Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Rev. Connie Yost Bio

Me with Vincent in San Diego, 2000

What we need are more people who specialize in the impossible.”
― Theodore Roethke

The Rev. Connie Yost is an ordained Unitarian Universalist community minister.  She has served in community ministry for the last 20 years focused on social justice for the underserved and often invisible and forgotten -- poor, disabled, very young and elderly.

Connie currently serves as President of the Board of Farm Worker Ministry Northwest, which advocates for farm workers as directed by its partners – PCUN (Oregon’s farm worker labor union), United Farm Workers, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Washington State farm worker labor union of berry pickers in the Skagit Valley), Western Farmworker’s Association and other farm worker organizations as directed by the National Farm Worker Ministry, where she also serves as board member. 

She is the founder of Friends Stay Warm, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to supporting low-wage workers and immigrant detainees through cash assistance and advocacy.   She serves on the Faith Labor Committee of Portland Jobs with Justice, supporting the Burgerville fast-food workers as they strive to get an historic union contract.  She is part of the Portland metro area Rapid Response planning team for potential immigration raids.  She is the Treasurer of the Oregon Poor People’s Campaign and served on its coordinating committee as education and legal liaison.  She serves on the board of the Oregon Memorial Association. 

Connie also serves as a trained spiritual director, preacher, teacher, activist, and minister of rites of passage.  She is a trained facilitator in the Circle of Trust© small group method pioneered by Parker Palmer, facilitating The Soul of Aging at the Franciscan Center and local churches.  She also developed curriculum for and taught Escalating Inequality and Poverty for several years at a number of local churches.  Her other teaching includes Writing for Healing and Spiritual Practices for UUs.  To her surprise, she was asked to facilitate the First Unitarian Church men’s group retreat in 2019, focused on some of the themes from The Soul of Aging.  (All survived!)

Connie is the founder and former executive director of EarthWorks Community Farm, a nonprofit ministry providing job training for at-risk youth and organic produce for the low-income community in East Los Angeles.  She is the founding executive director of the Chalice Oak Foundation, a UU nonprofit which provides fiscal sponsorship and management training for fledgling values-based projects.  She served for 5 years as a hospice and hospital chaplain and for 3 years as administrator of the national UU Society for Community Ministries.  Formerly, she served as certified ombudsman for the state of Oregon Long-term Care and as court-appointed advocate for abused and neglected children (CASA).

Connie grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington in 1973.  Prior to entering the ministry, she was a computer programmer, software development manager and account representative for an employment agency for software engineers.  In 1992, she moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where she started her own business, Partnership Technologies, an employment agency for software engineers.  With the help of her good friend and business writer, Andy Bangs, she sold the business and emigrated to Ajijic, Mexico in 1997.  But being much younger than most everyone, and the town lacking reliable internet at the time, caused her to rethink her “retirement” and she moved to Eugene, Oregon.

While in Eugene she worked at a plant nursery, finding it one of the most satisfying jobs she ever had.  She often opened up alone in the morning, taking the golf cart to the “back forty,” where she picked up the trees (in pots) that had fallen over in the night.  This became a deep spiritual practice for her, connecting her to the divine source of life.  Her years in Eugene were one of deep discernment as to her next steps in her work and life, culminating in experiencing and heeding the call to ministry.  Just as she was beginning seminary at Seattle University, she attended her 30 year high school reunion, reconnecting with a kid from the old hood, and ending up moving to California and marrying him.  She graduated from Claremont School of Theology in Los Angeles in 2003 with a Master of Divinity, and obtained her certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Ministry from the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 2005.  She was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister by Neighborhood Church in Pasadena in 2006.

As a minister, spiritual director, entrepreneur and advocate for the poor, Connie has been deeply influenced by the words and works of Dorothy Day who asks:  “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

P.S. I have never had the time or inclination to be on Facebook, so don't take it personally if I don't respond to you that way.  Email me at

 Copyright 2019 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.