My name is Cynthia Bryant and I am a mother, wife, sister, and aunt. Born and raised in Oakland, California, I am a first generation college student, who is proud to have spent the past 23 years serving as a higher educator at Southern University, a historically black university. I have had many roles at Southern, from English Professor to Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, but my current position as Dean of the College of Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies has been my most challenging role yet.
I have no religious foundations beyond the gospel choir in which my mother sang during my childhood. Neither my parents nor my grandparents attended church, so I was never forced to choose a religious path. In my early twenties, I decided to join Baton Rouge’s Greater King David Baptist Church. While there, I became extremely involved. I served as a junior minister, and sang alto in an excellent gospel choir. Unfortunately, I was turned off by some of the theological concepts presented, as well as the contradictory behaviors that accompanied them.
I joined the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge about 14 years ago. I found a space where my spiritual questions were not immediately answered for me. Instead, I have been encouraged to seek answers in my own way, at my own pace, in which ever direction my quest leads me. I continue to serve on the Worship Guild, as I have for a number of years. Additionally, I have facilitated a Beloved Conversations series, I serve on the Beloved Conversations Advisory Committee, and I served as a UCBR board member for 5 years. I am not significantly active within the Baton Rouge community. Most of my work for our community is an extension of my service to our church and my work at Southern University. After everything that I give gratefully and generously to my husband, children, workplace, and church, I don’t have much time left for frequent civic engagement. Nevertheless, I know that my contributions within the Baton Rouge community have made a difference in the lives of many and I look forward to giving more in the coming years
My wife Capi and I have been members of UCBR since 2003. I am originally from North Carolina where the majority of my family still resides. The Smith family was fairly conservative but not extremely religious. We attended the Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches looking for that comfortable place. I found it here at our church! I found personal freedom from the proverbial closet when I became a member here. The integrity, the dignity and the equality for all people is something I am always striving to stand up for in the greater community.
I have served as a member of the board, on the Welcoming Committee, the Personnel Committee, the Stewardship Committee, as well as other various committees and functions in and around the church.
Upon graduation from high school I realized I had a more liberal point of view than most of her family and North Carolina in general so I joined the United States Air Force at 18 years old. After basic training in San Antonio, TX. I was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California for four years. I loved California and decided to stay there for six more years after my honorable discharge. I also loved the Air Force, so after my four years on active duty I continued in the Air Force Reserves for eleven more years, nine of those years were served at Belle Chase, New Orleans in the 926th Tactical Fighter Group.
The Air Force and G.I. Bill helped me continue my education, obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree from LSU in Education. I taught secondary school for a while until I was able to find a career that incorporated my three main interests; investigation, law and medicine. Thus my long and very enjoyable and somewhat stressful career in Insurance Claims began.
After over 30 years I am semi-retired and enjoying USTA tennis leagues and tournaments. I am looking forward to serving the church congregation on this committee in search of our new settled minister as well as getting to know our many new members in the process.
I was born in Baton Rouge and raised in the Baptist Church. My father, Lee T. Wesley, Sr. is the pastor at Community Bible Baptist Church. That church and Baptist theology shaped my view of the world well into my 20’s. I stumbled upon the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge during my last semester at LSU in 2005. I became more familiar with the good works of the church while organizing for the rights of persons that were displaced after Hurricane Katrina later that year. In 2006, I attended a Roots class and joined the church.
In 2008, I began law school at Southern University Law Center and disappeared from church and the rest of the world for 3 years. After law school, I worked briefly in local politics before beginning my current job with Peoples Health.
My wife, Lindsey, joined the church in 2011. Our 7-year-old daughter, Ella, attends church with us. After a few shy weeks, she now loves participating in the UCBR religious education program.
I realize there are many members that we haven’t met. That’s probably because our family only makes it to the early bird special at 9:30. We hope to mix things up this summer and make some new friends!
Our family is committed to the UCBR and I am honored to be nominated to serve our church.
I’m a native of Baton Rouge. I spent four years in the Marine Corps. I’m now retired from the postal service after 25 years. I have two children, Bobby Jr. & Brandon from my first marriage and three grandsons from them, Keegan, Noah, and Dante. My wife, MiJa and I have two off-spring, Abel and Innai.
I was born into a family who’s religious differences became a battleground for the souls of my brother, sister and I. On one side was the Lutherans, the first reformers. On the other was the Seventh Day Adventist, the remnant church with the third angel’s message. They seemed a lot more urgent than the Lutherans. Conveniently the SDA’s holy time was from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. The Lutherans pick up Sunday morning until after Sunday dinner. Even though I appreciated the mentors and the friends, and even, later, the religious history, from both churches I began to resent the disruption to our family. Another division was my dad’s family was from the country, mom’s was from the city. All this with the backdrop of Jim Crow, which wouldn’t be outlawed until my senior year of high school. From a very young age I was trying to decide which was right. I must admit I was leaning toward the SDA’s. After all, the 4th commandment clearly stated that god preferred Saturday worship to Sunday worship.
As is typical, it wasn’t until we had children that I started to feel the need for a religious community. I had been conscious of my spiritual path for some 20 years before we became members in 1990. I saw this as the place my path had led me. I continue this trajectory to this day. In the 29 years I’ve been a member this church has been a major part of an exchange of spiritual and civic transformations between myself, the church, and the community at large. It has been my platform to serve.
I’ve served on the minister’s support team, volunteered in RE and served as senior youth adviser. I volunteered with, what was then, the Social Concerns committee and served for 10 ten years as Social Justice director. At present I’m a branches leader and I represent our church as a delegate on TBR’s executive committee.
I’m a trained facilitator for Dialogue on Race La. I have more than 20 years guiding groups through a deeper conversation around race. I volunteer and serve on the board of Humanities Amped, a non-profit created to bring social consciousness into the high school curriculum.
My name is Melanie Mayeux. I began my journey as a UU when I joined the First Unitarian Church of Houston in 2001. In my 6 years of membership there, I served as a Chalice Circle leader (its version of Branches), taught RE, and served on its Board.
I moved back home to Baton Rouge in 2007 and joined UCBR in 2009. Since then, I have been a very active member. I was a member of the first elected policy governance board and served as its President for two terms. My tenure as President is memorialized by my signature on the contract to update the parking lot. In addition to the Board, I have served as a Beloved Conversations facilitator and sang in the choir for three years. Currently I serve as a Branches leader, teach RE (pre-K – Kindergarten), am an usher, and am leading a team that is drafting a Safety Plan for the church.
I work for the Louisiana Department of Education where I serve as a member of the Office of Federal Programs. When I am not at work or church, I am likely in my kitchen baking, at an LSU sporting event, especially baseball or women’s gymnastics, or in Houston cheering on the Astros.
Together with my wife, Kelli Gilbert, I’ve been an active member of UCBR since moving to Baton Rouge 13 years ago. Our sons Paul (20) and William (12) have grown up in the church. My path to this church began in central Pennsylvania, where I grew up as a United Methodist. After being unchurched in early adulthood, Kelli and I found some like-minded souls in Hammond and eventually became charter members in the Hammond Unitarian Church in about 1997. The small church had a lot of work to do, and I served on the board, including a stint as president, until we moved. It was a joy to come to a church where I didn’t need to be the one to arrive early and unlock the building. At UCBR I’ve participated in a variety of outreach and ministry activities, from post-Katrina cleanup in New Orleans to taking a turn leading my Branches group.
I’m on the faculty at LSU, where I’m fortunate to be able to make a living studying birds. In the course of my academic career I’ve been involved in many faculty searches. In some ways these are similar to finding a minister- it needs to be an honest process that identifies someone who can become a valuable and trusted colleague for many years to come. I’ll look forward to working with the congregation and the candidate pool to make the right choice for our church.
Hello! My name is Audrey Alem. Most of you know me and watched me grow up in the church, some of you I babysat when I was in college, and I now teach some of you in Middle Youth. I grew up in a very diverse household. My dad is from Beirut, Lebanon, and his family is Sunni Muslim. My mom’s family are white Southern Baptists from Bogalusa, Louisiana. Before UCBR, I was praying to Mecca with my Lebanese grandmother every weekday morning and going to a Southern Baptist church with my American grandparents on Sundays. I was 9 years old starting the 5th grade when my parents found this church.
In high school, I was a youth leader, helping organize youth trips to other churches, running the Senior Youth SWUUSI camp, as well as participating in a Spiritual Development Conference, and a Leadership Development Conference. I also served the South West District Board as the Youth Liaison from 2006-2007. The years I spent as a youth in our church and participating in district-wide youth programs were some of the most formative times of my life. Like most youth, after graduating from high school, I took a hiatus from the church. My interest in the church was renewed when I was asked by a member of our congregation if I would teach Middle Youth for the summer. I fell in love with it, and I’ve been doing it for 3 years now. I am also an OWL facilitator, I lead the planning and organization of the Family Ministries potlucks, and I’m one of the leaders of our church’s Days for Girls chapter. I’m honored to be a part of the search committee, and excited to find our future Senior Minister. It is my hope that we will all be able to put our personal biases aside to find someone that our whole community will love and be able to grow with for many years to come. Blessings.