Ministry & Programs
Rev. Jim Magaw (He/Him), Minister
“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, 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 (she/her), Director of Religious Education
Office hours: Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 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). She is credentialed at the Advanced Level by the UUA. Jen was introduced to Unitarian Universalism while completing a college internship with the DRE at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. 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).
Click here to see what Jen had to say in a September 2014 Mt. Lebanon Magazine Article about Youth Ministry.
Bethany Thornton (she/her), Membership Director
Office hours: Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment
Bethany Thornton has served as the Sunnyhill Membership/Outreach Manager for over five years. During that time she has organized groups of Sunnyhillers to get together for everything from Soup and Chili Cookoffs to attending marches in Washington D.C. She is usually the first person to warmly welcome you to Sunnyhill on Sunday mornings and keep in touch with you on the days in between. In her free time she enjoys being with her family, baking delicious desserts, knitting, and fireside chats with friends new and old. Bethany her husband, Jay, have four children and they have been members at Sunnyhill for since 2012.
Mary Pratt (she/her), Music Director
Mary Pratt 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.
Mary joined the Sunnyhill staff as Music Assistant in 2019 and moved into her new role as Music Director in August of 2021 where she is now in charge of planning and making music at Sunnyhill, including directing the choir. She is grateful to be serving in this role and working with all of the gifted musicians in our community!
Carol Karl (she/her), Music Director Emeritus
Please see the church directory for personal email address and phone.
Carol, a founding member of the church, served as our Music Director for over 45 years. During that time she served as the principal pianist for Sunday services, and, when not providing us with beautiful music, she directed 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.
In this emeritus role, Carol will still direct several choir pieces over the course of the year, and she will still play piano for some of our services. So this is not a farewell to Carol—just the start of a new phase of her involvement at Sunnyhill. Carol has been, and continues to be, a consummate church music professional, and her service to this congregation has been nothing short of amazing. As we head into the new church year, we will find ways to celebrate Carol and her many contributions to Sunnyhill over the years, even as she continues to contribute to our music program.
Irene “Reni” Monteverde (she/her), Collaborative Pianist
Reni was welcomed to the Sunnyhill team in 2023. She finds the most joy when she is accompanying other musicians and voices, so this position is a dream come true for her! Reni found solace in the piano when she was young and appreciates the opportunity to serve the vibrant UUCSH community doing what she loves. Reni is currently pursuing a PhD in Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she is also a part-time faculty member in the Music Department. She is passionate about her research which centers around African American, three-time Grammy-nominated, jazz pianist and composer, Erroll Garner. In her free time, she enjoys performing at various venues around her hometown of Pittsburgh.
Administration and Operations
Roy Simmons (he/him), Congregational Administrator
Office hours: M – F, 9 a.m. to 3 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.