Over the course of two days – August 6th and 7th – we welcomed our newest incoming cohort to Starr King School for the Ministry. Although we were not able to meet in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the most out of our first virtual orientation.
The Threshold Ceremony & Vespers Service was held on the evening of August 6, 2020 (see recording below) after a virtual meet and greet with members of the staff and faculty. Using a mix of prerecorded materials and live speakers, we honored new students with a time-honored ceremony in which they cross the threshold into the start of their spiritual journey and time at Starr King.
The Dean of Faculty, Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini offered words of invitation and acknowledgment of native lands. Participants were invited to honor those whose land they reside upon. The Student Body President, Matthew Waterman, lit the chalice, as well as the white and red candles symbolizing death and love respectively. Rev. Dr. Chris Schelin bestowed gifts of welcome that new students received in the mail. The service included our beloved songs and chants by our dear faculty members Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt & Taya Mâ Shere, prayer and silent meditation by our new Director of Spiritual Services, Pastor Jacqueline Duhart, and ended with a blessing by President Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt.
On Friday, August 7, new students started the morning with the Dean of Students, Rev. Dr. Chris Schelin, discussing community building and supporting one another, followed by an introduction to working with faculty facilitated by Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini and members of our beloved faculty. In the afternoon, students participated in breakout sessions with other members of their degree programs.
Orientation wrapped up on Friday afternoon with our heart-centered Closing Ceremony. For those of you who have not attended this ceremony, it included music, chants, acknowledging our ancestors, water libations and acknowledgment of the Four Directions, prayer, silent meditation, and a blessing & anointing by Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt.