Rev. Michael C. Durst
On Sunday, March 24, at a special meeting, the congregation agreed to contract with the Rev. Michael Durst to be our interim minister. Mike was raised in a Jewish household, and came to Christianity through his marriage to Carol Emig. He spent a number of years worshiping in an Episcopal Church before finding his home in the UCC. He’s currently a member of Pilgrim UCC.
Mike’s first career was as a tax lawyer. A significant part of his practice in recent years has been helping the world’s poorer countries raise revenue by more effectively taxing multi-national businesses. As part of this work, he has traveled extensively internationally, seeing first hand and responding to the effects of colonialism and racism around the world. He attended seminary part-time while working full-time as a lawyer. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2012. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education at Goodwin House in Northern Virginia. Mike has served Pilgrim UCC in Wheaton as both the Interim Minister and the Associate Minister of Christian Education and Experience.
Sam is grateful to serve alongside the First Church community as Associate Minister. He feels called to create a space to help all ages, from infants to adults, sense God’s presence in their lives. Sam desires to make the church more about how we relate to God and with one another than a static adherence to tradition, creed, or even our history. He believes God is still speaking, and through Sunday school, service, story sharing and song, prayer and acts of solidarity with the marginalized, that we are provided opportunities to hear God’s call and act upon it. Sam is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, the University of Kansas, and Haverford College. He is joined by his wife, Lauren, and their two sons, Brendan and Ryan. Sam loves the Nationals, playing baseball, and living in DC!
John retired from teaching after 20+ years with the Montgomery County, Maryland Public School System. He received the Broom Award for Excellence awarded by his home county for his work in composition for children. John served Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, Maryland for 43 years as Organist and Director of Music. His compositions are found in the catalogues of over ten nation-wide publishers. He presently has over 250 anthems for children, youth, and adults in print. Over his career, John has served as clinician for children and youth choirs at national conferences held by Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, American Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ. John has served both on the Choristers Guild Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. More recently, John joined the Pallas Theatre Collective board of directors, where he serves as president. John also works as a freelance writer for a number of music periodicals including Church Music Workshop, a journal published by Abingdon Press, and The Chorister, the journal for the Choristers Guild of Garland, Texas. Combining talents with hymnist Mary Nelson Keithahn, John has co-authored four new hymn collections: Come Away with Me, Time Now to Gather, The Song Lingers On, and most recently, A Faith that Lets Us Sing. Some of his hymns have been included in the United Methodist hymn supplement, The Faith We Sing, the Presbyterian supplement, We Sing the Faith, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, among others.
Byron devotes his church hours to building relationships with a variety of organizations in the Greater Washington region (including Ford’s Theater, Washington Bach Consort, The Thirteen Choir, New Orchestra of Washington, Choral Arts Society, and many others) who use the church’s space for concerts, lectures, forums, classes, and more. His service on the Site Development Design Team and a career in marketing and event management gives him a unique perspective on how the building can be used and promoted to build the wider community in the heart of the city. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and has studied Spanish through immersion language training in Chiapas, Mexico and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Cindy joined the staff of First Congregational UCC in March of 2015. After having lived in the DC area in her youth, she moved back to the area from Connecticut to be closer to family. Cindy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland. She served as the administrative assistant at two churches in Connecticut, along with holding several positions in the legal field and teaching private piano lessons for over 25 years. Cindy is happy to be a part of the staff at First Church. Please stop by the office and say hello!
Kim joined as First Congregational in 1993 as a young adult and is now raising her three children in the church. She values the relationships that she has with members of the congregation, and the support they have provided as she’s moved through the various stages of her life. She works as an economist for a small business in Virginia and is working on perfecting her baking skills.