Dr Maria Curtis has now retired from Ministry at Horsham Unitarian Church and our Trustees are now actively engaged in seeking to recruit a new Minister. In the Interim period, our Sunday morning services are being led by visiting Ministers and members from other Unitarian congregations in Sussex, Surrey, and further afield.
I joined Horsham Unitarian Church as Minister in October 2014. I came late to Unitarianism and late to ministry, my previous careers having included social work, teaching, academic research and over twenty years as an educational psychologist.
For most of my adult life I would have called myself an atheist, but, after a particularly difficult time in my life, I ventured into a service at Brighton Unitarian Church out of curiosity – I felt I had nothing to lose. I was hooked instantly and have never looked back. It amazes me that a group of spiritual travellers with no acknowledged belief set or creed can cohere in worship and feel a sense of communal identity. I love the freedom that our faith offers, and the mutual support and respect it engenders among very disparate groups of people.
I came out of retirement to complete my ministry training at Unitarian College, Manchester; its model of contextual theology appealed to me. I had done a lot of academic work, including a first degree in philosophy, and a doctorate in psychology, and I wanted to immerse myself in a practical theology rooted in experience. My training placements helped me hone down my view of ministry as the creation of a sacred space in which the Divine within can find expression. My job is to enable my congregation to focus on what is of highest worth to them. I believe that how we live our lives is more important than what we believe.
I bring to my ministry a love of ideas, but am aware that sometimes we need to stop thinking and focus on simply being. Poetry and music are at the heart of my spiritual life. And silence.
I am deeply aware of our interconnectedness – with one another and with all life on our planet – and our interdependence. I have developed a Green Spirituality group at Horsham, open to the community, with the aim of bringing people together to celebrate life and consider how best to nurture the earth and all her creatures. I also maintain an active interest in local Interfaith groups. I feel that like-minded, open-hearted people with shared values, whatever their background, need to work together on local and wider initiatives to make the world a better place.
Our task as spiritual beings is to acknowledge suffering, not turn away from it in rage or denial, while maintaining hope and gratitude in our hearts. It is quite a challenge to live with integrity in our competitive, consumerist, individualistic world in which, it sometimes feels, there is little room for compassion. At Horsham Unitarian Church, we are committed to creating a spiritual community based on a foundation of loving kindness, in an atmosphere of mutual support and trust.