Introducing Our Interim Senior Minister

Elaine 1We are very pleased to announce that the Reverend Elaine Beth Peresluha has accepted an offer to join our congregation as Interim Senior Minister and will serve the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee in that capacity for two years commencing August 1, 2014.

Elaine is an Accredited Interim Minister (AIM). In August of 2013 she completed a successful two-year interim at First Parish in Concord, MA, a congregation of approximately our size. She has been on sabbatical since then, spending some of her time filling in for ministers on sabbatical from UU churches in West Hartford, CT and North Andover, MA. She looks forward to beginning a new interim ministry with us in August.

Prior to her ministry at First Parish, Elaine served interim ministries in Portsmouth, NH and Wilmington, NC. Before that she had settled ministries in Bangor, ME and Woodstock, VT. She’s a 1995 graduate of Harvard Divinity School and was ordained at the UU Church of Weymouth, MA in June of 1995. Elaine received a PhD in Social Science in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1980.

Elaine has had a life long interest in right relationship, collaborative leadership styles and social change. In describing the ministry she hopes for she wrote, in part: “I thrive on empowering people, individually and communally, to discover their assets, appreciate what is, and… be [their] very best…I enjoy the challenge of balancing CEO responsibilities, developing and supervising effective staff teams, overseeing operations and assuring good governance while maintaining a nurturing, spiritually mature and empowering ministerial presence. I am a transition specialist, skilled at navigating change, managing the anxiety of uncertainty and minimizing its effects on a congregation’s ability to function.”

Elaine describes herself as very much a Humanist who draws upon Eastern religions, especially Buddhism, and practices meditation and yoga.  She describes her sermons as “relational experiences.”  She always prepares a manuscript, but occasionally preaches without it and has been known to employ “props” when she deems it appropriate. It seems certain that her presence in the pulpit will be different from Drew’s. However, she is dedicated to excellent Sunday services as an integral part of the transitional process and when asked to reflect on our music program as described in our packet, she said that to do worship with such rich music would be like “dying and going to heaven.”

In each of our encounters with her, Elaine was highly energetic, curious, reassuring, warm, personable and engaging. She states clearly that she does not enter an interim position with her own agenda, but rather works “appreciatively and relationally”with lay leaders and staff to determine priorities, develop attainable goals, foster enthusiasm and encourage teamwork.

We believe that Elaine is extremely well suited to assist us to make a healthy transition, renew our vision, strengthen community, nurture lay leaders and staff and work toward financial sustainability.

We are about to enter an exciting new era with Elaine as our Interim Senior Minister! Let’s all embark on this leg of our journey with love for each other and this exceptional spiritual community we call First Church. Let’s go forward in a spirit of adventure, as we are surely to encounter change. And let’s proceed with patience when things don’t go as expected, and with trust in each other and our ministers, the process of transition, and our ability to continue to grow and evolve into the very best Unitarian Universalist congregation we can be.

For more information about Elaine, visit her website.