Our Minister

Revd. Margaret Kirk has been a Unitarian Minister for 23 years, providing pastoral oversight at the Whitby chapel for most of that time. Now retired, she takes occasional services at Whitby. She was minister of St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel in York between 1998 and 2009.

She writes an occasional `Thought For the Week` for the Whitby Gazette. The most recent one is printed here:

Whitby Gazette June 2021 As someone who lived for many years in another seaside town much closer to mainland Europe than Whitby, I have always been interested in traffic back and forth across the sea. I would sit on the cliffs of Dover overlooking the Eastern Docks watching as the `roll on roll off` ferries took holiday visitors back and forth from Dover to Calais, some setting out for a lengthy stay, others day tripping. But I never saw inflatable boats laden with desperate men, women and children because at that time seeking refuge was less visible. Now the plight of refugees is there for us all to witness and it has become the subject of strongly polarised views Last week was Refugee Week when we were asked to be generous in our response to this kind of desperation �" generous in spirit, generous in giving. By and large we are a generous people. We respond to big catastrophes and we respond to individual stories of persecution and distress. Often we hear of local people who do their utmost to prevent the deportation of a refugee who has become a valued and respected person in their adopted community. But too often we close our hearts and minds when we see the vast numbers of people who make that channel crossing, fearing we are being overwhelmed and exploited, forgetting the desperation and human need that propels families into such extreme action. The 5th anniversary of the death of the MP Jo Cox last week reminds us of someone who had worked for Oxfam before becoming an MP and who was deeply aware of human desperation in countries torn by conflict. Her compassion for such people and her speeches in Parliament supporting refugee families escaping brutality was the hallmark of her political mission and, we should never forget, the cause of her death. Her words about the brutality of the Syrian conflict always rang with sincerity and conviction as on the occasion when she said “I know that I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole.” She understood that nobody risks life and limb with young children unless their situation is one of extreme desperation. Back in Dover in 2021, there are people who gather to demonstrate their opposition to the influx of asylum seekers crossing the channel, risking life and limb, seeking refuge in our country whilst others in churches and charities try to act in accordance with a Christian culture that bids us remember to protect the stranger: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25.35. That message reverberates throughout both Old and New Testaments and has become part of a moral code that the least religious of us recognise to be the only human response to suffering. Margaret Kirk Email:
Mobile: 07946 487321