The Rev. Dr. William G. Sinkford, Senior Minister, was called to First Church 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.