The Minister

Our minister usually leads Sunday morning worship. Recognizing that the social, experiential, theological and cultural assumptions of our community are broader than any two people can faithfully represent, our ministers work with a cadre of Worship Associates.

Openings for New Worship Associates!

Our wonderful Sunday worship services are created each week by a team consisting of our ministers, music-making staff and many dedicated volunteers. One way to join this team and contribute directly to the services is by becoming a Worship Associate. At this time, we have openings for 1-3 Worship Associate positions.

UUCB Worship Associates (WAs) are lay worship leaders. WAs serve for a 3-year term, meeting together with Rev. Michelle once per month, with each WA committing to a Sunday service about every 6-8 weeks.

The work typically involves focused attention and preparation the week before “your” Sunday: During the pandemic, it involves video recording your own 5-6 Service Elements, such as the Welcome and Chalice Lighting; shepherding the other Elements of the service for successful submission to our video broadcasting team; and (optionally) video recording a personal 3-5 minute Reflection, known as Sources of Our Faith, which shares with the congregation an aspect of your own journey that ties in with the worship theme of that Sunday. [For in-person worship, the work would involve a kind of stage-manager/M.C. role, where we would help to prepare the chancel and sanctuary for worship, coordinate the various teams and guests and, during the service, give a Reflection, lead responsive recitations, etc.]

In addition to our “Sunday” duties, Worship Associates help to hold space for reflection about worship at UUCB. In conjunction with the minister, we discuss and consider aspects of our worship service, including process and liturgy. We discuss what is working or not working, any feedback from the congregation, how to be more welcoming and inclusive, and how we can continually “Widen the Circle” and consider the voices that may not be currently being heard in worship.

If you have been thinking you might be interested in this role – or if this is a new and intriguing possibility to you – please contact Rev. Michelle to talk more about it. There’s so much collective wisdom within our congregation! – it enriches us all to hear each other’s voice. In particular, we are interested in having folks from our underrepresented and marginalized communities serve in this role. Your voice is very much needed, so please come and join us. (You’re more than welcome to contact any of the current or recent WAs to ask questions; please use our group email address below and feel free to direct your questions to anyone you choose.)

If you have no experience video recording, this is not an impediment – we were all inexperienced last May! You do not have to be high tech to apply. We are a team; we can help you and teach you — you will not be thrown to the wolves! In fact, in addition to the Worship Associates, we have a wonderful and dedicated team of volunteers who help with the technical aspect of the worship.

If you are interested in contributing to UUCB worship through the work of the Worship Associate Committee, we hope you will contact Rev. Michelle, minister@uucb.org or 301-675-5314.

Thanks very much for considering this, and warm regards from the Worship Associate team – worshipassociates@uucb.org:

Bob Adams
Cynthia Asprodites
Andrea Brown
Karen Elliott
Lee Maranto
Deborah Schmidt
Sarah Ward
Melissa Rosales (former WA)

and

Bill Brown, our newest WA, who is happy to be contacted but does not yet have WA experience to share.

Current Worship Associates (to be updated)

Bob Adams
Raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Chicago, Bob appreciates the life and teachings of Jesus, and that the DoC has been biracial from its earliest days. The Civil Rights movement seemed like a natural extension of inter-racial youth fellowships in which he participated. Bob served 2 years as pastor of a rural congregation in western Illinois, in the Peace Corps in India, did 2 years of doctoral work at the University of Chicago Divinity School, worked as a community organizer with the leader of the Chicago Freedom Movement, got a Masters in City Planning from Cal, and served as Executive Director of five affordable housing nonprofits in Chicago, Oakland, Berkeley & Richmond.
Later, he taught middle school in West Oakland, Pinole and El Cerrito till retirement in 2015. He continues volunteer work in local schools through the WriterCoach Connection and Read Aloud. A single parent of two children, Bob became a UU first at BFUU, then UUOakland for 15 years, now UUCB since 2005. Here he’s served as a board member, choir member, and in the Men’s Fellowship. He calls himself a Universalist.

 

Cynthia Asprodites
Cynthia was raised in a devout Catholic family in New Orleans. While she appreciated many aspects of her religious experiences as a child, she came to reject Catholic doctrine when she was a young adult. For more than a decade, she resisted the notion of organized religion. After moving to the Bay Area with her family in the mid-1980’s, she and her partner, Maryann, recognized a need to provide their young child with a faith community consistent with their beliefs and values. As Cynthia has often commented, she came to UUCB for her daughter, then stayed for herself. Cynthia was particularly drawn to Sunday morning worship, which she considers a deeply spiritual experience.
Over the years, Cynthia’s attachment to this congregation has deepened as has her involvement in many different aspects of church life, ranging from governance to small group ministry. At this time, she feels called to support UUCB’s worship program. Cynthia recently retired from a meaningful career as a school psychologist. Besides church work, she now has more time for activities she enjoys: hiking, cooking, learning, traveling, studying Italian, and spending time with family and friends.

 

Karen Elliott

A long-time seeker, I’m grateful to have made my way to UUCB, where the multiple faith sources that mean so much to me are welcome. I’m inspired by UUCB’s commitment to covenant relations and social justice, and I hope to mature in my own capacity for connection while here. I’m thankful to be a WA!

I was raised in a Calvinist family that attended a Congregational church. In adulthood, I sought out the spiritual expressiveness and ceremony/ritual/symbols that had been absent in my youth. I immersed myself in devotional Hinduism via Bharatanatyam, a sacred dance-theater art, and lived in India. (Recently, my grown daughter traveled with me to Chennai to meet my dance teacher’s family and religious/artistic community.) During my middle adulthood, while married to a Zen priest, I trained in mindfulness Buddhist practices and then, later, mystical Sufism — two more Great Rivers. For 7 years, I’ve attended an African-American Pentecostal church in Oakland, where I experience freedom to sing, dance and pray to God from the heart. What a joy! In 2017, I came to UUCB — and discovered this remarkable community. I currently sing in the choir and co-facilitate Chalice Circles.

Lee Maranto
The reincarnation of Decius the Deficient, one of the most justly obscure Roman Emperors, Lee was the first recruit Sarah Ward made to Mithraism at UUCB.
A rising star at the law firm Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, Lee is a leading exponent of the movement to reintroduce trial by fire to American jurisprudence. “If it worked for Torquemada,” he wrote in one of his many articles for the trend-setting journal Inquisition Today, “who are we to say that it can’t work in modern times?”
Lee looks forward to bringing his unique perspective on historical precedent to UUCB.

 

Melissa Rosales
Melissa RosalesMelissa found Unitarian Universalism as an adult in Dallas, Texas while looking for a place for her family to find community and worship together. Raised as a Methodist, Melissa was looking for a theology that was open and valued the intrinsic beauty and goodness she saw in their young child. Raised as a Catholic, her husband David was looking for a place that valued rationalism and science. They found both in Unitarian Universalism at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, where they were active members until their move to the Bay Area in the spring of 2016. Now, they are happy, active members of UUCB! While not at church, Melissa is a teacher, homeschooling her son. She is also an avid dancer, reader, crafter, and lover of puzzles and math, just to name a few interests. As a complex, multi-faceted, equally right and left-brained person, she refuses to be defined by any one label.

 

schmidt deborahDeborah Schmidt

Brought up in Taos, New Mexico by parents who were open-minded seekers, Deborah was exposed to a rich variety of sacred practices, including Quakerism, Presbyterianism, Catholicism, and Pueblo earth-centered observances. A fascination with fairy tales, folk tales and mythology from around the world deepened her sense of the commonality of human wisdom. She learned early in life to translate religious terms into more inclusive, spirit-based language, so attending a UU service for the first time felt like coming home. She and her husband Daniel have been active members of UUCB since 2005. She is a poet and delights in bringing poetry to worship, recognizing that, with its imagery, emotionality, and concise yet multi-faceted nature, it has the power to teleport us to a place of heightened receptivity.

Sarah Ward

The reincarnation of a Roman gladiator, Sarah is currently the last living devotee of the mystic cult of Mithraism. While on a spelunking trip in the Pyrenees, she witnessed the emergence of Mithras from the rock wall of the cave, carrying a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other. As flames shot from the god’s Phrygian cap, he commanded the astonished Sarah to lead a revival of his devotion.

Unable to find any other Mithraists to lead, Sarah wandered far and wide, attempting to convince others of the reality of her vision. Finally someone made a suggestion that changed her life: “Why don’t you join the Unitarians? They’ll take anybody.” Finding her way to UUCB, she soon realized that she had found a spiritual home.