Meet our staff
Interim Minister, Rev. Michelle LaGrave
Rev. Michelle LaGrave is currently serving the First Unitarian Church of Omaha as its Interim Minister while the congregation prepares for a new settled ministry to begin in late summer of 2020. She is excited to work with our congregation as we rediscover who we are as a congregation and who we want to become in our next phase of ministry.
Rev. Michelle earned her M.Div degree at Andover Newton Theological School (now Andover Newton at Yale) and is in Final Fellowship with the UUA. Her experience includes a pastoral care residency in a Level 1 trauma center as well as training in interim ministry. She served congregations in Massachusetts and Illinois before moving to Nebraska. Her pre-seminary background is in the education field in both museum and early childhood settings. She loves to be creative and collaborative in her ministry and welcomes active participation from the congregation.
Rev. Michelle is married to her spouse, Micah, who she met in seminary when they both took a class on Pastoral Care for GLBTQ people. They live with their cats and Michelle’s service dog, Bella, and often feel they are living in a “zoo” while loving every minute of it. Rev. Michelle enjoys spending time outdoors, swimming, spiritual art, and putting jigsaw puzzles together.
Lifespan Director Of Religious Education, Christina Strong
Christina Strong has been a Unitarian Universalist since 2008 and was employed in various positions at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln from 2009-2019. She received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and nearly completed an M.A. in Sociology (emphases in Social Inequality and Education), before switching directions to open Strong Family Child Care in Lincoln in 2012. She is excited to begin what she hopes will be a lifelong career in Religious Education, and plans to pursue the Religious Education Credentialing Program through the UUA. Christina lives in Lincoln with her husband, Paul, and their four children, Tiana (20), Keijuan (15), Tina (13), and Pele (8). She enjoys traveling, audiobooks, cardio kickboxing, cake decorating, and deep conversations with friends. She is looking forward to getting to know the Omaha UU community!
She'd love to connect with you about your religious education needs:
Membership Coordinator, Carrie Helmberger
Carolyn Helmberger was born and raised in Omaha and loves the community very much. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska in 2008. She writes poetry, makes art, and loves to find the beauty in everyday life. She also cannot wait to get to know you and see what makes you happy too!
Affiliated Community Minister, Rev. Dr. Sarah Voss
Rev. Sarah is a Unitarian Universalist minister, author, and lecturer who currently is a contract chaplain at Methodist Hospital and a state ODR (Office of Dispute Resolution) family mediator affiliated with Concord mediation center in Omaha. Over the years, she has published extensively about religion and math, including articles on matheology and moral math in publications as varied as Parabola, Journal of Religious Humanism, Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Still Point Arts Quarterly, and Theology and Science. She came to First Unitarian, Omaha, when she was still teaching mathematics, a career which ended not long after she found herself telling her College of St. Mary calculus students how God might be like the definite integral of calculus. She knew then that something was definitely moving her in a new direction. She took math with her into Meadville-Lombard School of Theology in Chicago, and, eventually, the thesis she wrote for her Doctor of Ministry degree became her first published book, What Number Is God? (SUNY, 1995). She now identifies herself as a math mystic.
Sarah’s very first UU experience was with First Unitarian Church of Omaha. She remembers how a friend invited her to come on a visitors’ Sunday in the 1980s when Rev. Ron Knapp was preaching about the poetry of May Sarton. At the time Sarah was an atheist and Ron’s sermon hit just the perfect note with her. She came back the next Sunday and heard him blasting away as he processed in full black robe down the aisle to the pulpit; he spoke about hell, fire, and damnation, and Sarah thought “Oh, no, I’ve made a horrid mistake.” It was Sunday, April 1st and when Ron reached the front of the sanctuary, he smiled and said “April Fool” and then talked about freedom of religion and our faith tradition. Sarah has been a UU ever since, first as a friend, then as a member, then as a minister, and now as a retired but active community minister. Last year she gave the twenty-five-year class comments at Meadville’s annual GA meeting. Today she feels honored and empowered to be formally connected to First Unitarian Church as their first affiliated community minister.
Church Administrator, Catharine Dixon
Catharine, in addition to being a capable office manager, is a published poet and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. For the last ten years she has been an outstanding administrator. Committed to service and professionalism, the stuff that makes our church run gets done well by Catharine. Meet her during church office hours, Monday through Friday, 9am-3pm (except for federal holidays).