News and Blogs
Women from Palestine - a report on what was spoken
26 July 2023
Written by Harley Stapleton-Brister
I have recorded in this blog post some of what was talked about by the two women from Palestine who joined us on the evening of 24th July to discuss their experiences.
Why refugee week is important to us
If we don’t welcome refugees, we can’t call ourselves Christian. All churches that want to be respected among the faithful in this country either agree or their voice becomes irrelevant in the eyes of the Christian moral universe.
by Harley Stapleton Brister
Reflection on 'Breathing by Numbers', 'Hello Mr Officer', and 'Marks of Worship'
Hello Mr Officer brings together interviews and real, lived moments through animation and video. It tells the stories of Black men who’ve been arrested because of their skin colour by police in the UK (all of whom are white, without exception, at least in the footage used in this film). The police are depicted, appropriately, in clay and digital illustration, as piggies.
By Harley Stapleton-Brister
Return to Seoul review
The film’s about identity, yes, but it’s a Western movie with a Western lead character, and her journey is of a Western person attempting to find themself, which is what makes the movie kind of sad. She cannot become Korean because she’s trying to do so through a Western lens.
by Harley Stapleton-Brister
Reflection on the film 'Revolution of our Times'
What impresses me is the blur rendered between good filmmaking and real courage. Whether it is Bresson or not denies the point. This is the right film for Hongkongers, and for sympathetic international audiences.
by Harley Stapleton Brister
The Margins Project at Union Chapel | Supporting those facing homelessness and crisis
5 May 2023
Watch our new film, created by volunteer and broadcaster Archie Powell, to discover our essential work, our community, and for information on how you can help
The God who IS History
Genesis 49:8-12, Matthew 21:1-11, Philippians 2:5-11, Psalm 118
'By the values and conventional judgements of history, Jesus was a failure.
He is not on the right or the wrong side of history. He was not playing that game.
Jesus is the heart of history; his bravery, his graciousness is its moral purpose.'
George Westren, 1947-2021
Christmas at the Chapel
14 November 2022
Our Christmas events are the perfect way to get yourself in to the festive spirit
Learning from Creation: Mountains
"In many ways, the quest for climate justice is a search for what is lost. The desire to return to the way things were before industrialisation. But that is a lost cause. The task is to stop further degradation and to ensure that we adapt to the changing climate equitably."
A sermon by Vaughan Jones (@VaughanJones3)
Update on Tigray, September 2022
On 24th August fighting resumed between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front. This ends the ceasefire which has been in place since March this year. Read more about why fighting has resumed here.
An emergency assessment by the World Food Programme has found that 29% of young children in Tigray are suffering from global acute malnutrition, with this figure rising to 65% in some areas. More about the assessment here.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has spoken of the differing global responses to the atrocities in Ukraine and Tigray. He said "Maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people in Tigray". Read more here.
Listening to Creation: Forests
"Exploiting the earth without regard for its intricacy, genius, intelligence, complexity, is foolish.
More than that. It is atheist."
Not an Easy Peace (Luke 12:49-56)
"Paul makes it clear in his letter that people following Jesus still suffer. They can do everything right and still be destitute, persecuted, and tormented. It’s not a personal fault, it’s just something that can happen when we give our lives to Jesus."
'Do not be afraid' (Luke 12:32-40)
"These are anxious times. There are anxieties about finances, health, as well as the weather.
How comforting to read the Gospel this morning."
Riches of Grace - A Reflection on the Parable of the Rich Fool
"Wealth creation is not an end in itself. Our wealth is only real wealth if it is enough and no more and if it is shared and not horded."
When you pray... A Sermon on The Lord's Prayer
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." - Luke 11:9
Mary, Martha, and Amos' summer fruits - a sermon
"This is what the Lord God showed me - a basket of summer fruit. He said, 'Amos, what do you see?'"
Tigray Update July 2022
As the humanitarian truce holds, aid is continuing to reach people in Tigray.
Reflection on the Promise of the Spirit of Truth - Sermon
'For the good and gracious God who has provided us with a copiousness of blessings, riches of food, and the joys of life, conditions this abundance with a commandment to share equitably and justly.'
12 African civil society groups have written to the UN Secretary General calling on him to learn from the lessons from Rwanda to act against genocide in Tigray. Among the group’s requests are ‘immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access’, ‘an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict’, and ‘accountability for those responsible for the most serious violations committed over the last 16 months’.
How long? Not long
"Martin Luther King was faced with the question which was posed again and again by civil rights activists – how long? How long before justice prevails over prejudice and discrimination.
His answer was simple – ‘not long’.
We need to hear God say that to us."
Tough Minded and Tender Hearted
"Dr King was talking about our gullibility to advertising and marketing and to our unthinking acceptance of whatever the media tell us."
The fulfilment of our own needs are directly linked to those of another. We can only do what we can in this difficult world, in these difficult times, but we must be our best selves in the face of hardships.
We do this not only for ourselves, but for the good of all who we know; let them see the light of the gospel in a smile, in a gesture. Let all know that God stands with us all, loves us all, and is giving to all, always, even in times of great struggle.
A Time to Break Silence
"It is possible to move into a new country in ways that are mutually beneficial. And, Mr Putin, there are ways not to do it."
The Time for Peace
The time for war, many would believe, is beyond us now. Nothing is to be achieved by wars for our world. Yet, the war in Ukraine is only one of many wars taking place on the world stage.
Let us stand, in whatever way we can, with the people of Ukraine, and all who are affected by war. This world, and its people, deserve better.
The Heights and the Depths
Throwing our Anxieties onto Him
His Spirit is like a game of chess that I win by giving up the pieces (but I don't really WIN the Spirit; and that's the whole point).
We don't need to worry in his hands, in his loving embrace and in all he offers to us.
By giving up our worries, we win everything.
From Victim to Survivor
"As humans we must bury our hurts. We can’t live our lives constantly allowing our inner pains to hold us back. But don’t we want just to cry out sometimes."
We give, and he returns double unto us. We spend our time with others, and he always ensures it be valuable.
Such does our God for us, always, and forevermore.
The Promise of Faith
"Life is complicated and it turns out that perhaps we weren’t the goodies after all."
A shield all around me
Burdened, lost to hardships and lost in our own eyes, yet protected always, knowing or unknowing. I seek to be blinded not by an unfeeling world, but by You and your light.
Such is the way to be.
‘Here am I, send me.’
"Discipleship is this combination of fear, amazement, and risk-taking."
A supportive community
"If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account." - Philemon 18
Remembering the Holocaust
30 January 2022
"They are upset by the notion that God is not exclusive. God is not the God of our clan, tribe, nation but a God whose love is capable of surprising anyone and everyone."
A love unseen
"and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen" - Exodus 33:22-23
Feast of Transformation
Wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11)
You can easily be forgiven if your first thought on the Gospel reading was – that must have been some party.
What is Advent?
We live in strange and messy times. We are still challenged by the pandemic. We remain anxious at the inadequate responses to climate change. The victims of war are abandoned. We need God to lead us from this troubled world to his promised land of freedom and peace.
Lent: What are you Giving Up or Taking Up?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday - February 17th, 2021
If you’ve ever wondered what Lent is really all about, then here are some clues.
Support the people of Tigray
As the war continues to be waged by both Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in the Tigray province of Ethiopia, the world has fallen silent. Here is a draft letter which you are asked to send to your Member of Parliament.
Laying the foundation stone for Union Chapel
Read the fascinating story of the laying of the foundation stone for Union Chapel. This illuminating account reveals an enormous amount about our history.
Thanks to George Allan for researching this.
A Reflection: Not in Our Name
The role of evangelical Christians in supporting the Presidency of Donald Trump, and their participation in the Capitol Hill insurrection, is disturbing. Christians need to speak out against what is being done in our name. This overshadows the contribution of progressive Christians and black church leaders in particular. This reflection on the call of Nicodemus explores what Christian discipleship really means in these dangerous times.
New Year 2021
I think there are a lot of expectations surrounding 2021, given how 2020 turned out. But while we have the promise of a vaccine and we are told that there is light at the end of the tunnel, our reality is that London is seriously threatened by Covid-19.
This is a season of hope and promise. There is something primeval in our celebration of the new year. We lace it with resolutions, commitments and determination that the year to come is better than the one before – that we will be wiser than we were – that we will be one step closer to achieving our ambitions and fulfilling our desires.
The year has just been born but it is born in a fearful time.
Mary - a simple response with earth shattering consequences
As Christmas approaches, we think of all who played a significant part in bringing about those momentous events. On the fourth Sunday of Advent we think of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
She is a model of Christian discipleship and today we honour her.
In the pink!
The third Sunday of Advent is sometimes called ‘Rejoice Sunday’. Here is a reflection on the readings set for this Sunday.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 and John 1:6-8, 19-28
You may have noticed the pink candle this morning. It is a sign that we are half way through Advent. The white candle of Christmas day merges with the purple of Lent. And the point of the pink is…..
Voices in the wilderness
7 December 2020
Advent is a significant penitential period in the life of the church. It allows us to reflect on the narrative of the Hebrew Bible, which is crucial to understanding the significance of the stories of the birth of Jesus at Christmastide. Some may wish to celebrate Christmas before it comes but it really is worth the wait!
Our Advent Prayer
Advent this year takes place during fears for our health and wellbeing. It is also a time of crisis in the world and anxiety for our planet. Here, then, is our Advent Prayer.
An Advent Reflection
The church’s year begins with a bang not a whimper. It extracts some of the bloodthirsty macho language of scripture and wallows in it. It is language which foretells an end of time, dramatic, stretching our imagination to a point where it seems unreal.
The sky will be darkened – the moon will not give its light – stars will fall from the heavens.
30 years of Namibian Independence
STANDING BY SWAPO - BRITISH CAMPAIGNING FOR NAMIBIA By Randolph Vigne This paper was delivered at the International Conference on a Decade of Freedom: Celebrating the Role of the International Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa’s Freedom Struggle (10-13 October 2004, International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa), organized by the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The conference papers can be found here:
A different judgement - Reflection on the Parable of the Talents
I hope it isn’t inappropriate to mention the Television programme ‘The Apprentice’ in the light of the American elections.
I am sure you will be familiar with the format – a group of ambitious people are given various tasks to prove to a prominent businessman that they would make a good member of their company.
A reflection for Remembrance Sunday
8 November 2020
Drawing on Micah 4.1-4.
A while ago there was a discussion as to whether the time had come to end the annual Remembrance Sunday. The generation which fought the First World War has now passed and those who remember the Second World War are only those who remember it as children, with a few exceptions.
We are the multitude
This reflection for All Saints Day is based on two Bible readings – Revelation 7:9-17 and Matthew 5:1-12
My grandmother used to talk, admittedly with a certain reverence, about TJ Hughes and Owen Owen. You may recognise those names as department stores. Nowadays they are owned by large faceless conglomerates. But Nain, my Grandmother wasn’t talking about her shopping habits. She would know Owen Owen and TJ (as she called him) not as part of her social set but as people she would see seated in her Welsh-speaking Chapel and who made generous donations whenever they were needed.
From the Archive
In 1891, Union Chapel hosted exactly the kind of meeting we are hosting today in our church. Refugees, victims of human rights abuses were listened to and supported. This fascinating article is from the Islington Gazette.
Faith in Hong Kong
9 October 2020
The fight for a stronger, fairer democracy in Hong Kong in the face of Beijing’s authoritarian advances is recruiting churches, within Hong Kong and beyond, to support activists and their campaign for freedom in the territory.
At a webinar organised by Union Chapel Church, founder of Hong Kong Democracy Council, Samuel Chu called for more action to be taken by churches in support of the Hong Kong democracy movement.
Chu said Hong Kong churches had been "shying away" from taking a stand and shown an "unwillingness to put their faith to the test politically".
A report of the event appeared in the US magazine Christian Today. You can read the article here.
Watch the video here
Thoughts on Creation
9 October 2020
The seasons are turning, and Autumn is well-established. Churches at this time of the year often have a harvest service. I imagine when this church was at its heyday, the church would be decked with fruit, vegetables, and flowers for the harvest service.
Anything we could do would look rather miserable in comparison.
Today I want us to focus on creation. There is nothing more topical or urgent. I believe that the church has something very unique and special to contribute to our concern for ecology, for the changing climate and the loss of species.
Our service will draw from different passages of the Bible. We will join the biblical writers first in celebrating creation, then in listening to the mourning of the earth for its destruction, then in the hope for the renewal of heaven and earth.