Minister Bios

Meet our Ministers
Rev. Bill Sinkford, Senior Minister
Thomas Disrud, Associate Minister

Meet our Staff.
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Read bios of other staff members.

Rev. Sinkfords's weekly blog.
Hear or Read Recent Sermons.

Sinkford20William20GThe Rev. Dr. William G. Sinkford,
Senior Minister, was called to First Unitarian in 2010. He is the principal spiritual leader of the church as well as having overall management responsibility for its operation.

Bill, as he prefers to be called, is well known for his service as President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (2001-2009). His tenure was marked by strong public witness for social justice and support for marginalized communities, commitments he continues here in Portland.

Bill’s commitment to liberal religion dates to his teenage years, when he was an active member of the First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as the president of Liberal Religious Youth, the continental Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth organization. He had a successful career in the corporate world and ran his own business in the housing field. In later years he returned to Cincinnati and served his home church as a lay leader until he answered the call to ministry in 1992.

After completing his Master of Divinity degree at Starr King School for the Ministry in 1995, Bill joined the UUA staff where he served until he was elected to the Presidency. Bill earned his B.A. from Harvard in 1968 and also holds honorary doctorates from Tufts University and Meadville/Lombard Theological School.

During his years of service to the denomination (“a seventeen year detour,” as he describes it), Bill never lost his goal of being a pastor to a congregation. “My service at First Church fulfills my calling to ministry. I am finally able to preach to congregants whose stories I know, whose children I’ve dedicated and whose elders I have memorialized.”

Bill was the first African American to lead any traditionally white denomination, and was named one of the ten most influential Black religious leaders in the US in both 2005 and 2006.
 He and his wife Maria have four adult children, and one grandchild, William Rider Sinkford, born in July 2008.

Hear Rev. Sinkford speak out on a variety of issues.
Read about his meeting with the Dalai Lama
Read his statement at the outbreak of war.
Read his blog about the UU pilgrimage to Africa.
Read Bill’s thoughts on
Church, Community Leadership, Justice, Pastoral Care, and Worship


Tom.smallRev. Thomas Disrud, Associate Minister
Rev. Thomas Disrud was called to serve as Associate Minister of Portland’s First Unitarian Church in 1995. In that position, he was principally the chief administrator of the church, responsible for supervising the staff and the wide variety of church programs and activities. He also oversees the pastoral care ministry, which includes working with a gifted team of lay ministers. Rev. Disrud is frequently called upon to officiate at rites of passage for members of the congregation, such as weddings and memorial services. He served as Acting Senior Minister from 2009-2010, and led the congregation as the search for a new senior minister was conducted.

Tom hails from Wisconsin and was raised in the Lutheran tradition. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. degree in Journalism and Philosophy. His first career was as an editor at the News-Tribune in Duluth, Minnesota. During that time he became involved with union organizing and was an officer for the local Newspaper Guild. It was also during this chapter of his life that he became a Unitarian Universalist and discerned a call to ministry.

Tom is a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. He received his Master of Divinity degree in 1995, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Starr King. He served as Chair of the Board from 2007-2011. Prior to that position, he served as the President of the school’s Graduates Association. In 2003, he completed an intensive course of study in spiritual direction at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California.