Minister & Staff

Reverend Melissa Carvill-Ziemer, Minister

Melissa has served as the minister of our congregation since September, 2005. Melissa did not grow up in a particularly religious home. She became a spiritual seeker in college and that is when she became acquainted, and fell in love, with Unitarian Universalism. Melissa graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in Women’s Studies in 1995 and earned her M.Div. from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2005. Melissa’s training for the ministry included a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, a year of service and learning as the Laurel Hallman Ministerial Intern at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN and a summer ministry at First Unitarian in Rochester, NY. In calling her to serve as our minister upon her graduation, our congregation had the privilege of ordaining Melissa to the Unitarian Universalist ministry.Before entering the ministry Melissa worked as a sexual assault and domestic violence counselor and educator and as a pre-school teacher. She also waited her share of tables and worked on a couple of organic farms. Melissa loves outdoor adventure, especially hiking and canoeing. She lives in Kent with her partner, Evin Carvill-Ziemer (also a Unitarian Universalist minister) and their dogs, Migo and Zoey.  A Message from our Minister provides more information about Melissa.
Twitter: @revmelissacz

Karen Lapidus, Director of Religious Education

karen-lapidus1.jpgKaren is returning to the church as the Director of Religious Education after serving the Ohio Meadville District for eight years as the Consultant for Lifespan Faith Development. She is delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of our community again and to work with children, youth and families. Her professional passions include nurturing the multigenerational community, supporting youth ministry and inspiring Unitarian Universalist identity.Karen holds a B.S. in Nursing from Kent State University and a M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School. During the twenty-three years that she has been a Unitarian Universalist religious educator, she has participated in many training opportunities, both as a learner and a leader.
Twitter: @DreUukent

Hal Walker, Music Director

Hello. My name is Hal Walker and I have been the music director at the UU church of Kent for over 12 years now. I like this job and I’ve gotten to where I really love this church. What an interesting and enjoyable task it is to collaborate with Melissa in creating worship services. I’m so grateful that the congregation has given me such freedom to express myself musically in our services. At our church, you’ll hear a variety of music that you’ve probably never heard in any other church. We have a very musical congregation and it has been my pleasure to welcome the talents of musicians of all types into our sanctuary. Always open to new singers, our adult choir rehearses every Sunday night.As Music Director, I’m interested in silence, shaping sound, building community and creating real beauty. I’m interested in the process of learning well how to incorporate music into worship. Though I don’t join things easily, after 12 years, I can almost call myself a real Unitarian Universalist.

Reverend Christie Anderson, Commissioned Lay Leader

For 30 years, Christie Anderson’s professional career was devoted to the human services field in an effort to support disadvantaged people working to enhance their lives. Although still engaged in this work on a part-time basis, Christie is now supplementing this effort by offering her skills to help fulfill the mission of the Kent UU church. While appreciative of her Protestant upbringing, Christie has embraced the liberal religious perspective of Unitarian Universalism since 2000. Christie is active in the worship life of the Kent UU church and is also a member of the pastoral team.  Christie earned the title of Commissioned Lay Leader in October 2008 following her completion of a 2 year educational program of the UUA’s Ohio-Meadville District.  Upon graduating from The New Seminary of Interfaith Studies in New York City in 2011, Christie was ordained as an Interfaith Minister.  Rev. Christie is thrilled to have the opportunity to reach out to the community by solemnizing marriages, performing commitment ceremonies, conducting memorials, and offering interfaith rituals and worship services. She can be contacted at

Reverend Renee Ruchotzke, Affiliated Community Minister

Renee has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent since 1996, serving in a variety of leadership roles before being called to ministry. Renee is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and in Preliminary Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. She was ordained by our congregation in August of 2010 and officially affiliated with us in December of 2010. Renee is serving the wider Unitarian Universalist Community as the Regional Consultant for Leadership Development for the Central East Regional Group of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is responsible for providing consultation, programming and training material (including webinars) on various aspects of congregational leadership. She works closely with those doing leadership development at the district and cluster levels as well as participating in the Unitarian Universalist Leadership Training Institute (UULTI) and other in-person trainings at the district and regional level. She also co-authored a Tapestry of Faith curriculum. Renee served for two years as the Consulting Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Canton. She served her internship in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsburgh. Before that she served East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland, Ohio for two years as their interim Director of Religious Education.
Twitter: @Vitalleaders

MaryBeth Hannan, Congregational Administrator

mbhMaryBeth joined the staff here at the UU Church of Kent in January 2011 as the Congregational Administrator.  She came to the UUCK with several years of previous experience in church administration and bookkeeping, as well as church auditing.  She is a long-time resident of Kent and spent ten years volunteering for the Kent City Schools both as a classroom aide and member of the parent organization and 17+ years volunteering for a local martial arts school.“I am really grateful to be here at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent; not only do I enjoy working with and serving a faith community, I have the opportunity  to work with a great group of staff and lay leaders.    This is a very active and dynamic community that is consistently working towards fulfilling their mission and vision.  It’s so rewarding to work in a healthy, thriving community!” 

Michelle Bores, Nursery Teacher

Michelle has attended the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent since 2007 and has been a church member since early 2009. She is a member of the Religious Education Committee, Safety Committee, and the Children’s RE Program. In addition to her participation on these committee’s Michelle is also actively involved in the Hogwarts program as a Professor, and also has experience as a Summer Institute Nursery teacher. Outside of the church, Michelle is involved with childhood education through community programs such as the Boy Scouts, where she’s been a Cub Scout Den Leader and also a Cub Scout Committee Member. Her professional career includes having been a Preschool/childcare co-Administrator, a Kindergarten teacher, a Pre-K teacher, and a member of the Head Start Policy Council. In every encounter with a child, Michelle utilizes her Bachelor’s of Science from Bowling Green State University in Early Childhood Education and Children’s Services. She has enjoyed being our Nursery teacher on Sunday mornings and looks forward to working with you and your children.

Colleen Thoele, Religious Education Assistant

Colleen thoele

Brian Mulloy, Church Sexton

bryan mulloy sexton