Rev. Rachel Lonberg
When Rev. Rachel Lonberg was four years old, her grandmother died. She asked her parents why Jesus got to come back to life and her grandmother didn’t. That question – and the many that followed – led her family to Unitarian Universalism. Our living tradition had been Rachel’s spiritual home ever since.
Rachel’s passions in ministry include creating meaningful worship, building connections across generations, engaging our diversity of belief (and non-belief), and sharing the history of Unitarian Universalism. She believes the world needs our message of love, hope, reason, and tolerance.
A graduate of Tufts University and Union Theological Seminary, Rachel served congregations as a ministerial intern in Saint Paul, Minnesota and as an interim minister in Nashville, Tennessee. She was called by People’s Church in May 2015 and began serving the congregation in August 2015. She is married to Brian, a chef and brewer. Their son, DeForest, was born in June 2015.
Rachel’s office hours are Tuesdays from 1 to 4pm, Wednesdays from 3 to 5pm, and Fridays from 10am to 1pm. She is also available by appointment at other times.
Director of Religious Education
Diane Melvin has a master's degree in Environmental Studies and is a Credentialed Religious Educator through the Unitarian Universalist Association. She has been the Director of Religious Education at People's Church for the past 12 years. She is also an adjunct professor at WMU teaching a course entitled "Holism and Nature" through the Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness Program for the past 16 years. Formerly an educator with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Diane is passionate about helping people connect with nature as well as encouraging them to honor and nurture their own spiritual lives.
I am delighted to be serving as the Music Director at People’s Church. My credentials include a Masters of Music in composition from the New England Conservatory (1990) and a BM in guitar performance from the University of Kentucky (1986).
I grew up in a rural area of southern Ohio called Kitt’s Hill. We had one shop (Marge’s something or other?) where candy bars were 25 cents and (when the school bus stopped
on the way home from school) I’d always get my favorite; Funyuns and Dr. Pepper! At home
Dad often played guitar and Mom and Dad both liked to sing folk songs, so it was natural for me to take up music as a kid.
My first instrument was the guitar, which I played and studied from the age of 7. In 5th grade I
took up trombone, and both concert and marching band became a central part of my school-days experience. In my senior year of high school I joined the Pride of Cincinnati, a drum and bugle corp that travelled the US and Canada. (I played the baritone bugle - good for your arm muscles!)
Fearing the future wrath of angry neighbors, I sold my trombone after graduating high school
and decided to put all my efforts into guitar and composing. (Sometimes I regret this - when
attending some fine symphony performance - the majestic or sweet or angry brass resounding
in the hall.) Through the intervening years I have done many things to earn my keep, but they have all (well, almost all) involved music in some way; playing at fancy clubs, restaurants, and events - playing at not so fancy clubs, restaurants and events - teaching at schools, teaching on my own - composing music for various projects - etc.
When my daughter Meadow was born I took a break from my sexy Troubadour life style and learned to change diapers, among many other baby oriented things. Nine years later I’m exited to once again be involved in the musical life of my community, and I must say that I am very happy to be starting things off here at People’s Church and look forward to all the music we will be making together! (By the way, I consider People’s Church a very fancy place!)
During the ministry of Roger E. Greeley the number of members doubled from 152 to 310 by 1970. A new Sunday School building was constructed south of the Park and Lovell Street church in 1962. In 1967, 253 children from 110 families were registered in the 13 classes of the ChurchSchool. Popular Memorial Day weekend campouts were held for several years. Sixty-plus met daily in the church basement rooms at Park and Lovell and attracted large groups from 1959-68 when the old building was sold and torn down. Roger and David Curl developed audio-visual complements to the Sunday Services.
Roger often spoke at colleges, and he created a Robert G. Ingersoll dramatic program which he presented at many places around the U.S. In 1975-76, Mr. Greeley took a sabbatical and in 1982-83 a partial sabbaical producing three books during those leaves. In the spring of 1982, the church celebrated Roger and Kay's 25th anniversary with People's Church. Roger resigned in 1985 to become Associate Dean of the Humanist Institute. He is minister emeritus of People's Church.
Rev. Jill McAllister
Jill's active outreach work elevated People's Church to international prominence. An inspirational speaker and consensus manager, her enthusiasm and inclusiveness led our church to be more welcoming to people of all persuasions and generations, especially young families attracted to the active Religious Education program.
Despite an economic recession, in 2011-2012 Jill helped the church accommodate growth and prepare for the future by encouraging total congregational engagement in expanding our functional building space by one-third. Jill was elected as People's Church's Minister Emerita in 2015.