Our Minister


OUR MINISTER — Kathryn Tew Rickey

Although Kathy Tew was born in Oklahoma, she spent her youth in Clearwater, Florida. She attended Oklahoma City University, graduating with a degree in accounting.   In 1987  in Dallas, Texas, she went to work as a bank examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  In 1990, Kathy married Steve Rickey, a friend from college.  When daughters Allison and Emily were born, Kathy ended her banking career.  Steve’s profession as an engineer took them from Dallas to Marietta, Georgia, and finally to Rochester, New York.

Finding herself an agnostic with young children, Kathy would soon become a born-again Unitarian Universalist. She was an involved lay leader at the UU congregation in Marietta, and in 2005, she represented the church at the General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas. There Kathy experienced a profound sense of connection and belonging among thousands of fellow UU’s.  At the GA Sunday morning worship service, a Sufi dance performance captivated her— “The Tale of the Wind and the Stream” in which a stream flows into the desert.  The stream cannot continue its journey until it allows itself to be transformed into vapor and carried across the desert by the wind.  Kathy found this tale very moving, though not at first realizing why it made such a powerful impression.  Soon her call to ministry bubbled up from her heart to her consciousness.

In 2007, while her girls were still young, Kathy entered seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois.  She enrolled as a part-time student and did not graduate until seven years later.  But her path to ministry had begun, which was to be profoundly transforming—just as the Sufi tale had portended.

Steve's career took an unexpected turn in 2009, and the family moved to Webster, New York.  In 2011, Kathy completed her ministerial internship at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester.  In 2013, she completed her residency as a chaplain at a hospital in Rochester.  From September 2013 to the present, Kathy has been a part-time contract minister for the UU Church of Cortland, New York.  Her ministry there includes preaching, teaching, and leading the board of trustees in developmental work.

Two years ago, Steve and Kathy amicably agreed to separate although they continue to share the household where Emily still lives.  Ending a marriage is hard, yet it is not unusual for marriages to end with one spouse’s transformation into a wholly unexpected vocation, especially among seminarians.  Kathy feels that the hardest part is behind them.  She looks forward to her full-circle return to Florida and the next chapter in her life.  Kathy describes her theology in this way:

I am a humanistic mystic with Buddhist leanings who is agnostic about almost everything.  My agnosticism derives from my keen awareness of my human limitation to know all things with certainty.  Yet I embrace the mystery of this human life and am constantly awed by the natural world and by the workings of the universe – to the extent I can perceive them.  As for the mystery, I do believe we human beings get occasional hints, glimmers, intuitions, experiences and insights into that which is greater.  It may be  nothing more than a disinterested universe out there, yet it could be a creation unfolding of which we are very much a part.  The truly awesome thing is that we are a part of it.  And no matter the grand scheme of things, our lives are woven inextricably into the fabric of space-time.   This I believe is our immortality –          we are as immortal as stardust. 

Pastor Rickey's  can be listened to from our Sermons and Services page