The Staff of First Unitarian Church of Des Moines

Phone: (515) 244-8603

Rev. Mark Stringer
Minister, Ext. 102
Rev. Stringer, called to ministry at First Unitarian in May, 2001, began serving the following August. Under the supervision of the Board of Trustees, Mark serves as the executive for our congregation. He supervises all lead staff, works with the Celebrant Team to lead religious services, and convenes the Council for Congregational Ministries. In addition to his ministry with our church, Mark takes an active leadership role in local and regional organizations devoted to building community and promoting social justice. He is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Rev. Erin Gingrich
Associate Minister of Social Justice, Ext. 121
Rev. Gingrich began serving full-time in this ministry position in August of 2014. She organizes, nurtures, and focuses our ministries of justice within and outside of the church, including the Social Justice Council and related church initiatives, and AMOS (interfaith community organizing). She also assists with Soul Matters and religious services. Erin is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Deborah Dessert, CPA
Director of Finance and Administration, Ext. 101
Deb joined the staff of First Unitarian in January 2009 in this 30 hour/week position. The DFA is a member of the Management Team and serves as a primary informant to the Board of Trustees. Deb serves as the Chief Operating Officer with the primary portfolio of accounting, budgeting and finance, building and grounds, human resources, communications, technology, and office operations.

Tracy Beck
Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth, Ext. 104
Tracy Beck has served as the full-time Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth since 2009 and oversees children and family ministries as well as religious education programming for preschool to grade 12 children and youth at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines. This includes a Coming of Age program for middle school youth, Our Whole Lives for upper elementary and middle school youth and a high school youth group.

Linda Barnes
Membership Coordinator, Ext. 103
As Membership Coordinator for 20 hours/week, Linda oversees the welcoming of visitors and guests, connecting them to areas of church life that match their interests. Linda is also responsible for new member classes and membership ceremonies as well as gathering feedback from new members and others. She is also be the staff liaison for affinity groups.


Karen Kraemer
Interim Choir Director
Karen is serving as our Interim Choir Director from February - May 2016, and possibly for a couple months following Rev. Stringer's return from sabbatical in August. Karen has a long history of music leadership in this congregation, including as director of the Bell Ave. Chimes, the Channing Chimes, and the Flames (youth choir).

Abby Chungath
Communication Coordinator, Ext. 117
Abby joined the staff in May of 2011. She is responsible for the Intercom Weekly email, web site updates, posting the service video and audio podcasts, social media posts, creating the Annual Report and bi-annual Programming brochures, as well as various other print communication pieces for the church. The Communication Coordinator position is 15 hours/week.

Terry Lambert
Caring Ministry Coordinator
Terry joined the church staff as Caring Ministry Coordinator in 2013. She oversees and coordinates systems by which the pastoral needs of members who ask for help can be met. Terry’s position is currently 10 hours/week.

Connie Price
Bookkeeper, Ext. 106
Connie joined the staff of First Unitarian in December 2006. Connie’s responsibilities include maintaining records of pledges and contributions, deposits, payroll, and accounts payable as well as many reporting functions related to these areas. Connie’s position is currently 14 hours/week.


Jane White
Office Assistant, Ext. 107
Jane joined the First Unitarian staff in November of 2010 in this 16 hour/week position. Jane is responsible for space/calendar reservations, the Order of Service, entering information in the data base and preparing mailings.

Laura Berardi
R.E. Assistant, Ext. 119
Laura joined our staff in November of 2015. As a 25/hour week Religious Education Assistant, she supports the Director of Religious Education and RE volunteers by maintaining records, scheduling and communicating with volunteers, assembling lessons, and maintaining classrooms and supplies.


Rob Stephens
High School Youth Coordinator
Rob joined the staff in August 2015 as the 8 hr/week Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) leader.

Bruce Martin

A member of the church since 1969, Bruce began as the church pianist, playing for services, in 2000.

Rev. Brian Eslinger
The Rev. Dr. Brian Eslinger is an affiliated Community Minister with First Unitarian Church of Des Moines.  He has served as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames and currently teaches at Iowa State University, and as adjunct faculty at Meadville Lombard, the UU Theological School associated with the University of Chicago.