Ministers and Staff
Rev. Leslie takahashi
Rev. Leslie Takahashi has served the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church as a minister since 2008. Passionate about the ways a vibrant and aware community can help people reawaken to the life of the world, she is also engaged in work to ensure that our communities serve all it citizens. Using her background in leadership development, economic development and education policy and nonprofit management, her goal is to empower others to take leadership. She is the co-author, with Chip Roush and Leon Spencer, of The Arc of The Universe is Long: Anti-racism and the Unitarian Universalist Association (Skinner House 2008) and a contributor to a number of professional publications and meditation collections. Finding Unitarian Universalism in her twenties, she has served extensively at the congregational, District and national levels both within the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Ministers Association. Her family, especially children Garner and Liam, offer on-going inspiration. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
REV. RODNEY LEMERY
Rodney is the half-time Minister of the Worthy Now Prison Network, a virtual organization serving over 1000 incarcerated Unitarian Universalist people. He also serves as a contract Justice Minister at the Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church of Walnut Creek, CA. Rodney resides in West Contra Costa with his husband of 18 years and their Yorki/Terrier fur-baby Basil. email@example.com
REV. JIM LEWIS
Jim Lewis received his Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry and is now a fellowshipped Unitarian Universalist minister. He works primarily as a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator in San Rafael and has the pleasure to do some ministerial support at MDUUC. Before graduating from seminary, his focus was on music and education. Jim has a strong interest in how justice work intersects with our theology and how we find theology in popular media. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
REV. RANWA HAMMAMY
Ranwa earned her Master of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary, where she focused on Interreligious Engagement. She serves on the Steering Committee for DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries), and was a facilitator at the UUA’s Multicultural Leadership School for youth and young adults of color. During seminary, Ranwa served as a Lead teacher with the children’s religious education program at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, where she created a story-based interfaith curriculum called “Patchwork.” A self-described “UU-Muslim,” Ranwa hopes to serve both living traditions in her ministry. She is also a classically-trained vocalist, cat parent, and lover of children’s books. Send email to Ranwa@mduuc.org
My heart is full knowing that I will be serving as a ministerial intern for the next two years with each of you.
Whether it has been advocating for educational equity or healing justice aimed at providing trauma-informed services to victims of violent crime, my career has been centered around community-based work that has enabled me to address social injustice.
Following a lengthy discernment process, I answered the call to ministry, and I am entering my second year as a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry. While I am new to the membership of Unitarian Universalism, I regularly note that I have navigated the world embracing Unitarian Universalist values and principles, and consider myself a long-time UU.
In between the busyness, I make space for practices that include meditation, gardening, hiking, and cooking. I identify as a non-binary (using they/them pronouns) Latinx and have a deep, spiritual connection with my ancestors and my culture. You are likely to see these connections manifest in the dishes I prepare and the stories I share.
I look forward to sharing more about myself with you and learning about each of you, as we work together in covenant.
REV DAVID SAMMONS
Dave Sammons was ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1965 and has served UU churches in Rochester, N.Y., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Evanston, Illinois, as well as MDUUC, where he was Minister from the end of 1983 through June, 2016. After this he served on the faculty of Starr King School for the Ministry and was had interim ministries in Golden, Colorado and San Francisco, as well as serving as consultant for the Unitarian Universalist Association and UU Ministers Association. Dave has been a part of many denominational and civic groups, including the boards of Starr King, PSR and the Graduate Theological union. He has earned several awards, including an honorary doctorate from Starr King and Outstanding Graduate from Pacific School of Religion, where he also earned a Doctor of the Ministry, to go along with his Master of Divinity from Starr King. Dave’s wife, Jan, is a retired teacher and they have five children and six grandchildren. Dave still occasionally preaches, does weddings and memorial services and serves on the Collegial Ethics Task Force of the UU Minister’s Association.
Director of religious education
Marena earned her Bachelor of Arts in musical theater with a minor in music from California State University East Bay. She has been an active participant in the Religious Education Program at MDUUC since childhood and has served in various religious educator capacities since 2010. This has included serving as the Assistant Director of Religious Education, supervising childcare staff, teaching religious education classes, leading youth and young adult programming, facilitating Our Whole Lives programming, directing family choirs and theatrical productions. When not working at MDUUC, Marena teaches music and theater to children of all ages. Send email to Marena@mduuc.org.
Mark Tuning joined MDUUC as Music Director in September 2003. He holds degrees in Music Education and Choral Conducting from George Fox University (B.A.) and the University of Oregon (M. Mus.). In addition to serving for several years as Music Director for churches in Idaho, Oregon, Illinois and New Mexico, Mark also directed Jazz Choirs in several of those locations. Mark is also Music Director for Diablo Choral Artists, a community chorus based in Walnut Creek. He is a frequent soloist as tenor or countertenor and especially enjoys the creative opportunities of music ministry in a liberal congregation. Send email to email@example.com
Currently working toward his MA in Music Composition at Mills College in Oakland, Brett has performed and has had works performed around the country. Drawing from jazz, experimental, and concert music traditions, he seeks to incorporate an eclectic range of influences in his work. He currently performs and composes in two Oakland-based avant-garde groups, the Medium-Sized Band and Quattuor Elephantis.
JEN MARSH PRINK
Jen has extensive experience in project and event management, web development, and digital marketing that she wanted to bring back to MDUUC in 2017. Although she graduated from St. John’s University with a BS in Toxicology, she started working in technical and event project management roles within a few years of graduating. She has 15 years of experience working for non-profit organizations and spent the last 6 years as an agency digital project manager/web developer/producer. She has recently studied floral design and enjoys watercolor painting, bike riding and hanging out with family in her spare time. firstname.lastname@example.org
Brynne (they/she) is a Bay Area native and graduate of Saint Mary's College. They have seven years of non-profit program coordination experience, including stints as a social worker at a transitional housing facility in Moscow, Idaho, and as a literacy teacher and volunteer coordinator in the Oakland Unified School District. They are currently pursuing a dual degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. Brynne occasionally sings with the (incredible!) House Band and has been a friend of MDUUC for 3 years. You can contact her at email@example.com.