This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (January 2015)
|Starr King School for Religious Leadership, Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry|
|Type||Graduate theological seminary|
|Unitarian Universalist Association|
|President||Rosemary Bray McNatt|
|Nickname||Holy Hill, GTU|
|Affiliations||Graduate Theological Union|
Starr King School for the Ministry is a Unitarian Universalist seminary in Oakland, California. It is a member of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley. The seminary was formed in 1904 to educate leaders for the growing number of progressive religious communities in the western part of the US. The school emphasizes the practical skills of religious leadership. Today, it educates Unitarian Universalist ministers, religious educators, and spiritual activists, as well as progressive religious leaders from a variety of traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, earth-centered traditions, and others.
Starr King School for the Ministry opened in 1904 as the Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry. With most Unitarian ministers being educated at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Meadville Theological School in Meadville, Pennsylvania, the new seminary would meet the need to train religious leaders serving the progressive churches west of the Rocky Mountains. The school held its first classes at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, moving just a few years later to the City of Berkeley to be closer to other "Holy Hill" seminaries and the University of California, Berkeley. The first president was Earl Morse Wilbur. In addition to his service to the school for 30 years, he is remembered for writing the first comprehensive histories of European Unitarianism.
In 1941, the school changed its name to honor the Rev. Thomas Starr King, minister of the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco. During the Civil War, the popular lecturer and activist spoke zealously in favor of the Union and was credited by Abraham Lincoln with preventing California from becoming a separate republic. In addition, he organized the Pacific Branch of the United States Sanitary Commission, which cared for wounded soldiers and was the predecessor to the American Red Cross. King's prominence also contributed greatly to the spread of Unitarianism on the West Coast.
In 1962, the "Holy Hill" seminaries officially formed the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), a diverse consortium of what now numbers nine theological seminaries, several research centers, affiliates and institutes. It is the largest theological consortium in the U.S. and its library consolidates the numerous resources of the member schools. Starr King joined the GTU in 1964. From this time up through the mid-1980s the seminary was known as the Starr King School for Religious Leadership.
When Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker became President of the school in 1990, she was the first woman to serve as the permanent head of an accredited U.S. theological school. She is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church with dual fellowship in the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Starr King School for the Ministry educates people for Unitarian Universalist ministry and for progressive religious leadership in society. Its approach to the study of theology is inspired by Unitarian Universalism's liberal religious values. It is dedicated to providing student-centered, multi-religious, counter-oppressive graduate education that cultivates multi-religious life and learning, and creates just and sustainable communities.
The school offers two master's degrees: Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in for Social Change (M.A.S.C.). A Concentration in Chaplaincy Studies is available for either M.Div. or M.A.S.C. degree students. It also offers two certificates in Unitarian Universalist Studies and Multi-Religious Studies.
The school is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). SKSM is also one of the three GTU member schools offering online classes and it co-sponsors the online courses offered by the Institute for Buddhist Studies, another GTU member school. It is also the only GTU school offering a low-residence Master of Divinity, a program allowing two-thirds of the degree to be earned at a distance through online courses. Residential course requirements may be met through courses at SKSM or other GTU schools, domestic and international immersion courses, or Winter/January or Summer/August intensive courses.