Education at Starr King
Insert full disclosure paragraph here: I am a graduate of Starr King School. I am also the current President of the Starr King Graduates Association, a position which puts me on the school’s Board of Trustees ex officio. I am a 63-year old white woman, and a cradle Unitarian.
I read the story in Quest as a story about learning about another example of oppression, an oppression that we white people would be unlikely to know about at all, but which is another painful chapter in African American history. The point is not whether or not the term “brown bag lunch” is used at the school; the point is that the school is deeply and very seriously committed to learning about the myriad oppressions that people have suffered under and continue to suffer under. This story is one example. At Starr King, we believe that the ability to recognize and address oppressions is important in one’s preparation for ministry. Being present to suffering without turning away; crossing thresholds; encouraging speech in those who have been silenced; calling forth people’s inherent strengths — all these are significant tools in the work of building a better world.
ECO work (Educating to Counter Oppressions and Create Just Communities) runs through the entire life of the school. Of course Starr King is an academic institution whose responsibility is to teach and to grant graduate degrees to those preparing for a life in religious leadership. People study theology, world religions, sacred texts, the practical arts of ministry, and many other areas of inquiry that you would expect in a respected seminary. And woven into the matrix of life at Starr King are deeply serious commitments to be what we want to see, to shelter prophetic witness in the world, to counter white supremacy, and to work for the common good.
At Starr King, we seek to advance liberation, healing, and the establishment of a just and sustainable society by enabling people to gain the knowledge, experience, skill and religious understanding they need to address widespread and subtle (and often not so subtle) forms of oppressions, be they related to race, gender, gender expression, age, physical ability, class, or myriad other categories in which some people are diminished at the hands of others. Please believe me when I say that I am incredibly impressed with the seriousness of this work. There is nothing frivolous, “PC,” or dilettantish about it. Starr King is bending its efforts to addressing a wounded world and bringing to it the healing powers of love and understanding.
Those who wish to know more about this extraordinary and very serious educational effort are encouraged to visit the Starr King web site. (Note: that page contains links to longer documents describing the ECO work at the school.)
And to answer PeaceBang’s query: yes, our world is filled with grace. It is the grace of courage in the face of adversity; it is the grace of a love which overcomes all obstacles; it is the grace of heartfelt commitment to be a community of interdependence, connection and relationship; it is the grace of forgiveness.