Rev. Shari Woodbury began serving as Westside’s settled minister in August 2016. Previously, she served in Indiana on the staff of the UU Church of Bloomington, and as Intern Minister and Summer Minister at the UU Congregation of Columbus. A native of Iowa, Shari 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, as well as on the staff of a California meditation center.
In 2015, Shari earned her divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School, where she received awards for scholarship and leadership. Shari has served as a UU chaplain, campus minister and membership director, as well as in lay leadership in the areas of racial justice, peace and nonviolence, and governance. She is passionate about social justice, spiritual development for all ages, and creating vibrant Sunday services. Shari has described her own theology this way: “I accept the labels eclectic, mystic, poet, panentheist, religious naturalist and lover of life.” She delights in the diversity of our tradition and embraces the UU emphasis on “deeds, not creeds.”
With her husband William and their elementary-age daughter, she enjoys biking, camping and ping-pong. Shari also dabbles in music and poetry. You can find out more about Rev. Woodbury at her web site: www.shariwoodbury.com
Rev. Shari Woodbury
Gene McKeon is Westside's Sexton. He is in charge of building operations, which includes building maintenance, supervising repair projects, maintaining the grounds, and setup and teardown for services and other church events.
Gene has been a UU and member of Westside for 20 years. He has served on Westside's Board, as chair of the Canvassing Committee, and has been the Building Committee Chair for 10 years.
Gene has been married to Brenda McKeon for 38 years; they have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Director of Lifespan Religious Education
Dr. Russell K. Elleven served as Westside’s minister from 2005 to 2013. He began as a contract minister and was then called, first to part-time, and then to full-time service. Previously, Russell had worked for 17 years in higher education as an administrator and professor, having earned degrees from TCU, Vanderbilt, the University of North Texas, and Meadville Lombard Theological School. After two years in Puerto Rico, Russell currently serves as the Executive Director of The Genesis 1:29 Project in Chicago. He and his spouse, Gayle, enjoy traveling, sharing new experiences and learning about other cultures.