Minister and Staff
Charlotte Lehmann, our Interim Minister, started her ministry with us August 15, 2016. She comes to us from First UU Church of Belmont, Massachusetts, where she has served as the Interim Director of Religious Education for the past two years. Originally trained as a geologist, Charlotte was an active member of UU congregations for 29 years before entering Meadville-Lombard Theological School in Chicago in 2009. She completed two ministerial internships as well as a hospital chaplaincy internship. She received her Master of Divinity degree in 2012 and was admitted to Preliminary Ministerial Fellowship with the UUA this past April. Charlotte’s partner, Lisa Stewart, is a physical therapist, formerly a hydrogeologist with the USGS, and also an ordained UCC minister, as well as an avid kayaker and photographer.
Charlotte’s UU lay experience spans everything from singing in the choir to serving in leadership roles in worship, buildings and grounds, finance, life-span faith formation, and governance. She describes “radical relational righteousness,” i.e. the healing of relationships, as the core of her call to ministry. She says, “I am guided by our seven principles of Unitarian Universalism as a covenant of right relationship as I seek to facilitate healing at all levels of relational life — relationships with the Self, with other people, with our planet and all that inhabits it, and with that which we name Holy.”
Angel de Armendi, Music Director, received his Bachelor of Music degree from New World School of the Arts and continued his study of piano performance at Florida International University. He made his way to Tallahassee through the Music Theory graduate program at FSU. While in school he diversified his piano skills accompanying FSU and Tallahassee City Ballet dance classes. His interest in vocal coaching took him to the Asolo Song Festival in Italy during two summers, as Assistant Director/Pianist and Composer In Residence. In Tallahassee, he also directs the High Holy Days Choir at Temple Israel, and has been their regular pianist since 2008. His love for sacred music and practice has motivated him to go through and graduate in 2015 from the Music Leadership Credentialing Program, offered by the Unitarian Universalist Musicians’ Network. During their 2015 conference in Boston he was unanimously elected as Board Member at Large for the Board of Trustees, a three-year voluntary commitment. He is deeply committed to building a thriving music program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee.
Melinda Stuart-Tilley, Director of Religious Exploration, is a native of Tallahassee and an eighth-generation Floridian. She was an active member of UUCT prior to obtaining the position of Director of Religious Exploration, having served as a VP on the Executive Board, youth teacher, co-director of Harmony Camp, and in other volunteer roles. Melinda brings a passion for social justice, a love for children and youth, and an outgoing spirit to the job. Melinda was raised in a “spiritual but agnostic” and “unorthodox” household, and identifies as a UU Christian.
Melinda earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Communications at Alvernia University, and completed a hospital chaplaincy internship. She then attended Andover Newton Theological School, where she met her spouse, Alan, while pursuing divinity studies. Describing herself as a perpetual student, Melinda is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Government at Harvard University’s Extension School, where she has earned a graduate certificate in Religious Studies and Education. In the past, Melinda has been employed as an Editorial Supervisor at the Florida Legislature, and as a nanny/babysitter for over 100 children.
Melinda is excited to have the opportunity to pursue opportunities for lifelong religious exploration with the congregation. When not doing church work, Melinda can be found homeschooling her four children, teaching classes, making and watching films, rallying for humanitarian causes, and cleaning houses. Her happy places are parades, playgrounds, stages, libraries, and New York City.
Suzanne Ripka, Office Administrator, comes to us with over 17 years of managerial and administrative experience. The majority of her skills were initially developed while working at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH.
The concept of informed choice was introduced to her by Dr. James N. Weinstein when she joined his Spine Center team at DHMC in 1999 as the Spine Center Assistant. She says, “I am eternally grateful to Dr. Weinstein for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow while implementing my grant writing and web design skills. During my time at the Spine Center I developed two annual reports and assisted in establishing the Functional Restoration Program. I have continued to use and expand what I learned to carry my own decision making model throughout my career and in my personal life.”
Her career highlights include being a published author on an abstract that was accepted for the 2009 American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, acquiring over 50k in funding for Camp Dartmouth-Hitchcock (a one-week overnight camp for children with connective tissue disease), organizing continuing education seminars, and “collaborating with some amazing people.”
Her most recent position has been managing a gallery on Anna Maria Island, FL, where she was able to spread her creative wings. She just recently moved to Tallahassee with her two dogs, a black mouth cur (Jezebel) and a bulldog (Rufus). Her son, Jordan, is pursuing a degree in anthropology at FSU. Suzanne is also an artist and Reiki Practitioner who looks to nature for inspiration and focus.
From the moment Scott Geraci, Chief Nursery Worker, first came to UUCT more than 10 years ago, this father of six has worked with the congregation’s children. He began as a volunteer in the nursery, and moved on to work with the Youth Group, the middle school-age group, and also the kindergarten-age children and first graders. He later returned to work in the nursery, where he continues to supervise the care of the children of members and visitors. Scott works full time teaching art to adults with disabilities and in his spare time pursues his own artistic interests including photography, drawing, sculpture, and writing.
Wes Allen , Sexton, grew up as the youngest of five children, raised by his widowed mother in St. Petersburg, Florida. Wes says, “In my own mind religion didn’t make much sense to me until much later in life.” He read an ad in the paper proclaiming that those who thought a certain humanist way might be Unitarian Universalists, and in 1988 he became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnet in Lawrenceville, Georgia. “Along the way I have had many fun and enlightening positions as a member of that growing congregation serving at UUCG as a board member, treasurer, and construction crew member,” he says. He has also been a cook at a BBQ dinner that was well received. Wes’ own spiritual path has continued to evolve, and currently he is “somewhere in the middle of a yoga, meditation, and Dharma exploration.”