Meet our staff
Settled Minister, Rev. Shari Woodbury
Rev. Shari Woodbury began as First Unitarian Church of Omaha's settled minister in August 2020. She is honored to be called to this congregation and is eager to connect with our members and the wider community.
An Iowa native, Rev. Shari came to ministry from a previous career as a non-profit leader. She completed her M.Div at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. After doing campus ministry and membership work for her home congregation in Bloomington, Indiana, completing chaplaincy internships in a regional hospital and an agency serving homeless people, and carrying out a ministerial internship in Columbus, Indiana, she settled into her first parish ministry, in Fort Worth, Texas. Her recent return to the Midwest is a happy homecoming. Shari loves crafting engaging worship with partners, fostering spiritual growth for all ages, tapping into creativity, and putting our liberal religious values into practice in the world around us.
With her husband William and their daughter, born in 2010, Rev. Shari enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, camping, ping pong, board games and movies. She is also a poet, singer, and compulsive photographer of nature. You can learn more about Shari at her website.
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 eleven 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).