Conference Minister

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel 

Lillian Daniel is a nationally recognized preacher, teacher and writer who cares deeply about clergy and congregations. After serving four unique congregations in the UCC, she now feels called by the Holy Spirit to leadership as the next Conference Minister of Michigan.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she began her ministry as an Associate Pastor at a large church in Cheshire, Connecticut. From there she became a Solo Pastor at a small urban church in New Haven, Connecticut where the choir outnumbered the congregation, but over eight years, they grew to become a vibrant, interracial, community, that also became Open and Affirming. This would be the first of three churches to go through the Open and Affirming process under her pastoral leadership, which also includes extensive experience organizing for justice in politically diverse settings, serving on the boards of Interfaith Worker Justice and the Community Renewal Society. After ten years as a Senior Pastor at a large church in the western suburbs of Chicago, she moved to the beautiful driftless region of Dubuque, Iowa, where she has been Senior Pastor at an historic urban church since 2016.

In the United Church of Christ, she has the distinction of having been a General Synod delegate from all of the three conferences she has served: Connecticut, Illinois and Iowa. A regular writer for the UCC Stillspeaking Devotionals, she was a founding member of the UCC Writer’s Group that has produced many written materials for the denomination and in Iowa, she is currently a member of her association’s Committee on Ministry.

Lillian Daniel is also a widely read author whose latest book, Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To generated international conversation about the changing religious landscape. ​It continues the theme of her 2013 book When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough about the growing number of people who claim “none” as their religious preference. Featured in the New York Times and on PBS, ​Lillian Daniel’s writing has been described as ​“biting, hilarious, pitch perfect, tender, and often stunningly beautiful,” and her book This Odd and Wondrous Calling is taught in many seminaries.

Passionate about faith formation for both clergy and laity, Lillian Daniel currently teaches UCC History and Polity at Chicago Theological Seminary where she is also on the Board of Trustees. She has taught preaching at a number of schools, including University of Chicago, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School, although she can’t be held responsible for everyone who falls asleep in church.  ​Perhaps most importantly, at every church she has served, numerous church members and seminarians have felt the call to become pastors and they now serve at churches across the world.

Lillian Daniel has spoken at the National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, King’s College, London and Queen’s College, Ontario, and now she looks forward to speaking at UCC churches across the Michigan Conference, with a focus on communication, connection and celebration, as together we discern what our still speaking God is calling us to do next.

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