The call came when I was just a child, sitting beside the creek that flowed beneath my childhood home. It was clear, resonant, and it felt like home. The call danced and flowed with me as a young child, but quieted and slid into the background as the practical demands of life escalated. It was never completely silenced, however, despite many years of school, multiple career iterations, marriage, motherhood, and cancer. In 2015 my dear father died, and the call returned after bearing witness to his death. It gently whispered a reminder of my true purpose. In 2017 my beloved mother-in-law died, and soon thereafter the call once again became clear and resonant. This time, I heeded the call with all of my heart and soul. Today, I am ordained.
Zola FergusonApril '22 Ordinand
I was born in the shadow of a nuclear test in Las Vegas, Nevada. The hospital shook that morning my mother told me. I was raised throughout the west, moving with jobs or the promise of jobs. My father died when I was eight and we moved out of Reno, to Northern California, always searching that place that felt like home. It was a life that taught me that I would have to make my own way in the world, and I did. I have lived a few lifetimes in this one, as a daughter, sister, mother, lover, friend, airman, medic, veteran, activist, pacifist… I believe in a divinity beyond my comprehension, a love that guides the stars and speaks to me still. I am here on the threshold of becoming an ordained Interfaith Reverend and Chaplain, through the grace of that love, the support of so many wise ones, and the generosity of the Chaplaincy Institute. I am home.
Julie GilmourApril '22 Ordinand
After years of wandering, I’m coming home to myself: the Divine in me and around me that has been my secret place since childhood. Life took me far afield, exploring theater, academics, motherhood in a cabin in Maine, then life in a bus with my family (and an aviary of finches!). I embraced 25 years of evangelical Christianity in New Mexico, love for Israel, ministry to shut-ins, graduate work at Hebrew College. But the narrow faith we held hurt my family and didn’t sustain me; I eventually left it. And then, four years ago, my youngest child died. Grief returned me to mystery, to a wider sense of the Divine, and to myself. I came to CHI, nested in its branches, and began to heal, working as a hospital and rehab chaplain. My secret inner place is there now. I carry chaplaincy with me as a portable tabernacle for my heart.
Sara LewisApril '22 Ordinand
Sara has been engaged in the work of ministry as a religious educator for over a decade and felt called to deepen her ministry as her heart broke in the face of climate change and ecological loss. She is a Unitarian Universalist with a strong thread of earth-based, pagan, and religious naturalist faith, and her spirituality is deeply shaped by her lifelong home of Pacific Northwest mountains and sea and her own garden. She is called to the work of creating and sustaining a world of care and love for all and resisting systems of exploitation and oppression. Sara is deeply grateful for all those who have supported her in her personal and ministerial formation, particularly Mom, spouse Noel, kids Carbon and Dionysus, and the community of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Katie Michael-SanchezApril '22 Ordinand
I grew up on the east coast, and have made my home on the various edges of this country in MA, NM, CA, and now MT. I love the beauty of the mountains and being close to family. I have been called to some sort of ministry since the age of 14, when I credit my UU youth group for saving my life by welcoming my weird self just as I was. From that early age I have been drawn to creating space in the world and in myself where others can be comfortable being their whole selves – a place of sanctuary. This has brought me to engaging with race, gender, size, ability, and sexuality – grounded in my goal to humbly embody God’s love in this world. I am a chaplain at Bozeman Health, in Bozeman, MT, and am working on a goal of doing 52 hikes this year.
Shannon Horvath PullenApril '22 Ordinand
From an early age, I felt a deep connection with the Divine and a sacred calling to use my gifts in service to others. In my early career, I worked on food insecurity, both in Oregon and internationally. When mental health challenges arose in my family, I got involved with mental health advocacy, education and peer support. I believe in the power of using our lived experiences to transform systems and build more just and equitable communities. Currently, I train crisis line responders and community health providers about suicide intervention and prevention. My journey to chaplaincy has been one of healing, growth, and re-discovery, as well as a sacred weaving of the many strands of my life. After I graduate with my Master of Divinity, my goal is to companion people in crisis as they deal with grief and loss and to explore bringing people around the table to have challenging conversations about living and dying.
Celia YoungApril '22 Ordinand
As an immigrant, Celia Young has lived between the East and West for her whole adult life which afforded her a unique life experience and worldview. For over 35 years, Ms. Young has used who she is in her consulting and coaching work to achieve social justice in FORTUNE 500 corporations where she develops individual leaders and high-functioning work teams. She also helps mold healthy organizational culture that values and nurtures diverse talents and fosters innovation. This is her ministry for the workplace, based on the authenticity and whole-person development principle, where she helps leaders and employees become courageous enough to speak the truth, stand on the highest value, and model for change. Looking toward the last quarter of her life, Ms. Young has expanded from her workplace ministry to help heal the traumatized and suffering, mend the broken human spirit in the larger society, and restore the basic goodness of humanity.
Meet The Ordinands
Meet The Spiritual Director
Bob JansenApril '22 Spiritual Director
From a very early age, I felt a call to minister to others, though I had no idea what that might mean or even look like. That primordial call has never left and has even led me to beautiful teachers throughout Latin America and half a dozen states. With each place I have gone, I have seen more clearly the beauty in just being with people and walking with them. In trying to live out this call, I feel most at home right now as a hospice chaplain and spiritual director, which led me to the Chaplaincy Institute. I am so grateful for my wife and the friends I have made along the way as well as for the support this community has offered me as I continue in this work. It has truly been an adventure and I am excited to see what comes next!
The Chaplaincy Institute's
Countdown to the October 2021 Ordination and Graduation Ceremony