members to express thanks to all who have made contributions to the life of the Chapel in the past year and to vote in (or out) those who are to serve on the Congregational Committee in the year to come. In the event, however, such a vote proved unnecessary and the existing Committee and Officers were re-elected unopposed.

The routine business having been completed satisfactorily, the meeting then turned its attention to the far from routine item on the agenda: the proposal that the Congregation adopt a more modern constitution as a first step towards applying for Registered Charity Status. The ensuing lengthy discussion, however, raised a number of points which indicated that Members were not yet ready to vote on the proposal and that a further consultation period was required.

The date of the next AGM was fixed for Sunday, 11th March 2012.

Evesham Inter-Faith Forum

At the most recent meeting of the EIFF, Evesham Unitarians were represented by Kath Forder. The forum organises events which, it is hoped, will encourage and support inter-faith relationships in the Vale of Evesham. The next events are a Devotional Evening of readings and music at Holland House, similar to that held in July last year, and a visit to the Sikh Gurdwara in Leamington Spa. Further details will be publicised in due course. Please contact Kath if you require information about the EIFF.

Annual General Meeting 2011

The season of the Annual General Meeting is again upon us with Oat Street Chapel’s own AGM scheduled for 13th March, immediately after the Sunday service. The meeting this year proves to be somewhat out of the ordinary since Members will be asked to vote on the proposal that the Congregation should adopt a more modern constitution. Kindly drawn up by Sandy Ellis and subsequently scrutinised by a Congregational sub-committee, the new constitution, if adopted, would pave the way towards a possibility that the Chapel may, in the future, apply for registered charity status in its own right. The meeting will, of course, also elect the Officers and Members who will serve on the Congregational Committee during the coming year. Those with an interest in doing so should contact our Secretary, Lesley Harris.

St Valentine’s Supper

This year the annual St Valentine’s Supper at Oat Street Chapel took place on the day itself, Monday 14th February. Whilst the lovers of love numbered only about 30, somewhat fewer than in past years, it was unclear as to whether the reduced number was as a result of competing events elsewhere or the effects of seasonal fatigue brought on by what has been, by general agreement, a somewhat trying winter. Spring is, presumably however, on its way and those who gathered in romantic mood in the Upper Gatehouse Room could in the meantime savour Sally’s home-cooked steak and ale pie (or a vegetarian variant) and the tempting array of Don Taylor’s desserts. Many thanks, as always, go to Sally, Chris and all their helpers for the hard work that the preparation and serving of such a meal entails.

Several of Chris’ imaginative quizzes followed. Of particular originality was the “Money Quiz” in which all answers were sums of pre-decimal money. Whilst the connection between the clue “An old bicycle” and 11⁄4d was straightforward, to connect “A part of an ape’s leg” with the answer of 1⁄2d required a less logical approach (and perhaps a particular manner of speech)…

Nevertheless, a good time was had by all and £291 was raised for Chapel funds. Thank you again, Chris and Sally.