Meet our Candidate for Senior Minister

Jennifer.Preaching.HeadshotRev. Jennifer Nordstrom is elated to be the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s candidate for Senior Minister. Her ministry is based in relationship, depth of meaning, purpose, and interconnection. She is a native Wisconsinite who has been away for almost 20 years, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to come home to serve the Midwest that shaped her life. She knows the land and the lake in her bones.  She is delighted to return to the local music scene and the fried cheese, but most importantly, to be reconnected with the warm and genuine people of Milwaukee. Rev. Jennifer is currently serving Third Unitarian Church in Chicago, Illinois, where she lives with her charming and mischievous little dog, Charlie.

Rev. Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from Hunter College of the City College of New York, and her Masters of Divinity degree from the Starr-King School of Ministry in Berkeley, California. Rev. Jennifer’s ministry prioritizes excellence in worship by creating beauty, a sense of awe, an opportunity to engage mystery, and a Sunday morning call to reflect on what matters most in our lives. She strives to balance the contemplative with the ecstatic, and internal reflection with external movement. She understands ministry as the work of weaving individual parts into interconnected harmony with the whole. In congregational life, she welcomes a community of multiple generations, beliefs, and backgrounds who move together around shared values, learning from and teaching one another. Shared ministry creates a caring community that witnesses each other through many life changes, through births and deaths, marriages and divorces, leavings and comings home. In these various unfoldings, we witness the full fabric of life and humanity.

In her ministry at Third Unitarian, Rev. Jennifer has worked with lay leaders to deepen a sense of congregational mission and vision for the future. She has led the congregation into a deeper understanding of lay ministry and transformational relationships within the community and across cultures and differences. She created a Worship Associates program, led the Board through a process of clarifying and refining its Policy Governance, and presided over a stewardship campaign that saw the majority of the pledging units increase their pledges.

Rev. Jennifer is a national leader in Unitarian Universalism and beyond on issues of peace, climate justice, and racial justice. She cares deeply about the world and the people in it and sees Unitarian Universalism as a tool to build the Beloved Community. She is currently co-editing a book on environmental justice and Unitarian Universalism, due to be published in 2017. She founded the group Unitarian Universalist Young Adults for Climate Justice in 2013, serves on the Steering Committee of the UU Environmental Justice Collaboratory, and helped organize the UU effort Commit2Respond to climate change. Rev. Jennifer also spent many years working on peace and nuclear disarmament issues, and is currently serving on the national Board of the Peace Action Education Fund. She was a contributing author to the book Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security.

Serving as the Hallman Ministerial Intern in Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul from 2013-14, Rev. Jennifer successfully adapted and co-led the UUA Beloved Conversations curriculum to bring together three diverse congregations in a meaningful multi-racial, multi-faith experience.

The Senior Minister Search Committee is enthusiastic about Rev. Jennifer for many reasons. She is an articulate communicator and experienced speaker who crafts thoughtful sermons. She brings important management, organizational development, and fundraising skills from her years working for social justice. But first and foremost we believe she embodies the essential personal qualities this congregation requires and deserves.

“She is warm, caring, calm, graceful, and grounded. She is intelligent, subtle in her thinking, and wise in her actions. She brings energy, passion, openness, adaptability, and the potential for a long and meaningful tenure at FUSM. Most importantly, she manifests the integrity and character essential to serving as our Senior Minister, and carries herself like the leader she is.”
-First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee Senior Minister Search Committee
Mark Bender, Lianna Bishop, Michelle Boehm, Elizabeth Lentini, Jessie Moffat, Nancy Pajewski & Charlie Persch

“Jennifer Nordstrom has a tender heart, a critical mind, and a prophetic voice. Her ministry gives me hope for the future of progressive religion. She is among those I am grateful to call my ministers.”
-Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs, Co-Minister, Unity Church-Unitarian, Trustee, UUA Board

“Jennifer has the essential and necessary ability to hold and show, at once, two realities: that the world is in dire straits, so we must act and speak, and that the world and its people are beautiful, hilarious, and sacred. She is a joyful prophetic voice, urging us to rise to the challenge and loving us as we all try, fail, and try again. She can laugh and sing just as well as she can call forth justice and transformation.”
-The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL

“Although pre-candidating weekend covers only Friday evening through Sunday lunch, I felt mentally nourished and I can see great potential for my own spiritual growth within Rev. Jennifer’s ministry.”
-Nancy Pajewski, co-chair of FUSM Senior Minister Search Committee

“Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom has relevant real world experience in social justice ministries. Her organizational work for nuclear disarmament, climate justice, and anti-racism, anti-oppression issues and their associated fundraising positions her well to lead FUSM toward the future. These activities have helped her form an understanding that Stewardship of our resources is critical to our place in the community. She also brings a warmth and sincerity that welcomes your friendship and will help her work with staff, committee and church members. I look forward to a long settled ministry with Rev. Nordstrom.”
-Charlie Persch, member of FUSM Senior Minister Search Committee