James Field

Field is a fourth-year M.Div. student serving a year of internship in Transylvania, where he's working with Unitarian congregations.

If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would be at a seminary studying to be a minister, I would have laughed in that person's face.

I grew up un-churched and resented the whole idea of religion that people seemed to try to force upon me. I was a dogmatic atheist and a dedicated activist for peace and social justice. I had also just become a vegetarian and later a vegan. I was heavily influenced by the ethics of Peter Singer and the Mahayana Buddhism of D.T. Suzuki. My spirituality developed while I was teaching in a very poor, very diverse urban school. I lived my days in an environment where white people were less than a tenth of the population. My kids became an inseparable part of me, and I never forget their gifts and their need for justice.

Nine years ago I was involved in a campaign of civil disobedience along the U.S.-Mexico border that was organized by Pastors for Peace. Some folks from the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists were also involved in this action. I sought out information about Unitarian Universalism and The Church of the Larger Fellowship, but I ignored a voice inside that told me I should become a minister to build community and work for justice.

Almost six years ago my daughter was born into my hands, at home, and under water. The experience of this birth connected me to the divine in a way that I had only had glimpses of in the past, usually when backpacking in the wilderness, far from roads or towns. As I grew into my role as a father who had lost his father as a child, my spiritual needs changed. I became more active in the Church of the Larger Fellowship and the Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County, Calif.

At this point I was ready to listen and applied to Starr King School for the Ministry. I thought I must be crazy because I am not Unitarian Universalist enough, not spiritual enough and not religious enough. I was all ready to be rejected, but the long-awaited letter came that I was accepted.

I knew I made the right choice during the fourth day of orientation, when local ministers came. During worship, one of the ministers talked about our hands and how they can be used for work and healing. We raised our hands in the air, and through my whole body I relived the experience of both my daughter and youngest son being born through my hands. I could only weep, overwhelmed by this reconnection to the power and mystery of birth.

I love how Starr King School is imbued with a sense of justice and a sense of history. This is the place where I am meant to be.

Denis Paul

Jacqueline Duhart

Jeanelyse Doran

Laurel Leifert

Sally Hamlin

Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward