Parish Minister – Rev. Theresa Soto
Rev. Soto (who uses the personal pronouns they/them/theirs) brings a remarkably loving presence and a depth of spiritual leadership. They are invested in working collaboratively with the congregation to live more deeply into our mission and vision. They have said, “While I am prepared to lead a congregation, I want to do it in partnership with them, their dreams, their ideas, and their dearest values.” Rev. Soto comes to us most recently from Ashland, Oregon, where they served as an affiliated Community Minister at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. They also serve as co-chair of the Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and co-vice president of Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUMM). DRUUMM is a Unitarian Universalist People of Color Ministry and anti-racist collective bringing lay and religious professionals together to overcome racism through resistance and transform Unitarian Universalism.
They are a graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law and Meadville Lombard Theological School. Their partner is the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison.
Rev. Soto comes to ministry after careers in education and law. Sometimes people ask what the connection is between those fields: simply that all three are different paths to making the world a better place.
If you are curious about Rev. Soto, please visit their website: revtheresalovesyou.com, or search their sermons on YouTube.
Interim Religious Education Director – Alex Haider-Winnett
Alex Haider-Winnett is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist originally from Orange County, California. He holds a BA in Peace Studies from Earlham College and a MDiv from Pacific School of Religion. Alex has served as a Sunday School teacher and has led Our Whole Lives curricula at several UU Churches around the country (including here at Oakland). He has a passion for integrating popular culture and spirituality. He lives in Davis, CA, with his wife Rev. Christine Haider-Winnett–a palliative care chaplain and spiritual director in Sacramento–and their preschool-aged child Elliott. Alex loves watching movies, playing with legos, cooking; and his pickles have won awards at the California State Fair. We expect Alex to start in mid-August, and he can be reached at email@example.com.
Affiliated Community Minister – Reverend Mary Foran
The Reverend Mary Foran was ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland in 2011. She received her Master of Divinity from the Starr King School for the Ministry in 2010. She is delighted to be an Affiliated Community Minister with the church she joined in 1988. As a UU minister, she served the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Petaluma for five years, was sabbatical minister for the UU Legislative Ministry of California and helped lead the Pacific Central District’s Racial and Cultural Diversity Network. She completed a certificate in Spiritual Direction with the Chaplaincy Institute in 2017.
Before entering the ministry, Reverend Foran worked in Public Health and served this community as a worship associate, a covenant group facilitator, a singer, and a fundraiser for the early phases of the reconstruction and renovation of the building. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees and of an early version of the Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Team. Today she focuses her time on fostering spiritually-grounded social justice, embracing the life-long quest to build multi-cultural, multi-everything Beloved Community and encouraging the individual and collective search for truth and meaning. She is a member of the congregation’s Justice Council Coordinating Team and the Adult Faith Development Team.
Reverend Foran is happily building a private spiritual direction practice that helps people find wisdom for their lives. Spiritual Direction is an invitation to cultivate personal spiritual strength and resilience for participating fully in the joys, sorrows, mysteries, questions, and struggles of human life. Reverend Mary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.