MINISTER SEARCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Congratulations! The church now has an excellent search committee of 7 members who will lead us through the next phase of finding a new called and settled minister. The search committee members are:

– Beth Hammer
– Bill Hammons
– Ken McLeod
– Kris Taylor
– Zena Taylor
– Judy Williams
– Deborah Wotring

We are filled with gratitude that we had such an amazing slate of 14 candidates willing to be on the ballot – thank you to all who were willing to serve the church in this critical way. Thanks also to Ian Sachs, Greg Hunt and Cynthia Miller for preparing us all for this important vote and for Reverend Michelle’s guidance in the process. As was pointed out during the meeting, we followed our new governance documents which in turn follow the UUA process – so our thanks extend to the great work done by the Governance Task Force over the past two years.

We are truly blessed in so many ways.

In peace,

Dori Wolfe
President (now duly elected)
Board of Trustees

BETH HAMMER
BETH HAMMER
Beth Hammer moved to Houston with her family in 2004 and has been a member of Emerson since 2011. Beth’s educational background is in History and Geology, and she had the privilege of working in a variety of fields including powder metallurgy and materials. After spending several years raising her kiddos, she started teaching at a private school in the area. During her time at Emerson, Beth has been a teacher for the Pre-K class, and has helped with some special topics for Adult RE. Beth has served on the Board of Trustees (2015-2017), the Outreach committee (2018-2020), served on the Transition Assistant Minister search committee (2017), and served on the Interim Minister search committee (2020).

Beth is honored to be asked to help with Emerson’s search for a new settled minister. Emerson continues to be a place for spiritual growth for Beth and her family. The Children’s Religious Education program at Emerson has had a wonderful positive influence on her children’s lives and has been a source of spiritual nourishment for her and her husband. Emerson has so much to offer its members, future members, and the wider community. It is a place people can grow, learn, and find support in living their beliefs in the world.

BILL HAMMONS
BILL HAMMONS
Laurie and I joined Emerson Church in 1983 and raised both our daughters in the Religious Education program. Over the years, I have served as an RE teacher and OWL facilitator, and have served on numerous committees, including Grounds, Auction, Performing Arts, Nominations, Stewardship, and Ministerial Intern Committees. President of the Board in 1994. I’m currently on the Investment Committee, Governance Committee, and Worship Team — and singing in the Choir.

I am retired after a career in environmental affairs and energy regulatory matters. If I am selected to serve on the Minister Search Committee, my primary objective will be to settle a minister who will help Emerson Church achieve its full potential.

KEN MCLEOD
KEN MCLEOD
Retired, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. For 15 years I had a private psychotherapy practice focused on trauma, adults molested as children, sex addiction, couples, grief and LGBTQ issues. Previously, Associate Professor of Theater and Comparative Literature

Active at local, district and national levels of Unitarian Universalism for >45years. Active member of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge (1977-1996) and Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church.

Active at Emerson UU Church for 18 years total; member 13 years.

• Elected to the Nomination Committee (January 2021) for a 2-year term
• Worship Team: Chair for 3 years. Currently serving as member of the Worship Team for a second year.
• Member, Staffing Analysis Task Force in recent Visioning Process.
• Member of Committee on Ministry for 2 years, plus chair for 3 years.
• Member of Personnel Committee for 2 years, plus chair for 2 years.
• Chair, Emerson’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
• Member, numerous search committees for Emerson staff.
• Director, LOVE LETTERS for the Emerson Players.
• Frequent speaker for Adult Religious Education and for Worship at Emerson.
• Occasional speaker at other UU churches.
•Co-chair, the LGBT film/discussion series at Emerson (Welcome MAT) for 3 years.

Active at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge from 1977-1996.

• Served on the Board as a Long Term Planning Member.
• Developed a visioning process for the board that was then replicated for all members in small cottage meetings. This led to building new worship and classroom spaces.
• Served as Director of Religious Education, 7 years.
• Served on the Southwest District RE committee, 5 years.
• Completed UU Renaissance certification in RE.
• Served one year on Religious Education Committee before becoming DRE.
• Served one year as Adult Education chair.
• Developed a program with the minister for talking across the sexual orientation boundaries. Designed for 6 weeks. Ran effectively for 2.5 years, meeting weekly.
• Chaired, Worship Committee (the year between called ministers), served on the committee 2 years more.
• Served on Ministerial Relations Committee, 2 years.
• Frequent speaker for Worship, both at the BR church as well as in New Orleans and Lafayette.

Denominational Activity

• Active in the early days (1985-1992) of UULGC (Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian and Gay Concerns) which became Interweave.
• Edited the UULGC Newsletter, 2 years.
• Spoke in Worship at the Arlington Street Church (Boston) on “The Call to Ministry in the Face of AIDS” (1989).
• One of a dozen UU national leaders invited to Boston by the UUA in 1989 to analyze data concerning congregational attitudes toward LGBTQ clergy, DREs and congregants. The outcome of that working group was The Welcoming Congregation program.

KRIS TAYLOR
KRIS TAYLOR
Kris Taylor and the Millennium came to Emerson at about the same time. During that time, she’s been on on the Board of Trustees, which she served as Board president in 2014, and the Nominating Committee, which she chaired in 2017. She’s also been a greeter, managed the bookstore and served on the auction, stewardship, district conference planning committees and the Committee on Ministry, which she co-chaired in 2012. Away from Bering Drive, she is a freelance writer, editor and public relations counselor (no alarm clock, no commute, no dry cleaning bills!). She also is the volunteer coordinator for the Houston Grand Opera Guild boutique. She reads voraciously, stitches avidly, gardens hopefully, travels enthusiastically and lives with a very entertaining rescue dog, Max – a Norfolk terrier by DNA and a dorkie by general temperament.
ZENA TAYLOR
ZENA TAYLOR
My husband and I joined the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Brazos Valley when we lived in College Station. I became a member of Emerson in 1989, two years after we moved to Houston. Both of my daughters, Chandra and Larissa, are grateful graduates of Emerson’s RE Program for Children and Youth. My husband Rob, a geotechnical engineering subject matter specialist, enjoyed watching our kids participate in special church activities, but he has never picked up the Emerson habit. Professionally, I’m a College Admissions and Affordability Advisor who guides young people to make informed decisions about their future.

Like many long-time members at Emerson, I’ve taken on a variety of roles through the years. I was active in RE, serving on the RE Committee, being a Coming-of-Age program coordinator and mentor, teaching Sunday School, and acting as a rally rover in the wee hours of the morning at district youth rallies. I’ve been interested in Emerson’s financial life from the beginning. After serving on the Stewardship Committee, I chaired the Finance Committee for several years and then rejoined that committee a few years later for some handwringing about how we’d make the balloon payment on the Delaney Hall mortgage. I’ve been on the Investment Committee for about 9 years now; it’s been one of my favorite volunteer roles at Emerson in part because I’ve learned so much. I’ve also volunteered at Emerson in various other ways: chairing the Membership Committee, gardening, bringing food to memorial service receptions, creating labyrinths for the New Year’s Eve gatherings, mentoring four Groppe Scholars, and ushering. I have become a better collaborator through these volunteer roles. Listening to understand is a skill that I need to work on continually.

One asset that I can bring to the Minister Search Committee is a perspective on what Emerson is and has been like on all kinds of days – good, bad, sad. I’ve been around through four senior ministers, five interim ministers, and three ministerial interns and so have seen how ministerial style affects the congregation. At this point in my life and career, I can set aside the time required for this important work.

My personal “vivid vision” for Emerson’s future is becoming a little less hazy and a little more vivid. We live in a high-need world, and a question facing Emerson is how we can best address the needs of our own congregation as well as needs in the larger world. Whom can we best serve, and how? I look forward to our collective work to figure that out and to find a minister who can walk with us as we do.

JUDY WILLIAMS
JUDY WILLIAMS
Judy was born into the Universalist faith, raised in a small town in Oklahoma where she met her future husband, Ramon, in the 4th grade. Graduate from the University of Oklahoma and began teaching right away. Member of the Waiting Wives” whose husbands were serving in Vietnam. Upon moving to Houston in 1977 became members of Emerson, where all 3 of their children were raised. Served on the UU Women’s Federation/Continental Board member, 6 years Secretary; RE Committee chair, Women’s Alliance, President & Vice president; Ministerial Relations Com charter member; Schweitzer Club sponsor; COA mentor several times; RE teacher; Caring Com co chair; Youth Choir Director; Co-DRE from 2000-2007; grandmother to 7 beautiful children.
DEBORAH WOTRING (formerly Deborah Landis)
DEBORAH WOTRING (formerly Deborah Landis)
Deborah Wotring (formerly Deborah Landis) joined Emerson Church in 2007. She has held a wide variety of leadership positions since joining the church. Deborah was a member of the Leap of Faith Committee when she got the idea to start the ESL program at Emerson. Under her leadership, between 2014 and 2017, as the Program Director Grant Writer, and Volunteer Coordinator, this volunteer program grew from one multi-level class taught once a week to 4 levels taught on Saturdays, as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The UUA Grants that she wrote to help fund the ESL program were all awarded. Deborah has taught middle school Sunday school classes, served on the Religious Education Committee, taught the Coming of Age middle school course several years and in 2022 she assisted the chair of the Stewardship committee and is leading the Emerson Church Retreat in May. Both of her daughters were in the RE program at Emerson and were very active in the middle school and High School programs. Deborah also served as secretary of the Board of Trustees and was Co-Chair of the Membership Committee. She is a civil litigation attorney who works part time.

Deborah wants to serve on the minister search committee due to her love for the church and her strong desire to see the church grow and thrive for generations to come. Her father was a Methodist minister throughout her childhood. The experience of growing up with a minister father gives her a unique perspective and understanding of the life of a minister and the role ministers can play in bringing energy and enthusiasm to a church community.