May 20, 2016

Our Best Teachers

Dear Ones,

Starr King School for the Ministry is dedicated to educating people for progressive religious leadership. We study and work as a community in order to counter oppressions and to create sustainable, inclusive, beloved communities. In working toward that goal, there is a lot to learn.  And sometimes, we learn our best lessons from our students.

During our 2016 Commencement ceremonies Thursday evening, one of our graduates shared her story of the moments when members of our community, or the school’s systems, failed her. Her story is deeply unsettling for all of us at Starr King, and though these events preceded my arrival as president, I am so sorry that this happened to her. We have already taken actions that address the failures identified by this graduate that will help to create a safe environment for all students. This includes a trainer to help new students understand from the very start the larger, complex issues of oppression against transgender people, including the specific issues and concerns of transgender women of color.  Our staff and faculty will join with our students in this training as well; and our Board President and Dean of Students will be assembling a small team over the summer to help us guide and improve our work. We are committed to making sure that no student experiences again what this graduate did, and that we live up to our commitment to build the beloved, inclusive community that is our greater goal.

One of the most important lessons we teach at Starr King is that countering oppression takes hard work, dedication, and ongoing self-examination to address those times when we fall short. There are times when Starr King needs to go through this same process of self-examination, especially when we have been “called-in” by a member of our community.  Such difficult knowledge is vital if we are to learn from our mistakes and fully live into our values. We ask for your patience and support as we continue this important work.


The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President
Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA.

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