Senior Minister

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Rev. Marlin Lavanhar

Senior Minister

Marlin grew up as a Unitarian Universalist in Illinois. He majored in sociology at Tulane, and graduated from Harvard Divinity School. All Souls called him in 2000, making him, at age 32, the youngest senior minister of a major congregation in the denomination. Marlin began his ministerial career in the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois.

After receiving his bachelor's degree, he taught English and American Culture in Kyoto, Japan for two years. He followed that with a three year around-the-world bicycle trip, studying Buddhism in Asia, Hinduism in India, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions in Israel, and cycling through much of Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North America. Along the way he visited and wrote about Unitarian communities on the Negros Island in the Philippines, in the Khasi Hills of Northeast India, and in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania. The experience helped him recognize the Unitarian ministry as his calling and he enrolled at Harvard Divinity School when he returned to the United States.

At Harvard, he was selected to assist the Unitarian Universalist Association in interfaith and international relations, and was invited to present a message to the Triennial World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom in Korea.

After graduating, he served as Minister of Outreach at the historic First and Second Church in Boston. He became widely recognized within the denomination for his development of the "Soulful Sundown Service" program in Boston, which reaches out to young people. His success was demonstrated by the wide distribution of a manual he wrote on how to bring young people into church.

Since coming to All Souls, Marlin has overseen exponential growth in membership and attendance. In 2008, All Souls became the largest church in the Unitarian Universalist Association with almost 1,800 adult members.

He serves the wider Tulsa community as a member of the Downtown Clergy Association, a board member of the John Hope Franklin Museum for Reconciliation, and the Mayor’s Police and Community Coalition.

He is married to Anitra Lavanhar and they have two children, Elias born in 2000 and Lyla born in 2008.