>>> find another congregation



We provide a focus for liberal religious worship and reflection and a centre of fellowship for people of religious sentiment.

Bury Unitarian Church


about us
trade justice
room hire
book club
contact us

general assembly


Corona Virus

Because of the above pandemic, although services will be held in church on Sunday mornings at 11.15 am but there will be no singing.

Services will also  be held on "Zoom" at 2.00 pm on each Sunday afternoon until further notice and Documented Services will be distributed  to congregation members who are unable to join the zoom meetings

The minister can be reached for the above and any other matters on the following contact number 
0161 460 3363

  Here is the most recent on-line service

Bury Unitarian Church


Bury Unitarian Church

Sunday 27th June 2021

No description available.

No description available.


Heal like the trees:  a service-at-home.

We currently meet to worship together on Zoom at 2pm on Sundays.  If you would like to join us, we would love to see you.  Everyone is welcome, no matter what.

The meeting id is 849 7456 6116. 

If you have a candle, you are invited to bring it with you to light at the beginning of the service. 

And after the service, we gather again for tea, coffee, and conversation.  We’d love it if you wanted to stay for that. 

We are also holding services in church at 11.15am on Sundays.  If you would like to join us for a shorter-than-usual, socially distanced service we would love to see you.

Chalice lighting:


As we light this light, let us call down a spirit of community, of love, and of health.  Let us see, in its flame, all the possibilities that lie before us as we move into this time of worship.  Apart in body, we gather in spirit. 


Hymn: Spirit of earth, root, stone and tree


Spirit of earth, root, stone and tree,

water of life, flowing in me,

keeping me stable, nourishing me,

O fill me with living energy!


Spirit of nature, healing and free,

spirit of love, expanding in me,

spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,

inspire me with living energy!


Spirit of love, softly draw near,

open my heart, lessen my fear,

sing of compassion, help me to hear,

O fill me with loving energy!


Spirit of nature, healing and free,

spirit of love, expanding in me,

spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,

inspire me with living energy!


Spirit of life, you are my song,

sing in my soul, all my life long,

gladden and guide me, keep me from wrong,

O fill me with sacred energy!


Spirit of nature, healing and free,

spirit of love, expanding in me,

spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,

inspire me with living energy!


The Lord’s Prayer:


You are invited to say, or sing, the Lord’s Prayer, knowing that other members of our congregation are saying it along with you. 



Herman Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte


“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity.  Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.


Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They preach learning and precepts, they preach the ancient law of life.


A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. A tree says: My strength is trust.. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.


When we are stricken, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent.


So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”





Just over three years ago, one of the trees in our church garden – a Manna Ash, I’m told – was damaged.  Someone used a knife to dig quite deeply into the bark, and then used considerable physical strength to peel off a long, wide strip of bark.  There was a gaping wound down part of the trunk, and the inner core of the tree was exposed and wet.  It was horrible.


I got advice from a gardener friend, who suggested that we pack the wound with fresh mud, partly to protect the core of the trunk and partly to act as a visual deterrent so that people weren’t tempted to carry on damaging. 


And we did something else as well.  A few days after the damage was done, some of us gathered in the garden and blessed the tree as it began its journey to heal itself.  We touched it, and we hugged it, and we gave it blessings, and we garlanded it with ribbons containing messages of hope and strength, and of thanks.  We listened to the wind through its leaves, we looked at the sun through its branches, and we prayed that it would heal. 


And it has healed. Every year since the damage was done it has shown us its leaves, then dropped them, then been quiet and bare, then covered itself in blossom, and then turned to leaves again. 


And it still has a very visible scar from where its bark was ripped away.  There is no doubt, when you look at this lovely tree, that it has known hurt.  The scar isn’t tiny and neat and unobtrusive.  It’s big.  The trunk inside the wound has a different texture.  There’s a depth difference of at least an inch.  The wound isn’t raw any more, and it isn’t damp:  it has a different, new, somehow more tentative texture than the rest of the bark.  I suspect it will be a century or more before the tree has grown enough to cover its wound, if it even ever does. 


And that’s okay.  Because that scar, that damage, that healed-but-still-visible wound, is now a part of the tree’s story.  It is very sad that it was harmed.  But it is okay that it bears the scar. 


I’m going to be entirely honest here, and say that I suspect the tree would have healed without our intervention.  But I do like to think that we helped – I genuinely do. And if what we did made no difference to the tree, then it made a difference to us.  I think it made us feel more tender towards it.  I think it made us keep more of an eye on it.  I think it made us more aware of its need and its vulnerability, and of our potential to help. 


We’ve all been hurt, too.  I really hope none of us have been hurt as nastily as the tree was, but none of us have got this far through life without pain, without sorrow, without the agony of heartbreak. And we’ve all healed, to a greater or lesser extent:  maybe we’ve healed with our friends behind us, praying for us and supporting our own healing, as we supported the tree.  


And maybe we still bear the scars.  And that’s okay.  Just like the tree’s scar is now a part of its story, and just like it’s a visible sign of its capacity to heal and grow again, our past hurts are a part of our stories, too.  We don’t need to be unblemished to be whole.  We don’t need to hide our histories.  We don’t need to be as we were when we were young and undamaged.


We are whole, and pure, and strong:  complete with our scars.  Let us heal like the trees do.







Let us join together in a time of prayer and reflection. 


None of us can live a full life through without being hurt.  We are hurt by the acts and words of others; by our own acts and words; by misfortune and by poor decisions.  We are hurt by illnesses, both our own and other people’s, and we are hurt by the loss of those we love. 


Let us not be afraid to acknowledge those hurts.  Let us have the courage to live with our wounds, and our scars, and our damage.  Let us allow ourselves not to be perfect, not to be pretty, not to be unchallenging, but let us face the world as it is, with its hurt and sorrow and as we are, with our hurt and sorrow. 


And let us know what part we can play in helping others to heal.  We cannot heal for others.  We cannot take the work and the struggle of healing out of the hands of those who suffer.  But we can hold them and bless them as they do the work of healing.  And we can witness and rejoice with them in their healing, and accept that healing takes the time it takes. 


And let us pray for support in our own slow healing.  Others cannot do the healing for us.  They cannot take the work and the struggle of healing out of our hands, but we can ask that they hold us and bless us as we do the work of healing.  And may others witness and rejoice with us in our healing, and may they accept that healing takes the time it takes. 



Hymn: Let it be a dance we do


Let it be a dance we do.

May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times and the bad times, too,

let it be a dance.


Let a dancing song be heard.

Play the music, say the words,

and fill the sky with sailing birds.

Let it be a dance, Let it be a dance,  Let it be a dance.


Learn to follow, learn to lead,

feel the rhythm, fill the need

to reap the harvest, plant the seed.

Let it be a dance.


Everybody turn and spin,

let your body learn to bend,

and, like a willow in the wind,

let it be a dance, let it be a dance, let it be a dance.


A child is born, the old must die;

a time for joy, a time to cry.

Take it as it passes by.

Let it be a dance.


Morning star comes out at night,

without the dark there is no light.

If nothing's wrong, then nothing's right.

Let it be a dance, let it be a dance, let it be a dance.


Let the sun shine, let it rain;

share the laughter, bear the pain,

and round and round we go again.


Let it be a dance.





Our lights flicker into quiet darkness.  But their light joins and feeds the light of all the world.  Let the love that we have found here join and feed the love in the world.  Let us know ourselves joined in community still. 










click here for a free download

Bury Unitarian Church
1 Bank Street

0161 761 3785



Back to top


Charity Registration No. 1078570
© Bury Unitarian Church 2019