February 5, 2021

#WeAreStarrKing Week 2021 Recap

Our 2nd annual #WeAreStarrKing Week took place January 5-9, 2021. This celebratory week of events was created in 2020 to foster community between the many constituencies of Starr King School for the Ministry: current students, graduates, trustees, faculty, staff, friends, and donors. This year’s festivities included our 2nd annual Starr King Graduate Reunion, a student-led chapel service, the 9th annual Starr King Symposium, and MUCH more. The day-by-day recap is below, including screenshots and event recordings.


#WeAreStarrKing Week 2021 started on Tuesday, January 5 with a student-led chapel service to say farewell to our previous home on Le Conte Ave.

The Graduate Reunion Kickoff event followed the service. Graduates of Starr King heard an update on the school from Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt (Acting President & Associate Professor of Unitarian Universalist Ethics and Theologies) as well as an update on the Grad Association from Rev. Lyn Cox (SKSM Grad Association President). Additionally, a video was played in recognition of those who have graduated, been ordained, retired, or passed away in 2020.

Watch the full Graduate Reunion Kickoff Event here:

Tuesday evening, two graduate fellowship circles occurred: one for graduates prior to 1989 and one for graduates of the 1990s. These years were not strictly enforced but acted as guidelines for folks to be more likely to run into former classmates.


Wednesday, January 6 began with a virtual reception to honor Arliss Ungar, long-time friend and Chair of the Balázs Committee, who is retired from her service to Starr King. We heard from Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt (Associate Professor of Unitarian Universalist Theologies and Ethics), Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker (President/Professor Emerita), Anne Greenwood (Chair of the Balázs Scholars Task Force), Rev. Tet Gallardo (2016-2017 Balázs Scholar), and more.

Jessica Cloud, Vice President of Advancement at Starr King, presented Arliss with a pendant of the Starr King spiral in the style of the Charles Street Meeting House symbols.

Watch the full event below:

On Wednesday evening, there were two more graduate fellowship circles: graduates from 2000-2009 and graduates of the 2010s.


On Thursday, our newest incoming student cohort began their Starr King Orientation. Our 13 newest students met the faculty and staff during a virtual meet and greet before the traditional Threshold Ceremony & Vespers Service.

We began our virtual ceremony with a native land acknowledgment led by Starr King student Sangye Hawke, followed by the litany for crossing the threshold. After Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt gave words of invitation, Isaac Castro (SKSM Student & Student Body Vice President) lit the chalice, traditional red & white candles, as well as a new candle to commemorate and educate about the Black Lives that have been lost to police brutality, and bring a symbol of hope that we will achieve the change we want to see.

Our Dean of Students, Rev. Dr. Chris Schelin led the calling in of new community members with help from the wondrous voices of Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt and Taya Mâ Shere (Assistant Professor of Organic Multi-religious Ritual).

We were then blessed with a recording of Ibrahim Baba reciting an excerpt from “I Had a Bad Dream” and Lauren Martinez (Starr King Student) reciting an original piece called “Dance Ceremony Prayer.” Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini (Dean of Faculty) offered a prayer for the coming year, followed by prayers of intention from Pastor Jacqueline Duhart (Starr King Director of Spiritual Care). The ceremony ended with a benediction from Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt and “Where You Go I Will Go” sung by Taya Mâ Shere.


New student Orientation continued on Friday with sessions on building community, working with faculty, and breakout rooms based on career intentions. Orientation officially ended with a virtual version of our Closing Ceremony, in which we pray to the four directions, honor our ancestors, and are blessed and anointed with oil.

With Friday night came our first Winter Gala! Community members gathered on Zoom to unwind and dance the night away with the help of DJ Reggie Beas. About halfway through the night, we took a break from dancing and premiered a video tour of our new home, the Vera Long building on the Mills College campus. Watch the video tour below:



On Saturday, January 9, the Starr King community gathered on Zoom for our 9th annual and first fully online Symposium. This year’s keynote title was “Birthing Interfaith Rituals of Resistance to Disrupt State Violence.”

Read a full recap of Symposium 2021, including recordings of the keynote address and Q&A session, by clicking here.

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