Meet the Staff

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson, Senior Minister

Matthew Johnson was called as the senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in 2008. Prior to coming to Rockford, he served for five years at High Plains Church, UU, in Colorado Springs, CO. He gradutated from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago in 2003, and from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in 1999. He completed his Doctor of Ministry from Iliff School of Theology in Denver in 2010. He is the author of "Newborn Bards: A Theology of Preaching for Unitarian Universalists."  He is also the co-chair of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Presidential Search Committee.  

Matthew is a third-generation Unitarian Universalist. He grew up in the Seattle, WA area, where he enjoyed church, the woods, and daydreaming. He has a seven-year-old daughter, Rosalie, and a four-year-old son, Leo.

When he's not at church, Matthew spends time running along the Rock River, playing with the kids, reading, rooting for the Packers, and enjoying local beer.

Matthew is focused on the good news of Unitarian Universalism. "This is a religion," he says, "which can save lives and the world. People seek a spiritual path that integrates their whole selves, that inspires awe, that celebrates beauty, and grounds justice. We can offer a vision of the good life, and the tools to make it real." Matthew is passionate about welcoming newcomers to church, building strong communities, the preaching life, and working in accountable and effective ways for justice among all creation.

Kimberlee Carlson, Program Director

As the Program Director since the summer of 2011, Kimberlee is responsible for our programs for Children and Youth as well as for the welcome and integration of new visitors and members.

Kimbelee taught art for 15 years in the Wisconsin public schools, where she honed her gifts of creativity and ability to related to children of all ages. A dedicated Unitarian Universalist, she was also the Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. In this capacity, she consulted with local youth and young adult groups, worked to plan and supervise youth and young adult conferences, and trained youth advisors around the region and nationally.

Kimberlee and her husband, the Rev. Erik Carlson (minsiter of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Stockton, IL), have a toddler son, Miles.

Tim Anderson, Music Director

Tim Anderson became Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford IL, in August 2004, the most recent chapter in a church music career spanning more than twenty years. Outside of church music, Tim has worked professionally as Music Director for productions by Artists' Ensemble Theater, Madison Repertory Theatre, New American Theater, and Rockford College. Tim has also provided accompaniment for various musical groups over the years, including Camerata Emanon, Mendelssohn Club, Bach Chamber Choir, and Rockford Symphony Orchestra. He is a Past Dean of the Rockford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and currently serves as their Treasurer/Registrar.

A native of rural Northwest Illinois, Tim has taught philosophy and Spanish at several colleges in the area and currently is Instructor of Modern Languages at Kishwaukee College. He holds a B.A. in mathematics from Rockford College, M.A. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, and M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. In a so-far wildly successful bid to stay in school all his life, he is pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago in Hispanic Linguistics.

Jamie Gaffke, Congregation Adminstrator

As Congregation Administrator, Jamie welcomes and assists members and visitors seeking information, resources, and connection. She is the person to contact regarding pledge payments, address changes, building usage, and communications such as newsletter and website. Prior to coming to Rockford, Jamie served as Religious Education Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA.

Jean Bouacha, Bookkeeper

Spomenka Bela, Building Custodian

The Rev. Dave Weissbard, Minister Emeritus

The Rev. Dave Weissbard retired as Senior Minister and was named Minister Emeritus in 2006, after 27 years of service to this congregation. He is now living in Canton, New York.

Dave is a born Unitarian Universalist, having been raised in the First Unitarian Society of Albany, NY. After receiving his BA from the St. Lawrence University in 1962, he entered the Theological School there from which he received an Masters of Divinity in 1965. He served the First Universalist Churches in Dexter and Henderson, NY, as student minister.

He was called to be minister of the First Parish in Bedford, MA in 1965. While in Bedford, Dave was active in opposition to the Vietnam War, a member of the Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bedford Free Library. In 1972, while on a sabbatical, he earned a Diploma in Applied Social Studies from the University of Southampton, England and Certification in Psychiatric Social Work from the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (England). Dave was called to the Fairfax Unitarian Church in 1974. During his five years there, he worked to strengthen its support, structure, and the relationships among its members.

In 1979 Dave became Senior Minister of The Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockford. He was Producer of FUSION, a weekly half-hour televison program on WIFR (CBS Television on Rockford) for twenty-five years. He served on the Rockford Schools Religion Policy Committee, the Board of Contact, and was President of the Northern Illinois Chapter of the ACLU. Dave was founder and convenor of "I Support Public Schools," a group that worked to improve local schools. In recognition of his community service, Mayor Charles Box proclaimed May 21, 2000 as "Dave Weissbard Day" in Rockford.

Dave's first wife, Linda, died in 1987. In 1990 he married Karen Wells, an actress and theater teacher, who is the daughter and sister of Unitarian Universalist ministers. Dave is the father of three adult daughters: Lisa, Shelley, and Meri; and grandfather of five. He and Karen are the doting parents of Hilary Rebecca.

Staff Contact Information

Senior Minister

The Rev. Matthew Johnson

815-398-6322 ext. 14
Program Director

Kimberlee Carlson

815-398-6322 ext. 15
Music Director

Tim Anderson

815-398-6322 ext. 23
Congregation Administrator

Jamie Gaffke


Jean Bouacha

815-398-6322 ext. 16
Building Custodian

Spomenka Bela