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Our Ministers

Rev. Kathleen Owens, Lead Minister

Joined the staff in 2007.

After serving this congregation for seven years as the Associate Minister, the congregation called the Rev. Kathleen Owens as their Lead Minister in 2013. Kathleen continues to find and co-create a variety of ways for the congregation to create meaningful community, to nurture spiritual growth and act on our values to help heal our part of the world here in San Diego County. Kathleen feels especially blessed to share this ministry with the other gifted ministers and staff of this congregation, across its two campuses. Kathleen writes, “We at First UU Church are committed to offering bold and engaging worship and programs that stir the heart and mind, inviting people to explore more deeply how community, justice, care and joy can live more fully in our lives. We want to create more partnerships with local organizations in the work of justice so that the San Diego region can be more just, equitable and compassionate. We are committed to raising our collective and individual awareness in order to identity and remove cultural, physical and attitudinal barriers to full participation in our congregation and ensure a leadership development program for all ages. This is an exciting place to worship, learn, share and grow together in becoming our best and fullest selves so that we can use our gifts to bless the world. Wherever you are on your journey, if you come with an open heart and mind, you are welcome in this vibrant, diverse and multigenerational community.”

When Kathleen is not at church, she and her wife Jan are either walking and hiking in San Diego, traveling, enjoying movies and theatre or spending time with their family at home.

As Lead Minister, Kathleen focuses on the following areas of ministry: Worship, Generosity, Pastoral Care, Children and Family Ministry, our South Bay campus and an emerging ministry to Military service members, their families and veterans. Kathleen holds a B.A. in English with a teaching certificate from Purdue University and a Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry.

Phone (619) 298-9978.

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Rev. Ian W. Riddell, Minister of Music and Worship Arts

REv. Ian RiddellJoined the Staff in 2015.

Rev. Ian serves as our Minister of Music and Worship Arts. Before joining us at First Church, Rev. Ian served the Las Vegas congregation as Developmental Minister. Previously, he served as Director of Music Ministry in congregations in Madison, Wisconsin; State College, Pennsylvania; and Victoria, British Columbia.

At FUUCSD, Rev. Ian’s responsibilities include leadership in the music and worship ministries of the congregation, along with preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and offering ministerial support to the UU Men’s Fellowship. Rev. Ian believes that music and worship can transform lives, and not just on Sunday mornings. One of the main focuses of his ministry with us will be to envision ways in which worship and music can infuse all of what we do as a religious community.

Rev. Ian’s ministry calls him to the work of re-building the world shaped by justice, kindness, and humility — participating in and guiding and ministering with a community that has covenanted to walk together in the task of healing self and the world—to sing and listen and speak and act and teach against separation and for the flourishing of life.

Information on our Music Program.

Phone (619) 298-9978 | Email ian@firstuusandiego.org

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Rev. Tania Márquez, Assistant Minister

Joined the staff in 2015. 

I joined the First UU Church of San Diego as the Assistant Minister in 2017. On Sundays, you are more likely to see me in our South Bay campus. I am South Bay´s part time minister and I am also in charge of our Caring Ministry, the People of Color group, coordinating our Wisdom Circles, and overseeing the Young Adult ministry at our church.

I am also a program leader for the Unitarian Universalist College for Social Justice. I am excited about the work that a border church can engage in and happy to be a team member of First Church. I am inspired by the work of its members and the commitment to multicultural growth and social justice. It is an honor to serve this one as a minister.

Phone (619) 398-4435 | Email tania@firstuusandiego.org

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Stevie Carmody, Intern Minister

Joined the staff in 2018.

 Hailing from New England, I am thrilled to serve as the intern minister this year. I am coming from working as the Youth Program Coordinator for several years at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts. I hope to bring a strong background in ministry to young people to my work here. In addition, I graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Masters of Divinity, and I am currently a candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry.

My role on the ministry team includes worship leading, teaching classes, and pastoral care. Additionally, I will be supporting the campus ministry, emerging adult, and young adult groups throughout the year, and facilitating the South Bay Wisdom Circle.

I will be working regular hours Sunday through Thursday, and Saturday by appointment. Fridays are my day off.

Phone (619) 398-4449 | Email stevie@firstuusandiego.org

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Rev. Jim Grant, Affiliate Minister

Rev. Jim Grant

Joined the staff in 2010.

Rev. Jim Grant has been with First UU Church since 1996, having joined the church with his wife Betty in 1998. During this time Rev. Grant served as an Interim or Consulting minister in ten different UU Congregations and was away for the periods he served. Since retiring in 2010 he has been active without interruption with First UU. As Affiliate Minister he fills in on an "as needed" basis, primarily providing pastoral care and "rite of passage" services such as weddings and memorial (Celebration of Life) services, additionally teaching Adult Religious classes and workshops.

Phone (619) 298-9978.

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Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, Affiliate Community Minister

Rev. Bonnie TarwaterJoined the staff in 2018.

Rev. Bonnie Tarwater was ordained at First UU Church of SD in 1999, and is their first “affiliated community minister.” She has served as a  parish minister in both UU and UCC churches and currently serves, Church for Our Common Home, a church and counseling center, churchforourcommonhome.com a non-profit thatprovides artistic, religious and psychological services to awaken to the moral and ecologic crisis as an invitation for spiritual growth and creating loving community with all of creation, caring for our common home, Mother Earth.  Bonnie is a Unitarian Christian dedicated to eco-feminism, the divine feminine, and AWE, Art, the Wisdom traditions and the Earth. Working previously in the professional theater she explores metaphor, symbol, color, dreams, visions, story, music, ritual, and dance for healing, community building and transformation. A devoted grandmother, she has a BA, from UCSD in Visual Art, an MFA, from ACT in theater, a CA Teaching Credential in Art and Theater from USIU, is certified from the Marin Institute of Projective Dream Work and received her M.Div. from Claremont School of Theology.  She honors dreams as an ancient spiritual tradition whose time has come back and is the SD Rep for the International Association for the Study of Dreams for San Diego.  

Phone (619) 298-9978.

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Standing on the shoulders of giants

Ministers Emeriti

Rev. Tom Owen-Towle

With over four decades in Unitarian Universalist ministry and leadership in the men’s movement, Tom Owen-Towle brings a seasoned perspective to the topics of progressive religion, partnership, gender justice, parenting, and citizenship in the global family. Tom Owen-Towle served as a parish minister since 1967 and is the author of two dozen books on various topics of personal growth, social compassion, and spiritual depth. He has been partnered in marriage for 40+ years to Carolyn Sheets Owen-Towle, and they are devoted parents of four and active grandparents of six. He is also a guitarist, a Little League coach, a budding magician and merry-maker, especially with seniors. Owen-Towle is a national leader who continues to conduct workshops and retreats on the core themes of his books. Tom served as co-minister of First UU Church of San Diego with his wife Carolyn from 1978 to 2002.

Rev. Dr. Carolyn Sheet Owen-Towle

Carolyn Owen-Towle served as a UU Minster for many years. She is also a published author and popular speaker. As the daughter of renowned watercolorist Millard Sheets, Carolyn has always been immersed in the world of art and continues to be actively involved with many arts organizations. Carolyn served as co-minister of First UU Church of San Diego with her husband Tom from 1978 to 2002.