Hi, I’m Joanna and I’m the lead minister for Live Oak UU. I believe we’re called to both strengthen our souls and strengthen the world, and this church is an empowering companion for your own journey. We have great theological diversity at Live Oak. My own belief is that, in the metaphor by Rev. Forrest Church, there is one light, many windows … Unitarian Universalism encourages us to examine them all.
I grew up Unitarian Universalist here in Texas, mostly in the Houston area, so I know something of what it’s like to be a religious liberal in a more religiously conservative area. (The kids at Live Oak and I exchange stories about having to explain our beliefs to other kindergarteners.) I attended Houston Graduate School of Theology, a multi-cultural seminary where I found out that, most of the time, we really do have more things in common than we would guess. At HGST, I learned that there’s tremendous value in being able to cross the divides our society tries to enforce, both to grow personally, and to work together to heal the world.
That said, there’s also a need to work for creating what Josiah Royce (and later, Martin Luther King, Jr.) called, “The Beloved Community.” I have been active in social justice work for many years, especially around LGBTQ issues, and am proud to be part of a religion that claims as its first principle a respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Some other information
Education: B.A. in English from the University of Texas; M. Div. Houston Graduate School of Theology, summa cum laude
Served: Church of the Larger Fellowship (an online, international UU congregation); Northwoods UU Church, The Woodlands; First Unitarian, Houston
Fun fact: I’m a seventh-generation Texan. There are pictures of my great-grandparents and other kinfolk picnicking at Zilker Park right after it opened. I kind of feel like the Austin area is my ancestral home.
Family: My husband Tom and I met at UT, where we were both on the Fencing Team. We’ve been married 24 years and have four children, ages 9 through 18.
Music: I like just about all of it. From Ray Wylie Hubbard to Immortal Technique, from the Ramones to the Beatles to Mumford and Sons. classical, jazz, world … okay, I have to admit, I haven’t developed a taste for dubstep yet. But my teens tell me that’s just because I haven’t heard good dubstep yet.
And always, Willie Nelson. Maybe I’d like dubstep if he did some.
TV: Cosmos, Austin City Limits, Melissa Harris-Perry, Jon Stewart. Some have accused me of being addicted to Scandal.
Favorite Spiritual Practices: The prayer bead ritual created by my friend and colleague, Rev. Erik Wikstrom. Hour-long walks with my ipod set to “shuffle.” And going to church – being in a thoughtful community of folks looking to build wholeness in ourselves and our neighborhoods? Yes, that’s my favorite spiritual practice right there.