On the first Sunday in February, five Starr
King students lifted their voices in The
Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in
San Francisco and preached sermonettes about
the call to ministry, while a fifth student
sent saxophone notes soaring into the rafters.
"The six students from Starr King led the congregation in a profoundly moving worship experience," said the Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake, SKSM Acting Dean of the Faculty and Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples minister. "The congregation was invited to participate in remarkable journeys of ministry. There was a soul connection with each student who shared the context of personal call, options or lack of options, sacrifices, dramatic challenges and consequences of responding positively to the call. The music lovingly held us. Something rang true, eliciting introspection and guiding those gathered to revisit their own calls, either recognized or unrecognized, heeded or unheeded."
The Starr King visiting students said they also felt the depth and grace of their experience.
"Being invited to communion outside our own
fellowship was powerful. I could feel Dr.
Howard Thurman's legacy," said Jeanelyse
Doran Adams, referring to the noted
African-American theologian who founded the
interfaith and inter-racial church in the
1940s. "We all felt warmly welcomed."
Adams and others described the potluck after
the service where the group was invited to
talk more about their personal journeys and
congregants shared their own stories, one
woman saying the group inspired her to go
ahead and apply to seminary.
"We were invited to come back," said Shelley
The Rev. Dr. Blake noted that the students and their hosts came together in recognition and respect, enriching the shared experience.
"When the seminarians were re-introduced later during the social hour in Thurman Hall," said Blake, "there was sustained applause. A deep connection had been made with both head and heart. The boundaries that separated these two vital institutions -- Starr King and the Church for the Fellowship for All Peoples -- were permeable indeed."
Jacqueline Duhart found the timing of the seminarians'
visit especially fitting.
"It was like a right of passage being there
during Black History Month and on Women's
Sunday," said Duhart, "a tradition
in black churches, which honors the women of
the congregation on the first Sunday of the
month. Most of us are in our third year and
have been together as a covenant group since
the beginning of seminary in a spirit that
binds our hearts. This service got to the
core of what binds us."
In January, 13 Starr King interns and their
supervising ministers returned to Berkeley from
around the country to discuss the rigors of
congregational service, how their experiences
affect ministerial discernment and the
benefits of mutual support during the
school’s annual three-day intern
“We also talked about how supervisors could do a
better job of guiding interns, how interns
could learn more in their settings, and about what the
school can do to support both groups,” said the Rev. Dr.
Dave Sammons, Starr King Acting President who helped
host the event.
Sammons made a point of noting the importance of
the church community in the formation of new
“I want to thank all the ministers and lay
folks who’ve helped our students out there in the real
world in an internship setting and in many other ways. Our students need this kind of help to integrate
what they learn in school with the demands of ministry
in all the kinds of places where they’ll eventually serve.”
Sally Hamlin, a fourth-year student who
accompanied the Rev. Jean Rankin, her supervising minister, to the gathering, came away from
Starr King with a new appreciation for the school and
the other interns who share her experiences.
"What does it feel like to walk into a place
that knows your soul," said Hamlin, who's serving the
First Parish in Concord, Mass. "Can a place hold you in this way? I believe it can. That's what it meant
to come to SKSM for this retreat. This group of emerging
ministers meeting with those already formed,
yet still growing, captured my heart and left me with
much to ponder. Sharing, challenging, inviting,
learning. It was all there, and more."
Sometimes we talk about “permeable walls” here at
Starr King, meaning bringing the outside world in to
see what we’re going – and taking ourselves outside
our walls as a part of our educational process. In the
article above you read about the Rev. Dr. Dorsey
Blake taking some of our students into the very real
world of San Francisco, Calif.
For my part, I’ll be going to Chicago to join with Lee
Barker, president of Meadville-Lombard Theological
School, and several others to talk with the UUMA’s
CENTER Committee about how our two schools
might better serve not only our own grads, but other
ministers – an example of the kind of cooperation in
which we’re eager to engage.
We’re also working hard on another kind of extension
beyond our walls: offering a chance for reflection
among students doing internships and the
supervisors with whom they’re working. Last month
over 25 such folks gathered here at the school to talk
about the work they’re doing with each other in this
important preparation for the ministry.
It’s something close to my heart. During my long stint in the parish ministry I supervised almost 30 interns preparing for the parish and community ministry, not only from Starr King and Meadville-Lombard, but from other schools as well. In fact, I’m supervising an intern
right now, an M.Div. from Harvard who's working with
a fellowship in Northern California. She’s a person
who will be a great addition to our ministry once she
gets through this additional part of her preparation.
I like working with interns. They’ve not only kept me
on my toes and taught me a lot over the years, but
they give me a feeling that through the work I do with
them I’m adding to a ministry that will go on long after
I’m gone. I’m proud of the people with whom I’ve
worked and of the contributions they’re making to our
Rev. Dr. Dave Sammons
Thanks to a generous gift from Bruce Stowell
and Heather Hyde, Starr King is sponsoring
the first annual Unitarian Universalist
Current Issues Sermon Award.
The challenge for SKSM students is to respond with vision and passion, whether agreeing or disagreeing,
to Davidson Loehr's essay, "Why 'Unitarian
Universalism' is Dying," originally published
in the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of
Any SKSM student is eligible, and the
submission deadline is Feb. 28. Unitarian
Universalist scholars, ministers and
laypeople will serve as judges, and Associate
Professor Alma Crawford is overseeing the
competition. The $5,000 award recipient will
likely deliver the winning sermon at the
Pacific Central District Assembly in May.
We'll announce the award recipient in the
A set of collected essays written by the Rev.
Dr. Rebecca Parker, President of Starr King
School, and edited by the Rev. Rob Hardies,
'00 SKSM graduate and senior minister of All
Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, D.C., speaks to the transformative possibilities often found in
life's brokenness and despair.
The collection, "Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now," was published by Skinner House Books.
"There are times in our lives when it feels like things are falling apart," Hardies said. "When loss strips our days of joy. When death robs us of someone we love, or violence shatters our sense of security. This is a book for those times."
To order copies, click. You can also read an excerpt entitled, "Love First," from the summer 2006 issue of the UU World, or listen to a podcast of Dr. Parker delivering "Soul Music," a sermon found in the book.
A new English-language radio show about Transylvanian Unitarianism launched from Transylvania on Feb. 16. Created by the Rev. Zsolt Solymosi, a Starr King 2004-2005 Balazs Scholar, the program is available on the Internet and will often broadcast live, allowing listeners to offer real-time, virtual feedback.
"The dream that my stay in Berkeley helped to develop has become a reality," said Solymosi, who teaches at the Unitarian high school in Kolozsvar, Transylvania, and has produced a local radio show for the past several years. "The Unitarian Web Radio is ready to broadcast."
Solymosi will co-host with Ben Legg, an English teacher at the Protestant Theological Institute in Kolozsvar. You can catch their first broadcast at 3 p.m. (PST), Wednesday, Feb. 21.
"The show," said Legg, "will discuss all aspects of life in Transylvania, with a focus on Unitarianism. And it will often be live. We want to make this interactive, so please give us your thoughts while you listen."
To access the radio station, visit www.unitarianradio.ro. But first download a free "Winamp" program onto your computer -- www.winamp.com. Once you've loaded the Winamp player, click on the "Live" icon at the radio website.
Click to contact Solymosi.
We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation,
and have treated our distant cousins in fur and
feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able
to formulate a religion, they would depict the devil in
human form. -- William Ralph Inge, "Outspoken
The SKSM ECO Steering Committee invites you to
reflect on the relationship between sustainable
environments and animal rights.
Each year marks the breeding, exploitation and slaughter of 10 billion land animals in the United States alone. The number rises to 25 billion if we include fish.
How can our work to bring about justice cross over into our care for other beings? What intersecting privileges and
oppressions can be found in the way that humans
and animals have been treated through incarceration
(farms, cages), reproductive tampering (breeding,
cloning, spaying, neutering, inseminating), marketing
and domestication (farmed animals and pets),
exploitative entertainment (zoos, circuses, aquatic
parks), genocide (extinction), diaspora (habitat
destruction), and consumption (food, clothes,
How is the abuse of large numbers of
immigrants employed at slaughterhouses connected
to what happens to the animals there? How might
our respect for the interdependent web of all
existence call us to a more just world for all?
We invite you to consider what actions the school, your
congregation, or you as an individual might take to
address these concerns.
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