Biography

The Rev. Mariela Pérez-Simons (she/her) is a lover of life devoted to the beauty and magic found in the everyday. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, Mariela is dedicated to promoting the values of love and the practices of freedom that lead to the healing and wholeness of individuals, communities, and the planet.

Mariela was born and grew up in Cuba at a time when religion was forbidden, which marked her profoundly and instilled in her a commitment to the freedom of individuals to seek truth and meaning in their own terms. She and her family migrated to the United States as political refugees in 1995.

Currently, she serves All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK, as a ministerial intern and is finishing her Master’s in Divinity at Meadville Lombard Theological School. In 2006, she received another master’s degree (MFA) in Writing and Literature from Bennington College.

Although religious affiliations continue to drop, Mariela comes into ministry now with a fierce belief in the transformative power of spiritual communities where we can address our longings/needs for connection and for practices that nourish the soul, feed the spirit, and heal the world.

Why I Wake Early

“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.”

― Mary Oliver

Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center| Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) – Unit I| Summer 2018
  • Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL | 
Masters in Divinity | 2017 – 2020 (in progress)
  • Bennington College, VT
 | Masters in Fine Arts in Writing / Literature | 2004 to 2006
  • Duke University, NC| Certificate in Creative Writing & Certificate in Communications | 2002 to 2004
  • University of Havana, Cuba | 
Elementary Education | 1989 to 1994

Professional Experience

  •  All Souls Unitarian Church Tulsa (2019-2020)
    :: Ministerial intern (participated in various weekly worship services, delivered monthly sermons, gave pastoral care when needed, taught a Religious Naturalism class, worked with the youth, attended executive meetings, led Flourish initiative for people of color, served as a liaison between All Souls and the local Latinx community).
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston Salem (2018-2019)
    :: Student minister (prepared worship services monthly, gave pastoral care, taught classes, attended board meetings, led group Restoration and Renewal for people of color).
  • Live Your Bliss | Owner (2014-2017)
    :: Hosted women’s circles and retreats incorporating art and nature. I also did freelance writing, public speaking, and delivered sermons at UU churches.
  •  Perez-Simons Web Studio | Owner (2008 to 2014)
    :: I designed websites and worked on all aspects of online promotions, from creating videos and taking photographs, to designing online newsletters and maintaining social media presence. Hired and supervised employees.
  • Batanga.com | Senior Editor and Writer (1998 to 2008)
    :: Wrote and edited articles in English and Spanish for Latinx people living in the USA. Supervised writers and translators.

Congregational & Community Volunteer Experience

  •  New Sanctuary Tulsa
    :: Attended and spoke at weekly protests, gave pastoral care to ICE detainees at the local detention center, visited with families separated by ICE.

 

  • Compassionate Winston Salem | Intern
    :: Worked in the community feeding the homeless, giving pastoral care to people in need, helping schools with compassionate benches, facilitating dialogues between liberals and conservatives, cleaned up trails and creeks, storytelling…

 

  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro | Communication Committee Chair
    :: Created and maintained new website, social media, and newsletters

 

  • Unitarian Universalists in Covenant / Greensboro | Worship Committee
    :: Helped plan worship services and delivered sermons

 

  • Leadership Greensboro
    :: Worked on a team to build a garden for the homeless day center in downtown.

 

  • Timberlake Earth Sanctuary
    :: Volunteered with website, social media, and other communication avenues.
    :: Led women’s circles, creating community and connecting to the earth.