1998 Starr King Graduate
Kanter served as assistant minister at King's chapel in Boston from 1998-2001 and as sabbatical minister at First Unitarian Church in Dallas from 2001-02. He was then called to the associate minister position at the Dallas church. Kanter currently serves on the Starr King Board of Trustees.
I grew up Unitarian Universalist in a mixed religious household. That is to say my father was Jewish and my mother was Christian. The way for them to remain who they were and grow into a new religious community was to join Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, New Jersey. My upbringing in that church gave me the gift of freedom - a church that asked me to seek and find passion in my seeking, to debate, to reason, to open to the spirit of meaning and purpose, and to find myself. That was the gift of my Unitarian Universalist church. But what my church lacked was a way to help me have some discipline. And it did not put many expectations on me, leaving me untethered to drift into the open spiritual sea.
I am one who found his way back. Many did not. I sought out spiritual and religious discipline. Living and studying in India for a year and then returning there again for six months, helped me realize the power of religious faith. The second visit there was to Bodh Gaya - the place where the Buddha was enlightened and, therefore, the main Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. I studied and learned the philosophy and practice of Buddhism, took a turn toward the Zen tradition and considered becoming a monk in Korea. During that time a friend created a silent retreat where we trekked in Nepal to the Langtang Valley, 14,000 feet up. It was in the lull of a snowstorm, where we sat silently considering whether to go further in for an extended stay in the mountains to practice meditation, that a voice called me, saying, "Return home and serve your people." This was my call to ministry, even though it took me some years to discern its meaning. It was a call home to the United States, to Unitarian Universalism and to service.
This call is the driving force in my ministry today. I ask myself consistently, am I "returning home" to what is important in my work, and am I "serving my people." Without a call, ministry is just another choice. A call grasps you into purpose. Starr King helped me understand the meaning of these events. It gave me time and space to pursue biblical studies, preaching and church organization. But, most of all, it asked me to answer that higher calling, to become authentic and grounded in who I am, and to make a contribution to the world.
Rob Eller Isaacs
Mary Ann Maggiore
Judith Brown Osgood