Joseph Priestley District Pilot Program

Serving Seminarians at Multidenominational Schools

The in care program in the Joseph Priestley District (JPD) serves Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It strives to increase fellowship between students, make connections between students and ministers and offer informational links between students and the fellowshipping process.

Brief History

The in care program began in 2011 when District Executive, Dr. Richard Speck received some funding from the UUA and searched for a minister to serve as a chaplain to Wesley students.

2011 and 2012

Chaplain to Students

  • Rev. Mark Hoelter was selected to fill the role of chaplain to students. The emphasis of the program was on coaching Wesley students in one on one sessions.
  • Gatherings for students were organized so they could get to know each other.

Steering Team for Wesley Began its Work

  • A steering team was formed to plan for expanding the program.
  • Rev. David Pettee visited the Wesley campus.
  • The program received a grant from the UUA Panel on Theological Education
  • The steering team recruited instructors for the Unitarian Universalist History and Polity class that is offered by Wesley every other year.
  • An instructor recruiting process was streamlined and instructors were asked to apply with a course plan and syllabus.


Steering committee for Wesley Expanded

  • Rev. Megan Foley became Liaison to Students, paid from the grant budget. She had graduated from Wesley and was familiar with their programming.
  • The steering team for Wesley was expanded to five members and became the Coordinating Team.

Programs Organized

  • Two student gatherings were held in the fall and another two in the winter.
  • A meeting with Rev. David Pettee was held via Skype.

Meadville Lombard Connections Made

  • Meadville Lombard students and interns were invited to all gatherings.
  • Rev. Foley worked with Meadville to have their classes count for credit at Wesley and Lancaster. (This is still in progress.)

Congregations Got Involved

Congregations in the area were supportive of students offering opportunities to preach and do internships. Students organized monthly worship and preach for each other.

Steering Committee for Lancaster Formed

A steering committee of four clergy in the Priestly Kingsbury Chapter was self-organized to care for students at Lancaster

Organization and Communication Systems Developed

  • Rev. Foley developed a database to track students, interns and people in discernment.
  • Google group and email lists were developed for communication.


Program Expanded

  • The program expanded to Lancaster Theological Seminary.
  • A retreat was planned for August 2014 which will include area ministers, students from Wesley, Lancaster and any distance learners who live in the area.