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Announcing Appointment of Dr. Susan Ritchie    

Rebecca Parker

Dear Starr King Friend,

    I am delighted to announce that, by vote of the Starr King Board of Trustees, the Rev. Dr. Susan Ritchie has been appointed Associate Professor of Unitarian Universalist History and Ministry at Starr King School for the Ministry, effective July 1, 2012.  

    A fellowshipped Unitarian Universalist minister, Dr. Ritchie earned her Ph.D. in Cultural/Religious Studies from Ohio State University, and her M.Div. from The Methodist Theological School in Ohio, in Delaware Ohio. She is widely published on topics in UU history and identity and postmodern religious cultural studies, and her work has been translated into Turkish and Hungarian. Her book, Children of the Same God: The History of Unitarianism in Relationship to Islam and Judaism, based on her 2009 Minns Lectures, will soon be released by Skinner House Books. She has taught at Ohio State University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Eden Theological School, earning awards for outstanding teaching. Dr. Ritchie has served as the minister of the North Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lewis Center, Ohio since 1996, leading the congregation to be a vibrant and thriving religious community. Her engagement in social justice work has included the Columbus AIDS Task Force, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Jobs with Justice. Additionally, she is on the Board of Trustees for the Unitarian Universalist Association as chair of the Ministerial Credentialing Task Force and Board Historian.   

Susan Ritchie
Susan Ritchie

    Dr. Ritchie first began teaching for Starr King in 2008 on a part-time visiting basis following a search process in which she emerged as the final candidate to join our faculty in the area of UU History and Ministry. We rejoice that the time has arrived for her to accept this full-time call. Her appointment, supported in part by a generous gift to establish this professorship, expresses Starr King School's deep commitment to the study of Unitarian Universalist religious heritage and identity as a critically important component of our educational mission, as well as our ongoing emphasis on education that counters oppressions, builds just and sustainable communities, and cultivates multi-religious life and learning.

Starr King Courses and the Certificate in Unitarian Universalist Studies   

    Dr. Ritchie's SKSM courses are popular and highly-valued by students who appreciate her combination of rigorous scholarship, practical wisdom, spiritual depth, and good humor. They include Unitarian Universalist Polity, which will be taught at Justice GA this June, and  North American Unitarian Universalist History: Boston Immersion, available this November.   

    Starr King's new  Certificate in Unitarian Universalist Studies, directed by Dr. Ritchie, makes these courses and more available to a wide range of interested students, including UU religious educators, seminarians at non-UU schools, ministers seeking continuing education, and interested lay people. Thanks to a special gift from the Shelter Rock Congregation, financial aid grants are available for those who apply this summer to begin the Certificate program.      

Teaching Philosophy   

    "I believe in teaching that immediately translates knowledge and understanding into greater agency for the student and their communities of belonging," Dr. Ritchie says of her teaching philosophy. "Religious leaders need to be able to articulate the already present intellectual activity of their communities. I like to make the educational experience as visceral as possible." For example, Dr. Ritchie's UU history and polity students re-enact the 1825 Boston meeting that led to the formation of the American Unitarian Association. "When I teach history, I like to keep the focus on the people's history," she explains. "They immediately begin to read their own experiences in terms of difference and similarity with the past."   

Words of Congratulations   

    Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, former UUA President, congratulated Starr King School and Dr. Ritchie on this appointment. "Susan is an exemplary practitioner of ministry. Her creativity, collaborative spirit, responsiveness to the congregation, wisdom, and pastoral/prophetic sensitivity are truly extraordinary." He notes that Dr. Ritchie is a "judicious, respected leader in the Unitarian Universalist movement, who serves with great distinction, earning the respect both of her colleagues and of other leaders in the denomination."  

    A beloved minister, a gifted poet and preacher, an accomplished scholar, and an outstanding teacher, Dr. Ritchie brings a rich complement of gifts and skills to students preparing for ministry and religious leadership. Congratulations, Dr. Ritchie and welcome to this new phase in your life and the life of Starr King School! 

Financial Aid Grants for M.Div., M.A.S.C., and Certificate Programs 

    July 1, 2012 is the final deadline for application to the M.Div. and M.A.S.C. degree programs for fall 2012.  Special financial aid grants are available, thanks to a gift from the Shelter Rock Congregation. If you are interested in exploring a Starr King education, or know someone who is, visit  and contact our Recruitment and Marketing Director, Crystal H. Weston, at New students enrolling in our Certificate Programs are also eligible for financial aid grants, deadline August 1. 

Commencement 2012

    On May 21, 2012, in a joyous celebration at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA, twenty-six wonderful students graduated from Starr King School, our Balazs Scholar was honored and Rev. Gary Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. Read the full story here. See a slideshow of Commencement photos and share in the memories. Photos can also be seen on our SKSM Facebook page.   

SKSM 2012 Graduates
SKSM Commencement 2012
In grace and gratitude,


Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker 
President and Professor of Theology


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Starr King School for the Ministry
2441 Le Conte Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709-1209
Attn: Donor Relations

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If you are interested in exploring a Starr King education, or know someone who is, visit and contact our Recruitment and Marketing Director, Crystal H. Weston, at
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