Saturday, June 07, 2014


SKSM Board Announces Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt as next President of Starr King School for the Ministry
To the Starr King School for the Ministry Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Starr King School for the Ministry, I am delighted to announce that the next president of Starr King will be the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt.
Rev. McNatt has been the senior minister of Fourth Universalist Society in New York City since 2001.   She served on the Starr King Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1999 and was Board Chair from 1999 to 2001.  She has also served on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees 2007-2009, the UUA Panel on Theological Education 2001-2007, and was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Network and of Disaster Chaplaincy Services-New York, 2004-Present.
Rev. McNatt brings unique and powerful gifts as a preacher, activist, memoirist, journalist, and storyteller.  She has consistently raised a strong public voice for progressive religion and social justice.  In New York, her work with Moral Mondays and Occupy Faith have established her within a multi-religious activist network that is both local and national in scope. Within theological education, Rev. McNatt has strong relationships with several seminaries, including the one she attended, Drew Theological School, those at which she teaches (Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and Yale Divinity School), the school at which she's a mentoring pastor (Meadville Lombard), and of course with Starr King.
Rev. McNatt will succeed Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, who will retire as President of Starr King on June 30, 2014 after serving for 25 years. 
Rev. McNatt was named president after an exhaustive nine-month-long search conducted by the Presidential Search Committee appointed by the Board of Trustees.  I wish to offer a special note of gratitude to the Search Committee and its chair, Rev. Glenn Coleman Farley, and to all the members of the committee.  They worked tirelessly over an extended period of time to conduct a search that was thorough, thoughtful, and effective.  I also wish to thank Hyatt-Fennell, the search firm that assisted the Search Committee and the Board.  Rev. McNatt’s appointment as President was approved by a vote of the school’s Board of Trustees on March 31, 2014.
Rev. McNatt will begin her tenure as president in the Summer of 2014.
Please join me in welcoming the Rev. McNatt as the next president of Starr King.
Helio Fred Garcia
Chair, Board of Trustees,
Starr King School for the Ministry

How could anyone find fault with Rev. McNatt as a choice for president of Starr King School for the Ministry?  This is a dignified, competent, almost OVER-qualified woman. There are only two specifically Unitarian Universalist seminaries (Those are Starr-King and Meadville/Lombard -- though Harvard and Andover-Newton are traditionally welcoming to UU students)  M/L (my alma mater) has a male white president not nearly so qualified nor so well-connected to the larger world.  (HE never had an article published in Glamour magazine!)  Either there is something that’s not being shared or . . .  what?  

A candidate for ministry educated at Starr-King has created a mini-scandal by getting hold of something confidential that the search committee used in making their choice.  He’s made it the basis of accusations that McNatt was UNqualified.  “Strapped Student,” by breaking confidentiality, may think he’s an international cyberspy on the side of the righteous transgressive, but in fact he has just destroyed his ministerial prospects.  Not because of the content of his accusations but because confidentiality is a strong component of a minister’s role in society.  
And yet the counter-value of transparency is strong and pervasive.  I sent out a little preview version of this post to a list of UU leaders, personal friends, almost all low-status hard-workers but with credentials.  None have responded.  I’m not surprised.  Along with transparency we want safety -- in fact, that’s one of the reasons we want transparency.  We feel our leaders are incompetent.  They don’t understand what’s really going on -- big-shots, they are, who sit at privileged tables and don’t have our interests at heart.  They talk jargon and procedure and never risk their own necks.
This is so pervasive that small town students even at the high school level have to be persuaded that their teachers know what they’re doing -- by teenager standards -- or the students will try to control by disrupting and ignoring anyone their parents criticize, which they interpret as permission to attack.  After all, our example is government at every level.  Polarized, wearing religious masks, intent on having their own way.
The Unitarian and Universalist movement are uneasy partners for many demographic reasons.  Two other major schisms divide the UUA: the black/white politics that nearly tore the denomination in half and the much more covert male/female divide, now confused by “third gender” issues.  Anyone hoping to be a major figure (like a seminary president in a high-profile religious community like Berkeley) will have to find some way to negotiate some of that very rough water.  They are not likely to be distracted by a wannabe minister who mounts a marginal attack by going after procedure.
Not that I’m unsympathetic.  The UUA is a wannabe political force in this country (so is the CUC, the Canadian version, up there) and has thrown in its lot with the Democrat liberals to the point of eroding their own core.  In fact, simple pluralism and good intentions aren’t much of a core in a time when so many people -- many of them children -- are being murdered by neglect, incarceration without trial, trafficking and famine.  We are destroying the very planet that sustains us.  The cutting edge of religion now is the survival of human beings -- not who gets to sit at the table in seminaries.

The easy and well-worn conflict between black and white (which is being blurred by the rise of the "brown" people, which includes red and yellow) means that much deeper issues are ignored.  Our issues are no longer species-specific.  In fact, much of our fate is controlled by microbes which we destroy haphazardly every day.  Where's the deeper "unity" and "universal" of Being itself?

The role of a specialized religious professional arose ten thousand years ago when cultivation and storage of grain meant walled cities and enough wealth to build temples, enough nervousness about loss to justify bribes to fate.  That is, agriculture is the foundation of culture -- and yet UU churches are an urban phenomenon.  At the same time, UU constituents tend to be the kind of scientifically hip and culturally adventurous people who understand our home as a small planet on one arm of a whirling galaxy.  They reach out for renewed understanding at the same time that status quo controllers are trying to re-empower the ideas that arose out of the shift away from hunter-gathering to grain and then to sugar and fat.  (!!!)

Why would ANY religious professional want the thankless job of trying to lead a minor seminary in a marginal and -- let's be frank -- probably antiquated movement?   Well, living in California might be a lot nicer than New York city.  On the other hand, the water is rising on both coasts.  "RevRose," as she styles herself, is from Chicago.  Think about THAT.  Is the water in Lake Michigan rising?


Addendum:   Starr King has withheld the diplomas of two students.  One was Spangenberg.  "Suzi Spangenberg and Sukay Sow said they were injured by flashbang grenades thrown by officers. Spangenberg, a 52-year-old seminarian was awarded $500,000 in compensation, while Sow, who suffered chemical burns to her foot, received $210,000.  Spangenberg said on Wednesday: "I was in the middle of telling OPD I loved them when they threw explosives at me. The loud explosion caused permanent hearing loss and unrelenting ringing in my ears. As a result, I can only sleep 2 hours at a time which has had a serious impact on my life, including adversely impacting my graduate school studies, when I graduate, and when I will be ordained."

Here is Spangenberg's exciting blog:      Spangenberg preaching.   Gini Courter, defender and previous moderator of the UUA.

The other student was Julie Brock, also a feminist/marxist activist.
The stories were in the Guardian, the online newspaper based in England.

1 comment:

Robin Edgar said...

What makes you so sure that "Strapped Student" is male?