Our minister, Michael Dadson, has been with us since 2008 and also ministers to the community at Old Chapel, Great Hucklow.
As anyone who has been here for a ceremony of birth or marriage has almost certainly heard, this Chapel has stood here for well over 300 years, founded on the simple principle that no-one should tell you what to think, what to believe, or what to be - because we're all capable of working it out for ourselves.
We are aiming for our life as a spiritual community, as characterised by our Covenant Statement to be rather like life in a very special village. In our village we want to encourage and support young people to take hold of their lives with confidence, busy adults to keep hold of life through taxing times, and ageing people to prepare themselves to let go of life when the time comes.
Coming here you won't be welcomed with the question of whether you can fit in by agreeing with our beliefs - as we don't have collective beliefs to impose on you; rather you will be welcomed with the question 'Wonder what thoughts and ideas you have brought to enhance the richness of our community?'!
The following writings from those who have participated in the life in this chapel give a flavour of what they have experienced here:
" What I love about Unitarianism is that the emphasis is on the authority of the individual to interpret scripture and teachings of the church as we understand it. No rules, or creeds to be obeyed - however unrealistic they seem to be . . . We come together to share our views, to listen, to absorb, to learn and to be enriched by them It makes me want to keep coming back - it makes sense of our own increasingly chaotic lives..."
"I have been attending KES since I was 7 years old and have always felt welcome in this community that has evolved over the years. I have always felt welcome as I have come and gone throughout my university years. I married at the Chapel and had my son welcomed here too because even though I am not overtly religious like many I wanted to mark significant events in my life with some form of ceremony and celebration. Even though I am not a regular attender at the moment, I still feel welcome whenever I am able to come to KES."
"I came along for a naming ceremony for a new baby in my family,at King Edward street Chapel. I had known of it in Macclesfield a long time, but this was the first time I had visited the Chapel.
The beauty and sense of peace and history in the building was captivating. The Minister, Rev Michael Dadson had planned the Service with the baby's parents and it beautifully reflected the new family and their need to share their joy and happiness and sense of fun.
I picked up a card from a pew - the picture of bright geranium leaves attracted me initially. On the reverse side I read that "Unitarians are a welcoming and open community, respecting each individual's values and beliefs and working towards nurturing one another's lifelong spiritual growth." Those words touched something inside me that I had been searching for.
I started to attend Sunday Services. The thrill and joy of stumbling upon a faith that encourages an individual belief system and a free and responsible search for truth and meaning to support spiritual growth, has never left me. King Edward Street Chapel has become my spiritual home and the Community who share it with me, my extended family."
"My husband died suddenly aged 41, leaving our two sons and me bewildered, shocked and raw with overwhelming grief. I knew that I had to "get on" but I just could not face an impersonal, formal funeral in the parish church. I didn't even want to think about it.
I was a member of the chapel community, and it was with great relief that I remembered D saying that although he wasn't a "churchy person" he felt at home in the chapel. I called Michael, he recommended a funeral director, and from then on the process of planning D's ceremony became a loving, creative, personal tribute and not a chore.
My memories of the process are a little blurred, but I remember the chapel community coming together to help with the service and support us. Michael showed skill and sensitivity in blending the wishes of all the close family into a service we could all feel part of. The children were able to contribute in their unique way. It was refreshing to be able to laugh and cry , and express our ideas freely.
The ceremony we created included rock music, classical music, tributes, one son playing a piano piece he had composed with his dad, and the other describing what had happened in his own words.
It was a positive experience in the midst of a tragic situation, and so many people commented that they too felt they could be themselves in our chapel. For me, it didn't end there, because I am still supported by, and feel part of the community. And I still laugh and cry freely"
"I was christened and confirmed as an Anglican, then explored many spiritual paths, finally feeling most comfortable with earth based spirituality; the natural cycles of the day, the seasons, death and rebirth and the connections between all. I tried to practise my spirituality alone but found it hard without a community and even considered attending my local church but I knew they had beliefs I couldn't subscribe to and feared rejection because of my sexuality.
In 2010 my partner, Margaret, died and, through discussions about funeral arrangements, I first heard about Unitarianism. I could not believe I had never heard about it and was almost angry that no one had ever told me. I had always been a Unitarian without knowing it.
I started attending KES and immediately felt at home. I became part of the Sunday congregation as that felt most familiar to me. I was completely accepted and no one asked about my beliefs yet I came away from every visit feeling that the service had been designed to answer my personal spiritual needs.
Here I am part of a community of people, each following his or her own spiritual path but with the support, insight and inspiration of many others."
"Me and David, my husband found KES when we were looking for a place to get married. I have been a member of KES for about 8 years.
When David and I got together some people disapproved of us because we were both married to other people at the time however, just as many people supported us or, at least didn't judge us.
At the same time we were keen to express in our ceremony that our previous partners had not been a mistake but were part of what brought us to that stage in our lives. Michael explained that there are only two lines that officially needed to be said to be married and the rest of the service was built round our theme of friends and community, David spoke to everyone to explain our thoughts and the day was perfect."
" I have been coming to the chapel now for just a little over a year. Two comments I have received from two separate people outside chapel is "oh so you are not a Christian" and, they don't believe in anything there do they?
So the challenge for me is what do I believe? Well firstly I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in the diversity of people, and that we don't have to be clones of one another, that we can give and allow each other space to travel their own personal journey, the freedom to think outside dogma and creed. We can differ in our thoughts, we can question and doubt, but I believe by sharing and valuing each other we can learn to grow in our own self beliefs.
If you want to dance then dance even if you have two left feet, if you want to sing then sing, even those who are tone deaf. I believe in the language of touch, in the art of listening, I believe in laughter, and having fun, I believe in the silence and the moment when the spirit can still your mind.
So my answer to these two people is as far as not believing in anything I know for a fact I leave after a service challenged and refreshed, renewed and excited. So next time I get a negative feedback from someone when I tell them where I am now going, I will pass this on and say. Why don't you try us and see, you have nothing to lose and you might be pleasantly surprised!
My journey at KES reminds me of the story of Goldilocks' and the three bears. I use to go to a church where the porridge was far too hot, and so I went to another church where I found the porridge to be much too cold. Then I came to KES where the porridge was just right.
The freedom to believe, the freedom to doubt, the freedom to believe in myself as I continue on my journey. Oh yes what a wonderful place to be!! "