We're glad you're here.

Like the members of the  Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, ours is a caring, open-eyed staff that comes from many religions, identities, and social positions.

Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae

The Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae (he, she, they / non-binary) serves as our Developmental Minister. He is responsible for worship, spiritual leadership, pastoral care, congregational programs, social justice activism, and guiding our congregation through a period of transformative developmental ministry.

Before arriving in Santa Monica, Jeremiah ministered with Unitarian Universalist congregations and liberal religious communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has served as a congregational minister, community minister, chaplain resident, and seminary instructor.

As a Sufi dervish of the Chishtī Order, he was given the Muslim name Lal Shahbaz Qalandar by his late sheikh and heart-friend Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé. His spiritual practice is deeply informed by having also received diksha into the Hindu dharma, and making community with Jewish, Earth-centered, Buddhist, and Humanist friends.

He holds a Master of Divinity degree in theology, philosophy, and ministry from Starr King School for the Ministry, a Master of Social Work degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, from Baldwin Wallace University.

Jeremiah completed a Chaplain Residency at the Cleveland Clinic, a Killam Fellowship at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, and an Intern Ministry with All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa. In his free time, he enjoys being in nature and, especially, near the ocean, daily namaz/prayer, vinyasa yoga, muraqaba/meditation, anti-racist and counter-oppressive social justice activism, eco-halal vegetarian and vegan cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

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UU Santa Monica Music Director Saunder Choi

Saunder Choi

Music Director

About Saunder

Saunder has composed and conducted a variety of instrumental, vocal, and choral works to jazz charts and popular music arrangements. His compositions have been performed in a wide variety of concert halls  including Lincoln Center, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and the world-famous Teatro Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires. He currently serves as a teaching artist for the Los Angeles Master Chorale Voices Within and the Oratorio Project and the Pacific Chorale Academy.

UUSM Staff Nurit

Nurit Gordon

Church Administrator

About Nurit

Nurit has years of experience in non-profit institutions. She manages the administrative and daily life of the church, including the facility, finances, personnel matters, and anything else that arise and need care and solutions while supervising the Facility staff and the Admin assistant and working with volunteers.

UUSM Staff Esther

Esther Chase

Office Coordinator

About Esther

Esther is a marketing professional, entrepreneur, and water activist. Contact her at (310) 829-5436, ext. 100, for matters relating to the order of service, weekly e-mail announcements, rentals, events, and pledges.

Thomas Ahern

Tom Ahern

Sunday and Rental Sexton

About Tom

As the Sunday and Rental Sexton, Tom keeps the church building and grounds clean and orderly for the Sunday services and assists the minister with all of Sunday's worship supplies and items needed for the pulpit and recording the sermon for the website.

Ryan Humphrey

Ryan Humphries

Pianist

About Ryan

Ryan started playing piano for UU services at a young age. In grad school, he helped found the women’s choir at the UU Congregation of Columbia. Prior to joining UUSM’s staff, he served for five years at First Unitarian Church of LA, first as accompanist and later as Director of Music.

Chloé Vaught

Chloe Vaught

Soprano Section Leader

About Chloe

Native Angeleno, Chloe received her BA in Vocal Performance from UCLA. She frequently records for independent films, background vocals sessions, and enjoys contributing to others’ passion projects. As a soloist, she possesses versatility and loves to sing early music, contemporary classical, jazz, and more.

UUSM Staff Jyvonne Haskin

Jyvonne Haskin

Alto Section Leader

About Jyvonne

Jyvonne Haskin stays busy! She’s Co-Executive Director for Selah Gospel Choir, a Founding Partner of GreyLoc Entertainment and sings broadly within LA’s choir community. As a session singer and live performer, Jyvonne has sang with Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe, U2, Michael Bolton, Arcade Fire, and Roger Daltrey.

UUSM Staff David Erik Peterson

David Erik Peterson

Bass Section Leader

About David

David Erik Peterson is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and American Guild of Musical Artists. He holds music degrees from SFSU and WVU. He moved back to LA after a decade in the SF Bay Area where he sang bass with the SF Symphony Chorus and Cappella SF, played percussion with Gamelan X, and was the Music Director for Piccola Carolers.

UUSM Staff Kion Heidari

Kion Heidari

Tenor Section Leader

About Kion

Kion Heidari is a singer, composer, folk instrumentalist, and voice actor from San Diego, CA.

A graduate of California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in composition, Kion has created music for independent films, the stage, video games, and concerts, and performed in new productions such as The Conference of the Birds and with ensembles like Tonality and C3LA.

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