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Rev. Christina Marie Neilson

1958 - 2015
Neilson, Rev. Christina Marie

Gates: Born April 8, 1958; died peacefully July 9, 2015, of complications from her leukemia bone marrow transplant. Preceded in death by her mother Beryl Walberg and infant daughter Amanda. Survived by her wife, Sharon Hoyenga, father Clifford Walberg, brother Mike Walberg, sister Terri Walberg, niece Samantha, nephews Cory and Chad, and many friends and colleagues.

Chris received degrees from St Cloud University, St Cloud, MN; Samuel Merritt College of Nursing, Berkeley, CA; and Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA. She was a hematology/oncology bone marrow transplant nurse at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley for 10 years, a Parish minister at Southwest Unitarian Universalist Church in North Royalton, OH for 10 years, and most recently a Consultant to the St Lawrence Unitarian Universalist District. She was married to Ron Petzoldt for 20 years and later in a domestic partnership with Sharon Hoyenga for 13 years. Christina and Sharon were married on July 27, 2013. She enjoyed participating in theatre (the SCSU Theatre, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, and L'homme dieu group) and was passionate about her ministry and about Unitarian Universalism. Christina loved and was loved by many.

Rev. Neilson served as minister at SouthWest UU for ten years. She was instrumental in helping the congregation buy its first building in North Royalton, Ohio in 2009. In May, 2012, she was named Congregational Life Consultant to the St. Lawrence District and moved to Rochester. Rev. Neilson was known as "a firm believer in shared ministry and an evangelist for Unitarian Universalism." (SLD Newsbriefs, May 2012). A passionate advocate for social justice, she worked on the issues of poverty and homelessness in Greater Cleveland. She advocated for LGBT youth and was a regular participant at Cleveland Pride, where she marched with the SWUU delegation and presided at civil union ceremonies for same sex couples.

Her Memorial Service will be held Sunday, July 26, 2015, 3 P.M. at First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Rd South, Rochester, NY 14610. A Memorial Service will also be held at West Shore UU Church on August 23, 2015 at 4PM in Rocky River, OH.

Heartfelt thanks to the entire staff of the Bone Marrow Transplant unit in the Wilmot Cancer Center. They became our family in the year Chris spent there. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wilmot Cancer Institute at Strong Memorial Hospital, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14642. For more information, visit


Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle on July 19, 2015
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