Ministers & Staff

Rev-Jessica-Clay-WBUUC

Rev. Jessica Clay, Lead Minister

revjessica@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8243
Pronouns: she/her
Rev. Jessica Clay (she/her) is our newly settled minister since August of 2023. Prior to coming to WBUUC she served a congregation on Cape Cod, MA. She received her Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2016. Her ministry focuses on widening the circle of welcome, nurturing spiritual practices, and countering oppressions. She was the Hallman Ministerial Intern at Unity Church Unitarian in 2016 and fell in love with the Twin Cities during that time. Prior to seminary she was an occupational therapist, she brings this lens of accessibility to her ministry with WBUUC. In her free time she has many adventures with her daughter and her 17-year-old dog.

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Rev. Jack Gaede bio photo

Rev. Jack Gaede, Associate Minister

revjack@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8204
Pronouns: he/him

Born and raised in northern Minnesota, Jack has spent his entire adult life in the Twin Cities. He lives in north Minneapolis and keeps busy with his friends and chosen family. Pastimes include puzzles, pickleball, reading, and seasonal exercise. Don’t get him started about all the winter activities he enjoys!

Jack says,

I am excited to help support the church community through the multiple transitions they are in. It’s kind of like a portage between two lakes, and fortunately, I love portaging.”

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Amy Peterson, Director of Religious Education

dre@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8257
Pronouns: she/her

Amy Peterson comes to us from serving as Professional Lifespan Religious Educator for 10 years at the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Flint, Michigan.

Amy says,

I find our UU faith when engaged in advocacy work, walking (or running!) in nature, gardening and in spending time with my two amazing kids. I love to make new discoveries, to grow, and serve alongside all of you at WBUUC.”

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Matt Thielen Bio Photo Matt Thielen, Religious Education Assistant

mthielen@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8307
Pronouns: he/him

Matt tries to connect to nature as often as possible on the land he lives on in Taylors Falls, however it usually turns into playing with his two kids by climbing up a ninja course to zip down a zip line, or in the winter having epic sled runs (when there’s snow) one might call a candlelit New Year’s Eve run (2 years ago) legendary.

Matt works with kids daily finding solutions to learning challenges and guiding them to grow in their individuality as their strength. He does this as a paraprofessional and soccer coach in Chisago Lakes School District.

Matt and his family have been members for over a year and he is excited to take a new role in this community!

Matt says,

I have never experienced a welcome or acceptance like I have here at WBUUC. I am excited to help this church and myself experience continued growth while guided by our principles!”

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Olivia Diercks Headshot

Olivia Diercks, Acting Music Director

music@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8293
Pronouns: she/her

Olivia serves as our Acting Music Director after serving as Co-Interim Music Director alongside Karla Colahan (fellow member of The OK Factor), from 2021-2023. Olivia enjoys the vastness of the UU musical influence, collaborating with the congregation and worship staff to make the music in worship meaningful and cohesive, and bringing in guest musicians from various genres.

In addition to music director, Olivia is passionate about two other main titles: Cellist in her duo The OK Factor, and Mom to two children, whom she raises in Minneapolis with her husband.

Olivia says,

It has been an honor and joy to walk alongside the WBUUC congregation in a time of such transformation. What a group of heartfelt, dedicated, spiritual people who make an ever-expanding, beautiful collective whole! I look forward to continuing to listen and learn alongside you.”

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Jody McCormick Headshot

Jody McCormick, Co-Interim Choir Director

Pronouns: she/her

Jody holds a Masters degree in Music Education and worked as a choral director and music teacher in the public school system for 37 years. She was a part of the Gene White Band, sang with USO shows, directed and performed with the show group A Touch of Class, sang on the Minnesota Zephyr, and was the alto with the Phil Mattson Singers. Currently Jody sings with the 17 piece Classic Big Band, a trio called Snap Crackle Pop and plays piano for a variety of events.  During the holidays, she sings with the Little Dickens Victorian Caroling Quartet.  When she’s not singing, Jody loves to sew, sail and socialize!

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Michael Bureke Headshot

Michael Buerke, Director of Operations

mbuerke@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8224
Pronouns: he/him

Michael is the Director of Operations for the church, overseeing the building and facilities, financial systems, and administrative staff. He was born and raised in the Duluth area with a brief stint in rural Illinois, but has lived in the Twin Cities since the late 90s. He works part-time for the Minnesota Twins and is a published crossword puzzle constructor for various publications including the New York Times. He has 2 kids, a crested gecko, 2 Russian tortoises and an obnoxiously lovable rescue dog named Bart. He’s an introvert, but has been known to get really chatty about baseball.

Michael says,

I love working on your behalf and for the benefit of your community and mission! In my professional background, I have been among other things a middle school science teacher, a financial advisor and insurance agent and a financial counselor in the nonprofit world. And while my most recent work experience was directing the financial and staff operations for a Vineyard (Christian) Church, my personal conviction of full inclusion without caveat on my own life journey was a deciding factor in fully resigning from that long-time job, along with resigning my church membership. As I once saw quoted from a friend, ‘At the end of the day, I would rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude!’”

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Erin Scott, Graphics and Content Specialist

web@wbuuc.org / (651) 390-0848
Pronouns: she/her

Erin found WBUUC via a Google search in 2010 and like many, had a transformative experience sitting in the sanctuary on that first Sunday she attended. Quickly, she became a member and went “all-in”. In addition, Erin contracted with WBUUC for many years to maintain the church’s website and other projects. Bringing a diverse design background in print, web, video and multimedia, she’s pleased to now be part of the staff – and continues to manage the website, assist with church communications and technically support the multi-platform worship services. Erin moves through this world graphically, loves to find the sacred in the simple and feels very much at home.

Erin says,

I’m continually inspired by this space, the congregation and the collective spirit among us. So grateful to have the opportunity to serve you all in this capacity.”

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Karla Colahan Headshot

Karla Colahan, Tech Assistant

kcolahan@wbuuc.org
Pronouns: she/her

Karla Colahan is a musician, entrepreneur, and brand designer focused on collaboration and creativity in every aspect of her work. Though born in Wisconsin and raised in Georgia, Karla claims the Midwest as her home after attending Luther College (2013) and residing in the Minneapolis area for six years. Her formal training is in violin performance from Luther where she met cellist Olivia Diercks and began their crossover duo The OK Factor in 2012. The two have enjoyed nearly a decade of shared performing and deep friendship, alongside witnessing the growth of each other’s families, careers, and personal lives.

You can find Karla close to her computer designing brands for creative entrepreneurs and behind the tech desk on occasional Sunday mornings at WBUUC!

Karla says,

I’m so glad I can join the Tech Team at WBUUC! It’s a joy to use the side of my brain that loves a production, pushing buttons and pulling levers, and hanging out behind the scenes”

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John Sisterman, Custodian

Pronouns: he/him
John has served as Custodian since 2000.

John says,

 

 

 

The church has always been very welcoming. They are just like family.”

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Connie Ruiz, Facilities Associate

Pronouns: she/her

Connie started at WBUUC in 2017 and says she really enjoys working at WBUUC. In her spare time, she likes to cook and spend time with her nieces and nephews.

Connie says,

I am really happy to be here.”