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Updates from First Church-Sponsored Ministers

We had a flurry of First Church members who went to seminary, were ordained, and entered active ministry in recent years. Here are some exciting updates!

Rev. Denise Cawley: Easter Sunday I was preaching about Bad Girls of the Bible and painting Mary Magdalene as one of the first women ministers, when to my delight, I looked up and saw First Church members in the sanctuary. I was so touched they came to service when they were visiting Palatine, IL where I serve as the Interim Minister at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist. I love Interim Ministry, and I am in the process of becoming a certified Interim. I continue to live in Milwaukee, and commute to Palatine. My son and I live with our fluffy dogs and my partner Rev. Matt Aspin. I am forever grateful to my grounding in UUism from you, my home church. I am cheering you on and excited by all the work you are doing.

Rev. Monica Kling-Garcia: My journey to ministry took me to Madison, WI as a hospital chaplain. After I was ordained in June 2021, I started my chaplain residency program at UnityPoint-Meriter Hospital, which turned into a permanent job as the Lead Staff Chaplain! The patients I serve are in Palliative Care or have a life limiting diagnosis. As a chaplain, I provide a comforting presence and help patients identify sources of hope, strength, and connection. I meet patients where they are spiritually, and as a UU my lens for that is expansive! Sometimes support is hanging up a picture of Elvis, praying the rosary, reading Mary Oliver poetry, being a listening ear, or simply being present. Sometimes I have the privilege of journeying with people as they transition through death. No two days are ever the same – but always meaningful.

Rev. Omega Burckhardt: On April 30, the Neighborhood UU Church in Pasadena, CA called Rev. Dr. Omega Burckhardt as their settled Senior Minister. Omega previously served as Assistant Minister at The First UU Church of San Diego. Prior to that, she was the ministerial intern at The First Unitarian Church of Rockford, Illinois and at Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, Wisconsin. Rev. Omega earned their Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School where they received the Faculty Award for Religious Leadership. They have been a Trustee of the UUA MidAmerica Region, Trustee of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, and Chair of the MidWest Leadership School of the UUA.

Rev. Beth Monhollen: On April 30, the UU Church of Urbana Champaign, IL called Beth Monhollen to be their settled minister. Beth will join them in August, after a busy summer when she’ll be ordained by the Wellsprings UU congregation in eastern Pennsylvania where she served her internship, and the big move with her husband and their pets from Milwaukee to Urbana-Champaign. In May 2023, Beth received her Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Congratulations to all!
Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister

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