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December 2013

We give special thanks for the kindness of the Quakers who ran The Quaker Christmas Shelter from the 23rd to the 30th. The Quakers rely on a team of nearly 100 volunteers to staff the shelter 24 hours a day and cook meals. They provided 26 beds every night and provided drop in breakfasts and dinners for up to 80 people, be they homeless, isolated or facing poverty, with packed lunches also available to take away. Also on offer was Christmas themed entertainment and a range of 30 specialist services including hairdressers, opticians and doctors. Support workers from the Pilion Trust were also on hand to provide advice and resettlement support.

Our Carols by Candlelight concert on Sunday 15th brought together over 900 people. The story of Jesus' birth was brought to life through music and bible readings. Union Chapel looked at its finest, decked out with candles and brought much festive joy to the local community.

It was lovely to see some new faces for the service on Christmas Morning. The Christmas worship adopted a child-centred, fun approach with lots of commendable young acting.

November 2013

Several chapel members attended the special service at Westminster Abbey on 28th, to mark the 60th anniversary of The National Churches Trust. Read more...

We are delighted that Age UK Islington has joined our ongoing Open Wednesday programme, offering monthly coffee concerts as an addition to our weekly free events and activities. A warm Wednesday welcome from our friends at the Stuart Low Trust and from Margins. All are welcome to join us for conversation without barriers.

Our Remembrance Service was held on Monday 11 November and attended by many local residents and visitors. Supported by sensitive readers and musicians, we gave thought to "The Unforgotten": those left behind, in any sense, past or present. Against a background of contemplative words and music we reflected on those who have lost their lives in past and present military conflicts. Historian Andy Gardner read from letters, sent but never delivered, to mothers at home. Organist Roger B Williams joined with the violinist Zlatko Velichkov to play the final movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, for piano and violin. Poetry and powerful choral music from Union Chapel Choir, including the premiere of a new work for organ by Claire M Singer, helped us to remember, question and hope.

October 2013

Andy, Liz and Philip attended the induction service of Pastor Nestor Fernandez at Cross Street Baptist Church, on 20th. It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nestor as a nearby neighbour at a service filled with joy and singing.

Marie-Claude Perreault has joined us as Choir leader. Originally from Montréal, Québec, Canada, she has lived in London for several years. She has a BMus (Piano Performance), an MA (Music Education), and an extensive experience of teaching and choral directing.

September 2013

Hundreds of people visited Union Chapel during Open House London on the weekend of 21st/22nd. Saturday visitors were entertained by a free Daylight Music performance, and the kiosk was open serving light refreshments and food, raising money for Margins. This was followed by free entry to Sunday jazz. Heritage and Outreach worker Andy Gardner was on hand to lead guided tours of the whole complex of buildings, alongside Richard Wallington, chairman of the Friends, and Cllr George Allan. All three were delighted to take questions about the history and architecture of the chapel buildings as well as their life today.

Daniela Sbrisny's photographic record of the organ restoration is on display in the North Corridor and staircase. Do come and see her work in its home context.

Edward-Rhys Harry joins us as Choir Master. His previous posts include Lecturer in Performing Arts, Menai College; Director of Music, Llandrillo College; and Director of Music in Performing Arts, Queen Mary's College Hampshire. He has published and recorded widely along with many commissioned compositions. A very warm welcome from all at Union Chapel.

August 2013

In partnership with the Stuart Low Trust we continue to offer "Coffee and Conversation" from 10 am to 12 noon on Open Wednesdays (we also brew tea) on a drop-in basis. We intend to build these into something much bigger from the autumn, with afternoon and evening events open to all. We hope also to involve Age UK Islington from October. One thing we weren't expecting on 14th was a visit from Islington entertainer Dave Elvis, who sang for us a capella, demonstrating just what the chapel's architecture can do for the unamplified human voice!

We welcomed a modest number of visitors for a full guided tour of our buildings on Sunday 4th; they appreciated the attention to individual questions that smaller numbers attract. We are preparing now for visitors in September for the tour on Sunday 1st, London Ride and Stride on 14th, and Open House London on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. We hope to bring out the barbecue...

July 2013

July was a really busy month for the Organ Project, as we celebrated the restoration of our magnificent Henry Willis pipe organ with a whole week of workshops and concerts. Thanks to a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the vital support of the Union Chapel Project and all the staff and members of the Chapel, the organ was dismantled in July and August last year, transported to the Durham workshops of organbuilders Harrison and Harrison for a complete overhaul, and then rebuilt in the Chapel early in 2013. Following an extensive period of voicing and tuning and a few weeks of settling in, we wanted to welcome the organ back into the heart of the Chapel and encourage as many people as possible to hear it, so Music Director Claire M Singer planned events across a range of genres to highlight the sound, the heritage and the often ignored versatility of this world-class instrument. Read more...

We've enjoyed working for some time now with Kerst Sikkema's compositions and performances. On his website you can find out about CDs, concerts, coffees and walks. House of my Heart will be Kerst’s latest CD project with 15 tracks, again produced by Hanif Williams of Thumbprint Media.

Union Chapel welcomed the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 on 17 July. We welcome and encourage approaches from any loving couple, and always look forward to planning services.

June 2013

We held the Margins auction night on June 20th and it was a real success; very buzzy and well attended (about 80 people) - a great feeling in the room. Thanks to people's amazing generosity and the skill of our wonderful auctioneer Paul, the evening raised just over £7,500 which exceeded expectations by a long way and is a really significant sum for the project. This was the first event of its kind we've done, made possible by a fantastic range of items and promises that individuals and local businesses had donated and there was some pretty ferocious bidding over everything from a weekend's sailing, theatre and concert tickets, meals, tours and experiences to the promise of two of Janet's legendary pavolvas! The evening was hugely enhanced by a talented young sax and guitar jazz duo and delicious snacks from the Margins cafe (included in the ticket price). We've been delighted to hear in the aftermath how much people enjoyed the evening.

The chapel has welcomed Angela Ballantyne as our new church administrator. Andy is still here, moving further into heritage and outreach. Angela joins Janet and Claire in the vestry as they plan the restored organ launch events for July. The vestry is becoming quite cosy!

Andy visited St John the Evangelist Church in Duncan Terrace for their 170th anniversary mass on Sunday 30 June, bringing Union Chapel's greetings and warm wishes to Fr Howard, as he plans to take up his ministry in the West Indies. Also in attendance was Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and a strong advocate for our work at Margins.

May 2013

Lord Falconer addressed a one-day conference on 20th, alongside interfaith representatives, on his Assisted Dying Bill. He was happy to take questions and explain clearly where his bill does, and does not, make provision. A debate was held separately in the evening at which church members and guests talked of this controversial and emotive area with calmness and sensitivity. Where we disagreed with each other, we listened, and were saddened that not all faiths felt able to attend. We will follow the Parliamentary debates closely.

With great pleasure, and much preparation, we held what we believe to be our first interfaith wedding on Saturday 11th. Nisha has a Hindu faith, Paul a Christian one. We were able to accommodate both in our services, with words and proceedings appropriate for both families. We should never stand in between two people in love, and the families appreciated the chapel's openness. As a double-first, Nisha and Paul enjoyed the first wedding in decades that heard the fully restored organ as it was intended!

Our regular study on Proverbs continues, with food for the soul often followed by sustenance for the body.

Meanwhile, Andy has been looking at the papers of the late Rev Ronald Taylor, Minister from 1940 - 1980 (Blitz to Thatcher) and would be grateful to receive memories and recollections from those who knew him.

April 2013

The Chapel is glad to announce that from 1 April, Andy Gardner is appointed part-time Heritage and Outreach worker. Andy has been a church member since 2008, and employed since 2010 as assistant to Karen and the Deacons, in particular helping to organise weddings. During this time, interest from the public in visiting the chapel to learn about its stories and architecture has grown considerably, so that his role has further developed. A new admin role to work alongside the church is advertised, deadline for applications 29 April - Andy will help with his previous tasks until the new appointment is made.

March 2013

Holy Week was a busy one for us, with many activities and visitors. Following multi-voiced worship on Palm Sunday, our weekly Wednesday study group met for lunchtime thought and discussion; and church members gathered with their partners for a Maundy Thursday evening liturgy and meal. Karen took part in the Walk of Witness on Good Friday, and preached in the ecumenical service at St Mary's, Upper Street.

Our 3pm Good Friday concert was a great success, with over 900 people in attendance for a free performance of J S Bach's St John Passion. Our thanks to the Congregational Federation, to musical director and conductor Scott Stroman and to all who rehearsed so hard, for helping to make classical music in a Grade I setting accessible to the whole community.

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, former MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and now Chairman of the Environment Agency, delivered the Peter Powell Memorial Lecture on 20th. Peter was one of the founding Friends of Union Chapel and had been an Islington Councillor with Chris Smith in the 1980s. He was steadfast and vocal in his defence of the chapel at a time when our buildings were under threat of demolition. Church members and Friends heard Lord Smith address the theme, "How far have we travelled on a green road?" at Islington Town Hall. Peter's daughter Imogen is to marry in the chapel in June.

Church members and members of Union Chapel Project each entered teams amongst many in the Margins Curry & Quiz fundraising night, on Wednesday 6th. UCP fared well; the church narrowly failed to come last, with their team not having much luck on sport!

Sarah Strang, our erstwhile Artist in Residence entertained church members at her home for food and wine on Friday 1st to celebrate her year at the chapel in 2012. We have taken much joy, knowledge and understanding from her year with us, and wish her every success with future projects.

February 2013

The Church Meeting, our governing body, agreed on 28th its support for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it progresses through Parliament.

The Union Chapel Organ Project invited church members and staff to a lunch in the Upper Hall on Tuesday 26th to say thank you to all from Harrison & Harrison for their painstaking restoration work since the Autumn.

On Sunday 17th we welcomed as guest preacher Phil Warburton, from E1 Community Church, on the first Sunday of Lent. Our Wednesday lunchtime study drew from his sermon, thinking of the themes both of temptation, and of giving. We read from Deuteronomy 26: 1-11 and Luke 4: 1-13.

On 10th we had a moving presentation from Dr Jane Stephens on the work of the Green Tara Trust in Nepal.

January 2013

On Wednesday 30th, church members met for a social evening at the Draper's Arms in Barnsbury Street. We tried not to "talk shop"!

On 25th we held our delayed Christmas party for all parts of the Chapel. As suggested by our resident Scot, Claire, we held a Burns Supper which was a great success. Over 50 staff, volunteers, trustees, friends, church members and neighbours met, ate haggis (or a veggie alternative) and attempted Scottish country dancing.  Karen piped in the haggis on her sax, Claire and our neighbour Roger Mears gave a rousing 'Address to the Haggis' and Philip and Karen sparred wittily in their address to the ladies and reply. We hope to hold this as an annual event going forward, so if you couldn't make it this year, hopefully next year.

On 19th, Andy attended the Harecourt United Reformed Church induction service of Vaughan Jones. The service was well attended on a very cold day, and we were delighted to support our neighbours.

December 2012

Carols by Candlelight is an annual event that in 2012 took place on Sunday 16th in the evening. It is one of the highlights of the local calendar with a fully rehearsed choir. We welcomed over a thousand people to worship and song, raising money for our Margins work and to support other local charities through Islington Giving.

December 2013

We give special thanks for the kindness of the Quakers who ran The Quaker Christmas Shelter from the 23rd to the 30th. The Quakers rely on a team of nearly 100 volunteers to staff the shelter 24 hours a day and cook meals. They provided 26 beds every night and provided drop in breakfasts and dinners for up to 80 people, be they homeless, isolated or facing poverty, with packed lunches also available to take away. Also on offer was Christmas themed entertainment and a range of 30 specialist services including hairdressers, opticians and doctors. Support workers from the Pilion Trust were also on hand to provide advice and resettlement support.

Our Carols by Candlelight concert on Sunday 15th brought together over 900 people. The story of Jesus' birth was brought to life through music and bible readings. Union Chapel looked at its finest, decked out with candles and brought much festive joy to the local community.

It was lovely to see some new faces for the service on Christmas Morning. The Christmas worship adopted a child-centred, fun approach with lots of commendable young acting.

November 2013

Several chapel members attended the special service at Westminster Abbey on 28th, to mark the 60th anniversary of The National Churches Trust. Read more...

We are delighted that Age UK Islington has joined our ongoing Open Wednesday programme, offering monthly coffee concerts as an addition to our weekly free events and activities. A warm Wednesday welcome from our friends at the Stuart Low Trust and from Margins. All are welcome to join us for conversation without barriers.

Our Remembrance Service was held on Monday 11 November and attended by many local residents and visitors. Supported by sensitive readers and musicians, we gave thought to "The Unforgotten": those left behind, in any sense, past or present. Against a background of contemplative words and music we reflected on those who have lost their lives in past and present military conflicts. Historian Andy Gardner read from letters, sent but never delivered, to mothers at home. Organist Roger B Williams joined with the violinist Zlatko Velichkov to play the final movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, for piano and violin. Poetry and powerful choral music from Union Chapel Choir, including the premiere of a new work for organ by Claire M Singer, helped us to remember, question and hope.

October 2013

Andy, Liz and Philip attended the induction service of Pastor Nestor Fernandez at Cross Street Baptist Church, on 20th. It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nestor as a nearby neighbour at a service filled with joy and singing.

Marie-Claude Perreault has joined us as Choir leader. Originally from Montréal, Québec, Canada, she has lived in London for several years. She has a BMus (Piano Performance), an MA (Music Education), and an extensive experience of teaching and choral directing.

September 2013

Hundreds of people visited Union Chapel during Open House London on the weekend of 21st/22nd. Saturday visitors were entertained by a free Daylight Music performance, and the kiosk was open serving light refreshments and food, raising money for Margins. This was followed by free entry to Sunday jazz. Heritage and Outreach worker Andy Gardner was on hand to lead guided tours of the whole complex of buildings, alongside Richard Wallington, chairman of the Friends, and Cllr George Allan. All three were delighted to take questions about the history and architecture of the chapel buildings as well as their life today.

Daniela Sbrisny's photographic record of the organ restoration is on display in the North Corridor and staircase. Do come and see her work in its home context.

Edward-Rhys Harry joins us as Choir Master. His previous posts include Lecturer in Performing Arts, Menai College; Director of Music, Llandrillo College; and Director of Music in Performing Arts, Queen Mary's College Hampshire. He has published and recorded widely along with many commissioned compositions. A very warm welcome from all at Union Chapel.

August 2013

In partnership with the Stuart Low Trust we continue to offer "Coffee and Conversation" from 10 am to 12 noon on Open Wednesdays (we also brew tea) on a drop-in basis. We intend to build these into something much bigger from the autumn, with afternoon and evening events open to all. We hope also to involve Age UK Islington from October. One thing we weren't expecting on 14th was a visit from Islington entertainer Dave Elvis, who sang for us a capella, demonstrating just what the chapel's architecture can do for the unamplified human voice!

We welcomed a modest number of visitors for a full guided tour of our buildings on Sunday 4th; they appreciated the attention to individual questions that smaller numbers attract. We are preparing now for visitors in September for the tour on Sunday 1st, London Ride and Stride on 14th, and Open House London on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. We hope to bring out the barbecue...

July 2013

July was a really busy month for the Organ Project, as we celebrated the restoration of our magnificent Henry Willis pipe organ with a whole week of workshops and concerts. Thanks to a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the vital support of the Union Chapel Project and all the staff and members of the Chapel, the organ was dismantled in July and August last year, transported to the Durham workshops of organbuilders Harrison and Harrison for a complete overhaul, and then rebuilt in the Chapel early in 2013. Following an extensive period of voicing and tuning and a few weeks of settling in, we wanted to welcome the organ back into the heart of the Chapel and encourage as many people as possible to hear it, so Music Director Claire M Singer planned events across a range of genres to highlight the sound, the heritage and the often ignored versatility of this world-class instrument. Read more...

We've enjoyed working for some time now with Kerst Sikkema's compositions and performances. On his website you can find out about CDs, concerts, coffees and walks. House of my Heart will be Kerst’s latest CD project with 15 tracks, again produced by Hanif Williams of Thumbprint Media.

Union Chapel welcomed the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 on 17 July. We welcome and encourage approaches from any loving couple, and always look forward to planning services.

June 2013

We held the Margins auction night on June 20th and it was a real success; very buzzy and well attended (about 80 people) - a great feeling in the room. Thanks to people's amazing generosity and the skill of our wonderful auctioneer Paul, the evening raised just over £7,500 which exceeded expectations by a long way and is a really significant sum for the project. This was the first event of its kind we've done, made possible by a fantastic range of items and promises that individuals and local businesses had donated and there was some pretty ferocious bidding over everything from a weekend's sailing, theatre and concert tickets, meals, tours and experiences to the promise of two of Janet's legendary pavolvas! The evening was hugely enhanced by a talented young sax and guitar jazz duo and delicious snacks from the Margins cafe (included in the ticket price). We've been delighted to hear in the aftermath how much people enjoyed the evening.

The chapel has welcomed Angela Ballantyne as our new church administrator. Andy is still here, moving further into heritage and outreach. Angela joins Janet and Claire in the vestry as they plan the restored organ launch events for July. The vestry is becoming quite cosy!

Andy visited St John the Evangelist Church in Duncan Terrace for their 170th anniversary mass on Sunday 30 June, bringing Union Chapel's greetings and warm wishes to Fr Howard, as he plans to take up his ministry in the West Indies. Also in attendance was Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and a strong advocate for our work at Margins.

May 2013

Lord Falconer addressed a one-day conference on 20th, alongside interfaith representatives, on his Assisted Dying Bill. He was happy to take questions and explain clearly where his bill does, and does not, make provision. A debate was held separately in the evening at which church members and guests talked of this controversial and emotive area with calmness and sensitivity. Where we disagreed with each other, we listened, and were saddened that not all faiths felt able to attend. We will follow the Parliamentary debates closely.

With great pleasure, and much preparation, we held what we believe to be our first interfaith wedding on Saturday 11th. Nisha has a Hindu faith, Paul a Christian one. We were able to accommodate both in our services, with words and proceedings appropriate for both families. We should never stand in between two people in love, and the families appreciated the chapel's openness. As a double-first, Nisha and Paul enjoyed the first wedding in decades that heard the fully restored organ as it was intended!

Our regular study on Proverbs continues, with food for the soul often followed by sustenance for the body.

Meanwhile, Andy has been looking at the papers of the late Rev Ronald Taylor, Minister from 1940 - 1980 (Blitz to Thatcher) and would be grateful to receive memories and recollections from those who knew him.

April 2013

The Chapel is glad to announce that from 1 April, Andy Gardner is appointed part-time Heritage and Outreach worker. Andy has been a church member since 2008, and employed since 2010 as assistant to Karen and the Deacons, in particular helping to organise weddings. During this time, interest from the public in visiting the chapel to learn about its stories and architecture has grown considerably, so that his role has further developed. A new admin role to work alongside the church is advertised, deadline for applications 29 April - Andy will help with his previous tasks until the new appointment is made.

March 2013

Holy Week was a busy one for us, with many activities and visitors. Following multi-voiced worship on Palm Sunday, our weekly Wednesday study group met for lunchtime thought and discussion; and church members gathered with their partners for a Maundy Thursday evening liturgy and meal. Karen took part in the Walk of Witness on Good Friday, and preached in the ecumenical service at St Mary's, Upper Street.

Our 3pm Good Friday concert was a great success, with over 900 people in attendance for a free performance of J S Bach's St John Passion. Our thanks to the Congregational Federation, to musical director and conductor Scott Stroman and to all who rehearsed so hard, for helping to make classical music in a Grade I setting accessible to the whole community.

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, former MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and now Chairman of the Environment Agency, delivered the Peter Powell Memorial Lecture on 20th. Peter was one of the founding Friends of Union Chapel and had been an Islington Councillor with Chris Smith in the 1980s. He was steadfast and vocal in his defence of the chapel at a time when our buildings were under threat of demolition. Church members and Friends heard Lord Smith address the theme, "How far have we travelled on a green road?" at Islington Town Hall. Peter's daughter Imogen is to marry in the chapel in June.

Church members and members of Union Chapel Project each entered teams amongst many in the Margins Curry & Quiz fundraising night, on Wednesday 6th. UCP fared well; the church narrowly failed to come last, with their team not having much luck on sport!

Sarah Strang, our erstwhile Artist in Residence entertained church members at her home for food and wine on Friday 1st to celebrate her year at the chapel in 2012. We have taken much joy, knowledge and understanding from her year with us, and wish her every success with future projects.

February 2013

The Church Meeting, our governing body, agreed on 28th its support for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it progresses through Parliament.

The Union Chapel Organ Project invited church members and staff to a lunch in the Upper Hall on Tuesday 26th to say thank you to all from Harrison & Harrison for their painstaking restoration work since the Autumn.

On Sunday 17th we welcomed as guest preacher Phil Warburton, from E1 Community Church, on the first Sunday of Lent. Our Wednesday lunchtime study drew from his sermon, thinking of the themes both of temptation, and of giving. We read from Deuteronomy 26: 1-11 and Luke 4: 1-13.

On 10th we had a moving presentation from Dr Jane Stephens on the work of the Green Tara Trust in Nepal.

January 2013

On Wednesday 30th, church members met for a social evening at the Draper's Arms in Barnsbury Street. We tried not to "talk shop"!

On 25th we held our delayed Christmas party for all parts of the Chapel. As suggested by our resident Scot, Claire, we held a Burns Supper which was a great success. Over 50 staff, volunteers, trustees, friends, church members and neighbours met, ate haggis (or a veggie alternative) and attempted Scottish country dancing.  Karen piped in the haggis on her sax, Claire and our neighbour Roger Mears gave a rousing 'Address to the Haggis' and Philip and Karen sparred wittily in their address to the ladies and reply. We hope to hold this as an annual event going forward, so if you couldn't make it this year, hopefully next year.

On 19th, Andy attended the Harecourt United Reformed Church induction service of Vaughan Jones. The service was well attended on a very cold day, and we were delighted to support our neighbours.

December 2012

Carols by Candlelight is an annual event that in 2012 took place on Sunday 16th in the evening. It is one of the highlights of the local calendar with a fully rehearsed choir. We welcomed over a thousand people to worship and song, raising money for our Margins work and to support other local charities through Islington Giving.

- See more at: http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/pages/news_digest.html#sthash.dQhvOBz9.dpuf

December 2013

We give special thanks for the kindness of the Quakers who ran The Quaker Christmas Shelter from the 23rd to the 30th. The Quakers rely on a team of nearly 100 volunteers to staff the shelter 24 hours a day and cook meals. They provided 26 beds every night and provided drop in breakfasts and dinners for up to 80 people, be they homeless, isolated or facing poverty, with packed lunches also available to take away. Also on offer was Christmas themed entertainment and a range of 30 specialist services including hairdressers, opticians and doctors. Support workers from the Pilion Trust were also on hand to provide advice and resettlement support.

Our Carols by Candlelight concert on Sunday 15th brought together over 900 people. The story of Jesus' birth was brought to life through music and bible readings. Union Chapel looked at its finest, decked out with candles and brought much festive joy to the local community.

It was lovely to see some new faces for the service on Christmas Morning. The Christmas worship adopted a child-centred, fun approach with lots of commendable young acting.

November 2013

Several chapel members attended the special service at Westminster Abbey on 28th, to mark the 60th anniversary of The National Churches Trust. Read more...

We are delighted that Age UK Islington has joined our ongoing Open Wednesday programme, offering monthly coffee concerts as an addition to our weekly free events and activities. A warm Wednesday welcome from our friends at the Stuart Low Trust and from Margins. All are welcome to join us for conversation without barriers.

Our Remembrance Service was held on Monday 11 November and attended by many local residents and visitors. Supported by sensitive readers and musicians, we gave thought to "The Unforgotten": those left behind, in any sense, past or present. Against a background of contemplative words and music we reflected on those who have lost their lives in past and present military conflicts. Historian Andy Gardner read from letters, sent but never delivered, to mothers at home. Organist Roger B Williams joined with the violinist Zlatko Velichkov to play the final movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, for piano and violin. Poetry and powerful choral music from Union Chapel Choir, including the premiere of a new work for organ by Claire M Singer, helped us to remember, question and hope.

October 2013

Andy, Liz and Philip attended the induction service of Pastor Nestor Fernandez at Cross Street Baptist Church, on 20th. It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nestor as a nearby neighbour at a service filled with joy and singing.

Marie-Claude Perreault has joined us as Choir leader. Originally from Montréal, Québec, Canada, she has lived in London for several years. She has a BMus (Piano Performance), an MA (Music Education), and an extensive experience of teaching and choral directing.

September 2013

Hundreds of people visited Union Chapel during Open House London on the weekend of 21st/22nd. Saturday visitors were entertained by a free Daylight Music performance, and the kiosk was open serving light refreshments and food, raising money for Margins. This was followed by free entry to Sunday jazz. Heritage and Outreach worker Andy Gardner was on hand to lead guided tours of the whole complex of buildings, alongside Richard Wallington, chairman of the Friends, and Cllr George Allan. All three were delighted to take questions about the history and architecture of the chapel buildings as well as their life today.

Daniela Sbrisny's photographic record of the organ restoration is on display in the North Corridor and staircase. Do come and see her work in its home context.

Edward-Rhys Harry joins us as Choir Master. His previous posts include Lecturer in Performing Arts, Menai College; Director of Music, Llandrillo College; and Director of Music in Performing Arts, Queen Mary's College Hampshire. He has published and recorded widely along with many commissioned compositions. A very warm welcome from all at Union Chapel.

August 2013

In partnership with the Stuart Low Trust we continue to offer "Coffee and Conversation" from 10 am to 12 noon on Open Wednesdays (we also brew tea) on a drop-in basis. We intend to build these into something much bigger from the autumn, with afternoon and evening events open to all. We hope also to involve Age UK Islington from October. One thing we weren't expecting on 14th was a visit from Islington entertainer Dave Elvis, who sang for us a capella, demonstrating just what the chapel's architecture can do for the unamplified human voice!

We welcomed a modest number of visitors for a full guided tour of our buildings on Sunday 4th; they appreciated the attention to individual questions that smaller numbers attract. We are preparing now for visitors in September for the tour on Sunday 1st, London Ride and Stride on 14th, and Open House London on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. We hope to bring out the barbecue...

July 2013

July was a really busy month for the Organ Project, as we celebrated the restoration of our magnificent Henry Willis pipe organ with a whole week of workshops and concerts. Thanks to a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the vital support of the Union Chapel Project and all the staff and members of the Chapel, the organ was dismantled in July and August last year, transported to the Durham workshops of organbuilders Harrison and Harrison for a complete overhaul, and then rebuilt in the Chapel early in 2013. Following an extensive period of voicing and tuning and a few weeks of settling in, we wanted to welcome the organ back into the heart of the Chapel and encourage as many people as possible to hear it, so Music Director Claire M Singer planned events across a range of genres to highlight the sound, the heritage and the often ignored versatility of this world-class instrument. Read more...

We've enjoyed working for some time now with Kerst Sikkema's compositions and performances. On his website you can find out about CDs, concerts, coffees and walks. House of my Heart will be Kerst’s latest CD project with 15 tracks, again produced by Hanif Williams of Thumbprint Media.

Union Chapel welcomed the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 on 17 July. We welcome and encourage approaches from any loving couple, and always look forward to planning services.

June 2013

We held the Margins auction night on June 20th and it was a real success; very buzzy and well attended (about 80 people) - a great feeling in the room. Thanks to people's amazing generosity and the skill of our wonderful auctioneer Paul, the evening raised just over £7,500 which exceeded expectations by a long way and is a really significant sum for the project. This was the first event of its kind we've done, made possible by a fantastic range of items and promises that individuals and local businesses had donated and there was some pretty ferocious bidding over everything from a weekend's sailing, theatre and concert tickets, meals, tours and experiences to the promise of two of Janet's legendary pavolvas! The evening was hugely enhanced by a talented young sax and guitar jazz duo and delicious snacks from the Margins cafe (included in the ticket price). We've been delighted to hear in the aftermath how much people enjoyed the evening.

The chapel has welcomed Angela Ballantyne as our new church administrator. Andy is still here, moving further into heritage and outreach. Angela joins Janet and Claire in the vestry as they plan the restored organ launch events for July. The vestry is becoming quite cosy!

Andy visited St John the Evangelist Church in Duncan Terrace for their 170th anniversary mass on Sunday 30 June, bringing Union Chapel's greetings and warm wishes to Fr Howard, as he plans to take up his ministry in the West Indies. Also in attendance was Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and a strong advocate for our work at Margins.

May 2013

Lord Falconer addressed a one-day conference on 20th, alongside interfaith representatives, on his Assisted Dying Bill. He was happy to take questions and explain clearly where his bill does, and does not, make provision. A debate was held separately in the evening at which church members and guests talked of this controversial and emotive area with calmness and sensitivity. Where we disagreed with each other, we listened, and were saddened that not all faiths felt able to attend. We will follow the Parliamentary debates closely.

With great pleasure, and much preparation, we held what we believe to be our first interfaith wedding on Saturday 11th. Nisha has a Hindu faith, Paul a Christian one. We were able to accommodate both in our services, with words and proceedings appropriate for both families. We should never stand in between two people in love, and the families appreciated the chapel's openness. As a double-first, Nisha and Paul enjoyed the first wedding in decades that heard the fully restored organ as it was intended!

Our regular study on Proverbs continues, with food for the soul often followed by sustenance for the body.

Meanwhile, Andy has been looking at the papers of the late Rev Ronald Taylor, Minister from 1940 - 1980 (Blitz to Thatcher) and would be grateful to receive memories and recollections from those who knew him.

April 2013

The Chapel is glad to announce that from 1 April, Andy Gardner is appointed part-time Heritage and Outreach worker. Andy has been a church member since 2008, and employed since 2010 as assistant to Karen and the Deacons, in particular helping to organise weddings. During this time, interest from the public in visiting the chapel to learn about its stories and architecture has grown considerably, so that his role has further developed. A new admin role to work alongside the church is advertised, deadline for applications 29 April - Andy will help with his previous tasks until the new appointment is made.

March 2013

Holy Week was a busy one for us, with many activities and visitors. Following multi-voiced worship on Palm Sunday, our weekly Wednesday study group met for lunchtime thought and discussion; and church members gathered with their partners for a Maundy Thursday evening liturgy and meal. Karen took part in the Walk of Witness on Good Friday, and preached in the ecumenical service at St Mary's, Upper Street.

Our 3pm Good Friday concert was a great success, with over 900 people in attendance for a free performance of J S Bach's St John Passion. Our thanks to the Congregational Federation, to musical director and conductor Scott Stroman and to all who rehearsed so hard, for helping to make classical music in a Grade I setting accessible to the whole community.

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, former MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and now Chairman of the Environment Agency, delivered the Peter Powell Memorial Lecture on 20th. Peter was one of the founding Friends of Union Chapel and had been an Islington Councillor with Chris Smith in the 1980s. He was steadfast and vocal in his defence of the chapel at a time when our buildings were under threat of demolition. Church members and Friends heard Lord Smith address the theme, "How far have we travelled on a green road?" at Islington Town Hall. Peter's daughter Imogen is to marry in the chapel in June.

Church members and members of Union Chapel Project each entered teams amongst many in the Margins Curry & Quiz fundraising night, on Wednesday 6th. UCP fared well; the church narrowly failed to come last, with their team not having much luck on sport!

Sarah Strang, our erstwhile Artist in Residence entertained church members at her home for food and wine on Friday 1st to celebrate her year at the chapel in 2012. We have taken much joy, knowledge and understanding from her year with us, and wish her every success with future projects.

February 2013

The Church Meeting, our governing body, agreed on 28th its support for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it progresses through Parliament.

The Union Chapel Organ Project invited church members and staff to a lunch in the Upper Hall on Tuesday 26th to say thank you to all from Harrison & Harrison for their painstaking restoration work since the Autumn.

On Sunday 17th we welcomed as guest preacher Phil Warburton, from E1 Community Church, on the first Sunday of Lent. Our Wednesday lunchtime study drew from his sermon, thinking of the themes both of temptation, and of giving. We read from Deuteronomy 26: 1-11 and Luke 4: 1-13.

On 10th we had a moving presentation from Dr Jane Stephens on the work of the Green Tara Trust in Nepal.

January 2013

On Wednesday 30th, church members met for a social evening at the Draper's Arms in Barnsbury Street. We tried not to "talk shop"!

On 25th we held our delayed Christmas party for all parts of the Chapel. As suggested by our resident Scot, Claire, we held a Burns Supper which was a great success. Over 50 staff, volunteers, trustees, friends, church members and neighbours met, ate haggis (or a veggie alternative) and attempted Scottish country dancing.  Karen piped in the haggis on her sax, Claire and our neighbour Roger Mears gave a rousing 'Address to the Haggis' and Philip and Karen sparred wittily in their address to the ladies and reply. We hope to hold this as an annual event going forward, so if you couldn't make it this year, hopefully next year.

On 19th, Andy attended the Harecourt United Reformed Church induction service of Vaughan Jones. The service was well attended on a very cold day, and we were delighted to support our neighbours.

December 2012

Carols by Candlelight is an annual event that in 2012 took place on Sunday 16th in the evening. It is one of the highlights of the local calendar with a fully rehearsed choir. We welcomed over a thousand people to worship and song, raising money for our Margins work and to support other local charities through Islington Giving.

- See more at: http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/pages/news_digest.html#sthash.dQhvOBz9.dpuf

December 2013

We give special thanks for the kindness of the Quakers who ran The Quaker Christmas Shelter from the 23rd to the 30th. The Quakers rely on a team of nearly 100 volunteers to staff the shelter 24 hours a day and cook meals. They provided 26 beds every night and provided drop in breakfasts and dinners for up to 80 people, be they homeless, isolated or facing poverty, with packed lunches also available to take away. Also on offer was Christmas themed entertainment and a range of 30 specialist services including hairdressers, opticians and doctors. Support workers from the Pilion Trust were also on hand to provide advice and resettlement support.

Our Carols by Candlelight concert on Sunday 15th brought together over 900 people. The story of Jesus' birth was brought to life through music and bible readings. Union Chapel looked at its finest, decked out with candles and brought much festive joy to the local community.

It was lovely to see some new faces for the service on Christmas Morning. The Christmas worship adopted a child-centred, fun approach with lots of commendable young acting.

November 2013

Several chapel members attended the special service at Westminster Abbey on 28th, to mark the 60th anniversary of The National Churches Trust. Read more...

We are delighted that Age UK Islington has joined our ongoing Open Wednesday programme, offering monthly coffee concerts as an addition to our weekly free events and activities. A warm Wednesday welcome from our friends at the Stuart Low Trust and from Margins. All are welcome to join us for conversation without barriers.

Our Remembrance Service was held on Monday 11 November and attended by many local residents and visitors. Supported by sensitive readers and musicians, we gave thought to "The Unforgotten": those left behind, in any sense, past or present. Against a background of contemplative words and music we reflected on those who have lost their lives in past and present military conflicts. Historian Andy Gardner read from letters, sent but never delivered, to mothers at home. Organist Roger B Williams joined with the violinist Zlatko Velichkov to play the final movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, for piano and violin. Poetry and powerful choral music from Union Chapel Choir, including the premiere of a new work for organ by Claire M Singer, helped us to remember, question and hope.

October 2013

Andy, Liz and Philip attended the induction service of Pastor Nestor Fernandez at