Meet our Ministers
Bill, as he prefers to be called, is probably best 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.
Rev. Thomas Disrud, Associate Minister
Disrud 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 Duluth, Minnesota, News-Tribune. During that time he became involved with union organizing and was an officer for the local Newspaper Guild. It was also during this chapter that he became a Unitarian Universalist and discerned a call to ministry.
Rev. Disrud 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 Rev. Disrud completed an intensive course of study in spiritual direction at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California.
Rev. Kate Lore, Social Justice Minister
Rev. Kate Lore has been serving First Unitarian Church since 1998. Prior to that she was the community outreach program at First United Methodist Church of Portland. She had a key role in opening homeless families shelters in both congregations: Goose Hollow Family Shelter and 13 Salmon Family Center. These shelter now work collaboratively under the name Portland Homeless Family Solutions, providing loving hospitality and services to families in trauma 24 hours a day.
Rev. Lore is an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association, the Portland Jobs With Justice Worker's Right Board and the Advisory Bureau for the City of Portland’s Office of Human Rights and Equity. Kate is very active in Occupy Portland, serves on the Steering Committee for the AMA Coalition for Justice & Police Reform is a member of many ecumenical and interfaith efforts. She frequently offers workshops and retreats, and has published two essays: “A People So Bold” (Skinner House Books) and “Urban Discipleship” (a publication of the Veatch Foundation). Shehas received several community awards , including the Lamplighter Award, the Cecil Smith Community Award; and Portland's CCEH Achievement Award for her service to homeless families.
When asked to describe the vision of her ministry, she said the following:
“My desire is nothing less than to bring a message of love and hope to the world. To do that, we must incorporate that Love deep within and express it in our day-to-day living. For when we walk, talk, and breathe our deepest beliefs, we are kind, compassionate and act for justice. And when we stay aligned with our spiritual aspirations, we practice humility--knowing that we are walking with the Eternal, the Mystery, the breadth and scope of all nature and life. It is from this place that we receive our strength.”
Mark Slegers, Minister of Music
Mr. Slegers received his undergraduate degree from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he was recognized in May of 2007 as an outstanding graduate. He attended Union Theological Seminary, School of Sacred Music in New York City where he received the Master of Sacred Music degree. While in New York he sang and conducted in various New York churches. He has completed further study in conducting with Dr. Rodney Eichenberger and has also taught music in all levels of music education, including both Pacific University and Reed College.
Mr. Slegers was a commissioner/compiler for the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition, published by Beacon Press. For the past nineteen years he has served as church music consultant to Unitarian Universalist congregations continent-wide.
Choirs from the church under Mr. Slegers’ direction toured Eastern Europe in 1990, the Seattle area in 1999 and Cuba in 2003. This unprecedented Cuba tour was captured in an award-winning documentary, “What We’re Asking for is Peace.” Mr. Slegers and his choirs were selected to provide choral music for Services of the Living Tradition at General Assemblies for the Unitarian Universalist Association in Spokane, WA and Calgary, Canada and Portland.
In March of 2006 Mr. Slegers’ Chamber Choir, featuring the finest singers at the Portland Unitarian Church, were selected to give a concert at the American Choral Directors Association’s NW Regional Convention. Later that year a touring choir from the Portland Unitarian Church under Mark Slegers’ direction returned to Eastern Europe for a reunion tour.
Patrice Curtis, Intern Minister
Patrice Curtis feels blessed to have been called to serve as intern minister at First Church for the upcoming church year. She spent most of her formative growing-up years in the San Francisco Bay Area, though she hails originally from Washington. She has a BA from U.C. Davis, a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and post-graduate work at Oxford University focusing on war refugees and internally displaced people. She spent 10 years working in Washington, DC as a foreign affairs analyst focusing on humanitarian aid in times of war. In the years immediately before being called to the ministry, she taught low-income Bay Area entrepreneurs business skills while concomitantly running her own marketing research micro-business.
Patrice has an enduring interest in propagating justice and love. She has served on the boards of the National Organization for Women, and the Golden Gate chapter of United Cerebral Palsy; volunteered with a number of additional non-profits; spent time as a volunteer working in refugee camps in east Europe and Africa; and chaired the Social Justice committee at Mt. Diablo UU Church for three years. In 2008, she attended the biennial International Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) meeting, which eventually led to her co-founding a micro-enterprise business with a UU fellowship in central Kenya. The income from that business has provided over 100,000 meals and health care to local children since 2009.
Patrice is in her last year as student at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. She served as co-President of the Student Body in 2011-12, and expects to receive her Master of Divinity in 2013. She currently sits on the UUA Fund for International Unitarian Universalism and continues to be active with ICUU.
Rev. Alan G. Deale, Minister Emeritus
A series of short-term ministers served the congregation until 1970, when Dr. Alan Deale was called. During his tenure, which lasted until 1990, the demographics of the congregation changed, and there was a renewed emphasis on religious education. Reverend Marguerite Hessler Deale, Dr. Deale’s wife, was responsible for religious education for children and program development for adults.
During Dr. Deale’s tenure, the congregation purchased several buildings near the church, and First Unitarian continued to support Outside-In, a medical-social program begun in 1968 for homeless and disaffected youth.
Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, Minister Emerita
Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell is the Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, where she served for 17 years as senior minister before retiring in June 2009.
Marilyn is the editor of several anthologies, including two volumes of women's poetry on spiritual themes, Cries of the Spirit and Claiming the Spirit Within. She has recently published A Little Book on Forgiveness and A Little Book on Prayer, and continues to pursue her writing here in Portland. Marilyn is currently the subject of a full-length documentary film, Raw Faith. You can also listen to her radio program: www.rawfaithradio.com