An induction service to mark the adoption of Caroline Cormack as Lay Leader of the congregation was held at Aberdeen Unitarian Church (pictured below) on Sunday 21 August. In the half-time paid post, she will lead services roughly every second Sunday, hold other ceremonies and undertake regular pastoral visiting.
The appointment marks a new turn in the close relationship that has developed between individual interfaith ministers and their local Unitarian congregations in many places.
Caroline’s induction service was led by Rev Nicky Jenkins of York Unitarians, and those attending included the President of the Unitarian General Assembly, Dorothy Hewerdine. Caroline was ordained in 2010, and several OneSpirit ministers who trained with her in Edinburgh also attended the induction service.
She was first invited to lead a Unitarian service in May 2011, and chose the theme of Welcome, beginning with Rumi’s words: “Be certain, in the religion of love there are no believers or unbelievers. Love embraces All.”
In a recent article for the Unitarian paper, The Inquirer, Caroline recalls: “I was warmly welcomed by the congregation and they must have liked what they heard as they asked me to return three months later and I began leading services there regularly. My own spiritual learning and ideas immediately felt very comfortable alongside Unitarianism, so it felt very natural in time to join the church and continue to hold services on many life themes.”
Earlier this year, the Aberdeen congregation invited Caroline to take up the half-time paid post of Lay Leader. Although some members of the congregation refer to her as their minister, the church can’t officially employ her as a minister because she hasn’t done the Unitarian minister training.
“I still have much to learn about Unitarianism,” says Caroline, “but the heart of this faith – openness, welcome, justice, care for our environment and awareness of the oneness of humanity — all seem absolutely to go hand in hand” with everything she learned during her OneSpirit training.
Until now, Caroline has conducted weddings as a OneSpirit interfaith minister, under an authorisation from the Scottish Registrar of Marriages that has to be periodically renewed, but she will now be placed on the Scottish Unitarian Association’s register of authorised permanent wedding celebrants.
Caroline is also chair of the very active Aberdeen Inter Faith Group.
The picture on the news contents page is a detail from an altar cloth in the Aberdeen church.