Iris Chalk is a Summer Seminary graduate and member of the 2019 GA Youth staff. We're delighted to share her reflections about her Summer Seminary experience! - Ed.
Last year, somewhere around this exact time, I applied for Summer Seminary. I remember applying for various reasons:
- I was excited that I could learn more about what it means to be a UU religious professional;
- I could meet and make new connections with cool yoUUth from all over;
- I could dig deeper into my passion for this faith.
My expectations were high, I’ll admit, but what I got out of this program was above and beyond my expectations.
A Few Moments That Stand out to Me When Reflecting Back
...moments that really affirm the trusting and powerful community the class I was part of was able to cultivate.
I remember on our first full day there, we were gathered in a room for a spiritual practice before we launched into the full day ahead of us. We were singing the hymn “Gathered Here” in a round with our eyes closed—and at some point, without any direction or assistance—we all stopped singing at the same moment. All of us opened our eyes, both amused and also awestruck. Already, we had created a connection so meaningful and transformative.
Connection Only Grew Stronger Throughout the Week
For me, many connections were created and deepened. My connection with this faith, my call towards ministry, a deeper connection with my own self and spirituality than maybe ever before. I also witnessed some of the people around me deepen and create connections within themselves in beautiful and empowering ways. Some of the most valuable moments during that week for me were during evening worship, when I watched and was a part of people’s unfolding ministry and exploration of all that they are capable of.
This One Week Holds so Much
So much joy and fulfillment, exploration of doubts and questionings. There are so many laughs and stories and songs shared. There’s gaining knowledge from deeply cool and insightful people about theology, preaching, discernment, and so much more. There’s dancing, and covenant creating, and at the end, goodbyes given and promises to see one another again as soon as possible.
Going into that week, I knew no one and hadn’t really been involved in UU youth programming outside of my congregation before. Leaving that week though, I had created SO many new and irreplaceable connections and could already sense new opportunities beginning to arise for me within this faith community I am so grateful to belong to.
If You Have a Passion for Ministry of Any Sort, This Program Is for You
If you have no idea what path of ministry calls you, or even if you don’t know whether or not you want to be a religious professional, this program is the place to explore just that, to be awakened, and to develop a deeper understanding and connection to this faith community. Wherever you are on your journey within Unitarian Universalism and however you are figuring out your role in it, Summer Seminary holds a place for you and all of the beautiful gifts, stories, songs, and ideas you have to offer.