Emerson has an excellent search committee of 7 members who will lead us through 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 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 and his wife Laurie joined Emerson Church in 1983 and raised both their daughters in the Religious Education program. Over the years, he has been a Sunday School teacher, an Our Whole Lives facilitator, and a Coming of Age mentor. He has served on numerous committees, including Grounds, Auction, Performing Arts, Nominations, Stewardship, and two Ministerial Intern Committees. Between 1990 and 2000, Bill and his family attended UUA General Assembly nine times. Most of those years, Bill and Laurie served as delegates. In 1994, he served as President of the Emerson Board. Most recently, he served on an ad hoc Governance Committee tasked with updating Emerson’s Constitution and Bylaws. He also chaired the Worship Team.

Bill grew up in the piney woods of northeast Texas, attending a Southern Baptist church. He graduated from Rice University with a degree in environmental engineering. His career has focused on environmental affairs and energy regulatory matters. Along the way, he obtained an MBA from the University of Houston. He retired in December 2019 and has not regretted it. In his leisure time, Bill gardens, dabbles in genealogy research, tends the family cats, and obsesses over political news.

In addition to the Minister Search Committee, Bill continues to sing in the Choir and serve on the Investment Committee.

Retired, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Previously, Associate Professor of Theater and Comparative Literature.
• An active UU for 45 years.
• Frequent speaker for Worship at: Emerson, Bay Area, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette. Spoke in Worship at the Arlington Street Church (Boston) on the Call to Ministry in the Face of AIDS (1989).

Active at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church for 17 years; member 13 years.
• Chair, Worship Team 3 years. Served 2 more years as a member.
• Member, Staffing Analysis Task Force in recent Visioning Process.
• Member, Committee on Ministry for 2 years; chair for 3 years.
• Member of Personnel Committee for 2 years; 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.
• Co-chair, Welcome MAT: An LGBT film series at Emerson for 2 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 that 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.
• Chaired, Worship Committee (the year between called ministers), served on the committee 2 years more.
• Served on Ministerial Relations Committee, 2 years.

Denominational Activity:
• Active in the early days (1985-1992) of UULGC (Unitarian Universalist for Lesbian and Gay Concerns) which became Interweave, including editing the newsletter for 2 years.
• One of a dozen UU 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 joined Emerson at the turn of the century (well—actually—the millennium). During that time, she’s been on the Board of Trustees, which she served as 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.
Kris holds a B.A. in English and journalism from the school formerly known as Pan American University (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and an M.A. in communications from The University of Texas at Austin (which has only changed its name slightly since 1883). After short, post-college gigs as a junior high teacher and television reporter-producer, she spent most her career in education-related public relations, followed by eight years in a “what do you do after you retire?” position, teaching undergrad PR majors at the University of Houston. She is accredited in public relations and served the Houston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as president and national assembly delegate.
Currently Kris is a freelance writer, editor and public relations counselor (no alarm clock, no commute, no papers to grade!) and is the volunteer coordinator for the Houston Grand Opera Guild boutique.
In her non-volunteer time, 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.
I joined Emerson in 1989, two years after my family moved to Houston from College Station where my husband and I were members of Unitarian Universalist Church of the Brazos Valley. Both of my daughters are grateful graduates of Emerson’s RE Program for Children and Youth. My husband 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.
Through the years I’ve taken on a variety of roles at Emerson. 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. I’ve been on the Investment Committee for about 9 years now. 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 am one of the Co-Chairs of the Minister Search Committee.
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 finding a minister who can walk with us as we do.
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 has been a member of Emerson since 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 English as a Second Language 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 UU Funding Program 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, and taught the Coming-of-Age middle school course several years. 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. After practicing law for over 30 years, Deborah recently retired and is currently working on her master’s degree in social work.