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(617) 547-2724, x 23

Daniel Smith

Dan Smith became Senior Minister of First Church in Cambridge in 2008. He enjoys working with a gifted and collaborative team of ministry colleagues, both lay and ordained. His ministry has sought to grow and strengthen relationships within and beyond First Church and to help the congregation follow it’s calling to be grounded in God, growing in community, and acting in love.  

Dan grew up in northern New Jersey and is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Harvard Divinity School. Ordained in 1999, he served for five years as Associate Minister at Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington, MA before coming to First Church in 2004. After four years as Minister of Christian Discipleship, Dan was called to serve as First Church’s seventeenth Senior Minister.

Dan has been leading the congregation in recent efforts to become an anti-racist church. Following several years of racial justice book studies, film series, trainings and partnerships, First Church has more recently begun to learn aboit and take seriously its own history of complicity with slavery and white supremacy. In a 2018 sabbatical, Dan explored the themes of “Remembrance and Reparations” at First Church. He has since co-led pilgrimages to Memphis, Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham as well as walking tours of Harvard Square to explore sites connected to the 17th and 18th century enslaved and slave-holding members of First Church. He remains active in the congregation’s ongoing efforts towards truth-telling and repair. Dan was recently invited by Harvard President Larry Bacow to serve on a committee of faculty from across the university to guide the multi-year Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery.

Since 2006, Dan has been a Lecturer on Ministry at Harvard Divinity School where he co-taught preaching classes for several years with his mentor, the late Rev. Peter Gomes. Dan served for many years as Strategy Team Member and Vice President of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), a community-organizing initiative. With GBIO, Dan helped lead statewide campaigns that addressed healthcare reform, affordable housing, financial literacy, gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform. He has also served on the Massachusetts Conference Board of Directors and the Board of Medicine Wheel Productions, an award-winning, south Boston-based, art and youth empowerment nonprofit.

Dan is very happily married to Nancy Kilburn, a professional writer, fundraiser and pie-baker. They have two college aged children, Julian and Nellie Baxandall.


Contact Daniel

Looking for ways to support our community during this unprecedented time of need? The Missions and Social Justice Committee has compiled and vetted a short list of organizations looking for assistance to aid in their work in the COVID-19 response...

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