The Rev. Erin Dajka Holley will begin as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica in mid-August after moving there in early August. She will also be available to perform weddings and memorial services in Utica and the surrounding areas.
I am a Unitarian Universalist. I have always been a Unitarian Universalist. When my mother speaks of my having been a choir baby at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, Illinois, it includes when I was in utero. While I could write of my childhood in the context of the schools I attended, church was the place to which I belonged, my second home, the community that shaped me. The UU Church showed me that relationship matters above all things, that Love can be unconditional, and that all of us are called as human beings to nurture one another and to shape justice in the world.
This UU basis of my formation as a human led me to Grinnell College with its liberal arts basis and its strong connection to social justice. It led me to major in Religious Studies, finding the ways in which religion is a greater force in our world than the beliefs and practices of specific traditions. It led me to accept leadership of the campus UU group and to enjoy the myriad offerings through the Center for Spirituality and Justice. My UU identity remained central throughout my studies, and seminary as my next step toward dedicating my life's work to my faith became clear.
I would love this to be a pat little story of attending seminary directly out of college, smooth sailing through my studies and credentialing, and immediately finding my home as the minister of a UU church. But, life is never pat, and our stories are rarely little. Instead, the proverbial path is ever-winding. It has now been 14 years since my graduation from college and start of seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School. My learning in that time has encompassed much more than a seminary could ever hope to instill, as I have taken the time to wrestle with doubt, to engage in the work of self-reflection, to sit in deep sorrow, and to find the place of Love in my life. Through burn-out, two inter-state moves, working as a legal secretary, receiving my M.Div. from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, a quarter-time internship, a full-time internship, a year of Clinical Pastoral Education, and somewhere in all of that meeting and eventually marrying Neil Holley, my call to UU ministry is as strong as ever. What a joy it will be to serve UU Utica!