Monday, November 15, 2021

A New Beginning at Starr King School for the Ministry

A few days ago I was accepted to Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM), and I plan to start in January 2022. While I had been very happy with the Master of Divinity program at Abilene Christian University Graduate School of Theology, matters changed for me in the wake of the July fire that destroyed my apartment building and pretty much everything I owned. Really, it's more that something changed within me. Trauma can do that, it seems. 

Aside from the loss of some family heirlooms and other items of personal significance, there was also my beloved personal library that met its end. A few of those books I had picked up over the decades, but the majority I had purchased over the past 5 years. It was my plan to build up a great collection, especially with high quality reference works approaching the Bible academically. In the days following the fire I found that I had an actual aversion to the very idea of buying any books to replace what I lost. Further, the notion of doing research in the biblical field no longer held any charm whatsoever for me. This was a dramatic shift in my outlook and feelings.

Having already taken a few classes through SKSM toward a graduate certificate in Unitarian Universalist Studies, I was familiar with how coursework is presented and knew the quality of the programs it offered. In addition, being one of the two UU seminaries, its ethos would certainly be a better match for learning to minister within and through UUism. As I said above, I was notified just this past week that I have been accepted, and I am grateful.

In March of this year I shared that SKSM had moved to the campus of Mills College, a school which soon after announced that it would cease offering degree programs and instead become an institute. This  seemed like a potentially troubling turn of events for SKSM. As it turns out, that was not the end of the story. On September 14, 2021, Mills College issued a press release which opened as follows:

The Mills College Board of Trustees today approved the College’s merger with Northeastern University, ensuring that the educational mission of Mills and its commitment to cultivating women’s leadership will endure. The merger is expected to take effect on or about July 1, 2022, subject to regulatory and other approvals. When the merger is completed, Mills will be a campus of Northeastern University and will be called Mills College at Northeastern University. The campus will be gender inclusive.

What I took away from the rest of the release was that Mills College is getting itself into a very good situation, not least in that it will continue to be able to exist. The historically all-women's school, which in more recent times also opened up to gender nonbinary students, will proceed with the development of an institute "to carry on the Mills legacy of advancing women’s leadership and empowering BIPOC and first-generation students." I am hopeful that this relationship with Northeast University will also extend in positive ways to SKSM. 

For more on the status of SKSM, here's a video in which President Rosemary Bray McNatt, of SKSM, discusses "New Beginnings." For me, this coming semester will also mark a new beginning.