Meet Our Minister
We have not come into this exquisite world
To hold ourselves hostage from love...
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
Our divine courage, freedom, and Light!
-- Hafiz, 14th century Persian poet
Our settled minister is Rev. Shari L. Woodbury. She accepted the call to Westside in May 2016 and assumed her role in August 2016. She previously served on the staff of the UU Church of Bloomington, in Indiana. Here are 10 things current and prospective members should know about Shari:
1. She grew up in a small town in Iowa, was raised a Methodist and remains close to her parents.
2. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology and has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, having worked as a consultant, fundraiser and as chief executive of two community foundations.
3. In 2015, she earned her divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School, where she received awards for scholarship and leadership. Shari was ordained in April 2016, while in Bloomington.
4. Shari has served as a UU chaplain, campus minister and membership director, and has attended General Assembly, the UUA’s Large Church Conference and the UU Midwest Leadership School. She enjoys inter-generational gatherings, adult religious education and social justice work; of course, she also has a passion for creating vibrant Sunday services.
5. She has described her theology this way: “I accept the labels eclectic, mystic, poet, religious naturalist and lover of life. In worship, I tend to use poetic imagery and shy away from God-language, which opens up some people and closes off others.” Shari delights in the diversity of our tradition and fully embraces the UU emphasis on “deeds, not creeds.”
6. Her personal interests include reading, singing, meditation and writing poetry. She also dabbles in songwriting and has traveled widely, having visited more than 40 states, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and India. Shari’s travels give her the opportunity to pursue another of her passions, learning about other cultures.
7. Her Myers-Briggs inventory classifies her an INFJ – Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. This is the same classification that probably would have been given to Gandhi, Carl Jung, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela – all in all, pretty good company.
8 She is married to William, a visual effects artist who enjoys spirited discussions. With their daughter, born in 2010, they enjoy hiking, camping, biking and the arts; they also are avid Star Trek fans.
9. When Shari was one of the candidates we were considering, here is what one of her references said about her: “Shari is truly dedicated to this call and brings the best of the scholarly, the compassionate, and the deeply spiritual self to the role and duties of ministry. She also has uncommon complexity and depth, and is wickedly funny. I am proud to have been her professor and I heartily recommend her.”
10. Finally: here is Shari in her own words: “I recognize that people come to our church from many heritages – not only Christian, but also Jewish, pagan, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon and unchurched, as well as born-and-raised UU -- and I am committed to creating pathways to spiritual deepening for all. I also know that we must serve both the members of our congregation and the many more people who might be UUs 'but don't yet know it.' I believe our diversity is a catalyst for our collective growth, and I invite people into a spirit of curiosity, respect and mutual enrichment as we engage in meaning-making with a variety of viewpoints."
Read more about Rev. Shari Woodbury on her webpage www.shariwoodbury.com