Starr King welcomes a remarkable new class to its MDiv and MASC programs. Half will study in low-residency mode their first year of seminary. The entire class gathered in Berkeley for orientation followed by three days of intensive study, fellowship, and celebration at the inaugural Starr King Symposium: Living in the Differences.
Meet three of our newest students.
M.Div student David Carter will study from his home in Wichita, Kansas. Carter is the minister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Wichita and intends to seek UU ministerial fellowship after graduating from Starr King. "I cherish this goal," David says, "for its promise of expanding the dimensions of inter-religious dialogue and fostering models of multi-religious identity."
For seven years, Carter was a hospice chaplain working full time with the actively dying, their loved ones, and family members. His memoir of experiences as a hospice chaplain is included in the book "Ultimate Journey: Death and Dying in the World's Major Religions." Ordained in 1989 in the Vaishnava tradition, he was drawn to Unitarian Universalism because "alone among Western religious traditions, it calls to me in terms of daily praxis and belief" and thus "Starr King was my natural choice for graduate work."
Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Carolyn will study in high-residence her first year. In Duluth she was on faculty at a college prep school teaching World Religions and Ethics. As an educator, Kerns worked to "create an environment for my students to explore a pluralistic worldview." She believes that "bringing topics of social justice to the table for critical discussion is transformative."
Kerns chose Starr King for the school's open philosophy that "welcomes all spiritual worldviews, including my own." Carolyn says "I follow the Goddess, particularly in Her physical aspect as Mother Earth. It is important to me that I am open in this because my studies are both academic and spiritual." About her first weeks at seminary, Carolyn reports "I am excited to be in an environment so radically and passionately devoted to social justice, multi-religiosity and blessed global community!"
Wesley, an M.Div. student from Nebraska, campaigned as a youth activist for LGBTQ rights and Marriage Equality. He helped found the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school. While an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), he was active in LGBTQ student groups and helped found the Unitarian Universalists of UNL, a student-led campus ministry. He chose Starr King "to become better grounded in the UU traditions."
Religious leadership calls to Wesley because of the potential for great service. "A good religious leader acts as a keystone to a community," he says, "holding people together for mutual support, comfort, and enlightenment." He sees a spiritual need for outreach to the progressive community. "Progressive religious leaders have the opportunity to demonstrate that the religious left exists," Wesley relates, "and that you can be a liberal or a progressive and still have faith."