Our Minister and Staff
Rev. Alex Jensen
Reverend Alex Jensen (he/him) is UUCGT’s Minister since August 2021. Rev. Alex is a first-career minister embarking on his first settled ministry with us. After a variety of ministry settings, Rev. Alex brings a depth of experience from serving as a Ministerial Intern at the First Parish in Wayland, MA, a Chaplain in hospital and domestic violence support programs, as well as his work as a Unitarian Universalist leader since his youth and early teens. Rev. Alex is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, earning his Master of Divinity (M. Div.) in 2021. He also holds a B.A. in Human Communication and Peace Studies from CSU Monterey Bay, as well as a minor in Music.
Rev. Alex became a Unitarian Universalist in his early teens after searching for a spiritual community. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rev. Alex joined the UU Congregation in Fremont, CA, bringing his whole family with him shortly after! Rev. Alex believes that Unitarian Universalism is a saving faith with a lifesaving message of love, acceptance, belonging, and inclusion. Rev. Alex experienced this firsthand after wrestling deeply with his identity and sexuality as a gay teen. Unitarian Universalism held room for him to feel loved as he was with no exceptions, moving him to come out in his young adult years. Rev. Alex strives to create Beloved Community in his ministry, where all feel welcomed to bring their whole and fullest selves.
In his free time, Rev. Alex enjoys hiking and other outdoor adventures. He also is an avid musician (violin) and enjoys playing, singing, and creating music with others.
If you have any questions, concerns, or other inquiries, please email Rev. Alex at email@example.com.
Rev. Alex’s Office Hours are on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 AM to noon and by appointment. Rev. Alex observes a Monday Sabbath for rest, as well as a Friday for writing and study.
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 cultural 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.
Email Renée at firstname.lastname@example.org
Betsy Hammerburg, MA Director of Religious Education
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.”
Email Betsy at email@example.com
Alison Ernst, Director of Adult Religious Education
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 is 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 and has taught special needs students and adults. She loves the outdoors and is “cousin to the wind”. She loves to read and write fiction.
Guy William Molnar, Office Administrator and Bookkeeper
Guy first came to Northern Michigan as a Hall Counselor at the Interlochen Arts Academy in 1990. After stints teaching piano at NMC and serving as Executive Director of the Old Town Playhouse, he left to pursue his second Master’s degree (his first is in piano performance) in classical acting.
He returned here in 2013 after nearly two decades acting, directing, and teaching acting, Shakespeare, and vocal production around the U.S.
He is a Master Teacher of Voice and Text at the prestigious Training Institute of Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, MA, an Associate Artist of the Tony-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, and a Designated Teacher of the Linklater Vocal Progression.
Guy is well known to Traverse City audiences for his many performances with the Old Town Playhouse, Michigan Ensemble Theatre, and Interlochen. He has often appeared as a vocalist with area musical ensembles and choirs, in cabarets, and in solo recital. He and his husband, Matt McCormick, live in downtown Traverse City. He is thrilled that his return to administrative work is with the vibrant UU Congregation of Grand Traverse.
Email Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (231) 947-3117.