Transitions in Starr King’s Core Faculty

Dear Friends of Starr King,

I am writing to bring you news of significant transitions in Starr King’s core faculty: Professor Patti Lawrence has announced (see attached letter below) that she will conclude her work at the school this spring. Patti began her service with us in January of 1991, and has blessed the school with her remarkable leadership, her gift for teaching, her administrative talents, and her devotion to the power and importance of congregational life.

She exemplifies Unitarian Universalist faith and spirit at its best — challenging us by her deeds as well as her words to go deeper with our commitments to anti-racism and counter-oppressive work; to advance the priesthood and prophethood of all of us — lay and ordained; to practice stewardship and generosity; and to build and sustain healthy systems and institutions that embody our religious values. Later this spring we will celebrate her years with us, and we will be inviting contributions from you to honor her.

Also at the end of this academic year, Professor Dave Sammons, our Visiting Professor of Unitarian Universalist Heritage and Ministry, will move more fully into retirement by reducing his hours from full time. Over the years, Dave has served the school as acting president, as a teaching minister working with parish ministry interns, as an adjunct professor, and as a trustee.

He keeps us focused on the school’s distinctive gifts and calling, reminds us continually of the value of our pedagogy for preparing people for the real work of ministry, and inspires us with his love of learning and his life-long commitments to socially relevant ministry. We are grateful that Dave will continue to serve the school next year in a part-time capacity after a period of rest in the fall.

For the coming academic year and the next, I will be appointing full-time Visiting Professors to serve on our core faculty. As we move forward with developing our new educational model, this will assure the presence of Unitarian Universalist teachers and leaders with expertise in the areas of congregational life, preaching and worship, and Unitarian Universalist history and heritage. In consultation with our faculty and with input from our students and staff, I will make the Visiting Professor appointments from among people nominated by Starr King’s core faculty and members of our board.

These are exciting days at Starr King as we lay the groundwork for our new educational model. We are able to move forward “with vision and courage” because we build on the foundation laid by gifted faculty members who have graced the school across the years, and continue to bless us with their witness and work.

In Peace,

Rebecca Parker
President and Professor of Theology

510 845 6232 ext. 112

Your comments and reflections are welcome. You may email me at to send a reply.

February 20, 2008

Dear Friends,

A few months ago, with the encouragement of my doctors, I was forced to examine my abilities to continue working at the school. The neuropathy in my hands was increasing and my eyes were giving me greater challenges. This is in addition to the continuing difficulties I am having with my legs and feet. After talking to my most trusted friends and family, I have made the decision to make this spring’s semester my last teaching, advising and working at this much beloved place.

My overwhelming feeling about the last seventeen years is one of gratitude: gratitude for the challenges and opportunities, gratitude for my colleagues on staff and faculty, gratitude for the many students who have passed over the School’s threshold, gratitude for those who support this mighty, little school with their time, talent and treasure, and gratitude for being held and pushed toward personal growth by the values held by the School. I have been truly blessed by all that is Starr King School for the Ministry.

What am I going to do next? All I know is that life will be creative as I continue learning to accommodate my physical abilities to my interests. It will be fun, especially with my new grand-daughter, Liliana. I intend to continue to be of service until I am “used up”. And, I will take it all at a bit easier pace giving time for healing and aging.

In closing I want to share a poem that I have returned to again and again in my time at the School. It is “Variations on a Theme by Rilke” written by Denise Levertov:

A certain day became a presence to me,
there it was confronting me—a sky, air, light
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out metallic—or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew. I can.

Thank you for being with me on this journey. May we all continue to ring out.


Patti Lawrence
Professor of Congregational Studies

starr king is a member school of the graduate theological union