REV. ILENE KAUR TOMPKINS-GILLISPIE -- MINISTER
Rev. Ilene Kaur Tompkins-Gillispie grew up in an interfaith Unitarian Universalist family in Alexandria, VA. She is a lover and scholar of world religions and has been a practicing Sikh (a religious tradition from North India), in addition to her lifelong roots as a UU, for almost ten years. Rev. Ilene holds a B.A. in Religion from New College of Florida and an M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology. She has a deep commitment to justice work in many forms, including a long history of work with the UU Partner Church Council in Romania and India.
Some of Rev. Ilene’s passions in ministry are pastoral care, worship, music, and end-of-life support. She has enjoyed working with people of all ages in diverse ministry settings, and has specialized training in providing for the spiritual needs of those who have suffered trauma or who struggle with mental or physical health challenges.
Ilene and her husband Dustin enjoy gardening, canning and preserving foods and herbs, and sewing. They come to us most recently from Chapel Hill, NC, where Rev. Ilene served as a chaplain at the Durham VA Medical Center and Dustin managed a bicycle shop. They have two cats, Ash and Nettle, and plan to continue adding furry friends to their family.
peter mockridge – BOARD PRESIDENT
A clinical chemist by training, Peter retired from directing the Laboratory Accreditation Program of the College of American Pathologists in 2004. Transylvania County, however, has been part of his life since 1968 and of wife Eleanor's life since the middle 1940s, by virtue of land that has been in her family since 1919. Peter's interests include amateur photography and wood turning, hiking the forests and grinning because he lives here. Even though he has been churched for most of his life (PCUSA), he will be quick to tell you just how important in his life being a member of UUTC has been.
joyce henneberry – BOARD PRESIDENT-Elect
A UU member since 1999, Joyce was a member of the congregations in Illinois and Florida before finding her home in Brevard, NC. “The UU church is important to me because it is accepting of all people, ideologies and religious beliefs. I have grown and will continue to grow because of the people that make up this congregation.”
A graduate of Illinois State University, Joyce worked as a professional graphic artist for 25 years, starting and growing her own advertising and design agency. Her firm’s graphic design work has been featured in national trade publications, magazines, and newspapers. She has designed published books and managed many national media campaigns.
Today Joyce is a fiber artist who draws inspiration from nature and wildlife and often works in a unique combination of abstract collage. She enjoys hiking, traveling and vegan cooking. She has been married to her husband Mark for 30 years and they have two wonderful daughters, Aby and Aly.
Gypsy richardson – Board Secretary
Greatly traveled due to her time with the Army, Gypsy brings a wealth of experience working as administrative support and economic assistant to the Defense Energy Support Command and other military organizations, both here and abroad. After the loss of her husband, she moved to Brevard in 2016 for her sister, the music, the arts, and UUTC. "The liberal religious values of the UU faith are my values. The Sunday services ground me and help me to try and live a better life of service to the community."
susan slocum – BOARD Treasurer
Susan, husband Lloyd and German Shepherd Frieda moved from Maine to WNC in 2009. Susan had just retired from 40 years as a dental hygienist and human resources professional. Susan and Lloyd's first visit to UUTC "was magical" and they became members in 2011. Deeply involved since that time, Susan's "biggest stretch" and "most fun" up to this point has been going from rampant technophobe to competent office volunteer under the training of "SuperAdmin" RK Young. Becoming Treasurer is a new stretch for Susan--a learning curve she envisions as a journey over the rainbow. Susan is an avid hiker of our beautiful mountains and a regular reader of great and not so great books.
cantey carpenter – Board Member At Large
Cantey and husband Bill moved to Brevard from Chapel Hill. They have been members of UUTC since 2011. Cantey worked as a school counselor in Sumter, SC and served as an elder and Stephen Leader in the Presbyterian Church there. "One of the many things I love about UUTC is that people are there because they want to be there, not because they think they should be."
BRIGID FOX – Board Member At Large
Brigid Fox has been in Brevard since 1996 and has raised two children in our town. She is teacher of young children at Mountain Sun Community School and enjoys being outside as much as possible. As a board member, she enjoys listening, imagining, and working with the possibilities for the UUTC congregation. She looks forward to many years of sharing her time and talents with UUTC. "Initially, I came to UUTC to give my children an opportunity to feel their own importance in the world. I stayed because UUTC and my community helped me find my own."
linda young – Board Member At Large
Linda has always been a skeptic. At a young age her mother told her that “faith could move mountains”. Taking this literally, Linda thought she had enough faith to move a nearby hill. It didn’t work.
Until she was 16, Linda and her sister attended a Presbyterian church in their small hometown. It was at that time her mother decided that it was time she and her sister joined the “Real Church” in the city. This turned out to be the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”. She and her husband were married at an RLDS church in Chicago, IL but drifted away and didn’t attend any church for awhile. After moving to Rockford, IL Linda went church shopping--finally ending up at the UU church there. The service included a scene from a play that included a “4 letter word” and they used it. At that point she knew she was “home.” UU’s didn’t hold back. She and her husband joined that UU congregation in 1973. She joined UUTC in 2011 after her husband passed.
R.K. Young – congregational ADMINISTRATor
RK believes she was probably born to be a UU but was pathetically slow in discovering it. A student of the humanities and the arts, RK entertains a lively curiosity about almost everything and loves learning new things about members of UUTC. A former award-winning art teacher, she shares Brevard with her partner Kay. When not working, RK enjoys reading, singing in the choir, bird-watching and photography.
DANNY SZEMPLE – DIRECTOR, CHILDREN’S RELIGIOUS Exploration
KEVIN SMITH – Audio/Visual tech
Kevin Smith is employed full-time with Transylvania County Schools to coordinate community relations along with media and special events for all nine of the county's public schools. You may catch him taking photographs or videos of students throughout the county. Kevin moved to Brevard in 2008 with his wife and four children.
He also currently chairs the county's Parks and Recreation Commission and sits on the board of VISION Transylvania and the Transylvania Choral Society. Known by several members of UUTC, Kevin is "glad to be part of the team that will help keep Sunday mornings going smoothly for such a welcoming congregation."
OUR MINISTER EMERITUS
REVEREND ERNEST L. MILLS, JR.
The title Minister Emeritus is granted to honor long and meritorious service to a congregation where the minister has given devoted and competent ministerial leadership. This title was granted to Ernie by the Congregation on the date of his final service for UUTC: April 26, 2015. Ordained to the UU ministry in 2007, Ernie completed a BA in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a Master of Religious Education from Duke Divinity School, and a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He began his ministry in the United Methodist Church, serving as director of education, assistant pastor, and minister. Prior to joining UUTC in June 2002, Ernie was Chaplain and Instructor at Brevard College.
Leaving his long-time affiliation with United Methodism was, as Mills has said, one of the most difficult decisions of his life. But in 2002 he resigned his position at Brevard College and became part-time minister to the small congregation of Unitarian Universalists who are now known as UUTC.
His strong interest in depth psychology and his love of folk guitar and mountain storytelling enhance his theology and brought an added dimension to his ministry. As lead singer and guitarist for the Eclectics, Ernie performed regularly for the congregation. And for more than a decade he led a lively men's discussion group open to anyone within the community to discuss weekly a wide variety of religious and secular issues--a group which continues to thrive today.