Rev. Dr. Kelly Colwell

Co-Senior Minister

Meet Kelly


Kelly’s meandering journey took her from a justice-focused Catholic high school in Oregon to two years at l’Arche, an intentional community with people with developmental disabilities, in Tacoma, Washingon.  She went on earn to a degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado and then a Master of Divinity degree from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto with a focus on eco-theology, then moved on to ministry with children, youth, seniors, and everybody in between, and on from Toronto to Berkeley.  She’s been enriched and challenged by many years of global ecumenical work, from an internship in the Philippines to participation in the World Council of Churches general assembly in Busan, South Korea in 2013, to work with the World Student Christian Federation.  She earned a PhD in practical theology from Graduate Theological Union, with a dissertation on church in the pandemic (and if you ask her about it, she'll tell you at length, like all PhD grads!).  Her favorite part of her GTU experience was studying with an incredibly diverse and powerfully hopeful cohort of world-changers.
These days, in addition to her ministry, she teaches at several of the GTU's seminaries in the areas of worship, practical theology, and church leadership.
In ministry, Kelly loves playful and heart-opening worship, being present to collective and individual conflict and loss, and helping people find ways to share their deepest gifts with each other.  She believes wholeheartedly that God dances among us, both in the churches and outside of them, and that joining that dance is our greatest challenge and richest joy.  At First Church, she supports several of the ministry teams, oversees online activities and communications, and invites church into deeper work on mental health, disability, race, gender, sexuality, and other axes of difference, in addition to preaching and pastoral care.  Kelly's primary spiritual gifts are fearlessness, hospitality, and joy.
She shares life in South Berkeley in a dark blue house and a messy and delicious garden with her partner Sheryl and a revolving cast of other lovely roommates, and she can be found daydreaming about the next hike or backpacking trip whenever there’s a moment to breathe.   She’s delighted to be back home on the “West Coast/Best Coast” and can’t get enough of the incredible landscape God has created here.