Our Minister and Staff
Ministry & Programs
Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh began as settled minister at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church on Aug. 1, 2013. Before coming to St. John’s, she was the settled minister at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church near Knoxville, Tenn., and an acting minister at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church in Louisville, Ky.
While in Tennessee, she taught Survey of World Religions at Pellissippi State Technical and Community College. She has been active in a clergy task force on domestic violence for several years, served on the board of Family Promise of Knoxville, which provides shelter for homeless families, and has served in other interfaith and service organizations over the years. In Cincinnati, she is an active member of the Clifton clergy group.
Mitra’s master of divinity degree is from Lexington Theological Seminary and her bachelor of arts in sociology is from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her family enjoys hiking and camping. She also enjoys cooking, playing the recorder, watching “Doctor Who” and reading mystery novels.
Join Conversations with the Minister after Sunday Worship Service in the Chapel or Sanctuary, whenever Rev. Mitra is preaching. A lively, informal discussion. Visitors and all ages welcome!
Elizabeth Wilson is a native Chicagoan who moved to Cincinnati in October 2001. Soon after, she and her husband David and their two daughters, Alexandra and Hannah joined the St. John’s family. Elizabeth attended the University of Illinois. Previous experience working with children includes extensive volunteer work serving as an elementary school reading tutor, events coordinator for the Hopewell Elementary PTO, Girl Scout troop leader for two troops, and as events coordinator and communications consultant for the Woodland Mounds Service Unit of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.
Elizabeth has been involved with Unitarian Universalist religious education programs since 1995. She has served in a variety of volunteer capacities—as a Sunday School teacher at every grade level from preschool through eighth grade, as grade level team leader, and several stints on RE committees, including four years as RE Committee chair at the UU Church in West Lafayette, IN. She also served on the St. John’s board of trustees as director of Religious Development Council for two years. She became the Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth in November 2009.
In addition to her human family members, Elizabeth shares her home with a dog, a cat, and two guinea pigs. In her spare time she enjoys reading (spiritual journeys and contemporary fiction are faves), watching baseball (Baltimore Orioles!) and good movies, and driving Hannah to a variety of music lessons and rehearsals. Despite pressure from her family, she resists learning/playing video games…though she has learned a lot about Plants v. Zombies and Minecraft from our UU kids!
Jeffrey Stern serves as the St. John’s director of music. He also holds positions as the director of development & communications for the education non-profit Crayons to Computers, and as artistic director of Dayton’s Chamber Choir, Musica. A native New Yorker, Jeff moved to Cincinnati in 2013 following a year as the Director of Choral Activities at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, where he directed the Concert Choir and Women’s Ensemble, and maintained a private voice studio.
Jeff earned a doctor of musical arts at the University of Miami (FL), where he conducted Maelstrom, the university’s men’s chorus, taught courses in conducting, and earned the Theodore Presser Award for his research on and performance of his dissertation topic, William Schuman’s one-act opera, “The Mighty Casey.” Jeff also served as adjunct faculty at Miami-Dade College, associate director of the Master Chorale of South Florida, assistant conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and was selected to the Conducting Masterclass at the Oregon Bach Festival, studying under the tutelage of Helmuth Rilling.
Jeff also holds a master of music degree from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor of arts in both political science and music from George Washington University. Jeff lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Gwynedd, and their mini goldendoodle, Stanley. Gwynedd and Jeff met at the College Light Opera Company on Cape Cod, where he has served as a principal and associate conductor for several musical theater productions.