When I applied to Harvard Divinity School, I didn’t know anything about the strong Unitarian Universalist history woven into the foundation of the school. I was raised UU, and considered that to be one of many descriptors I used to identify myself, but finding a place with an active UU community was not on my list when looking at graduate programs. When I attended the HDS admitted students day, the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Students (HUUMS) hosted a get-together after Community Tea. I joined them, figuring that it was a good way to meet people and because I wanted to be involved in student organizations, more than out of a need for a religious community. It was a beautiful spring day and we sat outside on the grass and talked about nothing in particular. I didn’t know it at the time but I was meeting many of the people who would become my closest friends at HDS.
When I arrived at HDS last fall, I began to attend the HUUMS worship services every Friday. I was eager to make friends and delighted to be in a place where I didn’t have to explain what UUs believe. I anticipated going to the services semi-regularly, as my homework and work allowed, but I quickly found myself scheduling everything else around them. That hour on Friday afternoon became one of the most important things in my weekly routine. I found myself going to the HUUMS events, from the monthly Spiritual Spirits (a Friday evening with a UU-themed cocktail!) to the various workshops that HUUMS puts on.
I appreciate that even though I’m one of the few MTSs in HUUMS, there are plenty of HUUMS members who aren’t on the ordination track, which leads to an interesting mix of people who are on the ministerial path and those of us who identify as UU but aren’t seeking a career in religious leadership. Among those who are on the ordination track, some people are interested in exploring non-traditional ministries, and plenty of HUUMS alums go on to do more traditional congregational ministry while others have sought out alternative forms of ministry. I also love that HUUMS alums stay connected to the community, and often come back to visit, so we learn about what people are doing post-HDS and expand our network of UUs.
Last December, at the HUUMS annual meeting, I was elected to the board, and I now serve as the Walking Tour Coordinator and Social Chair. In addition to planning events like Spiritual Spirits, Breakfast Club, and other social gatherings, I coordinate the walking tours of Harvard, Cambridge, and Boston that HUUMS members lead for visiting UU groups from all over the country, which were featured in the latest UU World magazine: http://uuworld.org/ideas/articles/293237.shtml.
Through my time at HUUMS, I’ve learned a lot about Unitarian Universalist history, and I’ve developed and deepened my understanding of what it means to be a UU today, personally as well as part of a larger community. I’ve found a community that can volunteer at a women’s homeless shelter together, and also have important conversations about doing volunteer work versus other forms of engagement and activism. HDS prepares students to be strong academic thinkers as well as leaders, and HUUMS is a great representation of that. At HUUMS, I’ve found a home, a community that continues to challenge me, support me, and give me space to grow.