Our Minister and Staff
Minister: Rev. Ruth Vann Lillian
Administrative Assistant: Selena Woodruff
Music Director: Ken McGuire
Rev. Ruth Vann Lillian
Rev. Ruth was born in Birmingham in the late 60’s to Lillian Foscue Vann, a journalist with the Birmingham Post-Herald, and David J. Vann, a mediating attorney during the Civil Rights Movement who was later elected mayor of Birmingham. Her younger brother, Michael, was adopted from Vietnam. Her religious upbringing included input from United Methodist, Episcopalian, Christian Scientist, Jewish, and Roman Catholic sources.
Ruth felt a call to ministry at 16, and after receiving her B.A. in English from Birmingham-Southern College, her M.A. Ed. in marriage and family counseling from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and her M.Div. at the Iliff School of Theology, she was ordained in the United Methodist Church in 1994. Following eleven years of parish ministry, she went on leave to care full-time for her two sons, the younger having Cerebral Palsy. During this time, she and her husband, William Malone, found their way to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham.
In thirteen years at UUCB, Ruth served in leadership positions on Stewardship, Nominations, Board of Trustees and Worship Associates and in volunteer ministerial roles including pastoral care, preaching, and officiant responsibilities. In September of 2017, the Board of Trustees asked Ruth to help the congregation by stepping into the role of Interim Director of Religious Education, a half-time position, and to remain until June of 2019 by which time they hope to hire a permanent D.R.E.
From age 16 when she and a friend were threatened in the street by gay bashers armed with baseball bats, Ruth has felt called to justice work and advocacy as an ally of the LGBTQ community. She worked as a counseling intern with Birmingham AIDS Outreach in the late 1980’s, and later served as Director of Communities of Faith for Full Inclusion, an organization sponsored by U.U. Fellowship of Montgomery. She also served as an adult facilitator for Birmingham Area Gay Straight Lesbian Youth before it merged with Magic City Acceptance Center.
Ruth’s husband, Bill, retired in 2017 to take over care of their younger son, Angus, allowing Ruth to pursue ministerial credentials with the UUA. She is currently a Ministerial Candidate and hopes to receive Preliminary Fellowship within the next year while she and Bill simultaneously guide their elder son, Liam, through his senior year of high school.
Ruth defines her personal theology this way: “I am a liberal skeptical panentheist Christian Unitarian Universalist with humanist and Earth-center sympathies. Christianity is foundational for my spiritual development and the teachings of Rabbi Jesus and the narratives and the wisdom from the Hebrew and Christian Testaments are an important part of my personal free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I am also informed by my continued learning from other traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Paganism, and Humanism. Predictably these various sources inspire my preaching and teaching, worship design, and pastoral care.