OGDEN -- At age 62, most people are ending their careers, but Marnie Singer, the new intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, is just beginning her new profession.
Singer, who has arrived from Sunnyvale, Calif., will serve in Ogden until June, gaining the insight she'll need to lead her first congregation.
"The more I got in connection with what feeds me spiritually, the more I knew I could feel holiness from the people, and that just didn't come from the computer keyboard," Singer said. She made the decision to switch from her work as a senior scientific programmer and analyst of social science data reduction to become a minister.
She quit her previous career in 2006 and attended Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., and earned a master of divinity degree.
She went on to serve as an interfaith chaplain at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara, Calif, and Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., before applying to come to Ogden.
She said she's planning to live and continue serving for a while.
"I come from a long line of long-lived people," Singer said. "My mother is 87. She retired at 69 in order to start a nonprofit agency, which she worked another 11 years."
And she's also following in her mother's footsteps in re-creating herself, she said, noting major life changes she saw her mother make as she became connected with herself throughout her life.
But Singer said her real motivation for her new career was how she felt about being a mother.
She's the mother of four and grandmother of five.
"I loved motherhood," she said. "I have been called earth mother. When this phase of my life was over, it took me awhile to realize I needed something else to feed my heart the way parenting did."
The new intern said she hasn't pushed herself into making specific goals for her stay, but she hopes to feel more prepared for her ministerial service when she leaves.
"I've had classes that give individual pieces of it," she said. "This is where they all come together."
Having been in Ogden a month, she's already impressed with one aspect of her congregation. It's the way members run meetings.
"Members go around the table and tell what's in their heart that day and then they say they are checking in to the meeting. At the end, they check out.
"It's a signal but it also feels like a re-covenanting," she said. "I found that it's exciting."
Singer also is impressed by how comfortable the children in the congregation feel about being a part of the group and expressing themselves in contrast to feeling separated into their own group and cut off from the rest.
She said the geography also helps her feel welcome.
"Having the mountains there keeps me oriented," she said.
And Singer said she has also learned to feel comfortable with whom she is associating spiritually.
"People who don't know Utah have preconceptions," she said. "I've already found myself affirming. I don't want to say defending ... affirming."
Among her qualifications are serving as a Unitarian Universalist minister's wife for 13 years. She served with her first husband, Ken Collier, for three years in Durham, N.C., three years in Burke, Va., five years in Philadelphia and then two years in Palo Alto, Calif.
Her second husband, Brian Singer, is a teacher for troubled California high school students who she said approaches his work much like a minister.
Singer's work experience includes serving as a paralegal, as a litigation assistant and as a data collector and reducer.
But Singer said she felt drawn to help others in a more meaningful way.