Prairie Star District In-Care Program
Supporting Unitarian Universalist (UU) Students at United Theological Seminary
There have been Unitarian Universalist students at United Theological Seminary (UTS) in the Minneapolis for over 30 years. Today there are nine courses in a four-year rotation for Unitarian Universalist students at UTS. The relationship between the seminary and UU students and clergy is strong and supportive. The program is supervised and coordinated by Rev. Karen Gustafson and Rev. Kate Tucker.
2009 An Idea Took Root
In 2009, the district applied for financial assistance to support seminary students in even more meaningful ways. They received a grant, funds from which are still being used today (2014). Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons worked closely with District Executive Nancy Heege to deepen the relationship with the seminary and develop the in care program.
Programs Developed And Still Going
Small Congregation Support
- A program was developed to benefit small congregations by providing five or six weekend visits by a seminary student. Students also benefit by engagement with the congregation
- The grant provides $500 to each congregation, which must provide $1,500 of its own money and must apply for a $1,000 district Chalice Lighter grant. The funds pay students for their honoraria, travel, and other expenses.
- Students are selected by ministers in the area and Congregational Life staff. Students who possess ministerial presence and maturity are selected. Home congregations are contacted for reference. Congregations are informed of the student who has been assigned.
Grant funds also provide scholarships for students to attend District and UUA events, particularly General Assemblies.
- Students gather together once per month for lunch. Involvement varies from year to year depending on the number of UU students enrolled and how intentional they are about seeking support they cannot offer each other. Leadership always seems to emerge out of the student group.
- Facebook is used to communicate.
Ministerial Involvement And Support
- This in care program does not have paid staff or a steering committee, although four ministers in the area lead the effort with the support of the District.
- Ministers lead gatherings for students, usually covering a topic relative to ministry, offering opportunities for students and ministers to get to know each other.
- Ministers offer mock interviews for students preparing for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
- The electronic portfolio being used in the Mountain Desert District was adapted and is distributed to students to assist them in developing and tracking their progress toward fellowship.