(440) 653-3476 krolenz@uuma.org


Mr. Neil Manzullo
Board President, All Souls Church Unitarian
Member of the Interim Search Team
All Souls Church Unitarian

I have had the pleasure of working with Neil Manzullo who was Vice President, then President of the Board of Trustees (2020-2022).  

Rev. Kathleen brought courage, flexibility, and warmth to All Souls DC. I served on the interim search committee that hired her, and as Vice President and then President of the Board of Trustees during her two-year tenure with us. I’m pleased to recommend her.

Rev. Kathleen began with All Souls on August 1, 2020. I just want to point out what that date meant for All Souls: it was two months after the departure of a Senior Minister of nearly 20 years; it was a bit more than four months after a pandemic locked us out of our building and began to transform what it means to be a member of a church community; and it was about a year and half after a painful, public conflict with an associate minister dealt intense racialized wounds to congregants and staff. And it was right after All Souls had quickly and fundamentally changed the nature of our executive leadership—abolishing the chief of staff role that most UUA ministers are familiar with, and replacing it with a nascent co-equal, collaborative structure.

Most churches looking for an Interim Minister probably have their own set of challenges, but, gosh, we had a lot. And, dropped into those challenges, Rev. Kathleen served with clear-eyed courage. Church systems get entrenched. We hold the way we’ve done things dearly, even if there might be better ways. Rev. Kathleen devoted countless hours to learning about us, and then poked and prodded, gently unsettling our structures and encouraging us to see them with clarity, so that we could feel free to think about better ways to be a church.

She also served with flexibility. For instance, she was tasked with trying to figure out a new way of making executive decisions at our church. In retrospect, the task we gave her was almost ludicrous—do all the typical “Interim Tasks” and help us figure out a fundamentally new way of decision-making? Wow! And yet she helped us make significant progress. She was also tasked with co-leading the church during COVID—and she pivoted over and over again to what would best serve the Congregation.

She also served with humility and warmth and good humor. The interim period is all about transformation, and that was especially true for All Souls, as we were transformed by the pandemic and 8th Principle. Rev. Kathleen, the Board, and many others all made mistakes, and Rev. Kathleen made space for us and showed us how to gracefully admit error in pursuit of the Beloved Community.

My guess is that most of us will look back at the last two years and think, “How did we survive?” And if I had to name the feelings that should have characterized our lives at All Souls during the pandemic (and during a year when DC was attacked as part of an insurrection and during a year in which congregants watched police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at people protesting for justice), I would probably name grief and fear and anger. But I actually wouldn’t say those feelings characterized my church life. We felt them, yes, but the All Souls that Rev. Kathleen co-led during this time continued to be a respite from pain and a catalyst for justice work.

I am happy to speak more with anyone about Rev. Kathleen, and I highly recommend her.


Ms. Traci Hughes-Trotter, Esq.
Executive Director, All Souls Church Unitarian
Member of the Interim Search Team
All Souls Church Unitarian

In my first year as the Executive Director of All Souls Church Unitarian, the church was facing the pending departure of its called minister, recovering from the economic loss of an anchor tenant, tending to harm caused by internal staff conflict, and just beginning to explore the realities of a co-equal leadership model that removed the hierarchy between the senior minister and the executive director.  And then the pandemic hit. 

Any one of these stressors on its own would make the work of an interim minister a challenge. Rev. Rolenz faced them all at once and was required to lead in unchartered territory of managing a staff she’d never met, ministering to a congregation that could not gather in person and guide a board of trustees back to policy governance. All the while, she embraced and fully supported All Souls’ unique co-equal leadership model of a non-minister ED and Senior Minister. 

No doubt, it has been a challenging two years. But it’s been two years that have been well worth the growing pains and agitations that are supposed to happen during an interim ministry. And despite all of the unknowns and challenges, Rev. Rolenz and I functioned well as an executive team. That is no small feat either! 

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work with a religious professional of her character and experience. She will be an invaluable asset to any church that she serves. 

Prior to my most recent interim, I served the Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis with the Rev. John Crestwell.  (2018 – 2020).  Note, Rev. Crestwell is on sabbatical until June 2022; however he has agreed to be available as a reference. 

Rev. John T. Crestwell
Senior Co-Minister
UU Church of Annapolis

Rev. Kathleen Rolenz has become a trusted colleague.  She is an expert in what she does as an Interim.  If you are looking for someone who can come in after a long ministry, to get or keep things organized, she is the right leader for your organization.  Rev. Rolenz was able to clean up the dust in the forgotten corners of our ministry.  I have never met a more organized leader.

Rev. Rolenz came to UUCA after a 34-year ministry ended and worked with me through various changes in my status from Associate to co-executive minister.  Her previous experience in a co-ministry was vital in allowing me the space to grow.  I tell her often that she helped me awaken to my full capacity as an executive and spiritual leader.  I know that my ministry at UUCA will flourish, in part, because of her hard work with me and the congregation.  For that, I will be forever grateful.

We sometimes disagreed in our approach but because of her maturity and spiritual stamina, we were always able to talk through difficult situations.  UUCA is a very active anti-racist congregation and this creates moments of tension. Rev. Kathleen knew when to own her white fragility, when to apologize, and when to disengage or engage depending on the situation.  This is another asset.

What I will remember most is how she allowed the space for me to be seen as an executive leader.  My good ministry was often secondary and not taken as seriously as I would have liked.  She was skillful in putting me out front–with her–to strategically help members see me as a lead/senior minister.  Because of that, I believe my ministry will go from good to great in the years ahead.

Kathleen coached me from overseas during the tragic death of a member that was a national event, and even created the powerpoint presentation for the member’s memorial service.  Her expertise in that tragic moment and pastoral care to me will not be forgotten. Because of her wisdom, spiritual coaching, mentorship and toughness, Kathleen is my friend for life.

Here’s what you will get with Rev. Kathleen.  She is direct, honest, has high integrity, understands policy and family systems; she’s professional, calm, witty, funny, and self-aware.  She’s a good preacher, highly intelligent, and an asset to our Unitarian Universalist faith.

Will all of your time with her be smooth?  No.  But will your institution and your people be better after she leaves?  Yes.  To me, she is exactly what our UU faith needs as we transition into this new century.  I recommend her for whatever work she pursues in the future.

Sincerely,  Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr.

Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis

 Other Sources

Shige Sakurai
Director of Equity, Belonging and Change
Unitarian Universalist Association
Shige is currently serving as a member of the All Souls Church Unitarian Transitions Team (the team that coaches, provides insight and feedback to the Interim Minister.)
Pronouns: they/them

The Reverend Megan Foley
Rev. Megan Foley:  she/her/hers
Regional Lead – Central East Region
Unitarian Universalist Association

Based in Washington, D.C.
(301) 535-2956

Personal References

Rev. Nan Hobart
Retired, Minister Emerita
First Unitarian Society of Denver

Rev. Hobart has known me since my days at Iliff School of Theology, when I was a seminary student and served as their church administrator, and who has been long-time mentor and friend in ministry, co-ministry and life.