The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is excited to be partnering with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) on a joint volunteer trip to Haiti for seminarians, May 24 to 31. Participants are working with the Papaye Peasant Movement, a UUSC partner in the Central Plateau, on the creation of an eco-village. In the post below, participant Dennis Reynolds, of the Meadville Lombard Theological School, shares his thoughts on embarking on the journey.
My journey to ministry has been a long one. I am a 61-year-old seminarian, completing my schooling at the same time my youngest of three adult children graduates from college.
Before entering seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School, I had been, for many years, active in my home congregation in Eugene, OR. I attended school on a part-time basis while still continuing my 30-year prior career as child-care director at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!). I left that position in 2009 to devote myself to seminary internship and clinical chaplaincy training full-time.
When information came my way about the upcoming UUSC-UUA seminarian journey to Haiti, I looked longingly at an opportunity that would not likely fit my schedule. As I came to the end of my seminary work this spring, I imagined I would be seeking a church to serve as an interim minister for 2011-2012.
When the Ministerial Fellowship Committee advised that I had more work to do in identifying and understanding my ministerial authority and deepening my understanding of privilege, this trip became part of work they and I, reluctantly, saw I needed to do. Their decision to defer my fellowshipping created time for me to continue to grow. I applied and was accepted to be part of this undertaking.
A journey such as this is not merely to a geographic location. I have no doubt it will be a journey within. Traveling with UUSC and UUA staff and a cadre of fellow UU seminarians will assure opportunity for reflection and for listening to the reflections of others.
I am especially pleased that we will be there to support the work of Haitian partners and thus practice the delicate art of being an ally. My time in South Africa in 2009 provided a previous opportunity to work in the Global South offering support to a locally initiated project.
I admit to being a bit anxious, but I am deeply thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to serve and to learn. Learning is a life journey, and to borrow a line from a Kenyan character in the recent film The First Grader, “I hope to learn until there is dirt in my ears.”