I'm sitting at home, enjoying the Easter break with friends who are staying and privately reflecting on 4 great days in Birmingham at the Annual Meetings and General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. I realise having mulled it over a fair amount over the last 24 hours that much of what I picked up is food for thought and deserving of greater reflection and contemplation.

So what did I come back with that I can share here? A first outlet of thanks and appreciation to fellow dissenters:

  1. I have more books. 2 on James Martineau, a hymnal from 1951, A study of the relationship between Unitarianism, Judaism and Islam, 150 poem selection of the mystic Rumi and a new text on prayers for Inclusive Workshop. The deal with my husband is that in our new home one book in means one book out. I have a new mini crisis. 
  2. I have my full set of GA Zette's that I can file with my set from last year... is this a new collection addiction? Hmmmm.
  3. Amidst my paperwork I have hooked out the Vision to Action next steps leaflet and made a private commitment to read and translate into what that means for me and my Chapel. Eeek a bold step by me.
  4. The to-finish list of items from my previous Chapel and community is now agreed and I have to find fresh excuses or alternatively deliver on those commitments. Delivery it is, I think.
  5. Over 1,000 photographs to sort through and a series of ideas off how to do that photography differently next year in order to add value better. It might not have seemed like it, but this year was light years ahead of last year in terms of speed of sharing, depth of tweeting and the communications with those not present. But we need more progress and improvement not less.
  6. I have a copy of Unitarian Theology from the Cross Street Chapel conference in May 2016 and have started to digest it. I blame the Rev Jim Corrigall, yet I am grateful for his urging to get a copy and read it. Half a tick to me.
  7. In my desire to be thorough and in order to develop my writing, my range and my themes I now have a structured depth in my blog of Unitarianism that until now was a little ad hoc. Yay. Big tick. Why not go read the posts that I put up each day or so during the GA? http://edfordham.com/index.php/travel-blog/unitarians

But beyond these there are other elements. New people well met, acquaintances now transferred into friendships and new acquaintances built through shared experience. And more than these there is the personal reflection from the deeper, more provocative conversations and chats. The late night bar, the intense brief chat over a coffee, the snatched whisper in the plenary session with someone with whom I didn't spend enough time.

And these will take time to shape and formulate, there as something else that I have carried home... Right now I find myself angry, frustrated, irritated and slightly helpless at the realisation that there are a whole number of citizens of the world who have turned to Britain and who now no longer have confidence, security or safety ahead of them. In the turmoil of the world they are now at risk of rejection, poverty, homelessness, illness, racism, persecution and perhaps every anger, violence and deportation and then worse.

This realisation, already known to me, but not formulated was brought home by the motion regarding the attacks on the Egyptian Coptic Church, the presentation of cheques to the British Red Cross regarding Syria and Yemen and the Emergency motion regarding the deportation from the UK of a settled citizen. What I realise is that my impotence, my frustration and my anger might in fact be a call to action and the The Unitarians might be a part of the answer.

I think it it's time that we, The United Kingdom, we Britain, we England, we Derbyshire and we Chesterfield (in my instance) stood up and articulated that no human being is illegal. That there is a more compassionate answer to the lexicon of labelling humans.

I say no to the label refugee, no to the label asylum seeker, no to the label foreigner, no to the label illegal, no to the labelling of people and their mistreatment under rules and targets. I am going to say yes to humanity, yes to seekers of sanctuary, yes to citizens of the world. And over the coming days, weeks and months I will try and work through for myself what that means for me and my Unitarian faith.

What say you?