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Meet the President's Scholar

Kimberly Quinn Johnson, President’s Scholar

In her late 20s, Kimberly Quinn Johnson began looking for a church. She systematically created a list of the churches in the area where she felt she could belong. After trying all of the churches on her list and not finding a match, she happed upon an Essence magazine article about Rosemary Bray McNatt, who, at the time, was interning at the Unitarian Church in Montclair, New Jersey. The article inspired her to visit the UU church. After moving for her work, she found herself commuting to Montclair to attend church and be involved in church activities.

At the beginning of the summer of 2011, Kimberly first heard the call to ministry. She applied to nearly half a dozen schools, but through research and conversations with ministers and lay leaders, she knew her best fit would be at a UU-identity school. Meadville Lombard’s program, she said, with the emphasis on practical experiences throughout the degree program as well as the richness of the academic offerings are “what did it for me.” Kimberly felt that the TouchPointSM program would teach her to be resourceful while holding her accountable.

Kimberly feels particularly honored by her selection as the President’s scholar. President and Professor of Ministry, Lee Barker, says he is equally honored to bestow the scholarship on a candidate for ministry such as Kimberly.

“Kimberly impressed me by her thoughtful and deliberate approach to her prospective ministerial formation as well as by her lifelong achievements in her academic, professional and congregational settings,” said President Barker. “She shows great promise as a religious leader for a Unitarian Universalism that is intent on shaping the future.”

After her first month of classes, Kimberly is starting to open up to different ideas about how her ministry might be expressed in the world.

Kimberly commented, “I was originally drawn to youth ministry, but am now thinking about parish ministry as a way to engage with families and their lives.”

Community ministry also holds great interest for Kimberly as she is already coming to think of her work as a union organizer in Harlem as a ministry. She believes that all these options will lead to an opportunity to help people make positive changes in their personal lives and in the lives of their communities.

“I love to be in conversation with people,” Kimberly says. “Every interaction is a bit of ministry.”