Starr King School opened its doors in 1904 as the Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry and was incorporated in 1906 as “an institution for educating students for the Christian ministry, and especially for that of the Unitarian churches.”
The school’s founders had identified the need for a liberal theological school in the West, one suited, said a prospectus, to the “training of ministers for their work in the very field in which they are to serve.” They wanted ministers who focused on the practical realities of church life and had a vision for serving the common good.
The Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry held its first classes at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland and moved to Berkeley two years later to be near other seminaries and the University of California, where students were free to take classes. From the beginning, the school welcomed students from other parts of the world and other denominations, as well as women.
By 1908, the school had hired a second employee to serve as Greek instructor, assistant to the dean and librarian in charge of a 3,600-volume collection. Two students graduated that year, and the school moved into a large home on a lot donated by one of the founders.
The mission of Starr King School for the Ministry is to educate people for Unitarian Universalist
ministry and for progressive religious leadership in society.
Starr King School’s distinctive educational approach is rooted in the Unitarian Universalist values of countering oppressions, cultivating multi-religious life and learning, and creating just and sustainable communities.
Starr King School aims to educate the whole person in the service of love, compassion, and justice, through:
-Teaching by who the institution is and what it does
-Student-centered participatory learning
-Excellence and depth in religious studies
-Formation in the arts of religious leadership
-Service with congregations and communities
-Active membership in the Graduate Theological Union
-Deepening self-awareness and cultivating spiritual practice
-Striving to live in right relationship with self, others, and the earth