Dear Starr King Friend,
Life is good at Starr King School for the Ministry! We’ve just completed our January Intensive period and I’m delighted to report that our Emergent Educational Design is working beautifully to engage students in new approaches to theological education. Catch a glimpse for yourself through the slideshow video below.
Fourteen new degree students “crossed the threshold” to begin their studies with us this spring, inspired and guided by Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae, our director of Recruitment and Admissions. If you or someone you know is discerning a call to ministry or religious leadership, I encourage you to contact Rev. Kalendae (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a conversation.
“I’m so grateful that I can live in Maine and come out to Berkeley for intensive courses,” says first-year MDiv student Lane Fisher, a writer, dog-trainer and active UU lay leader. “This makes it enormously more workable for me to attend seminary.” She reflects that intensive courses are “a coordination task to complete reading ahead of time and do the overnight assignments,” while the post-class papers “work quite nicely” with her schedule. While in Berkeley, Lane stayed with a family who offers home hospitality to Starr King low-resident students through the UU Church in Berkeley. Staying with a local family is a “godsend,” Lane says, “they are wonderful people and it’s hugely helpful to have home hospitality close to the school.”
FACE TO FACE LEARNING
The January Intensive period provides a richly rewarding time for low and high resident students to come together for face to face learning, community building, spiritual practice, workshops, lectures, and interactions with distinguished religious leaders and scholars. A highlight for me among our wonderful January activities: candlelight Vespers and a community meal each week, including silent meditation, sung prayer led by the splendid Starr King Choir, poetry readings by our faculty, and good vegan food. It was also a joy to welcome the parish interns and teaching ministers for two-days of reflection, led by Rev. Kurt Kuhwald and Rev. Michelle Favreault.
This January leaders from across the country were present to work with our students, including Starr King grad and UUA President Peter Morales, UUA Credentialing Director David Pettee (also a Starr King grad), racial justice activist Chris Crass, Rev. Dr. Joanne Braxton from the College of William and Mary, Rev. Dr. Rob Hardies from All Soul’s Washington, DC (another Starr King grad), and Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, former UUA President, SKSM Trustee, and now interim minister of the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula.
MULTIRELIGIOUS, UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST, AND COUNTER-OPPRESSIVE
Dr. Ghazala Anwar, one of Starr King’s distinguished Muslim scholars, engaged January students in “Feminist Readings of the Quran.” Through courses such as this, Starr King is leading the way in ground-breaking and courageous scholarship that is “devoted specifically to gender related issues in light of Quranic ethics,” and that offers “Muslim feminist and Queer readings of the Quran.”
Our M.Div. curriculum now includes three required core intensives to ground students in their preparation for ministry and religious leadership: an ECO core intensive (“Educating to Counter Oppressions and Create Just and Sustainable Communities”); a UU ministry and/or religious leadership core intensive; and a multi-religious core intensive. We introduced two of these required courses this January-with rave reviews from students. Dr. Susan Ritchie taught Unitarian Universalist Religious Leadership in Historical and Theological Context which challenged students to develop “the theological and historical depth that allows religious leaders to understand their authority, their accountabilities, and to act as agents for change.” Dr. Ibrahim Farajaje’ taught Multireligious Life and Learning: “Greening” and “Queering” the Studies of Religions “looking at environmental issues from the perspectives of different religious traditions,” exploring how multireligious study engages intersecting “issues of genders, sexualities, race, embodiment, class, etc.” and giving particular attention to practical forms of multireligious leadership called for today.
PERSONALIZED STUDY IN MULTIPLE MODES
Now that our Spring semester is underway, Mandy is back at home in Montgomery and is enrolled in online and hybrid courses (where students attend Starr King residential courses by live video). Lane is working on her Starr King studies from her home in Maine, combining independent study, field work and online courses. “Online courses work beautifully for me,” Lane says, “as a writer, working quietly at a keyboard is completely natural.” Both Mandy and Lane interact regularly with the Starr King core faculty and with high-resident Starr King students in Berkeley, via phone, e-mail and internet-including live-streaming of Starr King’s Tuesday Chapels to our low-resident students.
Starr King’s Emergent Educational Design supports each student in designing a personalized course of study that responds to their gifts and challenges, deepens their spiritual practice, advances their religious scholarship and theological understanding, prepares them practically for the form of religious service or sacred activism to which they are called, and is adaptive to their life-circumstances and the needs of their family and home communities.
NEWS FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE
Rev. Glenn Farley, chair of Starr King’s Presidential Search committee reports that the search is well-underway and the committee is pleased by the strength and diversity of candidates who have applied. We are expecting a short-list of candidates to visit the campus in mid-March as the next step in the search process.
My official duties will conclude at the end of June and with grace and gratitude, I will entrust the leadership of Starr King School into new hands.
YOUR GIFTS MATTER
Your support for Starr King School enables the good work of the School to flourish. You help when you encourage potential students to connect with us. (Contact email@example.com) You help when you give regularly to our “Sustaining Fund for Annual Operations and Scholarship Aid”. (Donate on-line or send gifts to Federico Pacheco, Advancement Director, Starr King School for the Ministry, 2441 LeConte Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709). You help when you include Starr King in your will or arrange for a planned gift. This is the primary way our endowment grows. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
In grace and gratitude,
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker
President and Professor of Theology