If Jennifer Garner wasn't an actor, she'd be a minister.
“I would have really liked being a minister,” she told Allure in a story published May 9. “My mom thinks I still will be."
The "Juno" actor said she goes to church with her three children, Violet, 17, Seraphina, 14, and Samuel, 11, whom she shares with her former husband Ben Affleck, and that Violet teaches Sunday school.
The 51-year-old actor said her own upbringing in Charleston, West Virginia, shaped the role religion plays in her and her kids' life.
"I grew up in such a lovely church in the United Methodist Church, and the minister was like the den parent," she said. "What I like about the study of religion, it reminds me of the study of theater — it’s really a liberal arts education. You have to understand history, geography, literature. It’s art, it’s everything. I don’t know anything about Hinduism, Islam, so many other religions, and I wish I did. That feels like a sign of respect.”
One sermon during her childhood was particularly moving and is still top of mind for Garner, she said.
“As a kid, my family and I, we always referenced this one beautiful sermon,” Garner recalled, “where our minister talked about taking something hard that had happened and imagining yourself going down to the banks of the river and fashioning a beautiful box out of what you find there and placing this hurt carefully in the box and watching it float down the river. The power of letting go. Don’t carry it. Just let it go.”
“So many times, my sisters and I have said, ‘You need to put that in the river,'" she said. "I’m not coming from a place of, ‘I have this unshakeable faith that I have to share.’ It’s coming from a human place — a place of respect and curiosity.”
She said religion has been one way she connects with people on a deeper level.
“I think the more you engage, the more you learn about different ways that people believe and worship, the more you can sit next to anyone and be a neighbor,” she said. “There’s such value in that to me."
She said potentially enrolling in divinity school interests her.
"I don’t know that I will ever be someone who is writing a sermon Sunday morning, but I like the idea of it," she said. "I like the idea of going back to divinity school."