It’s hard to organize a list of things that you’ve done in a way that will, you hope, be interesting to people. Do you just write a list with bullet points? Or do you try to weave a fascinating narrative, trying to steer clear of a story that makes you sound like Indiana Jones?
Like Indiana Jones, I did spend part of my life in Hyde Park, a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago which contains my home church, the University of Chicago and the residence of President Obama, so you can perhaps see that I might be in more danger than most in constructing a very heroic narrative.
I started out church leadership by being elected to the Religious Education committee. From there I went on to serve many committees, chairing some of them, creating new ones (the Men’s Group still meets at that church today.) I was once young enough to chair the Young Adult Gathering, but of course have long since aged out of that group.
After several years of volunteer work, I was invited to run for our church’s Board of Trustees. I was the only person under the age of 40 to have ever (up to that point) been on the Board. I found out later that the church leaders were lining me up to be Board President, but I foiled their plans by going to seminary.
In seminary I took on a role in student government, it was a small seminary and a small government, but I did plan all of the vesper service meals and otherwise stay engaged in leadership.
At seminary I began working with the Sankofa Archives as their first archivist, and I now continue similar work as part of the steering committee of the Cuentos Collection, an archive focused on voices of Latinx people in Unitarian Universalism.
Since I started seminary I have been lucky enough to serve congregations in the U.S, the U.K. and Canada. I maintain relationships with friends in the UK and am still an active member of the Unitarian Ministers of Canada chapter of the UU Ministers’ Association.
During my internship year at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, in addition to my parish work, I was able to spend 10% of my internship working with their Community Minister, Rev. Laura Imayoshi, in her work at a Women’s Shelter focused mainly on helping women of First Nations’ origin. Through that experience I maintain a strong relationship with community ministers.
I was elected to the UUA’s Nominating Committee where I served for 6 years and was the Chair for 3 of them. While Chair I instituted a model of leadership transition (something the committee had struggled with) wherein the Past Chair, Current Chair and Next Chair worked together to help pass along institutional knowledge. Both the Past and Next Chair understood their role was to support the Current Chair and could be tasked with special assignments. During my time as Chair we also began to meet concurrently with the Appointments Committee, so that we could operate more cooperatively and share more information for the first time.
In 2016 I was honored to be invited to co-lead worship with Rev. Denis Paul just 5 days after our wedding at the Columbus General Assembly.
I am a member of DRUUM (Diverse Radical UU Ministries) and a regular attender of Finding Our Way Home, a gathering of religious professionals of color.
I am a member of the Ministerial Formation Network within the UU Ministers’ Association. In this capacity I have served as Vocational Director, Discernment Partner and Mentor for a new minister in Preliminary Fellowship.
I was recently asked to be a guest lecturer at the Unitarian College, (a seminary for Unitarian Ministers in Training located in the UK) on the subject of leading a congregation in a time of change.
Interfaith work is a vital part of being a minister in a community. Both in Modesto and in Cleveland I have been richly engaged in friendships and working relationships with clergy folk of other faiths. I was a Board Member of Greater Cleveland Congregations, an interfaith coalition of some 40+ churches and organizations, and a Board Member of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign. I have been honored to be invited to lead services at a synagogue, including a Pride Shabbat. I've also been invited to offer prayers in several Baptists churches. I have exchanged pulpits with our local Disciples of Christ minister, and also with the Church of the Brethren. I was also deeply moved to be asked to help lead a vigil in California by the local Sikh community after the violent death of six Sikhs while they were at their Wisconsin temple in 2012.
As a minister, Unitarian Universalism affords me an interfaith ability more than most because we are already used to thinking broadly and with deep respect, of the way others believe. I have had very rewarding relationships as part of the local clergy group wherever I have served.