Interim Minister and Staff

The Interim Minister and Staff at 2U all create an incredible experience for everyone participating in and attending the worship services and various faith development educational experiences.

Rev. Jennie Barrington, Interim Minister

Dear Members and Friends of “2U,”

I feel so happy and fortunate to be coming to serve as your Interim Minister! Chicago has such a rich and inspiring history, and so does your wonderful congregation. I know that we will do enriching work together, and have a great time together, and that there will be lots of conversations about baseball! Here is some background on me and my ministry:

I am life-long Unitarian Universalist, originally from New England, and have been a UU minister for over seventeen years, most recently as the Interim Minister for The UU Congregation of Columbia, South Carolina. I have also served as Interim Minister for the UU congregations in: Little Rock, Arkansas; Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, and South Bend, Indiana; Fredericksburg, Virginia; and Pittsfield, Maine. I have especially enjoyed my work in the areas of UU Religious Education for children and youth; church finances, fundraising, and capital campaigns; theme-based worship services; Social Justice and Community Organizing; and advising about the search for a settled minister. Some Social Justice causes I have advocated for include: gay rights and gay marriage; dismantling institutional racism; workers’ rights; standing against gun violence and for stricter gun laws; environmental concerns; and understanding and tolerance for religious minorities. I was the UU minister in Winchendon, Massachusetts for seven years. I have also provided support for people who have some disabilities, but also many gifts and graces. I received my Master of Divinity degree from Bangor Theological Seminary in May of 2001, and have also worked as a paralegal.

I was raised with an appreciation of our UU heritage’s Humanist roots in Unitarianism, and spirit-filled influences in Universalism. I was also inspired by the foundational ideas of UU Religious Education for children and youth, and by spending time outdoors with extended family. My personal theology is essentially Process Theology. I believe that there are forces in the universe that want beauty, truth, fairness, and compassion. But those forces are not omnipotent. We have to work with them. We have to do our part. My favorite famous Unitarians include Pete Seeger, John and Abigail Adams, Henry Bergh (the founder of the A.S.P.C.A.), and Beatrix Potter. But my favorite famous Unitarian is Adlai Stevenson!

For fun, I love travelling to places with a rich history, exploring state parks, listening to all types of music, reading poetry, collecting Vera Bradley bags, and listening to the amazing things children and youth say. I am also an avid college football fan–but pluralistically so. I have lived in so many college football towns by now that it’s hard to pick any one team as my favorite.

I love the fast pace and short-term goals of Interim Ministry, and I want to help “2U” become as strong, lively, and empowered as possible, in all areas of your congregational life. I’m thrilled to be coming to Chicago, and I can hardly wait to meet all of you! I can be reached at (773) 549-0260, ext. 13, or interim [at] secondunitarian [dot] org.

Looking forward happily to our time together,

Rev. Jennie

Director of Faith Development: Alicia Obando

Alicia Obando is very excited to join the staff team at 2U as the new Director of Faith Development. She started coming to church at 2U in 1995 because she was looking for a place of worship for her 6-year-old foster child. She entered the 2U Sunday school program, and soon after, Alicia became a teacher in the program. Working with children and families is something she’s been doing in some capacity for over 30 years. She started off as a child and family therapist, but has also been a tutor, a kids club leader, a preschool teacher, a Big Sister, a foster mom, a nanny, and has recently started her own business coaching families on how to safely manage kids and pets. Being in the company of children brings her joy and she’s delighted to have the opportunity to work with all of you to help our 2U kids develop into amazing UU people. She looks forward to working together with the staff, the parents, the kids and all the congregation to continue our tradition of excellent faith development programming. Alicia can be reached at dfd [at] secondunitarian [dot] org.

Director of Music: Amanda Thomas

Mezza soprano vocal soloist, and vocal instructor in the Chicago area for many years, Amanda earned a B.A. in music from Saint Xavier University of Chicago, where she studied voice and choral conducting. She is comfortable singing and conducting many genres of music including instrumental, classical, jazz, gospel, pop, and South African choral music. Amanda has been a UU for 16 years, and she and her wife Heather Godbout have been members of Unity Temple UU Congregation for 9 years. Amanda is the former Choir Director at Park Forest UU Church in Park Forest, Illinois, and the former Music Director at First Unitarian Church of Chicago. Amanda can be reached at musicdirector [at] secondunitarian [dot] org.
Congregational Administrator: Kate Learson
Office Hours:
Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm
Kate is very excited to join the team at 2U! Kate Learson was raised in south eastern Pennsylvania. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and graduated in 2009 with a degree in Video. Kate lived in Baltimore for ten years where she discovered improvisational comedy. In 2015 Kate moved to Chicago to further pursue improv and performance art. She has produced a number of shows for the stage and several short films. In addition to her creative life, Kate has worked for many years as an administrator and customer service liaison. She currently lives in Lincoln Square with her dog Charlie-girl. Kate can be reached at office [at] secondunitarian [dot] org.
Rev. Elizabeth HardingCommunity Minister: Rev. Elizabeth Harding
Rev. Elizabeth Harding has a long relationship with 2U, having started attending 2U at the age of seven. She attended Meadville Lombard Theological School and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, graduating in 2005 and 2006. She went on to complete the units of CPE needed to become a hospital chaplain, and served in that capacity for several hospitals in the Midwest while completing that portion of her education. Elizabeth was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry by Second Unitarian. She also ministered to the Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation for a time. She and her husband, Kevin B. O’Reilly, were married at 2U in 2011. In 2013, they had their son Lucas A. O’Reilly. Elizabeth went back to being a chaplain in 2011 and is now working as a bereavement counselor with Midwest Palliative and Hospice Carecenter. Elizabeth is a Cubs fan because no other team has such a direct handle on teaching us about both hope and suffering. When she’s not pondering deep thoughts, she loves painting, swimming, reading, and works hard at being silly. Rev. Harding can be reached at elizabeth [dot] harding [at] gmail [dot] com.