Programs Team

Membership and Adult Ministries

_LCC7139Minister 
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink
612.825.1701 x124 elaine@firstuniv.org

Elaine coordinates our membership and hospitality ministries, as well as our spiritual deepening and learning opportunities for adults. 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. 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 lives in Southwest Minneapolis with her husband and daughter. 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!

_LCC7070
Membership Support

Sandy DiNanni
612.825.1701 (3–9 p.m.) sandy@firstuniv.org

Sandy DiNanni was born in Duluth, but has lived most of her life in Minneapolis. An American Field Service student to Finland, graduate of Washburn High School, she attended Connecticut College for Women, studying anthropology and sociology. Sandy’s first job, for 12 years, was at the American Red Cross, in the public information department and covering disasters. She married and raised four children; married again to a Roman Catholic theologian (who often wrote about First Universalist Church for the StarTribune). She helped create Camelot Communications, Inc., to serve the faith and non-profit communities for 35 years, using print, multi-media, radio and television production to enhance the work of those communities that had little money, but had the most important stories to tell.  Sandy came to First Universalist out of retirement, in 2001, when evening office coverage was needed. Sandy DiNanni is the Member Support Staff person, working as the evening “church welcomer” and the Sunday general information person, keeper of the member records, and support to the Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink, Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries. Sandy loves her job and the people of this church community! To reach her, email sandy@firstuniv.org or call the office, 612-825-1701, between 4 and 9 pm Monday through Thursday, and look for her on Sundays from 9 am to 1:30 pm.

Children, Youth & Family Ministries

_LCC7124Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries
Lauren Wyeth
612.825.1701 x111 lauren@firstuniv.org

Lauren enjoys children of all ages, hiking, reading, being in and on water and snow, and witnessing what happens when love leads the way in human relationships. Like so many, she was a Unitarian Universalist all her life, but didn’t discover the UU church until she experienced the miraculous, exhausting, and humbling transformation of becoming a parent nearly 15 years ago. Lauren loves our welcoming faith, in which we work to support one another in the lifelong search for truth and meaning, grounded in the Universalist values of love and hope, regardless of where the path takes each of us. As parent to sons Cole and Ames, and partner to her college sweetheart, Allison, she appreciates the foundation a UU spiritual home can offer to a family, encouraging parents, children and youth alike to keep our minds and hearts open and to bring our unique gifts to help build a world filled with peace, justice, and respect for our earth and all life. Lauren moved to Minneapolis from sunny California in 2011 for the weather, the people, and a lifestyle that perfectly suits her and her family. Little did she know that the journey would also lead her to a new career at First Universalist. Her varied experience as a lay leader in her UU congregation in Santa Barbara, a director of programs for non-profit agencies, an organizer in her children’s family-focused public school, and a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist perfectly prepared her to serve as our Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries. Along with a small but stellar department staff, she ensures that our Sunday morning classes align with the values and initiatives of the larger congregation, seeks to foster a deeper appreciation of life’s cycles and our interdependence across generations, and supports the ministry of nearly 200 volunteers to over 500 children and youth registered in Sunday morning Religious Education classes. Lauren is always happy to meet new people, hear your story, and help children, youth and families find their way into the First Universalist community.

Young Children’s Program Assistant
Meera Kannan
612.825.1701 x109 meera@firstuniv.org

Meera was born in New York but grew up surrounded by corn fields in South Dakota. She went back to New York to attend Vassar College, but completed her biology degree at the University of Minnesota in 2007. Since then, she’s made a home in Minneapolis and dedicated her life to helping foster a love of learning in children. Prior to joining First Universalist, Meera was a teacher in Montessori schools, working with children from ages two to six. From her experience as a teacher, she has learned that adults have as much if not more to learn from young children, particularly when it comes to love and kindness. She believes that the best way to teach children is through our actions and the most important lesson we can teach is love for all living things. Meera is excited to be at First Universalist and to be a part of the young children’s program. She wants to continue to help children understand the world around them and to know that they are beautiful and valuable just as they are.

When not working with children, Meera can be found with her two puppies, Satchel and Lilo. The trio loves to go hiking and to play frisbee together. She also finds time to practice yoga regularly, takes spontaneous road trips, volunteers with a local dog rescue, enjoys live music, and hopes for more time to travel.