Our People

 Maud Robinson

Rev Maud Robinson - Our Minister

Since leaving Trinity College Dublin (where I studied Zoology) in 1989, I have been a teacher, an actor, and a PR executive, as well as a waitress, a chamber maid, a nanny, a tomato picker, a life-drawing model, and a petrol-pump attendant. What, in a harmonious universe, could all of these diverse occupations be leading to? My true calling was obviously to be a minister of religion!

I grew up in Galway in the west of Ireland. My mother was Catholic and my father Anglican, which was quite a big deal in a country town in the west of Ireland in the 1970s. Later as I wrestled with questions of faith and belief and searched for a spiritual community of my own, the Unitarian church in Dublin offered me a liberal approach to religion which I was able to embrace without making creedal statements.

I studied theology and trained for Unitarian ministry at the University of Oxford from 2004 to 2007. Then I spent nine-months as assistant minister with First Parish, Bedford, Massachusetts, a large and lively Unitarian Universalist congregation near Boston; combining this work with part-time study at Harvard Divinity School. I took up the position of minister with the Unitarians in Edinburgh at the beginning of October 2008. It has been a good start and I have high hopes for a fruitful association with this, the most recent of the beloved communities with whom I have been privileged to walk with, on part of their journeys. My primary aim as a minister is to help to create the gathered community’, whose members feel a deep sense of connection to each other, to the divine and to the web of humanity and all life.

Rachael, Jake and Isabel

The Three Kings (Rachael, Jake and Isabel)

I first entered St Mark's as an audience member of a festival fringe concert. I remember being struck by the magnificence of the space - a place where intimacy and quiet solitude could be found bang in the middle of the city. Jake and I went on to get married in St Mark's and have been attending ever since. Of course, a community is far more than the building in which it meets. To try and summarize why my family and I enjoy being a part of St. Mark's: it is because that it is a loving, inclusive, artistic, intellectual, though-provoking, safe, happy, vibrant, reflective, caring place to explore and engage in spiritual activity. It is a wonderful place for children and adults of all ages.

Julie Finneran

Julie Finneran - Community Pharmacist

I came across St. Mark’s and Unitarianism about eight years ago and very quickly felt comfortable with the congregation, the services and the general atmosphere. I don’t come from a religious background and personally feel very awkward about being in any way obliged to subscribe to a set of views about which I have doubts. Also, as I don’t want to limit myself to one fixed set of ideas, it seems reasonable to take what suits me from many different philosophies as I rather enjoy my ambiguities. In fact it is absolute certainty which unnerves me! I feel very comfortable at St. Mark’s as there is no set creed, but rather an ongoing inquiry into the small details of life and existence as well as the ‘bigger’ questions. I particularly like the poetry and humour and the time for reflection to music and silence. Currently, I would probably best describe myself as a ‘spiritual humanist’ or an ‘optimistic agnostic’.

I also value being part of a community composed of many different individuals who all share a basic human warmth and mutual respect for each other and the Earth. I enjoy the social aspects of being part of a congregation and the social good which this can engender and I value the cyclical nature of the different seasons and festivals which we celebrate. I feel that St. Mark’s is for anyone who has a notion that they would like to take a little time away from the everyday humdrum material considerations of life and make some space to dream, reflect and consider.

Mike West

Mike West - Retired Civil Servant

I joined St Mark's in 1980 after several years as a religious gypsy. Although brought up and confirmed in the Scottish Episcopalian Church, I became uneasy with traditional Christian beliefs in my late teens and drifted away in student days. The gypsy years involved lots of sermon-tasting across different denominations, the closest affinity I experienced being to the Society of Friends whose meetings I visited for a couple of years.

I was intrigued by a chance remark by an elderly friend that if she could have her life over again, she would like to support the Unitarians. The word Unitarian was an initial barrier as it sounded dogmatic, but a few weeks at St Mark's gave me insight into the liberal perspective on religion and the inclusive approach to other cultures and their beliefs. Twenty years later the approach makes even more sense and I value the liberal fellowship and the richly varied Sunday services which St Mark's offers.

Joan Cook

Joan Cook - Health Visitor

Why I Am A Unitarian

What appeals to me about Unitarianism is it's inclusiveness. I cannot believe that any one religion has a monopoly on God, and the idea of a God who reserves benefits for an exclusive few, whilst denying them to others, I find a rather limiting view. We all have to find our own set of truths, and the ability to draw from other traditions is a great advantage, and Unitarianism enables and encourages us to do that.

What I like about St. Mark's

Perhaps St. Mark's greatest asset is the congregation or community, itself. Whether you are a traditionalist, liberal, erratic attendee or enquirer, you are accepted on your own terms. St. Mark's has also provided a suitable environment for me to help my own children learn about the views of others, as well as develop their own personal set of beliefs.

The Quigleys

The Quigleys

Mindy: I've been a Unitarian since my university days, when having roommates of different faiths caused me to set aside the evangelical Christianity of my childhood. Unitarianism offers all the comforts of a traditional religious community, but provides the freedom for me to evolve my secular humanist beliefs. I absolutely love St. Mark's, especially since Maud took over the ministry. It's such a sweet little church.

Paul: Mindy dragged me to the Unitarian church in the early days of our courtship. At first I was a little skeptical; the only religion I'd ever had much to do with was Catholicism (and I'd ditched that many years before). Despite my early skepticism, I am now a proud Unitarian. I have come to enjoy taking the time each week for quiet reflection. I even serve on the St. Mark's Council!

Alice (aged 5): I like church because I get to do drawing and I get to play with Kenna. Maud tells exciting stories that are sometimes funny. My favourite things about church are playing with Kenna and eating biscuits. I liked it when we learned about Moses.