Update – Sheena stepped down as minister in Jan 2022
Our Minister – A Personal View
I was appointed Minister of this chapel in January 2009, but have been a member of the congregation since 1996 – thus experiencing ‘both sides of the fence’! Raised in a non-conformist Christian church, I drifted away in early adulthood, searching for a community that would allow me to explore my doubts and make up my own mind on matters of faith. This chapel, and the wider Unitarian movement provided the space to do just that.
In 2012 I qualified as a Unitarian minister, having trained at Harris Manchester College, Oxford and gained a license in theology via Trinity Saint David. It feels a privilege to now be the minister of this liberal faith community that ministered to me in so many ways over the years.
Whilst my roots lie within the Christian tradition and I see myself as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, I am also nourished by wisdom drawn from other religions and humanist perspectives. One of the great joys of my role is the freedom to create services of worship drawn from a rich heritage of sources. I think this is what makes the Unitarian church unique. Week after week we gather to listen and share; people from different perspectives – Unitarian, Universalist, Christian, Buddhist, agnostic, humanist – whatever label we identify with, we remain united in our commitment to honest search on the spiritual path, and shared values which honour the inherent worth and dignity of all people.
Previous to this role, I had a varied career working with special-needs adults, teaching in further education, facilitating creative therapy groups and working as a counsellor within the NHS. In these jobs I had the privilege of listening to people’s varied life stories and was struck by how many people, whilst not considering themselves ‘religious’, nevertheless had questions about the meaning of life and expressed a spirituality that could not always find a home within orthodox religion. More recently I’ve undergone a 3 year training in spiritual direction (better described as ‘spiritual accompaniment’) and am reminded afresh of the privilege of drawing alongside others on their journeys; not to offer advice or answers, but to provide an hospitable space in which a person can freely explore the big questions of life. I think this offering of safe spaces in which to ask questions, without censure or pressure to believe certain things, is something Unitarian communities are good at.
When I first discovered the Unitarian church, my only regret was I had not known about it years before. When I talk to others, they often say the same. It seems there are many people out there who are ‘Unitarian without knowing it’ – maybe you are one of them? If so, I hope you will join us – our community welcomes newcomers and is enriched by the fresh perspectives offered by those who come through our door.