Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister
Justin was raised Unitarian Universalist in Fort Collins, Colorado. He attended Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK, as well as Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard in 2007; his undergraduate is in English with a creative writing emphasis. Justin’s vision for ministry has been shaped and formed by eighteen years of experience working in Unitarian Universalist congregations, eight of which were at two of the largest congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association (All Souls Church in Tulsa, OK, and Unity Church in Saint Paul, MN). Relationships are at the heart of Justin’s ministry—it is out of deep relationship that we best come to know ourselves, one another, the Spirit and Life, and what life is calling out of us. Justin’s wife, Juliana, has worked at interfaith organizations as a community organizer and program director. She currently works at Lutheran Social Services. Together, they are the proud parents of Tucker Robert Keen Schroeder, born in 2008, and Jesse Patrick Keen Schroeder, born in May of 2015. Justin’s role at First Universalist is to ensure the spiritual health of the congregation. He serves as the lead preacher and vision caster. His portfolio includes all of the development work in the church, as well as overseeing the racial justice and faithful action ministries. He works closely with the Board of Trustees & the staff to ensure that First Universalist moves toward fulfilling its mission in the world. Justin is an avid gardener, outdoor enthusiast, reader, and game player.
Jen joined First Universalist as the Minister of Program Life in 2012, and was called by the congregation as Executive Minister in 2015. As the Executive Minister, Jen works closely with and oversees the administrative and program areas of our church, including our facilities, finances, and communications as well as the ministries of Congregational Care, Membership, and Lifespan Faith Development. Prior to her time in Minneapolis, Jen served as the Associate Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, one of the largest and most innovative Unitarian Universalist congregations in the country. The creator of Wellspring, a Unitarian Universalist Program of Spiritual Deepening, a curriculum used in more than 25 congregations, Jen pushes herself and others to think creatively and boldly about how we can offer the life-transforming experience of Unitarian Universalism to each other and those who have not yet entered our doors. Jen has served as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association Committee on Ethics and Collegiality, as a coach for other ministers, a mentor for new ministers, and a supervisor for many ministerial interns. Her writing can be found in both Rev. X: How Generation X Ministers are Shaping Unitarian Universalism, and Not For Ourselves Alone: Theological Essays on Relationship. A graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and Smith College, Jen currently serves as the President of our Prairie Star Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association, and she and her wife, Loretta, love being the moms of Henry and Kate.
Elaine grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City in an interreligious household. Her mother was raised Methodist on a farm in Kansas. Her Jewish father was born in Israel and moved to the United States when he was thirteen. When she was a teenager, her family discovered that the Unitarian Universalist church was a natural fit. Elaine feels privileged to now serve our liberal faith tradition professionally though ministry. A graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and Grinnell College, Elaine holds a Master of Divinity degree and a Bachelor of Anthropology and Spanish. She was ordained in April 2010 by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, California, where she completed her parish internship. Since then, she has served as a hospital chaplain in Charleston, South Carolina, and as a community minister at the Unitarian Church of Charleston. As the Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries, Elaine oversees the welcoming and integration of new members, offers opportunities for spiritual deepening, and supports First Universalist’s culture of radical hospitality and strong lay leadership. She is passionate about the potential of human-to-human connections to offer pathways to greater compassion, deeper insight, and communion with the Divine. Elaine and her husband, Jason, live in Minneapolis with their daughter, Sarah. After Sunday services, she can usually be found in the Social Hall or leading our First Step orientations for newcomers. She would love to meet you!
Ruth grew up in Littleton, Colorado. As a girl, she found solace and Spirit in the big mountains outside her home, and in the work and life of Christ the King Lutheran Church, where her family was very active. At age nineteen, she quit college and moved to Minneapolis to begin a career as a singer. Since then, her compass has led her in many creative directions. She performed concerts throughout the United States and the Nordic countries. Her theatrical creations: Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, The Snow Queen, and Theotokos, were produced by the Guthrie Theatre, The Children’s Theater Company, and O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. Ruth found Unitarian Universalism as she looked for a faith tradition that aligned more closely with her beliefs, and joined Unity Church Unitarian in 1995. Endeavoring to deepen her creative work and religious life, Ruth began studying at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Her compass began pointing in a new direction, that of ministry and artistry. She received her Master of Divinity degree in the spring of 2011. She served as Ministerial Intern at First Universalist in 2010/2011, and was hired as Worship Arts Director soon after. As Minister of Worship Arts, Ruth oversees Sunday worship. She curates and coordinates music, visual arts, and choreography for each service, creates intergenerational services, and leads the Worship Associates team, comprised of lay leaders. She leads the Coming of Age class each year, and the Worship Arts Camp for youth in the summer. Her goal is to craft opportunities for congregants of all ages to experience the enlivening power of creativity.
Rev. Kate Tucker, Minister Emerita
Kathleen (Kate) Tucker was called as Associate Minister in September 1998, after serving the previous year on a contract basis. She earned her Master of Divinity degree at the Earlham School of Divinity where she had earlier completed a baccalaureate degree. She also holds an MFA degree from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to First Universalist in 1997, she held interim positions with the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Kent, Washington, and the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. In a sermon Kate has commented: “Our individual experiences, powerful as they are, need a language to live in. Our individual experiences, intense as they are, can still seem random, isolating, disconnected from the web of life. This is what religious community is for: to give us a language. To give us a way to see our experience within a larger pattern of meaning and beauty.” In her role at First Universalist she provided and arranged congregational care. She worked with our small-group ministry to ensure spiritual growth of individual members of First Universalist Church.
Rev. John Cummins, Minister Emeritus
With his wife, Drusilla, Dr. Cummins served First Universalist from 1961 to 1986.