Our Minister and Staff
Rev. Michelle LaGrave
Rev. Michelle began her ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (UUFD) in the Fall of 2015. Michelle is a warm, caring, intelligent, and grace-full minister who loves to work with individuals to develop their own, unique capacity for spirit-filled leadership. She loves interacting with people of all ages and especially enjoys guiding and supporting people as they continue to develop their own thea/ologies and philosophies of life. Her own thea/ology is eclectic and includes elements of process theology, affect theology, panentheism, and Judaism (and if you'd like to know what those are, she'd be happy to talk about it!) She is welcoming to people of all classes, educational levels, genders, orientations, cultures and ethnicities. She has a special interest in developing interfaith relationships among the community centers and houses of worship in the area.
Michelle is a member of GLAD (Gay, Lesbian Association of Decatur), an advisor to Macon County Youth Pride, and a steering committee member of TRUUST, a supportive professional association for transgender Unitarian Universalists working in all aspects of ministry. She is a former board member of Interweave Continental and has served on the Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression (ARAO) script review team for several General Assemblies.
Rev. Michelle LaGrave earned her Master's of Divinity (MDiv) at Andover Newton Theological School. She was ordained by First Parish In Framingham, MA, completed a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, CT and is in Final Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Michelle shares her home with her spouse, Micah, her service dog, Bella, and 4 cats. She has been a vegetarian for all of her adult life. She loves to swim, read mysteries, do puzzles and makes art as one of her spiritual practices.
Religious Exploration Teacher
My name is Emily Richard and I am looking forward to learning more about UUism and teaching RE. I grew up in Decatur and went to school at St. Teresa and then went to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at EIU in 1996. I came back to Decatur and was a substitute teacher for a couple years and then taught Pre-K in a few different schools for several years. I was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters for many years and met my future husband through my time at BBBS. My husband Keith and I got married in 2008. I taught part time in a morning Pre-K classroom for a couple years after getting married. In 2011 we started working on having a family and I decided to stay home. We now have three children at home. Our son Mario is 4 years old, son Alex is 9 and daughter Ashlee will be 11 next month.
Michael Duling originally hails from the UU congregation in Urbana, Illinois, but is now proud to call Decatur home. A freshman theatre student at Millikin, Michael has extensive experience with the piano, voice, and the occasional saxophone. As a possible side-effect of being raised by a librarian and an OWL instructor, Michael also greatly enjoys intersectional literature and revolutionary love-based activism.