Lauren is a student in Starr King’s MDiv program. She began seminary in the fall of 2013.
Why Lauren Chose Starr King
There is laughter and joy and lightness in most everything we do at Starr King. There is also respect and gravitas, but everyone here embraces all sides of ideas, including the light and the laughter. It’s remarkable. Every day I am thankful and reminded that I made the right choice and I am in the place where I belong.
SKSM has been my dream school since I was in high school – the self-directed learning, the multi-religious perspective, the affiliation with all the other GTU schools. The energy and the passion of the school was a clear and perfect choice for me. The time I spent investigating schools during discernment brought me back to SKSM again and again. The idea that seminary is significantly more than just academics, that we are training religious leaders. To be a religious leader requires strength, support, community, love, challenges, ideas, opportunities, and experiences. The school has been more than I’d ever expected. The community that exists here is overwhelming. The openness, the willingness to include people when they arrive, the general concern for each individual’s wellbeing, is beautiful.
I was born in Tiffin, Ohio, and moved to San Diego, CA when I was 11. I spent a few years in the late 90s in Los Angeles, but mostly lived in San Diego until I moved to Berkeley at the end of August.
The last eight years of my life were spent doing HIV research for UCSD. The part of my work that spoke the most to me was interacting with our participants. We would see people from all walks of life – from successful CEOs, parents, artists, adventurers, to those who find themselves homeless, addicted to drugs, struggling against mental illness and generally discarded by society. The opportunity to spend an few hours with each person, to hear their stories and give them the opportunity to feel valued and appreciated, was the best part of my work and reinforced within me the call to ministry.
Like an alarming number of people who were leaders in YRUU, I found myself leaving the faith after high school. I spent ten years struggling with finding community and a home. Wanting connection and a spiritual community, but not knowing where I fit. In 2008, the UU Pacific Southwest District started a young adult camp and that was the jump start and connection I needed to find my way back in. After that, I was all church, all the time. I found myself a leader in the young adult group at the church, a worship associate, a lay minister, co-chair of the intern minister committee, and a youth advisor. I was involved as much as I could be.
Her Call to Ministry
I turned to my minister when I was seriously considering ministry and she formed a “Seminarians to Be” club for a small group of us who were all deep in discernment. My call to ministry is really a call to help those who are frequently othered – to help them be heard, valued, appreciated and empowered – and to help the world be the beloved community of all souls. Starr King School embodies that in a holistic and beautiful way. By embodying the ideals of countering oppressions and multi-cultural, multi-religious living and learning, SKSM trains its students to be a force of fierce good and love in the world.
I have a vision of working with traditionally underserved communities as an affiliate/community minister with a large congregation. Among the communities I envision serving as a minister are people returning from prison as they re-incorporate to their families, their communities and their lives; the families and friends of our military members, giving them the tools to be present and available to the service person who returns home. All the while, working with the congregation – preaching, teaching, developing leaders, encouraging multi-generational work within the congregation, and multi-religious work within the community. I know that I am passionate and excited about what the future holds.