Our Minister and Staff
Our Minister: Rev. Cathy Harrington
Rev. Dr. Catherine (Cathy) Harrington will serve as UUCGT’s Interim Minister through August 2021.Rev. Cathy, a second career UU Minister, has served in ministry for over fifteen years with four congregations. After serving for two years as an intern in Austin, Texas, she was a Settled Minister in Ludington, MI for eight years, followed by a four-year Developmental Ministry in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and most recently, spent one year completing a Developmental Ministry in Gainesville, Florida.
Serving as a Developmental Minister is very similar to an Interim Minister, although usually longer than two years. The UU Congregation in Gainesville, successfully called a Settled Minister this Spring, assisted by Rev. Cathy’s guidance.Rev. Cathy has a rich and varied background starting as a hairdresser, opening a bakery/café in Seward, Alaska, then feeling a call to Ministry and getting her Masters of Divinity degree at Starr King University, a UU seminary, in 2004. She also earned a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Meadville Lombard in 2012. While a Minister, she has served as a victimliaison for the Department of Defense and as a Police Chaplain. She is also a member of the “Faithful Fools” and we will let her tell us all about that.
Rev. Cathy is excited to be with UUCGT over the next two years on our journey to search and find a Settled Minister.
Renée Russell is a performer, teacher, and community activist with a degree in Vocal Performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston and a Masters in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. With a studied background in classical technique and a firm foot in jazz and contemporary music, Renée has performed and taught for over 20 years throughout the country and abroad. She finds joy and spiritual meaning from helping each person to identify their unique gift and assisting them in developing skills through support and encouragement. She teaches private lessons out of her home studio and enjoys working with and teaching groups, witnessing the incredible beauty that comes from respectful collaboration. The younger sibling of an accomplished and independent sister with intellectual disabilities, Renée believes in advocacy and that every voice should be heard and valued. She is also a board member of Arts for All of Northwest Michigan, a local non-profit that empowers people of all abilities through accessible arts and culture opportunities while advocating for inclusive community engagement. She enjoys living on the Old Mission Peninsula with her wonderful husband and two step-daughters, and their dog, Bernie, and cat, Finnegan.
Director of Religious Education: Betsy Hammerburg, MA
I attended the UUCGT from the ages of 6-17 and recently began attending again, after a long hiatus, during which I studied elementary education and taught Pre-K through 3rd grade in Thailand, Syria, Vietnam, and Austria. My husband, Kris, and I moved back to Traverse City last year with our two boys, Elliot (2.5 years old) and Oliver (10 months old), to be closer to family. The religious education I received through the UUCGT was fundamental to the development of who I am, and continue to strive to be today. I look forward to supporting the next generation of UU’s as they develop their senses of compassion, acceptance, inclusion, peace, curiosity, and respect for all.”
Alison Ernst, RE Teacher
Alison Ernst is a librarian by profession, a writer by compulsion, an avid cyclist, and a lover of the outdoors. She’s a life-long learner, a strategic thinker, and a fan of experiential education. Originally from upstate New York, she lived in beautiful Western Massachusetts for three decades before moving to Metro Detroit in 2010. A recent resident of Traverse City, she and her recently retired spouse Jim Mumby, are enjoying living “up north.”
Claire Crandell, RE Teacher
Claire has an eclectic work background. She has been an administrator for cultural projects (local, city and state), facilitated cultural arts workshops, and written grants and reports. She has been a teacher in various settings (public schools, private settings and college) to students of all ages and skill levels. She has taught special needs students and adults. She loves the outdoors and is “cousin to the wind”. She loves to read and write fiction.
Katie Tomczyk, Teacher 7th-9th grade; OWL Facilitator
Katie’s Master’s degree is in Curriculum and Instruction with endorsements in PE/Health Education and Special Education and she has experience in teaching a wide range of health topics including self-care and reproductive health.
Joan Sheard, OWL Facilitator
Susan Sherman MSD, Office Administrator
Susan has experience in a variety of fields – legal, medical and hospitality fields, the arts and teaching. She has been a conference and workshop coordinator/facilitator, business organizer and administrator. Together with her husband, they designed their home property as Michigan’s first Green Certified residential development. Her most fulfilling occupation has been the privilege of being a mom to her adult daughter, Elizabeth, who lives in Denver.
In addition to completing a Master’s degree in Spiritual Direction in 2009, she has been a hospice and crisis volunteer, explored numerous natural healing modalities, and occasionally teaches online classes in spirituality. Susan’s interests include connecting with nature, hiking and gardening, exploring natural health and energy healing as well as exploring the inner life as a spiritual practice, and she enjoys engaging with people. She strives to keep her feet on the ground in the present and hope for the future of the world.
You can reach Susan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (231) 947-3117.