Our Ministers

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Rev. Julia Hamilton

Lead Minister
(805) 965-4583 ext. 222

“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.” -William Sloane Coffin

I am thrilled to be serving the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara as your Lead Minister, as of July 2015. I joined this wonderful congregation in 2011, starting as the Assistant Minister and now finding myself settling here and extending our horizons together. Prior to arriving at USSB, I served as the Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey. A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, I earned my Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 2008, completing a trajectory that started when I led my first worship service at the age of 13, at my home congregation in New Orleans. I am passionate about bringing our values to life in the world and have co-authored two adult education curricula focusing on justice and our tradition: UU Tapestry of Faith “Resistance and Transformation: UU Social Justice History”, and the UU College of Social Justice “Study Guide for Service Learning”.  It is also my honor to serve on the board of the UU Justice Ministry of CA.

Before ministry, I lived in New York City and Los Angeles, working in theater and television – and a few restaurants along the way.  I received my B.A. in 1998 from UCSB with a degree in Theater Arts.  My husband Adam, my daughter Cassia, and a cat named Smeagol are the others in my household.

I am continually inspired by the smart, caring, dedicated and delightful people in our congregation, and I am honored to walk with you on this journey through life. Please let me know if you would like to set up an appointment for coffee (or tea!) and conversation – I have office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.



Assistant Minister
(805) 965-4583 ext. 244

At the beginning of September 2015, I began serving as the Assistant Minister for Congregational Life and Learning at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. Before arriving in Santa Barbara I completed a yearlong hospital chaplain residency in Minneapolis, MN, after a year as the Intern and Campus Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, CA, and three years as the Director of Religious Exploration for the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists. I earned my Masters of Divinity degree at Starr King School for the Ministry in the Graduate Theological Union, and my undergraduate degree is a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Bryn Mawr College (outside of Philadelphia). Before seminary I was a nature educator, environmental advocate, and artist all over the country (as far away as Juneau, AK; Boston, MA; Albuquerque, NM; and a mountaintop retreat center outside of Highlands, NC).

Like Rev. Julia, I am a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. Born and raised in Knoxville, TN, I have been passionate about anti-racism work, arts and worship, religious community, LGBTQ rights, the history of Unitarianism and Universalism, and similar topics since I was a young teenager. Currently I am honored to serve on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Commission for Social Witness, a responsibility that makes me particularly busy during our Association’s annual General Assembly.

In my time away from church I love hiking, reading novels where everything ends well, theater, and visiting my friends and family. Two years ago my spouse Ashir and I adopted an English Cocker Spaniel named Galahad, and you may see me walking him around the neighborhood. Feel free to say hi! He’s easily distracted but loves everyone.

I am eager to get to know members of the congregation, and am more than happy to sit down with you to talk, or get coffee, or take a turn in the Alice Peck Park Garden. I am usually in the office Tuesday through Thursday during the day, but can arrange to meet you at a time that works for you.

The Committee on Shared Ministry supports healthy communication within the congregation, acting as a resource for the ministers and the members of the congregation when conflict arises, and celebrating the many ways that members and staff contribute to the overall health and vitality of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.

Members of the congregation agree to abide by our Covenant of Good Relations:

Covenant of Good Relations

Minister Emeritus: Rev. Ken Collier (2001-2007)

Rev. Dr. John Alexie “Lex” Crane (1959-1977)

lex crane(1922-2015) Rev. Dr. John Alexie “Lex” Crane died on August 7, 2015 at the age of 93. Lex was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 14, 1922 to John A. and Minnie E. Crane. He graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1939, and served in the U.S. army in the South Pacific and Europe from 1942 to 1945. He was severely wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1949 and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing in 1950 from Johns Hopkins University; a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1951; and a Master of Arts in Social Psychology from the University of California in 1971.

Rev. Crane was ordained by the First Unitarian Church in Vancouver, BC in 1952 and served thirty-six years in parish ministry. He served as minister to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver and Community Church of Park Forest, Illinois from 1951 to 1958; the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara from 1958 to 1977; and the Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, Colorado from 1977 to 1981. He was then called to the UU Church of Yakima, and served there until his retirement in 1987, at which time he was voted Minister Emeritus to the UU Church of Yakima. He spent the next fifteen years serving various interim ministries in Southern California. In 2002, he was voted Minister Emeritus to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, CA.

Lex authored several publications including the booklet “Developing an Extended Family Program” (1972); the books Keeping in Touch: Self, Sex and Society (1975); Love, Sex and the Human Condition: Getting a Life (2006); A New Perspective on the Philosophy of UU Religion (2008); To the Best of My Recollection … a memoir (2012) as well as numerous articles and scholarly papers.

Between interim ministries, Lex and his wife, Ginny, traveled throughout the world. They ventured to Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Most notable of those travels was a semester abroad with Santa Barbara City College to China in 1989 where they were witness to the student protests at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Lex is survived by his wife Virginia Lee Crane, his sons John Crane III (Jack), and Douglas L. Crane married to Lisa Babashoff, his step-daughter Claire Beery married to William Haigwood, his step-son Evan Blickenstaff, and his step-son Eric Blickenstaff married to Cynthia Kasabian. He is also survived by grandchildren Molly and Allie; Alex and Kirra; Willow, Mira and Zoë; John and Alex; and two great-grandchildren. Lex was preceded in death by his son David L. Crane.

A memorial in Lex’s honor will be held on November 22, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, located at 1535 Santa Barbara Street, Santa Barbara, California, 93101. Donations in Lex’s memory can be sent to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.

Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10, 2015

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