Our Minister and Staff
Reverend Matthew McHale
Rev. Matthew began his Ministry at Emerson in August 2016. He was raised as a Unitarian Universalist and has been active leader in the denominations as youth and young adult, particularly in work around racial and climate/environmental justice, which are two of his deep passions.
Rev. Matthew grew up Long Beach, CA and has also called Oakland, Berkeley, Cleveland and England home. Rev. Matthew attended seminary at Starr King School for the Ministry, and has BA and MA in American Studies.
Rev. Matthew loves creating worship services that touch the head and the heart, and a compelling prophetic vision grounded in history of justice work in UUism and the wider world. He believes that a church should serve those within and beyond its walls, and equip others to live lives of meaning and purpose.
Rev. Matthew has a daughter, River Grace, with his wife, Anna Wagner.
Reverend Rebecca Benefiel Bijur
Affiliated Community Minister
Greetings and Salutations! A little about myself: I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and still live in Granada Hills. I was raised in the Jewish faith and in my early 20’s was put on a path to find my true spiritual calling. When I landed “home,” I embraced the earth based traditions of being a Pagan. I now like to think of myself as a “JewWitch” honoring both traditions and practices. I am also a bit of a kitchen witch and crafter who loves making herbal salves, tinctures, soaps and working with essentials oils. I also am a fine baker. I have two fur kids, my cats Shadow and Dalila.
I am really excited to be here as the new Office Administrator at Emerson, and look forward to meeting you when we are back in person.
Kevin Mathie is a professional pianist and composer who has more than a decade of experience in the music and entertainment industries. He has garnished several awards and recognitions both as a composer and as the music director/conductor for The Grand Theatre and Salt Lake Acting Company based out of Salt Lake City, UT. Kevin has increasingly been involved in composing for film/tv/commercials. This transition has brought him to sunny LA, a city that he has absolutely fallen in love with. Kevin is currently a freelance composer, and is also a composer with the Los Angeles based music production collective HotTraxInc.com. He is also an accompanist for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. You can read more about Kevin’s experience and hear his music at www.kevinmathie.com
Emerson’s Sabbatical Minister
(Our Minister, Rev. Matthew, was on Sabbatical from December 26, 2021 – May 25, 2022. During that time, Joshua Berg served as our part-time sabbatical minister—preaching twice a month, providing pastoral care and supporting our lay leaders and staff. As Joshua plans to remain in the Southern California area we hope to see him again from time to time.)
I am a proud husband of an amazing wife and father of two amazing daughters. My background is Ashkenazic Jewish. I began my path toward ministry when I trained as a humanist celebrant in 2015 with John Figdor, the former humanist chaplain of Stanford University, as well as with the Center for Education of the American Humanist Association. I was certified as an officiant and chaplain by the Humanist Society, of which I was also a board member for two years. I went on to officiate many rite-of-passage ceremonies in Los Angeles, Savannah, and Detroit.
In 2018, I completed a unit of clinical pastoral education training at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, and I will graduate with a Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in May of 2022. I served as Intern Minister at Northwest UU of Southfield, Michigan from 2019-2021. This past September, I went before the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and will enter preliminary fellowship as a UU minister upon graduation from seminary. My intern congregation, Northwest UU of Southfield, Michigan, will ordain me on June 19, 2022.
I am excited and honored to be with Emerson as my first ministerial placement! I look forward to getting to know you all and traveling with you on our mutual spiritual journey!
Warmly and with gratitude,
Joshua Berg (he/him/his)