Meet Our Minister and Staff
Rev. Laura Mancuso
Rev. Mancuso is serving as LOUUC's pastoral care point-person, working in conjunction with our Pastoral Care Ministry. A former member of and intern minister at LOUUC, Rev. Mancuso is an interfaith minister, serving the Santa Barbara community as an end-of-life chaplain, spiritual advisor, and grief counselor. Rev. Mancuso is the Spiritual Life Director at Vista del Monte Retirement Community and an Advance Care Planning Instructor with the Alliance for Living and Dying Well of Santa Barbara.
Melanie is winding down her 35-year career as a high school history teacher. Teaching just one class enables her to take on this part-time position as administrative coordinator at Live Oak, her spiritual home for three decades. When Melanie isn't working, she spends time with her life partner, Jim; young adult daughter, Lura, and her teen son, Aidan, both of whom grew up at Live Oak since infancy; and the two family pups, Pogo and Boromir. She enjoys losing herself in a book and taking evening walks. Melanie also sings with the Santa Barbara Quire of Voyces and has since its inception in 1994, minus a 10-year hiatus when the children were very young.
She grew up in San Diego with a agnostic father, who took the family to the Church of Sunday NFL, a sporty form of televangelism, that at times got him up to his feet, shouting God's name with such intensity at the whistle-blowing deacons in black and white that the family was convinced he was touched. In retirement, Melanie's parents turned to a far less pentecostal group - Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship - for whom the question was more important than the answer. They encouraged Melanie, when she moved to Santa Barbara in 1993, to visit a UU congregation, saying she'd find her people there. She obeyed, and has praised her parents' wisdom ever since.
Melanie is ever grateful to have sunk roots into this congregation, which has held her through changes, joys, and sorrows. This administrative role only deepens her belief in community and the expansiveness of our care for each other and Live Oak's future.
Kevin has been a professional pianist since 1984, entertaining audiences on cruise ships, at weddings and parties, and in fine hotels. He has worked with singers in a variety of settings from a small Baptist choir to student musicals. He gets kudos for his versatility, professionalism, ease to work with and his kindness - all of which he brings to bear in his music ministry here at Live Oak UU Congregation, where he uses his musicality and creative programming to enhance our services. Kevin rehearses our Live Oak Choir weekly.
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.