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Chautauqua Award

The Chautauqua Award was created in 2012 in cooperation with Meadville Lombard Theological School. Each year the School’s faculty selects a student they consider to be an outstanding ministerial prospect for the award. The Recipient serves as one of our ministers of the week and the Fellowship provides a grant for travel expenses, provides housing and gate passes for the recipient and a companion.

2016 Winner:  Jacqueline Brett

J_BrettJacqueline Brett is a seminary student at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She is the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Atherton Scholar for 2015-16. Jacqueline was also recently elected to the seminary’s Board of Trustees.

Jacqueline has served the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Durham, NC since 2012 and is presently on the ministerial staff serving as the congregation’s Intern Minister (or Student Minister). She has also served local congregations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill as a membership development professional, and is on the Executive Committee of Sacred Fire UU.

Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist takes small group ministry out into the community, bringing into relationship those who resonate with UU values and the UU vision of the Beloved Community, but who are not seeking church. It is a model of covenanted community that serves as a vehicle for alternative expressions of UU theology and practice.

2015 Winner:  Alex Klingenberg

unnamedAlix is completing her second year at Meadville Lombard Theological School and is a born and raised Unitarian Universalist. She spent her childhood in Bloomington-Normal, IL and attended the church there until she went to Oberlin College in Ohio. After graduating with a degree in visual art, she spent twelve years as an artist and photographer and had her own wedding photography business. She began serving as a high school youth advisor at Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL and through her connection with youth she found her calling to ministry. Her passion is for small group ministry and faith formation. She hopes to create an intergenerational ministry worthy of the changing landscape our UU movement is traversing. She currently serves as the student minister to Peoples Church of Chicago. She tries to see the divine in the everyday experiences of life: a morning cup of coffee, the moment right before someone laughs, the feeling you have when you hear a song from your childhood, the sound of rain at night, or an unexpected moment of connection with a stranger. She lives with her husband, John, their 3 month old son, Quillen, and 2 cats, in Chicago, IL.

2014 Winner: Shari Woodbury

ShariShari found Unitarian Universalism eighteen years ago and has been active in her home congregation, most recently as Campus and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator. She currently serves as Intern Minister at a UU congregation in Columbus, Indiana. She is graduating from Meadville Lombard Theological School this May.

A native of Iowa, Shari has spent most of her adult life in Bloomington, Indiana, where she earned a graduate degree in sociology. In addition to stints at a meditation center in California, at the land trust serving southern Indiana, and consulting across the state, Shari spent almost a decade as executive director for two community foundations. As a volunteer, she has devoted time and energy to such causes as racial justice, principled nonviolence, and building a just and sustainable economy. Currently she serves on the board of Bloomington Cooperative Services (aka Bloomingfoods co-op).

Her hobbies include writing poetry, singing, and camping with her family – high-tech husband William and their infectiously silly 4-year old, Avonelle.

2013 Winner: Jason Cook


Jason Cook, the first winner of the Chautauqua Award is a second year student who is currently the Intern Minister at the Anaheim Unitarian Universalist Church in California. He is pursuing his Masters of Divinity Degree at Meadville Lombard Theological School, where he is the recipient of the Bradburd Scholarship for Ministerial Excellence.

Lee Barker, President of Meadville Lombard says that Jason is an excellent preacher who carries a wonderful pastoral presence. Jason is familiar with Chautauqua but has never been on the grounds. Jason says, “There are many students at the seminary worthy of this award. I want you to know the personal connection I feel for this. To be part of the dialogue and experience the legendary community of Chautauqua will be a dream come true.”