Rev. J. Mark Worth is a Unitarian Universalist interim minister. He has twenty-two years of experience as a settled minister, and two years experience in interim ministry.
Mark says, “The departure of a settled minister can bring uncertainty and a mixture of emotions, whether it was a good departure or a difficult one. Congregational transition is a time to see the possibilities for the future, while healing, celebrating, and revisioning the future course of the congregation.”
Mark was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father became a Methodist minister when Mark was 13. “I was inspired to enter the ministry by two people,” he says. “From my father I learned something of the pastoral side of ministry, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., showed us how ministry could be a vehicle for building a better world.” But before high school graduation he realized he was no longer a Methodist, closing the door to the Methodist ministry.
As an undergraduate in the 1960s, Mark helped lead campus groups that supported Civil Rights and opposed the Vietnam War. After graduation he received Conscientious Objector status on religious grounds, and did two years' alternate service at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsfield was operating a draft counseling center, and Mark went there to learn about a church that cared about peace. He says, “I immediately felt at home as a Unitarian Universalist,” and joined in 1970.
In the 1970s he owned and operated a natural food store. In the '80s he taught high school history, earning a Master’s of Education degree in 1983. As a UU layperson he served on the Committee on Ministry, the Worship Committee, and the Governing Board, and was an adult adviser to the LRY youth group. The president of the congregation asked, “Mark, have you ever thought of going into the ministry?” Mark decided that he could pursue his call to ministry as a Unitarian Universalist.
While attending Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, he served as a student minister in Houghton and St. Joseph, Michigan, and Rockford, Illinois. He completed his internship at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, Illinois. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained in 1991.
He served UU congregations in Ellsworth (1991-2006) and Castine (1991-2013), Maine. Between 2006 and 2013, while Mark was their full-time minister, the Castine congregation added an additional 60% to their membership – in a town with a declining year-round population. He is now completing a two-year contract as interim minister in Westborough, Massachusetts. He says, “It's been a pleasure to work with the Westborough congregation, to help them through this time of transition, and to fall in love with them, knowing that when the time comes to say say goodbye, we will say goodbye.”
He has been married to Michelle “Mickey” Worth since 1979, a second marriage for both of them. She is a Social Worker who earned her Master's Degree in Counseling in 2012. Mickey has an adult daughter in Georgia.
Mark has served on district and national UU committees, has been active in social advocacy and justice work, and is known state-wide in Maine for his advocacy for same-sex marriage. He taught Unitarian Universalist History at Bangor Theological Seminary 1995-2012. Having left settled ministry, he is now enjoying the challenges of interim ministry.