Rev. Debra Carter-Williams
Licensed Unity Leaders
UnityCR is blessed to have three Licensed Unity Leaders in Barb Buchanan (left), Susan Liddell (center), and Janith Griffith (right). They are licensed by Unity Worldwide Ministries and the first in UnityCR’s history to achieve this distinction.
Each licensed leader has a specific passion and responsibility. All licensed leaders serve on our spiritual care ministry team, providing spiritual support for congregants. Janith serves on Unity’s Great Lakes Regional Board and is an Enlightened Living facilitator. Susan serves on the Cedar Rapids Inter-religious Council, supports our Ministry Team Leaders and is an Enlightened Living Facilitator. Barb leads the EarthCare and Elayne Fisher CommUnity Cupboard teams, and her passion is prayer.
For more information about the Licensed Unity Leader/Teacher program, see Unity Institute.
2023 Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees of Unity Center of Cedar Rapids is dedicated to a consciousness of the highest and best good for UnityCR. Our leaders are deeply invested in sustaining a spiritual community that is dedicated to Principle and to our mission. Our Board of Trustees is about the business of shared leadership. All congregants are welcome to attend monthly board meetings.
Paula is a 30 year member is Unity Center of Cedar Rapids and has served as the Executive Director of the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) for almost 9 years. She is passionate about service and believes she lives out her faith by serving the CMC mission and her spiritual community.
She is a lifelong Cedar Rapidian with three adult children, Marie, Megan, and Morgan and four grandchildren, Jack, Lucy, Leona, and Vivian.
Paula is committed to working with others to create an inclusive community where everone feels valued, and empowered to be their best selves. She serves on the board of the Housing Fund for Linn County, the Economic Development Innovation Council at teh Metro Economic Alliance, and is a member of the Leadership for Five Seasons Class of 2020. In her “free” time, Paula is a musical leader and sings bass in the Metro Mix Chorus to which she has belonged for 30 years.
I have been a member of Unity CR for 2 years. I’ve served as a worship assistant, choir member, and more recently as a Sunday School teacher. I attended Unity remotely for several weeks/months before I walked through the door for the first time, but since then I was hooked. Thank you for what you’ve built and support here, it is truly an amazing community and I’m thankful to be part of it.
I have an educational background in community psychology with health services research and have worked for the Iowa City VA Health Care System for over 20 years. Currently I serve as the Cross-Center Director of Operations for two large research centers – the Health Services Research and Development Center of Innovation and the Veteran’s Rural Health Resource Center. My position allows me to work with a multidisciplinary group of researchers, administrators, and research staff. I have received some formal leadership training though my work and I have worked in a leadership capacity for many years.
My intentions for UCR board service are to serve as a thoughtful, compassionate, and strong leader and to work collaboratively with fellow board members to make the administrative and business decisions that will facilitate the continued success and growth of UCR and support its mission and purpose.
People say I should write a book with all of my life experiences. You could say I have lived my life out loud and I wouldn‘t change much because it helped shape who I am today. Out of all the things I have done so far, with motherhood being the most fulfilling, I‘d have to say a close second would be volunteering.
When I volunteer I give full commitment to whatever organization it might be. I can’t think of a better way to spend my spare time then to give it to someone else. Over the years I helped with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Horizon’s meal program, among others in the community. I have also served on several ministries at Unity, including Welcoming, Sacred Grounds & Books, Marketing & Media etc. I loved helping with Garage Sales, Pride fests and Silent Auctions. Bringing smiles makes my heart full.
I truly love our Unity Community and volunteering to serve on the board in the past allowed me to serve our congregation in more ways than the ministries. I enjoy the behind the scenes opportunity to help us grow.
My spiritual journey began back in 1971 when I met my partner if life, Barbara. She invited me to attend church with her. I asked her if she would continue to date me if I declined, and she said yes. This act of acceptance piqued my curiosity, and I agreed to attend. At my inaugrial Sunday service at the Imperial Beach United Methodist Church I met the Rev. Michael Cooney, a quite advanced spiritual being. Rev. Cooney trained at Garret Seminary in Chicago, IL and was a student of the great humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers. Barb’s acceptance, Rev. Cooney’s spiritual guidance, and the wonderfully welcoming and warm congregation led me to a new path, one that I’ve followed to this day. I served this religious community as a youth minister.
Barb, Corrine and I moved to Montana, where we were told about a Unity center in Great Falls. We attended that center until we returned to San Diego and attended the Unity Center San Diego where the Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell was (and still is) the minister. When we came to Iowa we first attended the Unity Center of Des Moines, then Unity of Fairfield (where I worked on the grounds and served on the ministerial search committee). We were drawn to the Unity Center of Cedar Rapids in January of 2007 and joined in April of 2008. Since joining this wonderful, warm, open and talented community, Barb and I have contributed our time, treasure and talents in many ways. Barb sings in the choir. She served on the Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2018. She has served on several ministries (e.g., Youth, Brunch).
Together we served several meals to the congregation and participated in several activities (e.g., cleaning, grounds). I currently serve on the Audio/Visual and Grounds Ministries. I serve on the Property Improvement Task Force. I recently served on the Ministerial Search Committee. I’ve also volunteered my time on several occasions (e.g., help clean, paint, minor repairs). I’ve participated in several Unity classes and discussions.
I’m a long-time member of Lions International and have held leadership roles in that organization. I held leadership positions in the Iowa Psychological Association (Executive Council for seven years) and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Psychological Foundation.
I relocated to Cedar Rapids in 2019 to be closer to my family. Recognizing that I need to engage in my new community and build a new network, I looked for a spiritual community to join. I had
never heard of Unity but was intrigued by what I read and viewed online. That initial intrigue led to reading books and more regular attendance, and I am grateful to the Unity community for making me feel welcome and for providing excellent resources. I attribute some recent my personal and professional growth to Unity and recently commented to a friend “this is the first time that a religion has ever made sense to me”
My professional background is in local government and I love all things related to cities! After serving as an Assistant City Manager in Edina, Minnesota and a City Manager in Platteville, WI, I began a new role as the Executive Director of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) when I relocated. I lead a team of 15 individuals who support local governments in Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties with planning services and grant writing/administration.
A friend introduced me to Unity in the fall of 1997 saying it was a ‘church of like-minded people’. And he was right, I join Unity CR in the summer of 2001. As a handyman, I volunteer to do interior maintenance work on Unity building. Along the way I became a board member in 2019. I am retired from lifelong working in the electronics field. Started at Kirkwood College then 4 years in the Air Force. I spent 17 years as Engineering Technician for a small company. I end up with 22 years at Rockwell Collins as a Failure Analysis Technician. I like to see Unity CR grow and prosper. Open up the building for various activities, serving food for the homeless, rent out the community room for music, or bingo.
I was not raised with any religion and had never attended a church regularly. I reached a point in my life in 1997 that I wanted to learn more about the spiritual journey that I was on after being in a recovery program for 6 years. Unity Center was recommended to me and I’ve been attending ever since. I consider Unity CR my spiritual home and I’m very committed to it. Presently I serve UCR on the welcome team (leader for a time) and the EFCC.
Over this last year and now after retiring 4 months ago, I have felt a renewed commitment to Unity and for that reason, I decided it was time for me to step up and run for the board. I’ve had experience with leading groups through work and other areas. My strengths are openness, listening, and inclusiveness.
As for the direction I’d like to see Unity grow in, I’d like to see more outreach programs like the Food Bank. I believe we have people that would step up and assist with this.
Thanks so much for this opportunity.
Qualifications to Serve on the Board of Trustees
Section 4.04 – BOARD OF TRUSTEES – NOMINATIONS AND ELECTION
(A) Qualifications. Any person elected to the Board of Trustees must be a member of Unity Center of Cedar Rapids. This person will:
- Demonstrate leadership qualities and desire to serve on the Board.
- Endeavor to live in accord with the Unity Principles.
- Further the work of this Ministry through interest, love, and support.
- Be a sincere and continuing student of Unity, conversant with its teachings.
- Be at least eighteen (18) years of age.
- Be pre-qualified by the nominating ministry team, according to standing ministry team procedures.