Ministerial Search: Success

The Ministerial Search Committee and your Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that we have a new settled minister! Thank you to all who participated in person or on Zoom on May 1 to vote to call mandi huizenga* as our minister. She will begin her ministerial call August 1. Read about mandi and the search process below, and listen to her April 24 and May 1 sermons at DuPage UU Church on our  YouTube channel.

mandi is currently serving as the ministerial intern at Unity Temple in Oak Park. She has nearly 10 years of experience working in UU groups and congregations and is well-respected by her colleagues, co-workers, and congregants.

Some of mandi’s strengths and talents that impressed our Search Committee are her:

  • warm, friendly personality
  • compassionate, collaborative leadership
  • services that speak to the head as well as the heart
  • passion for social justice
  • knowledge of church administration
  • excitement about Unitarian Universalism’s power to improve our world.

You can learn more about the ministerial search process that we have used for the past two years on our church website under Search Process FAQs.

The Search Committee is deeply grateful to you, our DuPage UU Church Congregation, for your support, and patience in our two-year search process. We are honored that you entrusted us with this work, and we are delighted that this year we can introduce you to mandi.

In gratitude,
Your DuPage UU Church Ministerial Search Committee
Karen Hutt (Chair), Jane Gano, Kat Gelder, Dave Gorman, Bob Harris, Doug Kocher-Cowan, and Sarah Lensink

* Note: As a practice to honor the interconnected web of all creation, mandi does not capitalize her name. First suggested by Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, this practice is a reminder that humanity is a part of the natural world and does not hold dominion or importance over it. mandi’s surname – huizenga – is pronounced HI-zing-ah.

Ministerial Search Committee
Jane Gano

I have been a Unitarian Universalist for 48 years and a member of DUUC for the past 44 years.  When I joined DUUC we had 80 church members at the time. During my time at DUUC I have been involved in teaching RE Classes, Co-Director of the RE Program, and a member of UUWA as well as past president. I co-taught the About Your Sexuality RE Class for both our sons and committed to the group until their graduation from high school. I have served on the Religious Education, Hospitality, and Facilities Enhancement Committees. I volunteer regularly to facilitate with Coffee Hour and annual dinners for the church. I also have co-chaired the Service Auction for several years. As a member of the chalice circle, DUUGooders, I have been involved in many church and community volunteer efforts for the past 20 years. My husband, Joe, and I have expanded our knowledge by extensive travel, learning from many cultures. Joe and I celebrated our 50th  Wedding Anniversary in 2020.

Kat Gelder

Kat Gelder is the current head of the Sunday Services Committee. She married into DuPage UU  Church in 2008 and has been an enthusiastic UU ever since, volunteering for several years as an RE teacher, Auction co-chair, and choir member. From 2013 to 2016, she served on the Board of  Trustees, first as Trustee of Spirituality, then as Trustee of Stewardship when that position was  created in 2014. She led the Annual Budget Drive Committee in 2016 and 2017 and has been chair of the Sunday Services Committee since 2016. Kat enjoys creating Sunday services and practically any other activity focused on making meaning out of our philosophies and life experiences. Her hobbies include reading about anti-racism, knitting a sweater for her husband, Chris (which will be finished Someday), sewing with her mother, Diane, teaching her five-year-old about trucks and overthrowing the cis-hetero-patriarchy, and weeding with her father Roy.

Dave Gorman

Dave has been an active member of DUUC since 2001, serving as a teacher and mentor in the RE programs, on the Construction Task Force, and on the Committee on Ministries. He also holds  numerous leadership positions outside of DUUC including for Working Bikes, Bikes for Lesotho, the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup, the Kiwanis Club of Lombard and a municipal storm water committee. He feels bolstered by each week’s forum or Science Sunday, in addition to the church service. He and Jill Wallace have raised their two daughters, Carrie and Adele, at DUUC. He wants to ensure that DUUC will continue to serve families seeking a supportive community rooted in freethinking, humanistic optimism for generations to come.

Bob Harris

During my career, I worked as a librarian for 45 years, from 1970 to 2014, at which time I retired. I  always worked in public libraries, starting as a librarian at the Chicago Public Library for nine years,  and the spent the next 35 years as a library director; first at the Bartlett Library, then at the Bellwood Library, and finally for 25 years at the Lombard Library. I have strong experience in  leading and managing public libraries, including personnel and legal issues. I have worked with  Boards, committees, and consultants, and have a strong working knowledge of personnel laws and practices, including interviewing, hiring, training, supervision, and evaluation. I joined DUUC in February, 2017, after searching for a spiritual home that was progressive and non-dogmatic. I have had a leadership role with the Elder Circle, the Congregational Life Committee, and the Mindful Monday Covenant Group. To learn more, I have attended each fall retreat since 2016, done reading on UUism, and attended the 2019 General Assembly. I have also volunteered in other ways, such as working with PADS, being a greeter, and organizing several Face to Face events. I regularly attend the men’s group and help with their activities. I love DUUC and our members, and love that I have found my spiritual home. Besides my career, I was married for 29 years and have three children and five grandchildren. I was born and raised in Detroit, but moved to the Chicago area in 1970. Divorced at age 50, I came out as gay, and have been with my partner, Jeff Dengler, for 21 years. We live in Bloomingdale. My interests including reading mysteries, learning what life was like around 1900, ragtime music, and pre-1970 musical comedy.

Karen Hutt  (Chair)

Karen Hutt has been a member of DUUC for 34 years. Her past church activities include teaching in the RE program, chair of the Personnel Committee, canvasser for annual pledge drives and the  capital campaign, member and chair of the Nominating Committee, coordinator of memorial  services, Auction co-chair in 1993, 2008, and 2009 and co-chair of the Facilities Enhancement  Committee. She has been a member of the Coordinating Council and the Board of Trustees  multiple times. She served as treasurer from 2010-2015. She is currently a member of the  Transition Team and is Chair of the Finance Committee. She is a member of DUU-Gooders and a  chalice circle.

Doug Kocher-Cowan

Doug started attending DUUC with his wife Pat in 2008 and joined the church in 2010. He has  participated in many activities to promote the mission and values of this church. They include social justice, Smile project, PADS, church Auction, the Personnel committee, spring cleaning and most importantly making coffee. Doug and his wife have been married for 28 years. He is retired from the US Navy Reserve and currently works for Honeywell as one of their Directors of technology.

Sarah Lensink

Sarah Lensink has been a member of DUUC since 2011. In that time she has run affinity groups, served on the Nominating Committee, the Annual Budget Drive Committee, as a Coming of Age Mentor and volunteered for the annual art show. Sarah has participated in UU work outside the church as well; she has assisted with Midwest UU Summer Assembly (MUUSA) planning and attended the family camp assembly for many years. She attended the Midwest Leadership School (MWLS) in 2015. She looks forward to serving on the Ministerial Search Committee.