November 19, 2015

I Am Starr King: Interview with Jan Hutslar

Jan HutslarJan Hutslar

2nd Year M. Div. Student


What inspired you to become a religious leader? 

I wouldn’t exactly say that when I started out on this path I was inspired. It was more like it opened up and I fell into it. I started out working as a Director of Religious Education and that happened in the congregation where I already was a member and I loved the church. So when the opportunity came up I actually wasn’t even considering applying but the search committee asked me to. At that time I was a children’s librarian so I have a love of working with children and I have a lot of experience, but I haven’t really done anything related to religion. So I wasn’t planning it. It just sort of unfolded in a way. And it was through working at that church for 12 years that little by little I fell more and more in love with Unitarian Universalism, and also with congregational life and the way that religious community can hold and support each other and love each other even when we drive each other crazy.

Now that I’m in religious leadership I’m inspired by both the religious communities that I’ve been involved in, what they create together, and other religious leaders who have inspired me and opened my heart. That’s kind of what, now that I’m here, continues to inspire me for my journey forward.

Why did you decide to study at Starr King? 

That’s a pretty easy question. I am a Unitarian Universalist very strongly and I wanted to go to a UU identity school and this is the only one that has an in person program. Also, I had read a lot about the philosophy of Starr King and I really resonated with that so I did come out here to see the school and spend several days to make sure that this felt like it was a fit for me. And it felt really right when I was visiting so that’s why I chose Starr King.

What has been your most memorable or meaningful experience at Starr King? 

I guess I would answer that question by saying there isn’t only one, there are so many that I’m not going to name them all. But one of the first ones that comes to my mind is when we did the orientation for our cohort class. We had a service in the round chapel where we were anointed with oil and it felt like such an important step to say “I accept this anointment” and I will move forward through this process of school with both the sacredness, the joyfulness, the playfulness, and the seriousness of what that means. That has actually stuck with me, that being anointed. So that was a very early experience.

Also, I was a recipient of the Balazs Scholarship trip to Transylvania this summer and that was an amazing experience. I didn’t think of it right away because it wasn’t here at school, but I want to put in a plug for what an amazing relationship we have with Unitarians in Transylvania and what a rich heritage they bring us and how much we learn from each other. I strongly encourage anybody who has the opportunity to take advantage of the experience of spending time in Transylvania and learning from these amazing people.

 What do you hope to do with your Starr King education going forward?

At this point, I’m leaning heavily towards parish ministry. I’m applying for internships for next year and so I’ll have a better idea of what that means for me to be a minister of a congregation. I love that congregations work together so I’d really like to be a part of that religious leadership role. I see myself in a small rural church. I’m a “woods” person so a big city church is not for me. I think there’s a place for me somewhere out there.

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