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Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring

Associate Minister

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

Rev Leon Dunkley

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 alter high, trying to remember our tale
To see and hear within the stillness, to touch and to 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.

Leon entered the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. He studed for three years before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota to serve Unity Church—Unitarian. He was in St. Paul from 2008 to 2012 and began serving the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring in August. 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. He is a humble but unapologetic beer snob and has been learning from Samori Marksman Dunkley, the wisest of Yellow Labrador Retrievers, for twelve and a half wonderful years. He is writing a book on spiritual growth and radical forgiveness.

Contact Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley.