The stone facade First Church in Cambridge

Staff & Lay Leaders

Rev. Daniel Smith

Senior Minister

(617) 547-2724, x23

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Dan Smith has been Senior Minister at First Church since 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 its 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. In a 2018 grant-funded sabbatical, Dan explored the themes of “Remembrance and Reparations at First Church,” looking into both his own family’s and the church’s slaveholding past. He has co-led several 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. From 2010-2018 Dan served as a Strategy Team Member and Vice President of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). With GBIO, Dan helped lead and organize faith leaders from over 40 local congregations in statewide campaigns that addressed healthcare reform, affordable housing, financial literacy, gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform. He has also served on the boards of Massachusetts Conference UCC Board of Directors and Medicine Wheel Productions, a South Boston-based arts and youth empowerment nonprofit.

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