Rev. Ken Daniel’s first experience with United was when he was 15 years old and his church hired a new youth pastor, a recent graduate of United. Under the pastor’s leadership, the youth program focused on issues related to conservation, peace, such as the Vietnam War, and social justice, including women’s issues and racial justice.
“My experience at church led me to identify my call to ministry,” he said. The call wasn’t a fleeting dream; Ken still felt the tug to ministry during his senior year in college. His relationship with his youth pastor led him to consider United, so he visited campus and fell in love with United’s prophetic ministry and commitment to social action.
Ken was the recipient of several scholarship during his time at United, as well as benefiting from work-study during his second year. “The school was there for me, encouraging and supporting me,” he said. “I knew that when I started earning a salary I wanted to donate regularly so that others could have the same experience.” Donations like Ken’s support United’s general budget, allowing the seminary to do the sort of work that attracted Ken as a prospective student, while offsetting the cost of education that needs to be passed on to the students.
Since graduating from United, Ken’s career has reflected a passion for ministry, education and care for others. He served as a minister to a congregation in Reading, Pennsylvania, and later transitioned into administrative roles in senior caregiving facilities. He is now president and CEO of United Church Homes. Along the way, he acquired two additional master’s degrees, taught administrative ethics (he credits Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson with inspiring him in the area of healthcare ethics), started a clinical pastoral education program, and served as interim president of Lancaster Seminary. “I served as interim president of the seminary from 2010 to 2011,” he said. “I called United’s president at the time, Mary McNamara, and explained my situation. She mentored me and was a source of support.”
An involved alum and member of the UCC, Ken received the Distinguished Alum award from United in 2016 and was most recently awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Heidelberg University in Ohio.
“United has been a source of inspiration that has guided my ministry for 40 years and a part of my life since I was 15,” Ken said. “The school has always responded to me with open arms.”