Our Ministers and Staff

Rev. Alex Jensen, Senior Minister

Cathy Harrington

Reverend Alex Jensen (he/him) is UUCGT’s Minister since August 2021. Rev. Alex is a first-career minister embarking on his first settled ministry with us. After a variety of ministry settings, Rev. Alex brings a depth of experience from serving as a Ministerial Intern at the First Parish in Wayland, MA, a Chaplain in hospital and domestic violence support programs, as well as his work as a Unitarian Universalist leader since his youth and early teens. Rev. Alex is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, earning his Master of Divinity (M. Div.) in 2021. He also holds a B.A. in Human Communication and Peace Studies from CSU Monterey Bay, as well as a minor in Music.

Rev. Alex became a Unitarian Universalist in his early teens after searching for a spiritual community. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rev. Alex joined the UU Congregation in Fremont, CA, bringing his whole family with him shortly after! Rev. Alex believes that Unitarian Universalism is a saving faith with a lifesaving message of love, acceptance, belonging, and inclusion. Rev. Alex experienced this firsthand after wrestling deeply with his identity and sexuality as a gay teen. Unitarian Universalism held room for him to feel loved as he was with no exceptions, moving him to come out in his young adult years. Rev. Alex strives to create Beloved Community in his ministry, where all feel welcomed to bring their whole and fullest selves.

In his free time, Rev. Alex enjoys hiking and other outdoor adventures. He also is an avid musician (violin) and enjoys playing, singing, and creating music with others.

If you have any questions, concerns, or other inquiries, please email Rev. Alex at alexjensen@uucgt.org.

 

Rev. Dr. Wendy von Courter, Community Minister for Social Justice

Claire Crandell

Rev. Wendy comes to us as a fifth-generation Unitarian (and then Unitarian Universalist) from New England. She has a lengthy history in our movement spanning over two decades as a religious leader. Some highlights of her years in ministry include 14 years of parish ministry in Marblehead, MA, Board Chair of Ferry Beach Park Association (a UU retreat center in Maine), founding member and president of UU Allies for Racial Equity, member of the UUA Accessibility Committee, co-chair of the UUA Journey Towards Justice Transformation Committee, member of the UU Council on Cross Cultural Engagement, and founding member of the General Assembly Right Relationship Team model.

Beyond Unitarian Universalism, Rev. Wendy has been an active interfaith leader in immigrant justice and community organizing. She received her Masters of Divinity at Boston University as well as her Doctor of Ministry. Her dissertation was on Successful Long-Term Ministries in Unitarian Universalism. Rev. Wendy now resides in Buckley, MI with her wife, Gini (former UUA Moderator), three von Kittens, and 21 von Chickens! She remains tied to Boston University School of Theology as the Mentor to the UU Community of Learning and teaches UU Polity, Interfaith Leadership, and Ministry and Leadership in Interfaith Settings. Here in Grand Traverse County, Rev. Wendy was active with the GT Action Council (GTAC) organized around the 2020 election, worked with the Election Defenders here and in Georgia, and is a member of the Northern MI E3 Council (Up North Anti-racism Taskforce).

Email Rev. Wendy at revwendyvon@gmail.com.

 

Ann Marie Jones, Music Director

Renee Russell

Music has been a part of Ann Marie’s life for as long as she can remember. Some of her earliest memories are of her mother practicing the organ and dad leading the choir in the church where her family attended until she was about ten years old. Music ministry was especially important to her parents, and she would play violin with them as she grew up and long into her professional music career.

When her father passed away in 2016 she thought that she would never play music in church again, but soon after found herself volunteering to play with the choir in her new Unitarian Universalist Community. The pull to explore spirituality through music was natural it seemed.

Ann Marie holds two degrees in Music Education, the first from Michigan State University, the second from Grand Valley State University, and she spent thirteen years as a public school orchestra teacher. She is a certified Suzuki violin instructor and is co-director of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra Suzuki School. She is a violinist in the Traverse Symphony Orchestra and the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to her musical pursuits, she is a certified executive coach and adjunct faculty member of the New Ventures West coaching school in San Francisco.

Email Ann Marie at music@uucgt.org.

Chelsea Bentley, Director of Religious Education

Claire Crandell

Chelsea Bentley (she/her) was born curious, and has made it her life’s mission to never stop asking questions of the universe. She grew up in the Finger Lakes region of western New York. Her big backyard was one of her favorite places for letting her imagination run wild. Two of her childhood heroes were BillNye the Science Guy and Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. She followed her curiosity into a career in elementary and early childhood education, finding joy in engaging children in the wonders of art, science, and nature.

After moving to northern  Michigan in 2021, Chelsea worked as a Site Coordinator with SEEDS EcoSchool in Benzie County directing after school and summer enrichment programming. Frustrated with the current state of public education, she decided to take a step back and shift careers in the summer of 2023. She landed in the wine industry chasing another passion and curiosity, but her heart kept calling her to find another way to use her gifts as a teacher, which led her to the Director of Religious Education position at UUCGT. Bringing children and families together in a community of love, faith, and exploration will be a magical new adventure!

Chelsea has a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children from SUNY Brockport, and her passions outside of teaching include making art, writing poetry, playing outside, and gardening. She lives in Traverse City with her pet hedgehog, Bruce!

Email Chelsea at dre@uucgt.org.

Kinsey Hintz, Nursery Assistant

Claire Crandell

Kinsey Hintz is a native of Traverse City, and a student at TC Central High School where she plays clarinet in the marching band.  She resides with her family (parents and brother) and has 3 cats.  She enjoys running, cross country skiing, and hanging out with friends.  Kinsey loves meeting new people and is excited to spend time getting to know the children at UUCGT in her new role as Nursery Assistant.

TBA  , Office Administrator

Winter Snow Lake Michigan Shoreline

 Office Administrator postion to be posted soon.

Email TBA at office@uucgt.org or call via phone (231) 947-3117.

Geoff Norman-Anderson, Technical Director

Geoff Norman-Anderson has been UUCGT’s Tech Director since 2021. Geoff was raised as a UU in Southern California, where he grew up in multiple congregations and participated in UU youth programs such as Coming of Age, OWL, and summer camps at Camp deBenneville Pines. A UUCGT attendee since 2016 after relocating with his family, Geoff previously served on the 2020-2021 Ministerial Search team as co-chair. A music lover, Geoff plays guitar, electric bass, and drums in his spare time, and is currently studying Audio Technology at Northwestern Michigan College. As Tech Director, Geoff directs and operates the weekly live stream of Sunday Services and operates the sound and lighting boards.

Geoff is thrilled to be able to help this congregation’s transition to hybridized, accessible, and inspiring worship. Geoff can be reached for inquiries at geoff.normananderson@gmail.com.