A spiritual community for all: advancing justice and embracing diversity with love and acceptance

Our Staff

Our Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Daniel O'ConnellThe Reverend Dr. Daniel O'Connell,
Senior Minister

With a conviction that the UU faith has something extraordinarily important to offer the world, Rev. O'Connell enjoys working with others to create worship experiences that touch the heart, light up the mind, and call congregation members to service. Having been raised in our faith, he is thoroughly grounded in Unitarian Universalism and committed to UU religious education. He seeks ways to describe, explain and celebrate the diverse spiritual paths among us.

Rev. O'Connell grew up in the suburbs of Washington D. C. attending the then new (1961) denomination of Unitarian Universalism. He was active in Liberal Religious Youth, the UU senior high program of the era, and served in UU Young Adult groups all over the country. He is the son of a physicist (atheist) father, and UU church music director (theist) mother. Daniel attended Montgomery College and in 1982, received an Associates of Arts degree in Radio, TV and Film. In 1985, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, majoring in Communications. He worked for several years selling software. Daniel attended seminary in Chicago and received his Doctorate of Ministry degree in 1996 from Meadville Lombard Theological School. He served as the minister of the UU Society of Northern Fairfield County in West Redding, CT for six years. During his next eight years, before joining us here in Houston, he served as Lead Minister for Eliot Unitarian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Email daniel@firstuu.org

Learn about our other ministers....

Our Religious Education Staff

Carol BurrusOur Religious Educator, Carol Burrus, oversees our Religious Education Programs for children, youth and adults. She brings a wealth of professional experience in non-profit volunteer coordination, family therapy and elementary music education, as well as education in psychology, social work and teaching. Carol enjoys creating programs that take individual members and families toward personal and spiritual growth, build our church community and lead us into new possibilities for ourselves and the world beyond our walls. She can be contacted by telephone at 713-526-5200 or by email at carol@firstuu.org.

Our Music Staff

Mark VogelMark Vogel joined First Church as Music Director in August of 2015. Since arriving in Houston in 2014, he has quickly established himself in this city's vibrant musical culture. He was recently named Artistic Director of International Voices Houston, a 140-voice multicultural community choir. He is also Pianist at Congregation Beth Israel, and a music coach at Lone Star College-North Harris. He is previously from Washington, DC, where for nine years, he was an active music director and pianist, performing at such venues as the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Concert Hall, National Cathedral, Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center, and the Library of Congress. He has performed with ensembles including Washington Master Chorale, the Fairfax Chamber Ensemble, Washington Men's Camerata, Aurora Opera, the Washington Ballet Orchestra, the Army Chorus, Woodley Ensemble, Vienna Choral Society, and more. From 2007 to 2014, he was Director of Music & Arts at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax in Oakton, VA.
He has been actively involved in the national UU Musicians Network, leading workshops at annual conferences and teaching courses for the UU Music Director Credentialing Program. And in June of 2017 he will be the General Assembly Choir Director.

Mark Vogel holds music degrees from the University of Iowa and the Manhattan School of Music. He lives in the Houston with his partner, Scott, and their son, Spencer. Mark is thrilled to be a part of this dynamic congregation, and is honored to carry on the great work of its historic and vibrant music program.

Bob Fazakerly

Organist-Pianist Bob Fazakerly has been with First Church since 1981. He studied music at the University of Southern California and holds degrees in music from the University of Houston and Rice University. During those years he gave two of the earliest recitals on the Schantz organ when it was newly-installed at St. Paul's Methodist, won Rice's Perkins Prize, and was among the first group of Shepherd School graduates in organ. Bob is also the procurement manager for Houston ISD. He is married with three sons.

Our Administrative Staff

NikkiNikki Steele , Church Administrator, moved to Texas from Northern Virginia and discovered First Church two years ago. She immediately fell in love with the church and started volunteering in the office.

A few months later, she was hired on as a part time Administrative Assistant and took on the bookkeeping and payroll duties Nikki holds two degrees, in Accounting and Finance, from George Mason University and is completing a Master's program at the University of Houston-Downtown in Non-Profit Management. Please welcome this already familiar face in her new role as Church Administrator.

To reach staff members, you may call the church office, 713-526-5200 or email: church@firstuu.org

Copyright © 2009 - 2020 First Unitarian Universalist Church, Houston
Updated: March 03, 2017