Reverend Bill Darlison - The General Assembly President
The Reverend Bill Darlison, who has served as a Unitarian minister since 1984, is a Yorkshireman and has returned to live in Pontefract, the town where he was born.
The son of a coal miner, Bill was first educated at St Joseph’s Catholic School, Pontefract. After a secondary education at the King’s School, Pontefract, he trained as an English teacher at St John’s College, York, and taught for five years before going to Rome in 1971 to train for the priesthood. He left before ordination because, he says, ‘I could not be a public defender of doctrines, like that on birth control, when I did not accept them myself’. After relinquishing his studies there, he went back to teaching, and studied for two degrees: a B.A. (Humanities) with the Open University, and an M.A. in Religious Studies at Hull.
He remained a somewhat lukewarm Catholic but, in his own words, ‘gradually drifted into Unitarianism’, which he felt would give him the freedom to think his own thoughts, unconstrained by creeds and dogma.
In 1992 Bill became the student pastor of the Wakefield congregation and studied for the Unitarian ministry at Unitarian College Manchester. He became a minister in 1994, and spent the next two years as part time minister in Wakefield, supplementing his income by teaching religious studies at Wakefield Independent School. In 1996 he went to Dublin as full–time minister to the city’s small but dynamic Unitarian congregation. In the 14 years he spent there the congregation quadrupled in size, principally because of the child–abuse scandals which had shaken people’s faith in Catholicism, and also because of the great beauty of the church building, which became (and remains) a favoured venue for weddings.
He retired in 2010 and came back to Pontefract, but he maintains strong connections with Ireland. He is Minister Emeritus of the Dublin Church, and Moderator of the Synod of Munster, the body which oversees the congregations in Dublin and Cork.
Bill is the author of a number of books including the widely read The Gospel and the Zodiac: The Secret Truth about Jesus. (2007).
He has been married to Morag since 1975.
Bill also has two collections of short stories, both available via Lulu:
- The Shortest Distance: 101 Stories from the World’s Spiritual Traditions, Exposure Publishing, 2006
- Concentration and Compassion: 101 More Stories from the World’s Spiritual Traditions, published by Dublin Unitarians