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Rev. Will Humphrey

I am Rev. Will Humphrey. I’ve served as a UU minister since 2015, and started serving as the settled minister at East Shore in January 2023. I’m deeply moved by Liberation found in sacred and secular traditions, including our Unitarian, Universalist and UU traditions. Academically, I’ve studied at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, as well as The Methodist Theological Seminary of Ohio. I value the theological notions lived as generosity and the co-creative endeavor of building Beloved Community. 

Former high school principal now minister in Kirtland

            KIRTLAND, OHIO – Members at East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland are delighted to have a full-time minister in the pulpit at last.

            The Reverend Will Humphrey was hired in January 2023 to lead East Shore, a low-slung, cedar-clapped church at 10848 Chillicothe Road (State Route 306) in Kirtland (Lake County), which serves four Northeast Ohio counties.      

          Rev. Humphrey, 40, has served both in public education and in the ministry for most of his adult life. Most recently, he was a high school and middle school principal at Danville Local Schools in Knox County, Ohio – and at the same time preached at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Bellville. “Each step along the way, I have responded to needs with an open mind and a heart of service,” he says.    

         “It’s been a few tough years where we counted on the resiliency of our congregation and the strength of our leadership to keep us moving forward,” says Mary Mason, a past board chair at East Shore. “We now have a great partner in this effort. It is a pleasure to get to know Rev. Will and to watch the ways in which he is enriching East Shore. As a congregation we are enjoying the relief of having a minister in place and serving our congregational needs.”   

            Reverend Humphrey grew up in southern Ohio, and studied at Bowling Green State University, Antioch University and the Methodist Theological Seminary of Ohio.

            A seeker, Rev. Humphrey says he grew up “denominationally challenged.” As a child he attended evangelical Christian churches. In high school he was active in the Presbyterian Church and in college he attended the Lutheran church – as well as retreats at the local Buddhist Dharma center.

            Rev. Humphrey says he experienced “the dark night of the soul” while serving a Lutheran church. “Deconstructing the notions of a confessional faith, I found Universalism and fell in love with the diversity of thought of Unitarian Universalism, the freedom of experiencing spirituality in theistic and nontheistic notions.”

            He began attending the UU church in Bellville, Ohio and it wasn’t long before he was asked to serve as an interim pastor, leading to his ordination.

            In step with Rev. Humphrey’s own searching path, East Shore “has theists and atheists; we have Humanists, Buddhists, Christian, Jewish and earth-centered members; we are a faith with interfaith-roots.“

            Each week the congregation pledges to journey together despite their theological differences. “What that looks like,” says Rev. Humphrey, “is serving our neighbors, and letting folks who might disagree with us to care for us. In these polarized times, it is quite a revolutionary idea.

            “We are a ‘welcoming’ congregation, which really means that we welcome all – no matter who you are, whomever you love . . . We won’t try to convert anyone, but we will have dialog as we all try to make meaning in this world.”

Photos by Minna Zelch