United alums are planted across the world, doing wonderfully brave, meaningful and creative work. You’ll learn about some of them below.
At Work in the World
2015 M.Div., Social Justice and Reconciliation Concentration
Pastor, Southeast United Methodist Church, Pierre, S.D.
Nancy Ellis is the pastor of a United Methodist Church that is predominately European American. Most of the children who attend are Native American. While Nancy has some Native ancestry, she is the only African American person in her church. The community itself is mixed with European American and Native American people, a cross section of two groups that have been estranged from each other for centuries. Nancy has been able to act as a bridge builder in the community, encouraging First Nations people to embrace their heritage without shame or fear and helping the European American Christian community to see that the Native American community needs to be able to practice their spirituality without critique. Native Americans and African Americans have endured many of the same types of struggles, specifically, the denigration of worship practices and cultural norms. Being a person of color, female, a single mother and a divorcee helped prepare Nancy for this ministry.
2015 M.A., Theology & the Arts Concentration
Group Marketing Director, Lerner Publishing Group
Jill Braithwaite arrived at United with an interest in deepening her understanding of theology, the church, and the arts. From classes on the Old Testament to systematic theology to the arts, she loved learning at United and the relationships she developed with fellow students. Her spiritual life is richer, as is her engagement with the arts and her lay involvement with the church. Her degree didn’t necessarily change her career path—she worked in children’s book publishing for many years before attending United and continues to do—but she is deeply grateful for the ways her United education changed her.
2015 M.A., Justice & Peace Studies Concentration
Lena Gardner is one of the core organizers of Black Lives Matter, Minneapolis, where her role is in media relations. In 2015, OutFront Minnesota honored Lena with its Innovator Award. She also continues to work as the director of membership and development at Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship, where she served prior to graduating from United. Listen to her talk about Black Lives Matter.
2015 M.Div., Concentrations: Pastoral Care & Counseling; Methodist Studies
Karen Evenson has a dual appointment for the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is a licensed local pastor to Rosemount United Methodist Church in Rosemount, Minn., serving as associate of missions and connections, and she serves in Extension Ministry as project manager for the Reach, Renew, Rejoice Campaign.