Meet Our Minister and Staff
Reverend Tamara Casanova Suzuki
The Reverend Tamara Casanova Suzuki was called to Live Oak UU Congregation and began her ministry with us in August 2014. She says ” We come together as a Unitarian Universalist congregation because we know that we are stronger together. Here is a place where the worth of each person is honored while the good of the whole is nurtured. Something unique, amazing, and life-giving happens when we gather together. Here is place of love, and justice, and hope.”
Rev. Tamara graduated with her Masters of Divinity degree, summa cum laude, from Claremont School of Theology in May, 2011 and was ordained by the Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, CA in June, 2012.
She also has a Masters degree in International Relations from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She studied abroad at the University of Lund, Sweden, and speaks fluent Swedish.
Before beginning as the settled minister of Live Oak, Rev. Tamara served for two years as the Acting Associate Minister of Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. She has also served as a chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, CA and as a chaplain at the University Interfaith Center at California State University, Long Beach.
Rev. Tamara comes to Live Oak with a strong background in teaching and education having served as a religious educator for 10 years. She was a founding member of the current Pacific Southwest District (PSWD) Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Chapter serving for four years as its president, and enjoys serving as chaplain in our district youth camps at DeBenneville Pines.
Rev. Tamara has served on several interfaith committees and councils including the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at the Claremont School of Theology. She enjoys spending time with her family, organic gardening, sudoku, camping, reading and beachcombing.
Steven Lovelace started his performing arts career in 1980 and has danced and acted professionally. He founded Santa Barbara Dance Arts in 1997 and cofounded Stage Left Productions in 2001. He has also created for and directed the Summer Solstice parade, toured Latin America and Europe with the various dance and theatre companies he has worked with over the years.
Steven has been teaching about 35 years of this career, and started his job at Peabody Charter School in 2013, where he still works in the morning. Steven cherishes his career and it has been vastly influenced by his work with children who are drawn to the creative arts. He is excited to add RE to his teaching experience, as spirituality has been a drive and sustaining force in his life for many years. He believes performing arts and RE are very compatible as they ask each individual to look deeper into oneself, which will ultimately help our young people to make sense of the world and foster a strong sense of self and identity.
Steven has “dabbled” in Unitarian Universalism for years but became a member in 2013. Since his membership, he has been a mentor in the Coming of Age program and a Worship Associate at USSB. In Feb 2017, he has added DRE to his incredible UU color palette and is thrilled to be at Live Oak.
John Enrico Douglas
John Enrico Douglas and the younger two of his four children, John-Paul and Fernanda, have been members of the Live Oak UU congregation since 2008. John served as one of the rotating pianists playing for Sunday morning services from 2008 to 2014, and has been music and choir director since 2014. He is a pianist, songwriter, composer and arranger whose discography extends back to 1975, and whose performing credits include tours with the Pointer Sisters (1983), Donald O’Connor and Eddie Fisher (1979-81), and performances with Dizzy Gillespie (1978) and Aretha Franklin (2005).
Since 2005, John has served as pianist, musical director and orchestra conductor for over a hundred Broadway musicals and revues with Santa Barbara junior high and high schools, colleges, and community and professional theatre companies. He won SB Independent Weekly Magazine “Indy” awards for musical direction for shows at the Rubicon Theater, Ventura and with Out of the Box Theater Company at Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara.
John composed the music and songs for musical plays at Santa Barbara High School in 2008 and 2009, and from 2007 to 2012 he was musical director-songwriter-composer for six original musicals produced by City at Peace, a theatre program for at-risk teenagers, at Center Stage Theater. John composed and performed the music for a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with the UCSB theatre program in 2016, and for a production of Brecht’s The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui at Westmont College in 2017.
John has been on adjunct faculty, directing jazz ensembles and teaching jazz piano, at Westmont College since 2006. He has accompanied voice classes at Santa Barbara City College since 2008, and joined the adjunct faculty there in 2013. He was a substitute teacher for Goleta and Santa Barbara secondary schools and directed the jazz big bands at Goleta Valley Junior High School from 2004 to 2017. He taught music in local elementary schools from 2005-10.
Since 2004, John has accompanied choirs at Dos Pueblos High School, SBCC, SBCC adult ed, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Light of Christ Baptist Church and 2nd Baptist Church. Although he has worked as a professional musician continuously since 1970 while still in high school, previous careers have also included moving furniture, driving cab, record industry promotion and marketing, and 12 years as a trial lawyer in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. John was recognized as a “local hero” by the SB Independent in 2017.
A long-time activist for social justice and peace, John participates in actions with the Live Oak UU Congregation social justice committee, the Santa Barbara chapters of Democratic Socialists of America, Healthcare-for-All Calif., Truth in Recruitment, the MLK Committee and other organizations.
For a complete background on John visit www.johnedouglas.com.
What we believe
Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides. We live out these Principles within a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience.
As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”
- 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The seven Principles and six Sources of the Unitarian Universalist Association grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are. Read them as they are written in our UUA Bylaws.
On April 5, 2021, The Black Lives of UU (BLUU) Organizing Collective encouraged all Unitarian Universalists to advocate for the formal adoption of an 8th Principle, articulating a commitment to the dismantling of white supremacy, with the stated principles of our faith.
“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Our Mission Statement
Live Oak is an open, welcoming, and inclusive community, grounded in love, providing opportunities for spiritual growth for seekers of all ages and stages. We actively live our values of diversity, compassion and justice to humanity and the earth.
In 2009, Live Oak adopted the following statement of our Core Values and Covenant of Good Relations.
We, the members and friends of this congregation, value:
- Inclusivity, opening our hearts and minds to those who have traveled journeys unlike ours, whose strengths and challenges may be different from ours, remembering that we are all precious, with our own special gifts to offer.
- Relationships with others of all ages, and the gifts that each generation brings to our community.
- A safe place to make mistakes.
- A welcoming space for all to speak their truth respectfully.
- The importance of deep listening and respect for each other.
- The democratic process, through which we give voice to concerns and offer our time and energy to arrive at solutions.
In my interactions with others in this congregation, through all forms of communication and in all situations, I will:
- Welcome with an open heart and mind those who respect our values and wish to call LOUUC their spiritual home, seeking their own path to truth and meaning.
- Express opinions on congregational issues with the intention of helping to make this congregation a better place for myself, Live Oak members and friends, and those who have yet to cross the threshold into our beloved community.
- Value and learn from divergent beliefs and opinions and remain in respectful dialogue.
- Speak honestly and directly to everyone using thoughtful, compassionate language.
- Assume good intentions in those with whom I disagree. If possible, listen deeply to and seek resolution with them before engaging the Good Relations Ministry in conflict mediation. I understand that I may call on the members of the Good Relations Ministry for advice and assistance as needed.
- Forgive the errors and shortcomings of myself and others who contribute to our shared ministry and express gratitude for the many gifts we bring.