UUCB 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 in a deeply fulfilling way is by becoming a Worship Associate.

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

The work involves focused attention and preparation for the week before “your” Sunday and then a key role in the worship service Sunday morning. UUCB is now offering a hybrid worship service — in-person plus live-stream. During the week preceding the service, you coordinate communication among members of your week’s worship team, including the audio/visual team, and prepare your own 5-6 Service Elements, such as the Welcome/Chalice Lighting. You may also opt to prepare 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 your Sunday. On Sunday mornings, your work includes a kind of stage-manager/M.C. role, where you help to prepare the Chancel and Sanctuary for hybrid worship, coordinate and support the various participants, and present your prepared Service Elements.

Worship Associates are also encouraged to contribute to the A/V process by volunteering on off-Sundays as a projector, monitor or slide creator, when and if we can.

In addition to our “Worship Sunday” duties, Worship Associates help to hold space for reflection about worship at UUCB. In collaboration 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 include voices that currently are not often 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 also 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.)

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 wonderful and dedicated 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, 301-675-5314.

Thanks very much for considering this, and warm regards from the Worship Associate team – (Please contact any one of us via this email address: worshipassociates@uucb.org).


Andrea Brown July 2019 –
Bill Brown January 2021 –
Dayana Claghorn June 2021 –
Karen Elliott (Lead Worship Associate) August 2019 –
Don Klose June 2021 –
Sandy Portillo-Robins April 2022 –
Jason Russell October 2021 –
Deborah Schmidt July 2019 –



Current Worship Associates (to be updated)

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.

Essays by Karen Elliott:

Awokening: Voting Rights

Deep Navigation: The Gifts We Carry

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.


Poems by Deborah Schmidt:


And the Bright Air Shone

I Know This Rose Will Open

Sky Lanterns

The Goldfish