Ministerial Fellowship

  • Reference
      GB 133 UCC/5/1
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      0.5 lm, 7 boxes

Scope and Content

The collection contains printed material and official documentation relating to the Ministerial Fellowship, including annual reports, rules, and minutes of meetings. There are applications for membership of the Fellowship, documents relating to ministerial training and the provision of pensions to retired members and their widows, along with day-to-date correspondence of Fellowship officials.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Ministerial Fellowship was created in 1899, as a friendly society for those in full-time Unitarian ministry; it had strict rules about who could receive benefits, qualifying periods and so on. Initially those joining had to be members of one of the following already established ministerial societies:

  • The Ministers Monthly Meeting
  • The Monthly Conference of Ministers
  • The Bolton District Ministers Meeting
  • The Liverpool District Ministers Society
  • The Brotherhood

At its inception, it had a five shilling entrance fee and a subscription of £1. Its 'first object', set out in its constitution and rules was the 'establishment of a Fund or Funds to assist in the support of Members who may be temporarily without ministerial charge'. Once established it extended its functions, becoming an employment exchange through the establishment of a 'Settlements Bureau' which sought to bring together congregations without a minister and ministers without a congregation. This function was transferred to the Ministerial Settlements Board of the National Conference in 1910. The 1915 annual report contained a useful summary of its functions at this juncture: 'The Fellowship is now fully recognised as the organisation which not only provides out of its own means a useful Insurance against a time of stress and a Fund to help Members in case of special emergencies, but serves to focus on the sentiment of Ministers on matters which affect their status or efficiency or work for the Churches.'

In 1920 a sub-committee was set up to administer an Aged Ministers and Widows Fund to supplement the income of retired members and their widows, and in 1925 a contributory insurance scheme for ministers was set up. The Fellowship amalgamated with the Missionary Conference in 1929.

The functions of the Fellowship changed following the creation of the Welfare State in the years after the Second World War. Following 1951 the unemployment benefit scheme ceased and the capital investment was transferred to the general Benevolent Fund, also the Aged Ministers and Widows Fund was gradually wound up. In the 1970s the Fellowship was involved in discussions to set up a loan scheme to enable ministers to purchase their own houses, and in 1973, after a period of declining membership, student members were accepted. The main emphases in later years were ministerial stipends, the re-housing and re-settlement of ministers and, in particular, problems facing members and personal cases. During his period as President of the Fellowship, Lawrence Chandler provided a useful summary of the functions and ethos of the Fellowship in his introduction to the 1974-1975 Annual Report, which is worth reproducing:

"The Fellowship is by no means comparable with a trade union. We cannot go in for collective bargaining; we cannot enforce our wishes by threats to withdraw our labour! We are what our name states: a fellowship of people engaged in the same occupation, together with those who have retired from that work and those who are preparing to for it. Once a year we have the opportunity to discuss together any changes of circumstance that may affect our status, our livelihood, or the success of our work, and to decide what action we can or should take in regard to them; and during the year any member may bring to the Committee's notice any fact he or she considers to be important to us all. The Fellowship is the recognised mouth piece of our fraternity, and through its Officers we can make recommendations to the Ministry Committee of the General Assembly as guides to its future policy."


The papers have been organised into the following groups:

  • Annual Reports, Constitutions and Rules
  • Minutes
  • Application Forms
  • Ministerial Training
  • Pensions
  • Correspondence
  • Printed Books