UnityCR Minister

Rev. Debra Carter-Williams

As she greets the congregation on Sundays, Rev. Williams affirms that ALL are God’s beloved – without exception. She was ordained as a Unity minister in 1990 and served large Unity ministries in Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; and Naples, Florida. Each of these ministries reflected her celebration of the vibrant diversity of humankind.
Rev. Williams served as the Director of Campus Ministry (acting chaplain) and adjunct faculty in the Religious Studies Department at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia where she led the opening of the newly constructed Pierce Chapel and created interfaith programming for a very diverse student body.  Also in Macon, she supported the work of Centenary Unity Methodist Church (a radically welcoming community) as a key staff member. A central mission of her work at Centenary was direct service to the homeless and food insecure in a city with extreme levels of concentrated poverty. She co-founded the Middle Georgia Immigration Coalition and served on the Beloved Community Project organizational committee at Mercer University. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Wesleyan College (summa cum laude), and a Masters of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.) from Yale Divinity School at Yale University.  Rev. Williams has completed coursework toward the Doctor of Ministry degree at Duke Divinity School at Duke University.

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.

2022 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 Land

Board President

Paula Land

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.

Bonnie Bootsmiller

Vice-President

Bonnie Bootsmiller

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.

Sally Miller

Prosperity Chair

Cindy Photo

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.  

Lynda Black-Smith

Secretary

Unity has been my spiritual home since I entered the door 19 years ago, and I have been active in various positions from the beginning. The last 3 years as a board trustee have been full of inspiring events, frustrating issues, beautiful spiritual moments and some difficult decisions to be made. As a board, we worked diligently through them all to serve our Unity family.

Michelle Cole

Trustee

michelle cole

I am an Iowa native spending the first 25 years of my life in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. After receiving my Bachelors degree in English and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Northern Iowa in 1992, my family and I moved to Cedar Rapids. I returned to my alma mater to get my Masters degree in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development in 2015. I have dedicated my career to serving the nonprofit sector. I’m passionate about helping people in need by addressing social determinants of health.

I spent the first 25 years of my life “blindly” going along with the religion that I was exposed to as a child. As I got older, I started asking more questions, but not finding the answers to satisfy my increasing curiosity. Shortly after my children were born, I broke my extended family’s tradition by leaving my childhood church. I spent many years reading and searching for spiritual meaning in my life.

I am extremely grateful that in 2018, my dear friend, Carol Turner introduced me to Unity Center of Cedar Rapids. I was overjoyed by the welcoming kindness that everyone showed me. The accepting nature that everyone provided in accepting me as I am and their encouragement in helping me continue to grow in my faith has been a tremendous comfort. I will never forget the “shock” and overwhelming relief that I felt when I attended the new member classes led by the Licensed Unity Leaders. Specifically, that I wasn’t born of “original sin,” but instead, we all are born as an “original blessing.” This concept was completely different from the “fear-based religious doctrines” that I had grown up with. Right then, I knew I had finally found my spiritual home.

In my free time, I love to volunteer, read, and spend time in nature. I also like to travel, especially attending art festivals.

Greg McGaffic

Trustee

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.

Cindy Thompson

Trustee

Cindy Photo

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:

  1. Demonstrate leadership qualities and desire to serve on the Board.
  2. Endeavor to live in accord with the Unity Principles.
  3. Further the work of this Ministry through interest, love, and support.
  4. Be a sincere and continuing student of Unity, conversant with its teachings.
  5. Be at least eighteen (18) years of age. 
  6. Be pre-qualified by the nominating ministry team, according to standing ministry team procedures.