Rev. Benjamin W. Meyers, Minister
Rev. Ben Meyers is on sabbatical leave from our congregation from July through December 2019; he will return to our pulpit commencing January 2020. During Rev. Ben’s absence, Rev. Dr. Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar is serving as our congregation’s Sabbatical Minister from September through December 2019; scroll down this page to read about Rev. Sarah.
Born into a family with a Catholic father and a Baptist mother, Rev. Ben Meyers grew up in the Disciples of Christ Church, but hung out with friends from other progressive religions. Through his friends during his childhood and youth, he was engaged in exploring various world religions. As a result, he became very active in social movements during the 1980s. He later discovered he was a UU while attending the UU Fellowship in Chico.
Rev. Ben grew up in Indiana but has been a resident of California since 1980. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Choral Studies with a minor in History from Sacramento State University in 1990. He went on to attend the Pacific School of Religion and then Starr King School for the Ministry, from which he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1994. His studies focused on congregational growth and worship and the arts. While still a student at Starr King, he began his first ministry at Mission Peak UU Congregation in Fremont, where he served for six years. He was ordained by this congregation on January 26, 1996.
In 1999, Rev. Ben moved to Berkeley and took a job as the executive assistant to the president of the Trust for Public Lands, the second largest land conservation organization in the US. His 10 years of work there was very much a ministry for the earth, allowing him to put into practice the UU Seventh Principle, which recognizes the interdependent web of all existence. While holding this position, Rev. Ben continued his UU ministry career by providing Sunday worship services and consulting services to smaller congregations throughout northern California. As a consultant, he worked with congregations on worship and religious-education design, stewardship and financial services, membership growth and development, and organizational development. He also provided pastoral care. At this same time, Rev. Ben began his studies at San Francisco State University, working toward a Master of Business Management degree, with an emphasis in marketing and non-profit management.
In 2009, Rev. Ben returned to full-time ministry and was hired as a contract minister at the UU Fellowship in Berkeley. He was their first full-time minister, and was hired to bring health and vibrancy to this congregation.
Rev. Ben recognizes that effective ministers and healthy congregations inspire and create one another. He approaches ministry as a shared endeavor and recognizes the vast array of services provided by congregants. He believes in working collaboratively to build a dynamic synergy throughout the congregation and staff. He also feels it is essential for a minister to play a vital role in bringing about social justice in the larger community, and he actively engages ministers of other denominations as well as volunteers at local charitable organizations. Since 2010, he has served on the Board of Directors for the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, an organization similar to Samaritan House.
Throughout his ministerial career, Rev. Ben has served the larger denomination in many capacities by creating vibrant worship, leading workshops, and founding choral groups. In all of his ministries, he has assisted each congregation to grow spiritually and as a community, resulting in increases in organizational health, financial commitment, and membership growth. He is highly recognized by denominational leaders for his gifts in pastoral care, social justice work, and visionary approach. He is regarded as capable, articulate, mature, knowledgeable, confident, positive, enthusiastic, poetic, and having good judgment. He is lauded for his administrative skills, recognizing the work of volunteers and providing programming not usually found in smaller churches. Of particular note, Rev. Ben is said to be unmatched by his ministerial colleagues in his musical talent and innovation. He sings and plays the guitar and classical recorder.
Rev. Ben is happily married to Kate Moore Meyers. He has a high-school-aged daughter, Dora; an adult son, Abraham; a stepdaughter, Matilda; and a stepson John. His family and friends are a central part of his life. He loves to travel, hike, bike, cook, and do yoga, and he is an avid San Francisco Giants fan. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He has helped establish several music groups, some of which continue beyond his days with them.
Rev. Dr. Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar, Sabbatical Minister
Rev. Dr. Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar is serving as our congregation’s Sabbatical Minister from September through December 2019, while Rev. Ben Meyers is on sabbatical.
Rev. Sarah earned a Master in Psychology (ABD) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1997, and her Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2002. In 2003, she began a parish ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach, California. In 2007, due to family circumstances, she moved with her husband and two children to Oakland, CA, where she served as the Associate Director of a local non-profit working with homeless and at-risk youth while earning her Doctor of Ministry (DMin) from Pacific School of Religion.
Rev. Sarah’s commitment to the Unitarian Universalist movement runs deep. She served as President of the Pacific Central District Chapter of the UU Ministers Association (UUMA); Endowment Director for the UUMA; and on the UUMA Guidelines Committee focusing on sexual ethics, the UUMA Collegial Development Committee, and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s President’s Council.
Rev. Joy Atkinson, Minister Emerita
Rev. Joy Atkinson was ordained in 1974, and served congregations in Humboldt, CA; Duluth, MN; and Davis, CA, before coming to UUSM in 1988. She served as Minister at UUSM for 14 years, from 1988 to 2002, and was named Minister Emerita by the congregation in June of 2002. Since leaving UUSM in 2002, she became an Accredited Interim Minister with the UUA, and served as an interim minister in ten congregations in California and one in Arizona over the last 16 years, before her recent retirement.