Pastors & Staff
Rev. Gerald “Jay” Williams, Ph.D.
Rev. Dr. Jay Williams returned to Union as lead pastor on July 1, 2018, having guided this congregation September 2012 – June 2017. An ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church, Jay has served congregations in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco, including Glide Memorial.
Williams holds a Master of Divinity with highest honors from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (2009) and the Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Harvard College (2003). In May 2017, Jay received the Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Williams’s work explores the meaning of “Spirit” in black cultural discourse at the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality: particularly how spirit-talk has been a marginalizing language of power. The dissertation, entitled “Unholy Ghosts in the Age of Spirit: Identity, Intersectionality, and the Theological Horizons of Black Progress,” develops a constructive theology of spirit that rethinks hope, courage, and vitality, premised on insights from W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Howard Thurman. Through his pastoral and academic work, Jay strives to help more disinherited folk find their voices.
Rev. Jay, a queer cisgender man, and his partner, Robert, have two crazy yorkie-chihuahuas, Bentley and Hurston.
Pastor Nikki Young
Rev. Ashley Renée Johnson
Minister of Worship & Faith Formation
Ashley attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she studied Psychology and Child Development. Upon Graduation in 2007, she entered the Department of Education at Brown University. She received her Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown and has had the pleasure of serving as an elementary school teacher for seven years.
Ashley’s mission in life is to help young people, especially children of color, to flourish and to encourage them to listen for and respond to the voice of the Divine as we all work towards greater peace and justice in our communities and in the world.
Rev. Adama Brown-Hathaway, Ph.D.
Minister of Connection and Care
Adama is a sociologist by training and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in sociology from Iowa State University with an emphasis in medical sociology, research methods and statistics, and social policy. She also earned an MDiv from Iliff School of Theology with a specialization in pastoral counseling and spiritual care.
Adama is a sixth generation Texan who is passionate about genealogy, jazz, and intersectional justice. She currently serves on the board of the Reconciling Ministries Network, an organization dedicated to the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the life of UMC congregations. She also loves talking about womanist theology and encouraging people to reimagine sacred texts in ways that embolden us to love, compassion, and justice.
Min. Kyle Walden
Minister for Digital Union and Community Engagement
Following his student ministry at Union, Kyle now serves as the Minister for Digital Union and Community Engagement. As Union seeks new ways to “be church” online, Kyle brings his creativity and organizational capacity to build out Digital Union. And with a passion for social justice, Kyle nurtures Union’s community partnerships and leverages Union’s story to be the foretaste of the kin-dom of God in the South End of Boston and beyond. As a lifelong Methodist, he believes that the people of God—the Church—need to be continually transformed by God and be co-creators with God to bring forth new life into a world that desperately needs it.
Kyle is in his third year at Boston University School of Theology to complete a Master of Divinity, and is a certified candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church in the North Texas Annual Conference. Before coming to Boston, he studied at the University of Texas at Austin (Psychology and Liberal Arts) and completed a year of service with Americorps in Austin.
In his free time, Kyle enjoys playing music, watching “The West Wing,” and cooking or attempting to bake with his partner, Angie.
Beginning July 1st, 2021, Minister Kyle will be appointed by the Bishop to Union Church as our new Pastor of Strategic Engagement.
Church Operations Officer
Director of Music
A Berklee College of Music Scholarship brought Plamen to Boston in January 2001 where he found a whole new world of musical adventures. In the United States he has performed with some of the most respected jazz musicians currently on the scene including Randy Brecker, Gene Perla, George Garzone, Hal Crook, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Cobb, Richie Barshay and many more.
Director of Radical Praise