Meet the Candidate

The WBUUC Ministerial Search Committee is thrilled to introduce you to Rev. Jessica Clay, our final candidate for lead minister!

About Rev. Jessica

Rev-Jessica-Clay-WBUUCRev. Jessica Clay, WBUUC’s final candidate for lead minister, has served as senior minister at First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist in Cape Cod since 2017. Prior to that, she was the ministerial intern at Unity Church-Unitarian here in the Twin Cities. Rev. Jessica’s first career was in occupational therapy.

Rev. Jessica comes to us via Massachusetts, but is originally from California. We’ll get to welcome her family to Minnesota as well: her new baby Elanor and her dog Rufus. She is a single, queer, cisgender female who uses she/her pronouns. While on Cape Cod she enjoyed volunteering at a bird rescue feeding baby birds each summer. She loves Broadway musicals, the opera, theater, hiking, camping, baking desserts, gardening, birdwatching, snowshoeing, watching documentaries, occasionally watching very cheesy reality shows, and doing things she’s not good at as a spiritual practice.

Learn more about Rev. Jessica’s spiritual background, passions, ministry, and personal life at her website. Watch her video introduction and read her letter to our congregation below.

You can also meet Rev. Jessica in person during Candidating Week, April 29 through May 7. You’ll have a chance to hear her preach both Sundays. See the full Candidating Week schedule and sign up forms!

On Sunday May 7, we’ll have just a single service (10am) followed by a special congregational meeting (in-person and on Zoom) at 11:30am. During this meeting, WBUUC members can vote to call Rev. Jessica to enter into ministry with us. Please RSVP for this meeting today as it will help us determine if we will reach the quorum required for the meeting.

RSVP here:

(Learn more about the full search process and the process to call a minister.)


From our current ministers

From Rev. Jack Gaede
I have known Rev. Jessica since our paths overlapped here in the Twin Cities while I was finishing up my own seminary education and she was serving as intern at Unity Church-Unitarian. We bonded over a shared love of theater and a passion for storytelling and ministry. We also gained a mutual respect for each other that was deep and personal. I am so pleased at the possibility of working with and for her, and I am especially surprised by this news since I had no involvement at all in the choosing of the pre-candidates nor the candidate herself.

Like all of you, this time has been a time of waiting and unknowing, and there have been times where that waiting has felt exhausting, stressful, and nerve-wracking. There have also been times where my better angels have won the day, and I have felt confident, cool, calm, and collected, trusting the process and knowing that there are many good ministers out there looking to fall in love with a congregation like ours.

I am just so glad that this process has gone as smoothly as it has, and the search committee has found an incredibly kind and passionate, interesting and funny minister, who is hard-working and who has healthy boundaries. She is a minister who wants to support the thriving of our congregation, and she will also advocate for its staff. I couldn’t be more pleased with the candidate we have found, and I am looking forward to working with her and with you all to ensure a bright future at WBUUC.

Below, you will find a photo of the two of us at the 2018 General Assembly in Kansas City. On this particular day, we bumped into each other getting our morning coffee, and we were #TeamGoldenrod with matching colors. In the photo, we are both five years younger and full of hope for the future, and we had no idea that one day our ministries might coincide with each other’s in such powerful ways. I imagine that I’ll look back on this photo often as our relationship and our ministries deepen.

From Rev. Roger Bertschausen

First some necessary preliminaries: 1) I’m not a WBUUC member and don’t get to vote on Rev. Jessica’s candidacy. I also have no authority to tell WBUUC members how they should vote. 2) While I worked closely with the Search Committee on many aspects of the process, they and I remained steadfastly mindful that I was never, ever to express opinions about any potential applicant/candidate. I only knew whom the Search Committee was considering if the minister contacted me. The committee never asked, and I never shared any opinions.

All this acknowledged, I’d also like to say that I am absolutely thrilled with their selection. I first got to know Rev. Jessica Clay when she and my son-in-law, Rev. Nic Cable, were ministerial interns together at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul. Nic LOVED working with Jessica and has immense respect for her. This photo of them in spite of its being a bit blurry captures all this:


As I’ve gotten to know Jessica, I have also developed immense respect for her.

My experience of the UU ministerial search process is that when congregations follow the process with intention and widespread involvement, the resulting match almost always works well. I feel like you—the Search Committee, the Board, and the congregation—have done a wonderful job. Knowing you and knowing Rev. Jessica, I think you’re going to have a beautiful shared ministry!

One last thing: It’s a best practice for interim ministers not to be around during candidating week. It’s important for interim ministers to vacate the space they have occupied so the candidate can be in that space. I will observe this best practice and not be around during candidating week. This is NOT a reflection on my feelings about Rev. Jessica. I will reoccupy the lead minister space after Jessica leaves and then vacate it for good in mid-summer.


From the search team

Our search team unanimously chose Rev. Jessica as our top candidate. Here are just a few reasons why.

Rev. Jessica will continue our legacy of powerful, moving worship services.

Rev. Jessica loves Sunday mornings. She weaves together music, stories, and readings in collaboration with congregants and staff to create a holistic experience for the head, heart, and spirit. The foundation of her sermons is the transformative power of love and belonging, calling us to work for justice while extending deep care to those in need. Her presence in the pulpit is authentic, engaging, and wise, offering humor and depth, holding joy and grief together. The worship service Rev. Jessica prepared for our search team moved each of us to tears. We can expect each service to help us grow our souls and inspire us to serve the world.

Rev. Jessica embodies radical hospitality.
One of Rev. Jessica’s greatest strengths is her pastoral presence and ability to connect with anyone. She values community and relationship as much as we do, and we imagine her warm and engaging style will widen our circle and deepen our culture of compassion. We see so many possibilities for growing our congregational life with her energy and ideas meeting ours.

Her radical hospitality is part of her passion for social justice. Anti-oppression work is central to her call to ministry, and she was drawn to our church’s history of social action. She is eager to continue this work with us.

As we spent time with Rev. Jessica, she made each of us feel the way our call to worship makes us feel: like we were seen and loved, like we could be who we are and who we are called to be.

Rev. Jessica is a collaborative, experienced leader and a lifelong learner.
Skillful and experienced, Rev. Jessica leads with integrity and centers relationships. She comes to us with vision and excitement, and also a spirit of listening and curiosity. She knows a community can only move at the speed of trust and shares our value of honoring covenants. Rev. Jessica trusts her staff and lay leaders, tends to their spirits, and upholds work/life balance for all.

We were impressed by Rev. Jessica’s extensive professional circles of support—including strong connections to ministers throughout the UUA and several in the Twin Cities—and her commitment to constant learning and growth. She graduated from Starr King School for Ministry with 99 credits, the maximum amount possible, and continues her studies and education through classes and retreats. Rev. Jessica’s ministry is also informed by her dedication to deepening her own spiritual life through experiences like walking the Camino, attending silent meditation retreats, and her daily practices. In our conversations with her, we were amazed by the clarity, wisdom, and spiritual depth of her words.


From Rev. Jessica


Dear Members and Friends of White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church,

I am so excited and honored to be your candidate for senior minister. When I read the record that the search committee wrote, I appreciated the honest account of your history and clarity about what you all are looking for in a minister. I continue to be impressed with your search committee’s caring, spiritual depth, and candor. They wrote in the search record “We turn toward this new chapter with curiosity, hope, and resilience.” This calls to my heart.

I bring a mind full of curiosity and an open heart to candidating week with you all. I look forward to meeting you and hearing your hopes and dreams for WBUUC. I want to know what brought you into Unitarian Universalism, what keeps you in this faith, what keeps you up at night, and what brings you joy. My first Sunday service with you will be exploring the topic from Zen Buddhism of “beginner’s mind,” which is approaching the world with unlimited possibilities.

I am hopeful about our future together, that my gifts and skills will match what you are looking for, and together our shared ministry will grow our souls and serve the world. This hope is what keeps me moving forward when injustice occurs, knowing that together we are bending the arc of the universe towards justice, as the Rev. Theodore Parker wrote.

In reading your history, you have been through many changes that brought you together, illustrating remarkable resilience. Your community building in this post-Covid world also demonstrates your commitment to one another and this faith.

Unitarian Universalism changed my life. I bring a resilient heart to my ministry, I too have experienced change and loss, and bring that deep knowing with me. My ministry is about naming the realities of what it means to be human, whole and broken at the same time. It is about naming the ways that the world breaks our hearts and reminds us of what is good. It is about answering the cries of the world. It is about finding joy and humor in the everyday of life. It shows me the curiosity, hope, and resilience present in humanity and in the sacred.

My daughter Elanor (Nori) will join me for candidating week. She is six weeks old and 10/10 on cuteness. My 16-year-old dog Rufus, who will remain in Boston with my dog sitter for the week, loves the Twin Cities and remembers fondly our many hikes on the shores of the many lakes. While the Hallman Ministerial Intern at Unity Church-Unitarian in 2016, I was in awe of the arts, culture, and beauty of the area, as well as the welcoming nature of Minnesotans and the much beloved State Fair. I have a strong network of close friends in and around the Twin Cities, some of whom have ministered at WBUUC and sing your praises.

WBUUC is vibrant, healthy, and thriving. This is a strong foundation on which to build a shared ministry together. Unitarian Universalism has a life-changing message that many people are hungry for. May we dream big about our future together.

I look forward to meeting you all soon.

Rev. Jessica

If you have any questions about the search process, please reach out to our team at or to Rev. Roger at