LEADERSHIP

Unity’s leadership team includes the lead minister, assistant ministers and Licensed Unity Teachers, staff members (both paid and volunteer), and the board of trustees. Prayer Chaplains, volunteer team leaders, teachers, and fundraising event coordinators also act as leaders within our community.

Members of Unity of Walnut Creek’s leadership team met with Rev. Shad Groverland, Chief Executive Officer of Unity Worldwide Ministries, and his wife Erinna (pictured far right).

Rev. Kristin Powell, Lead Minister

Rev. Kristin Powell (she/her), ordained a Unity minister in 2002, is passionate about Unity, Spirit and Nature.

Kristin loves Sunday mornings when the Unity community comes together to connect and grow spiritually. She especially enjoys tuning into the Divine and the community to prepare and share the message of the day. Her spiritual path and messages are focused on wholeness, oneness, love and wisdom. Kristin moves herself and her audience toward a sense of full soul integration (physical, emotional and spiritual) and trust in the Divine through Unity principles and inspiring stories.

She teaches foundational Unity and related classes with contemporary approaches using affirmative prayer, meditation, inquiry, visualization and heart-centered small group discussion.

Kristin became the lead minister on Easter Sunday in 2017 and is delighted to serve in such a vibrant and loving community. She has served on the Unity West Central Regional Board and participates in the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County and Pleasant Hill Clergy.

In 2003, Kristin founded Unity Rising to offer spiritual retreats and sojourns in divine nature, and currently offers nature immersions. Previously, Kristin served as a supervisor at Silent Unity, Unity’s international prayer ministry, and as senior minister at Unity of Columbia in Missouri. She was host of Soulstream on Unity Online Radio from 2013-2016.

Kristin joyfully shares her home life with her wife Brenlee Reida, her mother Jan, and their dogs Dakota and Samson. She loves to be outdoors swimming, beaching, hiking or biking.

Ron Salazar, Licensed Unity Teacher (LUT)

Ron Salazar (he/him) began his spiritual journey by stepping onto a 12-Step Spiritual Path in 1988. The 12 Step path’s foremost tenet is that we come to a spiritual awakening, and by keeping a conscious contact with God we will connect to the spiritual power that resides within all of us. The Spiritual gift that Ron received from the 12 Step Path is “the knowing that there is a power and a wisdom within me that only I could be conscious of. And that only I could affect with my perspective and fortitude to deepen my conscious contact with God.”

With this gift ever-present, Ron started walking Unity’s New Thought path in the late 1990’s. In Unity he found the true teaching of Jesus, and two truths that affirmed he was on his true spiritual path. The first truth was that Christ was not just Jesus’ surname. When interpreted metaphysically, Christ means the universal divine idea that is the spiritual perfection inherent in all. The second truth was the discovery of the foundational tenets of Unity: Peace, Love, and a Consciousness of Oneness in everyone.

Both spiritual paths empowered Ron’s unwavering knowing that we are one with God (Oneness, Divine Spirit) and our conscious awareness of the Divine Presence within us is the key element in experiencing and expressing our true selves: the I AM, the Christ within us.

In the early 2000’s Ron was inspired to become a Licensed Unity Teacher. He concurrently deepened his spiritual studies by earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from UC Berkeley, with a focus on European Christianity. Then, as a newly Licensed Unity Teacher in 2012, Ron started teaching classes, performing spiritual ceremonies, and sharing his joy-filled messages at Unity of Walnut Creek and other Unity ministries.

With successful completion of co-active life coach training in 2023, Ron is now engaged in a professional certification program so he can confidently serve others from a space of deep spiritual awareness as a life coach. In this work, each client is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole; his focus is on the whole person, heart, mind, body, and spirit. Ron holds sacred space for spiritual truths and unique conscious expression of Oneness within each client.

Rev. Johanna van Gelder, ordained by Emerson Theological Institute

Rev. Johanna van Gelder (she/her) is originally from The Netherlands. She started her journey in New Thought in 1981 and came to the United States in 1984 with one hundred dollars in her pocket, a small backpack, a few metaphysical books, and a lot of faith.

‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ has been both a mantra and a practice on her journey. She has encountered life from multiple points of view: as an immigrant, a woman in an interracial relationship, the mom of a multicultural son, and a resident of an ashram for many years. Each of these experiences has enabled her to see and relate to the world from diverse perspectives.

Rev. Johanna has had her own successful bookkeeping business since 2002. She was ordained as a minister of Religious Science through Emerson Theological Institute in 2017 and received her Doctor of Divinity degree in October of 2023.

She is passionate about supporting people in knowing themselves in their divinity and being able to express it fully. Her passion shows up in her relationship with her son, friends, cats, community, and work — in other words, wherever she goes. If she were to sum up her passion in one word, it would be Freedom.

Her favorite practice to connect with Freedom is through contemplating sacred poetry. She has facilitated a poetry and story salon and led poetry contemplation circles at New Thought ministries, conventions and conferences. She’s also taught classes on meditation, conflict resolution, New Thought philosophy and prosperity. At Unity, Johanna speaks, leads meditations, teaches classes, and very happily manages the bookstore.

Rev. Robert Hardy, ordained by The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley

Rev. Robert “Bob” Hardy (he/him) started attending Unity in Sacramento with Phil and Dorothy Pearson in 1993, and it completely changed his spiritual perspective from childhood Catholicism. Unity teachings were life changing and very exciting.

He and his wife Diane moved to the Bay Area in 1998 and got very involved with the Tri-Valley Unity church in Dublin for the next twelve years. Bob served on the board of trustees in various capacities, including as fundraising head and helping to hire Rev. Mary Anne Harris as the minister. He also started the prayer chaplain group among many other adventures.

Bob completed the Unity Spiritual Education program and became a Licensed Unity Teacher in 2008. He served as spiritual leader for the Tri-Valley church until June of 2010 and in 2012 he became an ordained interfaith minister through Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley. The seminary provided him a worldwide perspective on how to minister to all major faiths including through creative artwork.

After seminary Bob served in different leadership capacities for the United Church of Christ congregation in Danville and served two years as board president, coordinating board work priorities with twelve different committees of the congregation. During that time, Bob hired an interim minister and worked with a search committee to hire a permanent minister. In addition, he served as ritual leader and performed baptisms and weddings. Bob and Diane were also part of the choir.

Coming to Unity of Walnut Creek was like coming back to the great feeling of our Unity roots. It has been dynamic and fun. Bob serves as support to the minister, teaches Unity classes, provides prayer support, and facilitates sacred painting workshops.