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Castine minister inspired by father, Martin Luther King Jr. retires after 22 years

Posted April 11, 2013, at 7:49 p.m.
The Rev. Mark Worth will retire this spring after more than two decades as a Unitarian Universalist pastor in Hancock County.
The Rev. Mark Worth will retire this spring after more than two decades as a Unitarian Universalist pastor in Hancock County.

CASTINE, Maine — The Rev. Mark Worth knew he wanted to be a Methodist minister by the time he was a senior in high school.

There was just one problem with that plan, Worth, 65, of Penobscot said last month.

“I was no longer a Methodist.”

It would take a couple of decades and a move from his ancestral home in Michigan to western Massachusetts before Worth would find the right denominational fit. He also would teach history and run a health food store before being ordained.

Worth moved to Maine in 1991 to serve the Unitarian Universalist churches in Ellsworth and Castine. He became the full-time pastor in Castine 15 years ago.

The minister delivered his last sermon as pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Castine on Easter Sunday before retiring. He and his wife, Mickey Worth, will spend next month traveling in Europe before returning to their home in Penobscot.

“I was inspired to go into the ministry by both my father, who was a Methodist minister and I saw the pastoral side of ministry from him, and also by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who with his Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other hand called on our country to be better than it was,” the minister said after a Sunday service in March.

Worth has been outspoken on social justice issues since he arrived in Maine. Nearly 100 of his letters to the editor have been published by the Bangor Daily News over the past two decades. He is recognized statewide as a longtime advocate for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“His strong sense of social justice is an important part of his legacy here,” Del Davis, president of the congregation, said last month. “He’s also a gifted musician and we’ve enjoyed that talent.”

Davis said that as a history major, he has especially enjoyed those aspects of Worth’s sermons that have included historical references.

In a March 13 sermon titled, “Why Agnostics Go to Church,” Worth referenced the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Stuart Mill, William Wilberforce, Christopher Hitchens, Paul Tillich and Buddha.

Worth said that he’d like to be remembered for more than his sermons.

“I hope people remember it as a good time,” Worth said of his time in Castine. “It was a time when we faced some challenges, some crises. I think we’ve been good to one another, that we’ve done what we can to make our congregation and society a better place.”

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