Last night – after awarding Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes an honorary degree at the 11th annual Starr King Symposium – Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt boarded a plane to Transylvania for the Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the International Association of Liberal Religious Women (IALRW). It’s a chance for our President to enrich her mind and spirit by connecting with ministers and congregations in the historic home of Unitarianism. She’ll also give two talks touching on the current threats to religious freedom in the US and join a panel of liberal religious women.
I’m so excited for this trip; it’ll be my first time visiting the site of our historic roots! I’ll also be seeking out possibilities for more of the experiential learning that we value at the school. One of the pillars of support of Sowing Seeds: The Campaign for Starr King is immersive, experiential learning. There are many opportunities for growth in this area; I’m looking forward to connecting with the global liberal religious communities attending these two conferences and looking for possible partnerships with Starr King.”
– Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt
Along for the trip is 2023 Starr King graduate JeKaren Olaoya – winner of the 2023 Francis Balázs Immersion Experience. The Francis Balázs Immersion Experience is a reimagined twist on the Balázs Scholar Program that has brought a Transylvanian Unitarian minister to study at Starr King for the past 25 years but was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
JeKaren became a Death and Grief Doula after the start of the pandemic when she recognized the impending need for grief support. From this immersive experience, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of Transylvanian Unitarian perspectives, rituals, and traditions to enrich her work in supporting those who are experiencing loss.
The Francis Balázs Immersion Experience is an opportunity to build compassionate and inclusive spaces for grief work that integrates the traditional and innovative approaches of the Transylvania culture while also addressing mental health, exploring the power of collective lamentation, and incorporating social justice. My hope is that our faith community can navigate the complexities of grief and emerge stronger, more compassionate, and more resilient.”
– JeKaren Olaoya
Stay tuned for more details about their trip in the coming weeks. Please join us in wishing Rev. McNatt and JeKaren safe travels!
Want to see more programs and initiatives like this immersive learning experience? Visit www.sksm.edu/sowingseeds to learn more.