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Donor Spotlight: Carolyn Fure-Slocum (MDiv, MA ’91)

Tell us about your current ministry or work in the world.  

After dedicating 26 fulfilling years as the College Chaplain at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, I’ve transitioned into retirement, embracing a caregiving role. We are moving to help our children care for their young children, which brings a different kind of deep joy, grounding me firmly in the present moment. This transition from the vibrant campus environment to the nurturing role of grandparenthood marks a new chapter in my journey, one filled with gratitude. 

My journey has been shaped by a commitment to faith and community engagement. Growing up as a preacher’s kid within the United Church of Christ (UCC) in rural Minnesota instilled in me a strong sense of service and dedication to others. As a Religion major at Carleton College, I delved into Christian theology and other traditions, fostering an understanding of diverse cultural experiences, including a transformative year of study in India. Graduating from Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in 1991 equipped me with the theological foundation and practical skills to integrate my faith with advocacy and community service, setting the stage for a career dedicated to cultivating inclusive communities grounded in faith, compassion, and social justice. Now, in retirement, I eagerly anticipate cherishing the memories and lessons learned from my years of ministry while embracing the joys of grandparenthood alongside my husband, Eric.

Tell us about your connection to PSR.    

I am a proud alum of Pacific School of Religion (PSR), having graduated with both an MDiv and MA in Ethics in 1991. My journey to PSR began during my time engaged in community organizing work, where I felt a deep calling to ground my efforts more profoundly in my faith. PSR provided me with the essential tools to integrate my social justice work with my spiritual life, while also offering a comprehensive understanding of ministry.

Before making my decision to attend PSR, I found myself torn between PSR and Union Theological Seminary, both of which seemed promising for my educational journey. Seeking guidance, I had the privilege of conversing with Robert McAfee Brown, who had taught at both institutions. His insightful recommendation in favor of PSR played a significant role in solidifying my decision.

Ultimately, my connection to PSR has been one of profound growth, both intellectually and spiritually, as it has equipped me with the necessary foundation to embark on my journey of ministry and social justice advocacy.

What makes PSR distinctive? How has PSR made an impact in your life or the world?  

PSR has been instrumental in shaping my journey, offering the tools to intertwine my social justice endeavors with my faith while also deepening my spirituality and understanding of ministry. Through the freedom to explore diverse subjects and attend classes at other GTU schools, I gained invaluable insights into theology, ethics, and various ways of existing in the world. This interdisciplinary approach broadened my perspectives and enhanced my capacity to engage meaningfully with different faith communities. With a solid theological foundation provided by PSR, I navigated chaplaincy with confidence, employing language and frameworks that prioritized creating inclusive spaces. The emphasis on inclusivity and social justice at PSR has profoundly influenced my approach as I strove to foster environments that embrace individuals from all backgrounds, echoing the values instilled in me during my time at the seminary.

How do you feel PSR prepared you for your work in the world or ministry?  

The theology of Marcus Borg deeply influenced my own faith and how I served as a college chaplain. Borg’s open and simple articulation about the nature of God, the person of Jesus, etc, was so helpful to me, and I was able to convey that profound and still-questioning theology to seeking students when that was appropriate. Plus he introduced me to Taize music, which we then used every week for 25 years (and it is still being used) in our ‘EvenSong’ services at Carleton. With Lynn Rhodes’ help, I was able to work in two field education settings, including in a faith-based community organizing project in San Mateo County. That internship has helped me in my volunteer work with a faith-based organization, ISAIAH, here in MN. My college experience helped me learn about other faith traditions, and PSR gave me a freeing theological grounding, which allowed me to help college students explore their own religious paths.

Why do you give to PSR? What inspires you about giving?

I want others to be able to grow and learn in PSR’s ‘Unafraid’ environment too! While PSR has changed since I was there, its ethos of openness and commitment to justice has remained the same and I know that many others can benefit from that as they explore their own paths and questions.  

How do you prefer to give and why?

For the past several decades, I’ve been making an annual gift to support PSR’s mission and ensure its sustainability.

Why should others give?

There is such a great need in the world today for seminaries like PSR with thoughtful, open, and committed communities of learning. I hope others can join me in helping to make a PSR education available to future generations.

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