Our Minister, the Rev. Dr. Michael Tino
The Rev. Dr. Michael Tino began as the settled minister of the Fellowship on August 1, 2007.
Michael is a graduate of the Meadville/Lombard Theological School. Prior to coming to the Fellowship, Michael served six years as the Director of Young Adult and Campus Ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Association, the national headquarters of our faith movement.
He is the author of several Unitarian Universalist Association publications, including the curriculum Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Young Adults, co-written with the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh and Laura Stuart and published in early 2008. This curriculum is the latest part of the Our Whole Lives comprehensive sexuality education series.
Michael’s dedication to justice work grounded in a modern Universalist theology led to his selection as the 2013 John Murray Distinguished Lecturer at the UUA General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. A video of the lecture, entitled “The Promise of Universalism,” can be seen here, and the text is available here. He also dreams of writing a book in which he explores a Unitarian Universalist theology of diversity and how we can share our cultural heritage in deep and meaningful ways.
Michael is active in the wider Unitarian Universalist movement. He currently serves as the Director of the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (aka SUUSI), a week-long multigenerational UU summer camp held each year in western Virginia. In 2013, Michael finished a term on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association. From 2008-2013, he served on the Steering Committee of Allies for Racial Equity, a UU organization dedicated to anti-racism work (including two years as its President), and he is the former chairperson of the Metro New York District’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee. Michael serves as a trainer with the Beyond Categorical Thinking program, which helps congregations be open to the possibility of calling a minister who is a person of color, a Latino/Latina/Hispanic person, a person with disabilities or someone gay, Lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Michael was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Brooklyn and nearby Armonk. He comes from a close-knit, vibrant, Italian-American family, who are now scattered around the Northeastern US. Michael has been with his husband Eric since 1999 (they married legally in December of 2012). They live in Peekskill with their daughter Nora, born in 2013. He is also a proud uncle to two wonderful nephews and two amazing nieces.
After graduating from Cornell University, Michael left New York for Durham, North Carolina, where he earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Duke University and lived for fourteen years, finding Unitarian Universalism and his call to the ministry. Michael is thrilled to have returned home as a minister.
Michael understands his ministry to be one of mattering and wholeness. He understands that Unitarian Universalism has a powerful message for a world torn apart by individualism, fundamentalism and greed: that we are all beautiful parts of creation, that we are all worthy of love, and that we can exist in community even when we disagree on important issues (like theology). Michael’s focus as a minister is on building real and right relationships–at the Fellowship, in our communities, and in the world at large.
Michael is dedicated to creating justice in our world. To him, this includes examining and fighting oppression in all its forms: racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, etc. It means working to dismantle systems of inequality as well as raising a public moral voice for inclusion, tolerance, opportunity and respect. It also means understanding how our actions ripple throughout the “interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.”
Theologically, Michael describes himself as a “naturalistic theist,” meaning that though he finds meaning in a concept of God, he believes that God is wholly part of nature, and not external to it. As someone trained in science, Michael understands both the power and the limitations of rational thought. Inspired by process theology, Michael believes good comes from being in relationship with others and being open to the change that comes from those relationships.
Michael would love to meet with you in his office at the Fellowship. He would be glad to talk with you about your spiritual journey, current joys and concerns in your life, creating a more just world, performing religious rituals (such as weddings, child dedications and memorial services) or whatever is on your mind.