Ministry & Programs
Rev. Jim Magaw
Office Hours TWF, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (please phone first or make appointment)
“We do not think ourselves into a new way of living as much as we live ourselves into new ways of thinking,” Richard Rohr said. Similarly, my path of ministerial formation has been one of living my way into ministry, rather than thinking my way in. To be sure, a great deal of thinking has gone into my preparation and training, but it has been the actual, lived experience of ministry that has made me a minister.
A couple of years ago, I had a moment of realization that I had, in fact, become a minister. It happened while I was offering a prayer during a worship service at my internship congregation. I looked out at these people—people with whom I had worked in committee meetings, in small groups, in religious education classes, in pastoral conversations, in acts of prophetic witness—and I realized that I loved them.
My sense of having become a minister was not handed down from on high. It wasn’t as if I’d won some kind of wrestling match and, as a result, had been awarded ministerial authority or ministerial identity. It was all about the fact that I had worked with these people in challenging times and in moments of great joy, and I had come to love them.
And of course it’s about love. My journey has been about love from day one. Ministry is my answer to the question posed by Mary Oliver in her poem “Spring”: “There is only one question: how to love this world.”
Ministry is how I have chosen to love this world. Inviting others to share this ministry is how I hope to help others answer this question for themselves.
I grew up in several small towns in Ohio during the 1960s and 1970s. As a United Methodist preacher’s kid, I felt lifted up and surrounded by a loving community that did its earnest best to live up to the values of mutuality expressed in one of my favorite hymns, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”: “We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear/And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.”
All of the members of my immediate family are in helping professions of one kind or another: my mother as a school teacher, my father as a minister and my sister as executive director of a non-profit agency. I have learned valuable lessons from their examples.
I love music and poetry. I have sung and played various stringed instruments since I was about 12 years old, and I started writing poetry at age seven. Even when things have been insanely busy for me (maybe especially when things have been insanely busy), I have found some time to make music and to engage with poetry.
Perhaps the most transformational aspect of my life has been my experience becoming a parent. Since my daughter’s birth nine years ago, I have been a more grateful and awe-struck person than I imagined I could be. Parenthood for me has acted as a catalyst for further reflection and action on the things that I value most.
I have aspired to be a Unitarian Universalist minister serving in a parish setting, and I am grateful and excited to be Sunnyhill’s settled minister. At this moment, I cannot imagine anything I would rather do. My call to ministry has brought me many gifts—new friends, new wisdom, new challenges and, perhaps most especially, a renewed sense of focus and gratitude. Even the difficult aspects of ministry seem like gifts to me now.
Jennifer McGlothin, Director of Religious Education
Office hours: TWF, 9 a.m. to noon and by appointment
Jennifer joined UUCSH as Director of Religious Education (DRE) in July 2012. She graduated in 2009 from the College of Charleston in South Carolina with a B.A. in Religious Studies and is a member of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). Jen was introduced to Unitarian Universalism while completing a college internship with the DRE at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. Jen is active in politics and social justice issues, and she enjoys discussing the unmentionables: religion and politics. Her goal as DRE is to introduce children to world religions and encourage compassion in human relations. Jen was married in 2010 to her college sweetheart Jimi. They have two sons, Jack (born in 2011) and Benjamin (born October 2013). Jen is pleased that Jack, who is now in kindergarten, and Ben are fixtures around the church offices. Click here to see what Jen had to say in a September 2014 Mt. Lebanon Magazine Article about Youth Ministry.
Carol Karl, Music Director
Please see the church directory for Carol’s personal email address and phone.
Carol, a founding member of the church, has been our Music Director for almost 45 years. She is the principal pianist for Sunday services, and, when not providing us with beautiful music, she directs the 25-member Tapestry Choir, a women’s choir that performs at area churches, retirement centers, and nursing homes. She has been the accompanist for the Harmony Singers, a South Hills area choral group, for over 25 years. Carol has a strong interest in musical theater, and she is the accompanist and sometime music director for community theater groups, including the Pittsburgh Savoyards and area high schools. Even with this busy musical schedule, Carol still has time to teach private piano lessons. “It never ceases to amaze me how talented and ingenious and wonderful all the choir members have been for all these years. What a pleasure it is to work with them!”
Bethany Thornton, Membership/Outreach Coordinator
Office hours: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to noon and by appointment
Bethany was recently chosen to fill the newly created position of Membership/Outreach Coordinator. She is very excited to be in this new role! Bethany and her husband, Jay, have four children and they have been members at Sunnyhill for since 2012.
Charles “Buddy” Rieger, Music Coordinator
Buddy is a life-long musician and children’s music teacher in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. He joined the UUCSH community in 2017 and is enjoying working with Sunnyhill musicians of all ages.
Mary Pratt, Music Assistant
Mary has been actively involved in all things music on Sunday mornings at Sunnyhill since becoming a member in 2016–volunteering to do everything from leading hymn singing to choosing, arranging, and performing special music. She has also voluntarily helped organize music files and done other behind-the-scenes tasks. In her capacity as part-time Music Assistant, Mary will continue with these responsibilities and others and will be an important part of the Sunnyhill music team, along with Music Director Carol Karl and Music Coordinator Buddy Rieger.
Mary joined Sunnyhill, and then immediately joined the Sunnyhill choir, in 2016. A lifelong singer, Mary has a special affinity for choral and a cappella music and loves making music with others whenever possible. She works as a licensed Kindermusik Educator at Kathy’s Music and loves to jam with her favorite musicians: her spouse, Jason, and her daughters, Cadence and Laurel. She is grateful to be serving as Sunnyhill’s Music Assistant and working with all of the gifted musicians in our community!
Administration and Operations
Roy Simmons, Congregational Administrator
Office hours: M – F, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Roy Simmons has been the church administrator for UUCSH since April 2011. Roy maintains the church database, prepares the weekly order of service, collates the weekly email blast to the congregation (The Beat!), purchases supplies, keeps our Fair Trade shelves stocked, and is the smiling face people see weekdays if they drop into Sunnyhill. Long, long ago, Roy was a practicing attorney, but when their girls were very young, he and his wife decided their family would be better served if he were a stay-at-home dad. He has two daughters, both attending the University of Pittsburgh.