February 11, 2015

Taking My Leave — Message From Helio Fred Garcia


Helio Fred Garcia

Dear members of our beloved Starr King community,

By now you will have heard of the Board’s actions and recommendations in response to the report of the Ad Hoc Committee. I believe this allows the board, the school, and the broader community to begin a new chapter of healing, renewal, and recommitment.

As some of you know, my term as board chair was to have ended last May. I agreed to Rebecca Parker’s request that I extend my term until the end of her service on June 30, 2014; I also agreed to a request from our new president, Rosemary Bray McNatt, that I further extend my term until the resolution of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work. That time has now come.

As it happens, this coincides with a long-planned extended foreign business trip that will send me ten time zones away from Berkeley. I will be back at the very end of March. So I regret that I will not be able to be in the discussions that I know are happening throughout the community. I am heartened that my board colleagues will be in those discussions.

I first became involved with Starr King 15 years ago, when John Buehrens invited me to teach a full-day intensive in his public ministry course. I formally joined the adjunct faculty upon the launch of the MASC program, and one of the joys of my career was teaching in the January Intersession from 2005 to 2011, when I became board chair. I have developed strong relationships with many students, and am very proud to have been part of their ministerial formation.

As I take the opportunity now to formally take my leave as both board chair and board member, I have a mixture of feelings:

  • Pride in the work that has been done, including working with Rebecca, the faculty, staff, and board to bring the Starr King emergent educational model (a.k.a The Starr King Way) to life, despite some rocky times and resource constraints.
  • Sadness at the events of the last 10 months.
  • Gratitude to all who serve and have served the school, in all capacities.

I know the challenges of the recent past have left many unsatisfied; yearning for a new way. I know the board and President McNatt are taking this very seriously, and are committed to a new way. I invite you all to participate in the process of building Starr King to what we all know it can be. I know that the school is in excellent hands.

I am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities. I remain grateful for the opportunity to have served the school – as a teacher, as a board member and chair, and as a donor. I am confident in the school and in its bright future. I know we will continue to take the lead in preparing people for Unitarian Universalist ministry and progressive religious leadership in the wider world.



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