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Welcome from the Minister

Rev Karen Stallard

Karen Stallard

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Union Chapel, we hope that as you visit this website you will be inspired to come and visit the wonderful space in which our church has the privilege of meeting.
 
Union Chapel has a history of being non-conformist and the church here embraces that non-conformity with much enthusiasm. It is not that we think that more conforming churches are wrong in what they do and how they do it, it is just that we believe in diversity and the fact that sometimes when we choose not to conform to what is the norm, especially within church, then God often reveals to us a progressive pathway for the future. 

We are committed to reading the bible with eyes and ears that are open, we value good theological practice that listens to many voices, not just the ones which make us feel comfortable. We are committed to exploring the life and teaching of Jesus through scripture and we recognise that prayer can happen in many different ways. We want to be a church which thinks and allows people to think.
 
For myself I find Union Chapel is a place where I can ask questions, express doubts and challenge my own traditions and cultural baggage in order to be better equipped to love God and love my neighbours in the context in which I live. Union Chapel tries not to be prescriptive but offers a sense of freedom to individuals and groups to just be who they are and to believe in what makes sense to them, but it also challenges individuals to journey on from that which troubles them into a space free from fear. I began my relationship with church when I was 8 years old, and there have been ups and downs, much hurt and joy, but as I have journeyed I have met the most amazing people and experienced my spiritual life progress and become more enriched with every step I take. Church is full of people and therefore full of the complexities of relationships. I find it a fascinating community to be a part of. Within the context of church I have experienced belonging and also being on the outside, I have experienced frightening violence but also deep peace; but more importantly church has been the catalyst for me to discover freedom within myself and a growing awareness of the gift of life which surrounds me every moment I live.
 
This year in Union Chapel we want to really explore what we have to offer our community as a non-conformist church. Apart from a beautiful space, a fantastic music venue, and an amazing homelessness project I think we have a gift to offer any individual who might venture into the church. This is the gift of freedom, it is not something which comes easily or without a price, but it is something which we know a little bit about and we would like to share with you, should you want to journey with us to discover it for yourselves.
 
Finally here is a quote from a well known artist:
 
“Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.” 
Andy Warhol 
 
I think Andy Warhol has captured something of the frustration we have with the world (and often with the church) and its demand for us to conform. I wonder what it might be like to ask the question “Well then, how might I be reborn into freedom?”
 
I hope you will come and explore freedom with us sometime this year!
 
 
Karen