The congregation of First Unitarian Church of Chicago voted overwhelmingly to call Rev. Dr. David Messner, Ph.D as senior minister on April 30, 2023. Sunday also concluded Candidating Week, part of the call process that began and ended with sermons from Rev. Messner and many opportunities for him to meet with members of the congregation and community. Rev. Dave will begin his call on August 1, 2023 and will spend the next few months moving with his wife Jennifer Messner, kids Cassidy and August, Harper the Blue Heeler, and Callie the cat to Hyde Park. 

Rev. Messner currently serves as the interim senior minister of Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, PA. Previously he served as interim minister at Unitarian Church, Charleston and as senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah. His internship and first call was at First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY.

He earned his Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago with an emphasis on theology and ethics, his MBA from Yale University with concentrations in strategy and organizational behavior, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Reed College. He completed his Ph.D. at Emory University in religion with a focus on ethics and society, and teaches ethics at Villanova and Jefferson Universities.

Before ministry, he worked in management consulting, focusing on organizational effectiveness, strategies for growth, and partnership development. Within the Unitarian Universalist denomination, Rev. Dave serves as a Ratified Good Officer and on the National UUMA Good Officer Coordinating team. He is a member of the Board of Family Promise of the Main Line, and is a Religious Advisor at Bryn Mawr College. 

In a letter to the congregation, Rev. Dave stated: “I am committed to being part of a church community that cares for each other, supports each other, forgives each other, and laughs together…I believe First Unitarian is a special church, and I think Hyde Park is a unique place, a fertile ground upon which we can continue to grow the rare kind of community that connects across difference, is unafraid of joyful experimentation, and pays attention to leaving no one behind.”

The board thanks the members of the Ministerial Search Committee for their diligent, thoughtful, and demanding work over the past year: Margie Gonwa (chair), Ross Blythe, Leslie Davis, Evelyn Johnson, Daughon Langner, Virginia Pace, and Natasha Walker.  

The board and the congregation also thank interim minister Rev. Don Cameron for his ministry and work shepherding the congregation through this period of transition.  

See a video greeting from Rev. David H. Messner, Ph.D here

Background on the Minister Search Process

In June 2022, the Congregation voted on the members of the Minister Search Committee, and the Committee has been working diligently since then. The Search Committee followed the UU Settlement Handbook and policies to help identify the next full time minister for First U. This process included multiple steps engaging the congregation, developing overviews of First U, and reviewing candidates. 

Please see below for details on the process, the search committee, and background on First U of Chicago.

Click through for known and estimated dates for the most important tasks and processes that will occur during the Search.

Search Committee members were elected at the June Annual Congregational Meeting. Click here to learn more.

COMPLETE. Thank you for your input and completing the Congregational Survey. We had a robust turnout of opinions.

Click here to learn about the history of First U.