Ministers & Staff
The Reverend Lisa Romantum Schwartz
Rev. Lisa Romantum Schwartz grew up in a Navy family, which allowed her to meet many diverse people and appreciate different cultures and religions. That life probably paved the way for her undergraduate study of anthropology, and what does anthropology pave the way for? In Rev. Lisa’s case, it led to seminary. She graduated from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1994.
After seminary, Rev. Lisa completed her required UU training and then spent a year in residency as a chaplain at Topeka State Hospital where she served mentally ill clients from age five to elderhood. From there, she spent eight years working as a chaplain at a residential drug treatment center in Topeka. Her home congregation in Topeka called her to ministry in 2001, and Rev. Lisa joyously answered the call to parish ministry in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas. During her time there, the Fellowship grew in numbers and maturity and built a new Religious Education wing and Welcome Hall onto its existing building.
In 2012 Rev. Lisa was called to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Winston-Salem where she became a recognized leader in the community around race and voting rights issues. She was known for her storytelling skills that helped UUFWS welcome children into worship each week and for increasing the diversity of the congregation in both age and racial demographics.
Since 2006, Rev. Lisa has mentored seminarians and ministers who are new to the tasks, stresses, and joys of this calling. Teaching and mentoring the next generation of ordained and lay leaders is one of her deepest passions.
Having weathered many transitions in life, Rev. Lisa is enthusiastic about helping congregations navigate ministerial endings and other evolutionary changes. She discerned a call to interim ministry during the winter of 2019 and pursued training with the Interim Ministry Network, of which she is an active member. Her service in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens is her first chance to serve in an interim capacity.
Rev. Lisa and Jim, her husband of 34 years, live in Athens. You might see them walking their curly, caramel-colored dogs around town or on easy hiking trails. Their daughter Libby, son-in-law Ross, and granddaughter Sylvana live in Asheville, North Carolina.
Contact Rev. Lisa by email or by phone at 706-546-7914, ext. 3.
The Reverend Dr. Don A. Randall
Affiliated Community Minister, Rev. Randall is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional counselor with Athens Associates for Counseling and Psychotherapy. He has special interests in marital therapy, spiritual development, mind-body healing, and hypnosis. Don provides consultation to the pastoral care team and occasional pulpit supply. He and his wife Sally have three adult daughters and six grandchildren.
As a service to members of the Fellowship, Don offers a free consultation session to those seeking a referral to the most appropriate psychotherapist.
Contact Rev. Randall at his Counseling Office: 706-353-0709 or at home: 706-769-7540 or by email.
Music Director at UUFA since 2001, Amber Fetner leads the Chalice Choir, Palms of Fire drum circle, and small vocal ensembles and coordinates additional music activities. Amber regularly takes Fellowship musical groups into the Athens community in support of local organizations and justice activities, such as the Human Rights Festival. Amber is an active member of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries (AUUMM).
Amber successfully completed a credentialing program sponsored by the AUUMM that then recognized her with its “Certified UU Music Leader” designation in 2014. Previously, Amber completed her master’s work in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Music Education from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia.
Contact Amber by email
Director of Religious Exploration, Kelli McConnell joined UUFA in mid-May 2017 after serving the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia for three years. During her prior career, Kelli has worked with children in a variety of ways including as a substitute teacher for Waseca Montessori School. In addition to being an integral part of our staff team, Kelli continues teaching Reiki and counseling at the Heart Path Studio. Kelli shares our UU values and enjoys getting to know the children, youth, and adults of the Fellowship.
Contact Kelli by email.
Pianist Neil joined the UUFA staff team in August 2019. As the oldest of five children in a musical family, he started playing piano and other instruments at age seven, was SCMTA solo recitalist winner at age seventeen, and eventually earned a degree in music from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. Neil moved to Athens in 1999 to play rock ‘n roll and soon after began touring with The Glands, Elf Power, Shonna Tucker and many other musical acts. He released an album of his own tunes in 2015 with his band Golden Eels and also works as a network operations center engineer when not playing music.
Congregational Administrator Shaye Gambrell began as a quarter-time bookkeeper in 2002, Shaye Gambrell has served in the UUFA office over the years under several job titles. As Congregational Administrator, she is responsible for the smooth operation of the office and internal and external communications.
Shaye is a long-time member of the Association of Unitarian Universalist Administrators (www.AUUA.org) and has served on the board and later as their administrator.
Her love of travel has taken her all over the world, often as a teacher of English as a Second Language. A decades-long resident of Athens, Shaye is active in local politics and with several non-profit organizations Most recently, she and several friends formed the Athens Gingerbread Guild for the purpose of hosting Athens’ first and only Gingerbread House Competition. .
Contact Shaye by email or 706-546-7914, ext. 5