The ministers of my (Lutheran) youth were all men, mostly old, with wives who led the Sunday School or played the organ, and were usually unpaid staff at the church. The leadership of the church was all male, and in most places in the US, churches were uniform in skin color; mine certainly was.
Times have changed, thankfully. More than half of UU seminary students are female and a growing number are persons of color, and to a bit lesser degree, of differing ethnicities. While churches as a whole in the US are still segregated, UUs have been trying to bridge differences and speak to a complex and diverse world.
Over the past number of years, we have had four interns: Tom Ferguson, Mari Caballero, Christina Shu, and Peter Farriday. Christina leaves us this June and we will celebrate her time of learning and serving with us on June 9th. Peter will be with us for another year. Tom is now an Episcopal priest.
And Mari? She moved back to her beloved Texas, to Austin, and put together a ministry of occasional preaching and weddings and was also a regular substitute teacher. Last year she was hired as the Director of Religious Education at the large church in Austin. She also fulfilled the requirements of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the UUA and was awarded fellowship this Spring.
And now she is to be ordained as a minister in our tradition on April 26th in Austin! I am going and will represent Neighborhood in the service and bring greetings from us all to Mari. This is thrilling, and momentous. Her call to minister is deep and goes back a long way. She worked hard to get here, and I am certain she will serve the Austin congregation and our faith very well.
She learned a lot from us, and we from her. I know I did – about diversity, about racism, about the importance of anti-oppression work and multi-culturism, about listening to other voices, about power. All our interns are students and teachers.
Our interns have been gifts to us – they sure have been to me – and I hope we have served them well by providing a place to learn the art and craft of ministry. So, hats off to Mari, and to Tom Ferguson, and to Christina and Peter, and to Sara LaWall too, who is also a candidate for ministry, doing her internship at the Emerson Church in Canoga Park. But on the 26th of this month, a special shout out to the Rev. Marisol Caballero.
Our future is in good hands.