The Reverend Lucas Hergert became the Minister of North Shore Unitarian Church in 2017. He grew up in a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and first heard his call to the ministry in high school. Lucas holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Miami University, a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Pacific School of Religion. This is his second ministry, having served the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore, California from 2009-2017. Lucas was also previously a college faculty member, teaching courses in philosophy and comparative religion. His interests include yoga, Shakespeare plays, biking, liberation theologies, fantasy novels, interfaith work, and humor. He lives in Deerfield with his husband, Evan. Church members describe Lucas as a warm and empathetic pastor, and his office door is always open for those in need of spiritual support.

Email:  minister @ (remove spaces when sending email)

Pronouns: He/Him


Our Congregational Life & Education Coordinator, Lydia Linendoll, has previously been our video editor during the pandemic. Now, she is taking on this roll in the church, bringing her background in elementary music education, administration, and technology. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Music Education. 

She co-runs her own small business Smol Sun and co-runs a non-for-profit called Faeries of the Forest. She is also involved in music through handbells, ringing with the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble and directing a church ensemble. She lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and two cats. 

Lydia, having grown up UU, loves giving back to the association and church community that shaped her, and is excited to help shape the minds of the next generation of UUs. She looks forward to growing as an educator and become interconnected with the NSUC community with enthusiasm and spirit. 

Email: congregationallife @ (remove spaces when sending email)

Pronouns: She/Her

Stephen Blackwelder returned to NSUC as Music Director in 2016. He’s also Director of the DePaul Community Chorus (since 2005) and the Chicago Bar Association Chorus (since 2017). Previous positions include Music Director of the Waukegan Symphony (2000-2018) and Music Director of the Hinsdale Chamber Orchestra (1983-94), plus numerous civic/educational orchestral and choral ensembles in the greater Chicago area. 

Stephen served on the conducting staff of the Harford Opera Theater of Baltimore, Hinsdale Opera, Opera Illinois, Opera da Corneto and Chicago Opera Theater and also on the faculties of Lake Forest College, East Carolina University and DePaul University. As a professional singer, he performed frequently under conductors Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, Robert Shaw and Margaret Hillis while a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Aspen Chamber Choir.

Blackwelder holds a BM from the University of North Carolina and a MM from Northwestern University. Professional study included four seasons with the Aspen Music Festival and conducting master classes with Sir Georg Solti, Max Rudolf and Erich Leinsdorf.

Email: musicdirector @ (remove spaces when sending email)

Pronouns: He/Him

Our Pianist, Katherine Petersen, started at North Shore Unitarian Church in August 2021.

Described by New York Classical Review as a “strong and exciting performer” who plays with “musical feeling and great technical skill,” Chicago-based pianist Katherine enjoys a versatile career performing and educating young musicians across the nation. She presented her first full length solo performance at the age of 12, and made her Carnegie Hall debut after winning the CMFoNE competition at age 16. 

Petersen’s performances as chamber musician and soloist have taken her to Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, the Maison Symphonique in Montreal, Quebec, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Empire Saal at Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, and Boston’s historic Jordan Hall. She has also collaborated with musicians of the Lyric Opera of Chicago orchestra, members of the Gaudete Quintet, Jason Vieaux, and Charles Castleman.

Katherine has a passion for chamber music and has collaborated with groups such as Fifth House Ensemble and her own chamber group, Duo FAE. She is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.  Ms. Petersen has served on the faculty of Chicago High School for the Arts and the Fresh Inc. Festival, and is currently on the full-time faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago teaching piano and chamber music.

Email: (remove spaces when sending email)

Pronouns: She/Her

 Jocelyn JanuaryJocelyn January, our Congregational Administrator, is a recent graduate from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Passionate about understanding the intricacies of human behavior and socioeconomic systems, she delved into the fields of economics and sociology during her academic journey.

Her interests include theater, swimming, dancing, and spending time with her dogs, Lola and Daisy. Her curiosity and desire to explore diverse cultures has also led Jocelyn to develop a love for traveling.

Jocelyn is now thrilled to embark on a new chapter as a member of the NSUC community. Driven by her genuine enthusiasm for collaboration and personal growth, Jocelyn looks forward to engaging with individuals at NSUC, fostering meaningful connections, and collectively striving towards a brighter future.

Email: churchadmin @ (remove spaces when sending email)

Pronouns: She/Her