Dakota Unitarian Universalist Church

A Ministry of Inclusion



At Dakota UU, many spiritual and theological ideas and beliefs mingle to form a strong, free faith; where reason, intellect, and doubt engage with tradition and spirituality. A primary mission is to provide a safe place to explore. Another is to bring the ideal of inclusion and compassion into the world.We also engage the power and beauty of creative arts to express the human spirit.

In addition to our Ministerial Consultant, Briana Melom, we feature other ministers and speakers to inspire and challenge us and support our mission.

Briana Melom is currently serving a ten-month contract as a ministerial consultant with DUUC.  She is providing consultation with the church council about community growth.  Briana leads services on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of most months,and preaches on the 4th Sunday.

Briana holds a master's degree in theology and the arts from United Theological Seminary, where she studied worship arts, world religions, UU history and preaching.  For her master's thesis, Briana produced a video on the ministry of Frederick May Eliot, an early 20th century Unitarian minister and former president of the American Unitarian Association, who helped prepare the merger between Unitarianism and Universalism

For the past 16 years, Briana has preached in UU congregations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Her ministry is rooted in a passion for social justice and the cultivation of joy in our daily lives.  She believes stories are sacred, music is essential and art is one of the best ways to discern truth.

Briana previously served as youth and young adult coordinator at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, where she led interactive worship services for young adults ages 18-35.  She also provided programming for church elders on UU history and spiritual growth.  

Since becoming a full-time parent 12 years ago, Briana has worked in community ministry, officiating over 400 wedding ceremonies for couples from a variety of religious and secular backgrounds.  She also conducts memorial services and child blessings.

Prior to attending seminary, Briana received a bachelor's degree in social work with an emphasis in elder care.  Briana worked as the Director of Education and Family Services at the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, where she led classes and support groups on dementia for family caregivers. With her colleagues, Briana started the first support group in Minnesota for people with early stage dementia.  

Briana has been speaking publicly for over 20 years. She taught an eight hour training session on dementia care for professional caregivers throughout the upper midwest and also served on a multidisciplinary medical team to provide dementia care consultation in a variety of settings including hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private residences.  Additionally, she edited and wrote for the Mayo Clinic Newsletter on Alzheimer's Disease Research and was one of two contributing writers for the 1st edition of the book "Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer's Disease".

Briana lives in south Minneapolis with her spouse, two young sons and several pets.  She is passionate about racial justice, international adoption, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, education equality and religious freedom.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, nature, music and laughter.


Meet our new Ministerial Consultant, Briana Melom!

The love of music started for Cathleen in first grade when she began studying piano. Cathleen has also studied alto saxophone, played silver flute, bassoon and played drums in marching band. But the most beloved instrument of all is the piano.  “Being classically trained has provided a solid foundation for my continued musical growth”. Her favorite music styles are classical, jazz, blues, sacred, and improvisation. About five years ago, Cathleen began studying jazz piano. “Playing music from the improvisational perspective opens my mind and heart to express more deeply all that is inside of my soul”.


Cathleen has been a music therapist for over 23 years.  Music therapy is her passion, calling and purpose for living.  Serving others with music is very rewarding. Cathleen is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy. Her music therapy work has provided a rich tapestry of experiences with people of all ages and abilities. Cathleen is also a trained Health Rhythms Group Empowerment Drumming facilitator.  Currently she is providing this program to well elderly/active seniors and with clients in addictions recovery programs. Cathleen is studying and preparing to pass the music therapy board certification exam in early 2018. Cathleen provides music therapy services as an independent contractor doing business as Music For Healing LLC.


“Serving the Dakota Unitarian Universalist Church of Burnsville with music during the Sunday services focuses my intention to hold 'musical space' for the expression of our deepest joys and concerns. All styles of music are used, from jazz to classical, that convey and support love, compassion, and the sharing of our lives. “I am deeply rewarded through this experience of sharing my music for others”.



Music is love and joy in action


Our  music accompanist Cathleen Gempeler