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‘B Radically different on the inside b y C a r r i e O ’G r a dy

elieve in Good’, says the sign outside the church. Hang on, isn’t that an extra ‘o’ in there? It isn’t, oddly enough. The New Unity, on the north side of Newington Green, is not like other churches: they don’t believe in God, heaven and hell, saints’n’sinners, or any of the other theological trappings we associate with traditional religions. You may have seen it from the 73 bus dozens of times without realising what an extraordinary institution it is. “One of our problems is that from the outside, you can’t see what happens on the inside,” says the minister, Rev. Andrew Pakula (everyone calls him Andy). “We had one guy who thought the people here would be really dour, all wearing black, with black hats – like a cross between the Quakers and a funeral.” In fact the congregation are a diverse mix of friendly, thoughtful locals, attracted by the church’s focus on hope, social activism, compassion and “radical inclusivity”: literally anyone is welcome. “Our primary principle is that every person matters,” says Andy. “That drives a strong impetus towards developing relationships – one of the most important things we do in life. Even, perhaps, with people we don’t know, who might seem strange or


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N16 Life Summer 2017  
N16 Life Summer 2017