Rev. Jen Crow joined Rev. Justin Schroeder as Senior Co-Minister at First Universalist in June of 2018. Jen first joined First Universalist Church of Minneapolis as minister of program life in 2012. She founded the UU Wellspring program in 2005 while serving as associate minister at First Unitarian Church of Rochester (NY). Jen holds a master of divinity degree Meadville Lombard Theological School and a bachelor of science in psychology from Smith College.
Jen draws on our own UU prophets for strength and inspiration, as well as her own daily spiritual practice of prayer and meditation. She thinks creatively and boldly about new and meaningful ways we can offer the life-transforming experience of Unitarian Universalism to each other.
Linnea Nelson, Credentialed DRE, former Director of Religious Exploration at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax in Oakton, VA. Previously Linnea was a Head of School, a Learning Center Director and a teacher at private, public and independent schools in the US and Colombia, Indonesia and Germany. Linnea was an educational textbook writer and editor as well as an international trainer for the Great Books Foundation. Linnea is the 2019-20 President of LREDA-Liberal Religious Educators Association.
Linnea has facilitated and participated in UU Wellspring groups for four years. She found the experience transformational and life-affirming. An essay she wrote about a spiritual practice she developed while participating the UU Sources program can be found in Faithful Practices: Everyday Ways to Feed Your Spirit, edited by Erik Wikstrom, which will be used in UU Wellspring Sacred Arts. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Board of Directors
Beth Irikura is a Credentialed Religious Educator serving River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, MD as Religious Educator for Youth. She has a certificate in Lay Ministry with emphasis in Youth Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary. Beth and her family attend the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, where she was a lead advisor for their youth program for three years. Beth serves as a Credentialing Mentor and a Good Officer for LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association.) She is thrilled to be leading in person and online Wellspring groups in addition to serving on the Wellspring board.
Viola Abbitt is currently serving as the half-time minister for two congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie (NY) and the First Unitarian Society of Westchester (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY). Prior to that she served as the ministerial intern at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield in Massachusetts. She has also worked in various positions as a member of the laity, as well as paid staff, at UU congregations in the Capital District Area of New York. Viola has helped in work aimed at identifying the social locations of authors of materials used in the Wellspring Sources curriculum, and she was a contributor to the Promise and the Practice liturgical materials. As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady, she first participated in Wellspring Sources in 2013-2014, and then went on to be a co-facilitator for Deep Questions in 2014-2015 and Spiritual Practices in 2016-2017. She values the richness that UU Wellspring has brought to her life, whether it has been as a participant or a facilitator, and she has seen how it has worked in the lives of others.
Rosemary Bishop is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady (UUSS) and served as their UU Wellspring Congregational Coordinator for seven years. Currently, she participates in the UU Wellspring Strategic Task Force at UUSS. She’s also served on the Adult Faith Development Ministry Team, helped to create an introductory UU course, and co-facilitated Covenant Circles. To the UU Wellspring Board, Rosemary brings years of experience in instructional design, workshop facilitation, and strategic marketing, in her former role as senior trainer at Hallmark Cards, and founder of her own performance consulting company. In her current position as marketing manager for an art fundraising company, Rosemary leads new business development. Spiritually, Rosemary has experienced a variety of faith traditions on her path home to Unitarian Universalism. Moved by her UU Wellspring experience, she has a passion for creating pathways for others to step into their own spiritual journeys.
Carolyn Bjerke serves as the Director of Music at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, CA. Carolyn is passionate about growing and supporting spiritual community, especially through music. A singer and teacher, she has taught coached singers of nearly every age and ability. The connection to joy and spirit that music brings is universal, which makes her work rich and rewarding. Carolyn is a UU Certified Music Leader.
Rev. Kimberley Debus works as a community minister in the Capital Region, inspiring congregations to more artful and art-filled worship, congregational life, and public witness. In addition to her community ministry, she is an adjunct consultant with the Central East Region. She has previously served the First Universalist Church of Southold on Long Island and One Island Family UU Congregation in Key West, and is a member of our congregation in Saratoga Springs. Kimberley first participated in UU Wellspring in 2010-2011 as part of a joint venture of the Albany, NY area cluster. As she notes whenever asked – and sometimes without being asked – UU Wellspring made space for her ministerial discernment and transition from lay leader to seminarian and now to minister.
The Rev. Christian Schmidt, with his wife the Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt, serves as senior co-minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (Ca.). He has worked in diverse settings in Unitarian Universalism, including multiple parish settings, at UU World magazine, and with UU advocacy organizations. Deepening spiritual lives is central to his ministry and the key reason he is involved with UU Wellspring.
Rev. Kierstin Homblette Allen is a Unitarian Universalist community minister, currently serving as the Congregational Coordinator and Retreat Leader for Beloved Conversations, a program of Meadville Lombard Theological School, for Unitarian Universalist congregations seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. Kierstin is affiliated with the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, which is also the congregation she grew up in. She has also been a member of Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities in Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and New York City. Previously, Kierstin served the cluster of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Denver area as their Beloved Community Coordinator, helping to coordinate their justice ministries and represent them in community-based justice movements. She also worked at the Delores Project, a homeless shelter in Denver for women and transgender folks. Kierstin has helped to edit the UU Wellspring curricula, with a focus on anti-racism/anti-oppression and multicultural inclusion.
Our Emeritus Directors and Current Mentors
Rev. Joy Collins is one of the founding members of UU Wellspring™ in Rochester, NY. She is passionate about UUs claiming their deeply spiritual selves with an open heart, mind and soul. Besides facilitating UU Wellspring groups, she has designed Wellspring curriculum and has presented on UU Wellspring at General Assembly. A 20-year UU, Joy is a community interfaith minister. Besides UU Wellspring, her main ministry is one-on-one spiritual counseling (www.revjoycollins.com). In addition, Joy is a business consultant to corporations, specializing in leadership, curriculum design, communication skills, diversity, and team dynamics (www.northcoastassociates.com).
Rev. Dr. Sarah Lenzi is a lifelong UU and native New Yorker. She currently serves the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, NJ after serving three years at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Hudson Valley in Westchester NY. Rev. Sarah also holds a doctorate in Religious Studies; her academic work focused on medieval Christian Europe’s cultivation of spiritual experience through pietistic practices that involved the imagination, the memory, and physical experience. The aesthetics of worship, the development of ritual, the deepening of spiritual experience and the creation of relationships and community are central to Rev. Sarah’s call to ministry. She’s excited to join the UU Wellspring team to help grow and spread the good word of this amazing program.
Rev. Libby Moore, a lifelong UU, participated in the very first Wellspring program with Jen Crow. Since then she has continued her connection with Wellspring as both facilitator and curriculum developer. Under the profound influence of her Wellspring experience, she took the leap of attending One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and is now an ordained interfaith minister. She completed training to be a spiritual director in 2014 and feels blessed to have found this vocation at this stage in her life. She honors many diverse paths toward spiritual enlightenment and has found Wellspring a source of deep inspiration on her own path.
Julica Hermann de la Fuente is a Lay Community Minister and currently serves as a retreat leader for the Beloved Conversations program and as a program leader for the UU College of Social Justice. Born and raised in Mexico City, she first became committed to social justice education when she came to the United States for college. Since then, she has been an educator and trainer in a variety of capacities over the past two decades. Julica is especially keen on supporting Unitarian Universalists in their multicultural competency development, and in helping congregations become more actively anti-racist in their organizational practices. In addition to the lay community ministry degree from Meadville, she also holds an MSW and is certified as a master life coach. Julica strongly believes that sustainable social change comes from working at the intersection of joy and justice, and that attending to our spiritual paths and theological frameworks (as we do with Wellspring) strengthens our capacity and resilience to build the Beloved Community.
Rev. Linda Pashby Kaufman, along with Rev. Deborah Raible (see above), introduced the UU Wellspring program to University Unitarian Church in Seattle in 2010, oversaw its continued growth at UUC, and mentored its expansion into Portland and Oregon City, OR. Linda, a community minister, recently retired as chaplain at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, where she provided spiritual care and teaching in an addiction recovery unit. She continues to serve as Minister Affiliated at UUC and has a private spiritual direction practice. Linda is thrilled that UU Wellspring is one of many signs that Unitarian Universalism is opening itself to be a faith of the heart as well as the head.
Sean Neil-Barron was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Treaty 7 land, an area wose settlement by Europeans was made possible because of a covenant between the Crown and five Native nations – a covenant that was subsequently dishonored. As a result, Sean’s UU faith seeks to rebuild right relationship between all peoples. Sean graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 2015. That fall he and a partner piloted in Boston the first UU Wellspring program that was open to people from many congregations. Sean’s ministry is focused on spiritual formation, which for him is the journey of the self into wholeness: into self-awareness and acceptance, service, wonder, perceiving connectedness. He believes strongly in UU Wellspring’s intentional focus on key practices that aid all UUs on their own unique journeys.
Dave Munro is an interfaith/interspiritual minister, ordained in June 2017 by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City. Dave was also recently certified as a spiritual director. Dave is an interfaith hospital chaplain and he regularly serves as a chaplain at Albany NY Medical Center. He is also trained as a Hospice volunteer.
Dave, a retired attorney who still does quite a bit of pro bono work for low-income clients, has served Unitarian Universalism in many roles, including president of his home congregation of Albany NY and president of the St. Lawrence District. Additionally, Dave served on the national UU Wellspring Advisory Team from 2012-16, and he has facilitated four of the UU Wellspring programs. He strongly believes that participation in UU Wellspring provides the spiritual grounding that is needed for UU leaders.
Rev. Tina Simson believes that people are whole and worthy of grace no matter life’s circumstance, and that given the opportunity to listen deeply to their inner spark, they will find their way home to their true selves.
She is Minister Emerita of First Unitarian Church in Rochester, NY where she served for nine years as Minister of Spiritual Development and Pastoral Care, and currently sees clients for Spiritual Direction. She is one of the originators and authors of UU Wellspring and has facilitated many levels of the program. She has facilitated retreats and mentored congregations across the country as they initiated UU Wellspring. From 2011-2014. she served and the national UU Wellspring Coordinator, originator of the UU Wellspring Blog and member of the advisory team.
Tina is an Interfaith Minister educated and ordained through One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York and holds a certificate in Spiritual Counseling. Tina is an Associate Member of the UUMA.
Rev. Deborah Raible is a community minister in private practice as a pastoral counselor in Seattle. She is a lifelong UU, following three previous generations of Unitarians in her family, and the third generation to go into the Unitarian (and now) Universalist ministry. Deborah is also a lifelong member of University Unitarian Church, Seattle, which ordained her in 1996 and called her as a Minister Affiliated in 1997.
Sara Smalley has worked both as a professional educator and as a lay leader in multiple UU congregations in the Twin Cities. As a longtime member of First Universalist of Minneapolis, she was invited by Rev. Jen Crow to participate in the pilot year of UU Wellspring in that congregation. For her, the experience of UU Wellspring brought clarity to her call to ministry, and thus she is currently a seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Sara was the primary writer for the 2015 curriculum revision of the first year of UU Wellspring. She has a passion for exploring how Unitarian Universalism is best taught and most fully lived.