Alan Taylor
Rev. Alan Taylor

Senior Minister (he/him) :: x101

Rev. Alan Taylor leads from an enthusiastic vision for cultivating spiritual community that transforms lives and our world by unleashing courageous love. He holds faith in the human capacity to make connections for meaningful change, and believes that, through the intentional development of an ever-expanding and deepening relational network, we contribute to the building of the Beloved Community among us.

Here at UTUUC, he oversees worship, pastoral care, faith in action, and leadership development, which includes serving as chief of staff and ministry lead to the Board. He is inspired by the commitment of countless people who show up to do the sometimes messy, sometimes monotonous, sometimes transforming work that makes possible our congregational life and many ministries.

Rev. Alan grew up a Unitarian Universalist in Bakersfield, Calif. He graduated from Pomona College with a major in religion, with emphases in both mythology and philosophy. Following college, he traveled solo for eight months in India, focusing on contemporary traditions that bring together Muslims and Hindus. He served as a residential counselor for abused children with emotional difficulties for three years before being inspired into the Unitarian Universalist ministry at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland.

He attended Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist seminary. After serving two years in Massachusetts, he accepted a call to the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church in the Seattle metropolitan area, where he shepherded a young congregation through the fundraising and building of their own worship home.

Since coming to Unity Temple in 2003, he has provided leadership that has resulted in significant growth within the Congregation, increased generosity, and an expansion of our ministries. He has shepherded the congregation through the restoration of its iconic building, which included two years of gathering at another local church. He also oversaw the building of the Unity Temple Community Center, and has developed a public ministry that focuses on racial and social justice in the western corridor of the Chicago metro area.

In the local community, he transformed the Community of Congregations into a more active multi-faith body that crosses borders and engages the west side of Chicago, that now advocates for the most vulnerable among us including undocumented immigrants, and that seeks to address the painful history of race and its effects in our community. He co-founded the OPRF Walk-In Ministry, which became Prevail and is now a program of Housing Forward.

Rev. Alan has served as a mentor to several seminarians and ministers, has volunteered in numerous capacities for the sake of supporting Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Midwest, and has served on the national board of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.

He is married to Angelica Taylor-Cortes. They have two children: Marco, born in 2008; and Erica, born in 2011. His interests include cooking, theater improvisation, and Mexican culture. He also enjoys racquetball, bicycling, and ping pong.

Emily Gage
Rev. Emily Gage

Minister of Faith Development (she/her) :: x103

A life-long Unitarian Universalist, Emily grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. Within the community of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsburgh, she cultivated her love for learning about what people believe and why. It was this that sparked her decision to major in religion and minor in sociology/anthropology at Swarthmore College, where she graduated with honors in 1990. Feeling an urge to see—and save—the world, she joined the Peace Corps, and they sent her to Poland, where she taught English as a Foreign Language to high school students from 1991-1993.

Unsure of her next steps in life, Emily returned to Pittsburgh and to the congregation where she grew up. She became the youth advisor, and it was in those months that she realized that she was called to the ministry. It would call upon her many passions and interests in life: learning, making a difference in the world, being part of and cultivating multigenerational community, writing, creating worship, making music, teaching, and listening to people’s lives. She attended Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and as part of her training, served as ministerial intern at First Religious Society (Unitarian Universalist) in Carlisle, Mass. That congregation ordained her to the Unitarian Universalist ministry on June 7, 1997, a few days after she earned her Masters of Divinity degree.

After ordination and graduation, the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, Ill. called Emily to be their minister. She served this community from 1997-2008. During this time, the congregation sold one building, bought and renovated a new one, became a Welcoming Congregation, experienced significant growth, and otherwise served as a liberal religious beacon in the southwest suburbs. Emily was active in the Joliet Ecumenical Clergy Association and served as their president.

She has been at Unity Temple since August of 2008, serving as Minister of Faith Development. Her primary portfolio is to oversee the lifespan religious education programming, though she is called upon to serve in all other ministerial capacities as well.

Emily has been active in the wider Unitarian Universalist world since she was in high school, and attended youth group conferences in her district. She is part of the Chicago Area Liberal Ministers’ group and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association. She served eight years on the Central Midwest District Board, five of those as president, from 2002-2007. She was a member of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Unitarian Universalist ministerial credentialing committee, serving from 2006-2011. She has served on the Religious Education Credentialing Committee since 2018.

She is married to Karen McMillin and they have a son Paul, born in 2011. In her spare time, Emily enjoys reading, writing, walking the dog, traveling, and listening to and playing music.

mandi huizenga
mandi huizenga

Ministerial Intern (she/her)
To schedule an appointment with mandi, click here.

mandi huizenga* is the Ministerial Intern at Unity Temple. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she met her partner there and then they moved to Princeton, N.J., where they lived for nine years. They became Unitarian Universalists at the Princeton UU Congregation, transferring their membership to Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown, N.J., when they moved to northern Jersey to live for eight years.

mandi worked as the Congregational Administrator at the Fellowship for five and a half years before receiving her call to ministerial ministry. Her call is rooted in the belief that our churches can be models of justice and love through both internal (administrative and programmatic) justice work and in the ways we share that justice work beyond our walls. Her queer identity informs how she sees this work done by rejecting the binary and employing fluidity in a congregation’s administration and program work. She believes that theological faith formation is key to this process and she creates curriculum to support this transformation.

Anti-oppression work in all its forms is a way of life for mandi. She sees the work of destroying racism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, sexism, patriarchy, and protecting our planet and our children as a faithful obligation for anyone who adheres to the Unitarian Universalist seven principles.

mandi moved to Oak Park, IL, in June of 2019 with her partner, Elías Ortega (he/him) and their two biracial (Dutch and Puerto Rican) children, Luna (she/hers) and Lucien (he/him/ze/zir). She is in her last year as a student at Chicago Theological Seminary and describes her theological perspective as Daoist with scientific- and earth-centered focuses. Her garden is her primary spiritual practice that reflects her theological values, including earth based ritual, and a source of food for her family. She also embroiders and cross-stitches in her spare time. The family loves the outdoors, traveling, food, and is always up for a new adventure or eating their way through a new city.

*mandi does not capitalize her name. This is a spiritual practice to de-center human authority over nature. First suggested by Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, this practice is a reminder that humanity is a part of the natural world and does not hold dominion over it.