Our Ministers and Staff
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson (He/Him/His) was called as the Senior Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in 2008. Prior to coming to Rockford, he served for five years at High Plains Church, UU, in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago in 2003, and from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in 1999. He completed his Doctor of Ministry from Iliff School of Theology in Denver in 2010. He is the author of "Newborn Bards: A Theology of Preaching for Unitarian Universalists." He has been co-chair of the UUA's Presidential Search Committee, and an active leader in regional and national UU organizations for decades.
Matthew is a third-generation Unitarian Universalist. He grew up in the Seattle, WA area, where he enjoyed church, the woods, and daydreaming. He has two children, Lee and Leo.
When he's not at church, Matthew spends time running along the Rock River, playing with the kids, reading, and enjoying craft beer.
Matthew is focused on the good news of Unitarian Universalism. "This is a religion," he says, "which can save lives and the world. People seek a spiritual path that integrates their whole selves, that inspires awe, that celebrates beauty and grounds justice. We can offer a vision of the good life and the tools to make it real." Matthew is passionate about welcoming newcomers to church, building strong communities, the preaching life, and working in accountable and effective ways for justice among all creation.
You can reach Matthew at minister at uurockford.org He is usually in the office Mon, Tue, Wed, and Thur from 9-4:30, but please call or email ahead. Friday is writing day. You can schedule a meeting with him at calendly.com/uurockrev.
Rev. Joyce Palmer
Joyce Palmer (She/Her/Hers) served as the Assistant Minister at Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, WI. She received her Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. She served as Director of Membership and Lay Ministry at All Souls Church UU, in Washington, DC. Joyce is the lead on the Marjorie Bowens Wheatley Scholarship Committee through the UU Women’s Federation. Joyce has worked in child welfare as a supervisor and parent educator. Joyce and her family moved back to Rockford, IL to live closer to family. She enjoys reading, taking dance classes, spending time with her husband Tim and sons Dorien and Antonio, and walking her terrier mix, Rosey. Joyce is excited about her new position as Assistant Minister at Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford.
Autumn Powell (She/Her/Hers) joined the team as Office Assistant in May 2016. She became our custodian, in addition, in December of 2016. She is now our Office Manager as of March 2020. She greets visitors and takes phone calls on weekdays and runs the management of the front office.
In addition, Autumn maintains the church calendar, coordinating all space use in the building (both for members, committees and teams, and outside renters). She is the appointed staff member for Building and Grounds Committee as well as the Finance committee.
Autumn is typically in the office Sundays from 9-1, on Tuesday - Friday from 11 AM - 4 PM.
Dr. Tim Anderson
Dr. Tim Anderson (He/Him/His) became the Music Director in August 2004, the most recent chapter in a church music career spanning more than twenty years. Outside of church music, Tim has worked professionally as Music Director for productions by Artists' Ensemble Theater, Madison Repertory Theatre, New American Theater, and Rockford College. Tim has also provided accompaniment for various musical groups over the years, including Camerata Emanon, Mendelssohn Club, Bach Chamber Choir, and Rockford Symphony Orchestra. He is a Past Dean of the Rockford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and currently serves as their Treasurer/Registrar. He is also the current President of the Unitarian Universalist Musician's Network.
A native of rural Northwest Illinois, Tim has taught philosophy and Spanish at several colleges in the area and currently is Instructor of Modern Languages at Kishwaukee College. He holds a B.A. in mathematics from Rockford College, M.A. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, and M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. In a so-far wildly successful bid to stay in school all his life, he is pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago in Hispanic Linguistics.
Director of Religious Education
Lindsay Trank (She/Her/Hers) became the Director of Religious Education in July 2016. She works closely with the Religious Education team to plan and implement weekly lessons as part of the Religious Education curriculum. She also works with the Community Fellowship Team to plan whole-congregation events throughout the year. Lindsay coordinates all of our Religious Education and Youth Group volunteers. Additionally, Lindsay is involved in planning multigenerational worship throughout the year. She also serves as Co-Director of Woodsong Nature School.
Lindsay has over fifteen years of experience working with children. That experience has included classroom teaching at the fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade levels, working with adults in an ESL program, and tutoring students of all ages. Lindsay has two lovely children, with whom she enjoys biking, taking walks, and gardening.
Lindsay was born and raised in Rockford. She graduated from Guilford High School and received her Bachelor’s degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She also received her Master’s Degree in Teaching and Leadership from St. Xavier University in Chicago, IL.
Religious Education Assistant
Lauren Smith (She/Her/Hers) has worked within the Religious Education program since 2016. She runs the Religious Education class for infants through kindergarteners and assists in planning Religious Education for all grade levels. She also serves as Co-Director of Woodsong Nature School. Lauren is a certified Montessori teacher with experience in a wide variety of educational settings, with a particular focus on nature-based learning experiences for young children.