I read somewhere that you never know a place until you have been in it in utter darkness.  It always seemed an extreme and threatening notion, until one night I walked along a beach in West Africa and bathed in the light of the cool moon and marvelled at the freedom and solitude.

 Yesterday, as our Heritage Open Day at Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel in Chesterfield came to an end, the fuse of a light blew and the chapel's natural light was heavily dimmed.  Far from being dark or threatening, we found it was suddenly deeply atmospheric.  Indeed, as I lit the two candles on the top altar at the top of the chapel, it felt warm, secure and enclosed.  The darkened light far from being chilled, acted as a cloak protecting those of us gathered in there.

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:

There are reasons to attend a conference, to learn, to listen, to network, to socialise - today I wept and they were tears of delight, of pride and of achievement.

At the General Assembly of the Unitarians and Free Christian Churches Kate McKenna was received into ministry and is now styled Rev. Kate McKenna and listed in the roll of Unitarian Ministers.

So the start of the next Annual Meetings gathering if the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches draws near. The sooner we finish now, the sooner we recommence our family reunion.

For a family reunion is what this is - and in celebrating the new ministers, meeting the students and remembering those sadly no longer with us, we annually regenerate our passion, our commitment and our values.

I often write about my slipping into the back of my chapel, a chapel or a tranquil place in order to reflect. On other times I talk about my active interest and role and history in front line politics. Detached from that is my own digestion of news, events and current affairs.

So today I found these three strands coming together when my dear friend Rev. Feargus O'Connor introduced and welcomed the presentation of cheques from the Unitarian Movement to the British Red Cross. In reply the representative from the British Red Cross, Hugh Fenton, highlighted the work that is going on in Syria and Yemen to tackle the humanitarian crisis facing both civilian populations.