The Rev. Lucas Hergert became the Minister of North Shore Unitarian Church in 2017. He grew up in a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and first heard his call to the ministry in high school. Lucas holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Miami University, a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion. This is his second ministry, having served the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore, California from 2009-2017. Lucas was also previously a college faculty member, teaching courses in philosophy and comparative religion. His interests include yoga, Shakespeare plays, biking, continental philosophy, fantasy novels, interfaith work, and humor. Church members describe Lucas as a warm and empathetic pastor, and his office door is always open for those in need of spiritual support.
Email: minister @ nsuc.org
Stephen Blackwelder returned to NSUC as Music Director in 2016. He’s also Director of the DePaul Community Chorus (since 2005) and the Chicago Bar Association Chorus (since 2017). Previous positions include Music Director of the Waukegan Symphony (2000-2018) and Music Director of the Hinsdale Chamber Orchestra (1983-94), plus numerous civic/educational orchestral and choral ensembles in the greater Chicago area.
Stephen served on the conducting staff of the Harford Opera Theater of Baltimore, Hinsdale Opera, Opera Illinois, Opera da Corneto and Chicago Opera Theater and also on the faculties of Lake Forest College, East Carolina University and DePaul University. As a professional singer, he performed frequently under conductors Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, Robert Shaw and Margaret Hillis while a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Aspen Chamber Choir.
Blackwelder holds a BM from the University of North Carolina and a MM from Northwestern University. Professional study included four seasons with the Aspen Music Festival and conducting master classes with Sir Georg Solti, Max Rudolf and Erich Leinsdorf.
Email: musicdirector @ nsuc.org
Myron Silberstein is our new Pianist/Organist at NSUC. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago, where he translated Sanskrit literature, interpreted Kierkegaard texts, and composed. Since then, his professional life has involved accompanying and coaching classical singers, preparing and recording programs of 20th-century American piano music, and composing.
Myron’s career as an accompanist and vocal coach spans nearly thirty years. He has been a staff accompanist and vocal coach at North Park University, Resident Music Director of Chicago Opera Vanguard, and Artistic Associate of Storycatchers Theatre. He is also a staff accompanist for CS Music’s annual Vocal Competition.
As a solo pianist, Myron is a specialist in overlooked and contemporary repertoire. His recording of works by Peter Mennin and Norman Lloyd was acclaimed by Mark Lehman of The American Record Guide as “an indispensable addition to the discography of American piano music.” This recording, and his debut recording of piano works by Franck, Bloch, and Giannini, received mention on Fanfare’s annual Want List.
Email: pianist @ nsuc.org
Our Director of Religious Education, Jonathan Schlesinger, is passionate about building community, all-ages education, and using the power of community for individual growth and societal change. He has a B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Teaching and has completed additional studies in math, science, and applied technology. Jonathan recently became a father.
Before coming to NSUC, Jonathan was a middle school science teacher. He has also worked as a Volunteer Program Specialist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County and co-founded a 501(c)3 organization, The Illini 4000, while a student at the University of Illinois. He is eager to work with NSUC members to develop transformative Religious Education programming for all ages.
Email: dre @ nsuc.org
Rachel Simpson has been the Business Administrator since 2008. Before coming to North Shore Unitarian Church, she worked as the Business Manager for the Northern Region of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago. Prior to that she lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, and worked at the CCFH Ministries for 14 years in a wide variety of roles from fundraising to fiscal operations and strategic planning. She brings 25 years of nonprofit organizational leadership experience to NSUC.
Rachel is married and has two grown boys, along with a blended family including two more children and grandchildren. For fun, she enjoys camping and hanging out with her family and friends.
Email: churchadmin @ nsuc.org