Ministers & Staff

roger-bertschausen-bio-photoRev. Roger Bertschausen, Interim Lead Minister
revroger@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8243
Pronouns: he/him

Roger is our Interim Lead Minister. He had a twenty-five year settled ministry at the Fox Valley UU Fellowship in Appleton, WI, and then served as Executive Director of the UU Partner Church Council for four years and as Interim Minister at First Unitarian Society in Madison, WI. Roger is thrilled to be here with the congregation during this tender and challenging interim period that is also rich with opportunities. He is also delighted to be living as well as working in Mahtomedi.

Roger says,

It is good to be with White Bear UU Church for a couple years. I hope that I can connect with everyone at WBUUC. Please feel welcome to contact me for a conversation!”

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sara-goodman-bio-photoRev. Sara Goodman, Assistant Minister
revsara@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8252
Pronouns: she/her

Sara loves working as a collaborative team with the outstanding staff at WBUUC! Working here allows her to express her creativity, love of humans, and dedication to spiritual development for people of all ages. Having grown up UU in San Diego with her husband Shawn, Sara finds living in the midwest is a magical and challenging experience of learning to love the seasons, and learning new lingo; for example “Grey Duck” and “Hot Dish”. Now with two midwestern native children, Jamie and Emily, the Goodmans are here to stay.

Sara says,

We are dedicated to living our values, both in our actions as a church, and in our individual lives. It is a pleasure to serve people who are so deeply determined to grow their souls and serve the world in love.”

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jack-gaede-bio-photo-150x150Rev. Jack Gaede, Assistant Minister
jgaede@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8204
Pronouns: he/him

In his fourth year with us, Jack feels well-suited to his ministry portfolios: Welcome, Membership, Coming of Age, and Belonging & Community. 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,

As I embark on my fourth year at this church, 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-derrickAmy 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: Jess and Lennon. I love to make new discoveries, to grow, and serve alongside all of you at WBUUC.”

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nico-van-ostrand-bio-photoNico Van Ostrand, Assistant Director of Religious Education
reassistant@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8307
Pronouns: name only & they/them

Nico’s UUism and approach to Religious Education are deeply rooted in their Social Justice and Women’s Studies background. Nico learned what it means to be UU from this WBUUC community, and is grateful to help guide the next generation now. They are currently finding exciting ways to deepen their UUism as a seminarian at United Theological Seminary. Nico’s favorite spiritual practice is tai chi, particularly the Fan Form. They spend more time than is reasonable encouraging their two cats, Max and Louie, to stay off their computer keyboard.

Nico says,

I value belonging to a community where I can explore and fully live my deeply complex identities, and know that my journey will be supported and celebrated. I strive to do my part in making the Religious Education program a place where UU kids can feel that same sense of love.”

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olivia-diercksOlivia Diercks, Co-Director of Music
music@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8293
Pronouns: she/her

Olivia grew up in Iowa and began playing the cello at the age of 4. She attended Luther College, where she studied music performance and religion. It was at Luther that Olivia met Karla, and began The OK Factor in 2012.

Olivia currently enjoys several job titles; Cellist and co-founder of The OK Factor, SEO Specialist at ArcStone, Inc., and most recently, co-interim music director at WBUUC. She is thrilled to join the WBUUC community in this way.

Olivia lives in southeast Minneapolis near Lake Nokomis, with her husband, Jonny, and their son, Charlie.

Olivia says,

Within our 10 years of performing and writing together, Karla and I have not only remained best friends, but have learned to divide and conquer; sharing workloads, responsibilities, and learning each others’ strengths. It is this relationship, paired with our musical passion, upbringing in the church/sacred music, and infinite wisdom from Carol, that we hope equips us to learn and grow alongside the WBUUC congregation in this time of transition and change.”

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karla-colahanKarla Colahan, Co-Director of Music
music@wbuuc.org / (651) 204-8293
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, working as the Brand Manager for hope*writers, and most recently co-crafting the musical life of WBUUC alongside co-interim music director and duo partner, Olivia.

Karla lives in Hopkins with her husband, Gavin, and their golden retriever, Lucy.

Karla says,

It is a true honor to join the WBUUC team and share in the rich musical tradition that lives in the hearts and spaces of this community. I am so excited to work with my dear friend and partner in musical crime, Olivia, as we do our best to fill the big shoes left by Carol and ride the wave of change alongside this beautiful congregation.”

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michael-buerke-bio-photoMichael Buerke, Operations Manager
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. His household family consists of a spouse, 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.

He says,

I’m looking forward to 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, several months ago. As I recently 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-bio-photoErin 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.

She 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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john-sistermanJohn Sisterman, Custodian
Pronouns: he/him
John has served as Custodian since 2000.

He says,

 

 

 

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

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connie-ruiz-bio-photoConnie 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.

She says,

I am really happy to be here.”