The Inauguration of The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt

“With a deep sense of humility, gratitude, and commitment, I embrace the joys and challenges of leadership as I take up the work of the Presidency of Starr King School for the Ministry. With humility, because I understand that the work is not mine alone to do; with gratitude, because of the working of God in my life, the endless love of my family and my friends, and the steadfast support of my colleagues; and with commitment, because of my deep belief in Unitarian Universalism and in a progressive, multi-religious future. It is my honor and my privilege to take up this ministry to which you have called me.”

–The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt

On March 21, 2015, The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt was inaugurated as the 7th President of the Starr King School for the Ministry. In an event attended by students, faculty, graduates, staff, friends, family, colleagues and supporters from across the country and around the globe, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt was officially invested as president of Starr King.

The ceremony began with song and words of welcome from The Rev. Jacqueline Duhart, Minister of Faith and Action at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. Speaking to the Starr King’s historic connection to her congregation, Rev. Duhart lifted up that, “112 years ago, the very first classes of what would be called Starr King School for the Ministry were held right here, down the hall, in what is now the Starr King room.”

The ceremony continued with the lighting of the chalice, a key symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith. The words for the chalice lighting were written by Rev. McNatt and spoken by student body president, Jessica Clay.

The service continued with greetings given from The Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association; The Rev. Dr. Riess Potterveld, President of the Graduate Theological Union; The Rev. Don Southworth, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association; The Rev. Sharon Mooney, member of the Board of Trustees of The Chaplaincy Institute; and The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City and organizer of Occupy Faith NYC and Moral Monday NYC.

IMG_0834“Leadership matters. It always has. And Starr King’s special role in our Association historically is growing leaders,” said Rev. Morales (Graduate of SKSM, Class of 1999).

“We look to [Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt’s] leadership in the days ahead,” said Rev. Dr. Potterveld.

IMG_0677“We are here to support you. Our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams are with you,” said Rev. Southworth (Graduate of SKSM, Class of 2000).

“We’re traveling the road of progressive religious leadership together through education. Step by step, student by student, through love, trust, inclusion, justice, wisdom and compassion,” said Rev. Mooney.

“Your legacy with us will be remembered. You were a weight-bearing being in New York City, and I bet you are going to do the same thing here,” said. Rev. Dr. Schaper.

The ceremony proceeded and The Rev. Dr. Traci West delivered her keynote address, Fearful and Fearless Religious Leadership Needed Now. She argued that fear and fearlessness, “can offer a resources for transformative, compassionate, spiritually fed leadership.”

After her keynote, Mr. Barb Greve, Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, along with the other members of the Board of Trustees and those gathered community, performed the Act of Investiture, officially investing her in the role of president of Starr King.

The Rev. Charles Blustein Ortman, Senior Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ, and Rev. McNatt’s internship supervisor, anointed Rev. McNatt with students of Starr King beside her. “Look into the ordinary to see the extraordinary,” said Rev. Ortman. “And in the extraordinary of your new office you find both the possibilities and the promise of transformation, and the possibilities and the promise of justice for a world that needs justice so much.”

The service concluded with a benediction from Rev. McNatt. “So many people from so many places have gathered for this moment; not just for me, but for a vision,” she said. “A vision of a world with leaders with strength and skill and mercy and power and love at their disposal. This is why we are here. This is what we have been called to do.”

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