Rev. Amy Beltaine is the 2022 recipient of the Wendy Griffin Professor of the Year Award
For Immediate Release
February 21, 2022
Columbia, S.C.—During a special virtual ceremony on Saturday, February 20, the Votaries Alumni Circle of Cherry Hill Seminary announced the winner of this year’s Wendy Griffin Professor of the Year Award. The recipient is Rev. Amy Beltaine.
Beltaine is an active Unitarian Universalist minister and spiritual director/companion, in addition to her role as professor at Cherry Hill Seminary. She created the Spiritual Direction Certificate program (also called SpiDir), a two-year professional certification program, which is nearly one year along for its first cohort. Beltaine also brought together students and others to create the weekly online gathering and ritual space called A Spiritual Feast (was A Spiritual Potluck), which is open to anyone and may be found on the Seminary Facebook page.
“Cherry Hill Seminary was the first and only place I approached with the idea of offering a Spiritual Direction Certification Program,” said Rev. Beltaine. “I tend to shed tears when something feels deeply true, beautiful, loving or sacred, and I often cry with joy as I read my student’s assignments or discussions. The world needs people who can listen from the heart, especially now. We all need to be reminded that we are whole, holy and good.”
Shannon McLean, CMC, is in the current SpiDir cohort and said this at the awards event:
“Amy has helped guide us through the experience of spiritual direction, granting both challenge and reflection, and at the same time, she has offered us unending patience and grace. She herself has grown as we walk this first cohort together. If something wasn’t working, she has adjusted. She has taken our feedback, our struggles, our failures, and turned them into places of growth, opportunity, and change. Her favorite quote is ‘Fail forward, not backwards’ and it has been a part of the backbone of the first cohort of students. She encourages each of us as we learn, grow, explore, and takes the program she created, and shifts it to meet the needs of her students. She does this while still placing a foundation of ethics, morals, and tools in all the students so we may tend to the spiritual needs of our seekers, particularly those of the unique and under-represented pagan! She is a pillar in the Cherry Hill Seminary community.”
Applications are still being accepted for a second cohort which starts April 1 (at the Seminary main web site).
Votaries Alumni Circle is a membership group which supports and promotes the Seminary, provides social events for members, and sponsors programs like the Coming to the Center public livestreamed program each semester. Its selection of the Professor of the Year is a several-months long process and a highlight of the year, according to founding Chair, Wes Isley, M.Div. “Annual membership offers opportunities for celebration, networking, continuing education, outreach, recognition and service,” said Isley, a graduate of Cherry Hill Seminary who works as a hospital chaplain in North Carolina.
Highlighting the unique learning culture of the Seminary, executive director Holli Emore, M.Div. talked about the mutually supportive relationship between faculty and students. “Without faculty who not only teach but also challenge us, our students would have no reason to show up for class. Our students similarly challenge and drive our professors always to be exploring, growing and excelling. It is a partnership in the best sense of the word. Any Beltaine has exemplified the best that Cherry Hill Seminary has to offer, in her teaching, mentoring, and always-supportive collegiality.”
About the Wendy Griffin Professor of the Year Award
Sponsored by the CHS Votaries Alumni Circle, this prestigious award is presented annually to one deserving faculty member who has demonstrated teaching excellence in the classroom and a commitment to spiritual growth for students. Nominations are accepted throughout the calendar year until Thanksgiving weekend, and the award is announced and presented at a special online event early in the new year following.
As Cherry Hill Seminary’s first permanent Academic Dean, Wendy Griffin (1941-2021) brought to Cherry Hill Seminary a dedication to academic integrity and a devotion to Pagan and Nature Spirituality. She was an academic pioneer in the study of Goddess Spirituality and Wicca, and served in the American Academy of Religion and on the editorial board of The Pomegranate: the International Journal of Pagan Studies. By the time she retired in 2018, Griffin had inspired students and colleagues alike with her intellect, skills and engagement.