“Meet the Asking Years” – welcoming guest preacher Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

SUNDAY, Nov. 13, 2016
11:00 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley


Sermon Title:
Meet the Asking Years

How do nations call the soul to deeper service? How can wisdom guide the heart to be of use? In this season of turning in the political year, what does the liturgical year have to offer? How does Scripture suggest that we guide our spirits to the ends of joy and peace, even in the midst of great struggle. Isaiah 65:17-18 reads:

For I am about to create
new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.

How does this passage apply to us today? What aspects of joy and peace might we endeavor to create?
Join us.


The Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. The church of his childhood was the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Monmouth County in Lincroft, New Jersey. From this church and from its minister, Reverend Harold Dean, Leon learned about the sweetness of life. He learned about compassion, peace and possibility.
He received his undergraduate degree at Tufts University and his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh. He was interested in traditional drumming of Ghana and the Republic of Zaire, the Kora tradition of Senegal, the Gamelan traditions of Java and Bali in Indonesia, the African American and jazz tradition(s) in the Americas and, most recently, in Bluegrass and Country Blues.
Music carries a spiritual dimension that can reveal the fullness of our humanity. The experience of this fullness may be fascinating for the intellect but it is also enriching for the soul. It was the spiritual dimension of music that called Leon away from academia and into Unitarian Universalist ministry. The call came through in song. He wrote the words below…

Reaching to the past, we find ourselves less distantly,
trying to remember our tale
Asking of tomorrow just the simple gift of peace,
oceans over ourselves
And, here, to give oneself upon an altar high,
trying to remember our tale
To see and hear within the stillness, to touch and taste the sky,
trying to remember our tale
As if the golden light was in our hands,
As if Silence had whispered my name…
Beholden and here I am
Silent and singing away

He wrote those words and began listening for the silences in life. He began listening for the stories that seem difficult to tell.

Leon attended the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. He studied under Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker for three years before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota to serve Unity Church — Unitarian. He was in St. Paul from 2008 to 2012. He began serving the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring in August of 2012. He was called unanimously by the congregation in December of 2013 and was formally installed on May 4th, 2014. He sings and plays several instruments — including guitar, piano, conga, gangogwe (West African double bell), didjeridu. He is just getting started on the dobro and octave mandolin.

Leon is a humble but unapologetic beer snob. He has prayed at the feet—or at the paws, really—of one of his greatest mentors, Samori Marksman Dunkley. Samori was the wisest of Yellow Labrador Retrievers. For thirteen wonderful years, they shared Life’s journey. It was a blessing. He is writing a book on spiritual growth and radical forgiveness in the presence of racial violence and social strife. He is taking great delight in the Cubs recent victory (even though he is undeniably a Red Sox fan).