Our people

Services at 11am every Sunday. The services are taken by a number of Unitarian Minister and lay preachers.

The people who meet at the Old Meeting House on Sunday do so as a non-creedal religious movement which welcomes a diversity of beliefs and backgrounds amongst its members.

You will always be welcome if you wished to attend a Sunday service in the future to help you get a sense of our religious perspective.

Services every Sunday, 11.00.

Ministers conducting services in 2019:

06/01/2019 Carol Chambers
13/01/2019 Rev Duncan Voice - AGM
20/01/2019 Dr Francis Clark-Lowes
27/01/2019 Stephen Crowther
03/02/2019 Guido Casale
10/02/2019 Rev Duncan Voice
17/02/2019 Dr Francis Clark-Lowes
24/02/2019 Stephen Crowther
03/03/2019 Rev Ashley Hills
10/03/2019 Rev Duncan Voice
17/03/2019 Carol Chambers
24/03/2019 Stephen Crowther
31/03/2019 Dr Francis Clark-Lowes
07/04/2019 Guido Casale
14/04/2019 Stephen Crowther
21/04/2019 Rev Duncan Voice - Easter Sunday
28/04/2019 Dr Francis Clark-Lowes
05/05/2019 Carol Chambers
12/05/2019 Rev Duncan Voice
19/05/2019 Edward Colgate
26/05/2019 Stephen Crowther
02/06/2019 Dr Francis Clark-Lowes
09/06/2019 Stephen Crowther
16/06/2019 Stuart Coupe
23/06/2019 Rev Duncan Voice - Anniversary Service

Rev Dr Maria Curtis' address at the Induction Service of the Rev Duncan Voice

I am delighted to have this opportunity to deliver the Address at Duncan's Induction as Minister of Ditchling Unitarians. I know you've waited a long time for a minister and I know how happy you are to have Duncan in post. I am fortunate in my ministry to be blessed with a lovely, warm and welcoming congregation at Horsham.

A healthy and happy church doesn't come about by accident; it takes work on both sides for a functional and welcoming church to evolve. So I want to consider some of the factors that go towards building a beloved community where, in words of hymn we've just sung, ALL ARE WELCOME.

In joining a Unitarian congregation, you are expressing a willingness to be challenged in heart, mind and soul.

Your minister is there to challenge you. But challenges to our thoughts and feelings will only bear fruit if we feel supported, in a context where trusting relationships have been established. This supportive environment cannot be created simply from the top" it has to be a joint enterprise.

In community we learn what we can never know alone.

How do we make our spiritual communities places where all are welcome? It takes work but above all, we RECEIVE EACH PERSON AS A GIFT. We need to extend out the welcome. The world does not consist of good and bad people. We're all good and bad. And we all need help to expand our capacity to love. (This is not just the "minister's responsibility" we need to help each other)

Here are some Practices that Work: (In creating a beloved community)

Deep Listening - It is difficult to overestimate the value of listening in positive communication. Simply hearing a problem (without rushing in and coming up with a solution) can be therapeutic. We should try to see things from the Other's point of view, and be sensitive to how we may seem to them.
When conflict, differences of opinion and problems do occur - AND THEY WILL - look on the situation as an opportunity rather than barriers. More as a problem we can solve together rather than remaining in polarised conflict.
We surely all agree that pursuit of truth is important, but the truth can hurt. How do we SPEAK OUR TRUTH WITH LOVE? In beloved community, we own our authentic experience without blaming someone else. We want to be able to share deep vulnerabilities. If we speak ONLY TRUTH, this can be harsh. (It may make the recipient of your truth want to withdraw; feel unsupported; or fear making mistakes so that no learning is possible). Conveying ONLY LOVE can be dishonest (protecting people from truth, so that again no learning possible). "SPEAKING TRUTH WITH LOVE" is both honest and helpful for future. It's a hard practice, but only then can the beloved community develop.

Acknowledging our weaknesses/dark sides/vulnerabilities gives us strength. (The minister is a flawed and vulnerable human being, with strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of us.) There is no shame in vulnerability. In our communities let us not just present what we perceive as our "acceptable" selves, and hide our difficulties. What message are we then giving to others? That they are only of value if they come free of problems? Compassion for self, (understanding how we have become who we are), is the starting point of compassion for others. In a healthy community we model self-compassion, thereby enabling others to feel accepted for who they are.


The MINISTER of a Unitarian church is not just a figurehead" the congregation and minister have SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR MINISTRY and for promoting a SHARED VISION for the community. This is especially true of a small congregation with a part-time minister. Duncan will be your leader but leadership doesn't just reside in the leader; it resides in the leader and followers working together with a Common Purpose.

We've heard in our hymns today statements of our common purpose, our community values: Celebration and gratitude for life; mutual support, kindness and compassion ; sharing sorrows and joys; commitment to finding the divine within every individual; walking the path of peace; pursuit of truth. OPEN HEARTS AND OPEN MINDS. The minister's role is to grow the collective capacity of the group to fulfil these noble ideals.

(Now for the practical bit)

Duncan's post with you is part-time, very part-time. Please look after your minister and don't be unrealistic in your expectations. Make sure your communication is open and honest. If you haven't already done so, I suggest you set up a minister's support group where the minister and representatives of the congregation can exchange feedback on how things are going.

In fact, you should encourage Duncan to make good use of all the support available for his professional development as a minister. Ministry can be a lonely occupation. Some sort of supervision is important. We are fortunate in the London District to have a strong Ministers' Support Group which we all find helpful. We also have national Ministerial Fellowship meetings twice a year which are very worthwhile. Ditchling is part of a strong, cohesive network of churches and chapels in the District. I'm looking forward to us working together as colleagues to continue to make them vibrant and welcoming communities. Open hearts and open minds.

Duncan and the Congregation at Ditchling, I wish you a fulfilling and joyful ministry, in which you learn from one another and grow together, co-creating a beloved community where all are welcome.