Rev. Dr. Michael Daly, Senior Minister
Mike was born and raised in Bolton, Connecticut, a small New England town not too far from Hartford. He studied psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University and during that time he worked for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a camp founded by Paul Newman for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. He moved to Chicago in 1990 and earned his Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1996. While at CTS, Mike concentrated on Family Systems and youth ministry. In 2011, Mike earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. He has served UCC churches in Glen Ellyn, Naperville, and Aurora. Mike and his wife Suzy live in Geneva and have four children. Mike’s interests include golf, soccer, cooking, the stock market, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.
Martha Mendoza, Director of Christian Education
Martha Mendoza is a native of the Island of Puerto Rico, USA. She immigrated to Illinois as a child of about 7 years old. Martha's educational background includes a Degree in Early Childhood Education. She also has about 18 years of experience working with children and youth. Martha believes that children and youth need to be global Christians that learn to follow Christ through Biblical scriptures, music, art and exposure to different cultures. Much of this is evidenced in the youth activities that she organizes and carries out with First Congregation's Youth Group and our Sunday School Curriculum. She has a very warm heart and a bright and loving spirit which all our children love. Her energy is unflagging whether she is leading the Children's sermon for all to enjoy on Sunday mornings, teaching Confirmation classes or organizing fund raisers to help our Junior High and High School kids get ready for the Youth Mission trip. First Church and our children are truly blessed to have Martha lead our Christian Education efforts.
Jim Molina, Director of Music
Jim Molina is blessed to be a part of First Congregational UCC, Elmhurst. As the music director, pianist, and organist, Jim brings over 12 years of musical church leadership. Versed in all styles from classical to contemporary, he has helped transform Sunday worship experiences by including a vast array of musical genres. Past churches include First Congregational UCC in Downers Grove and Lyonsville UCC in Indian Head Park. Jim holds degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Roosevelt University. His Masters studies were under the direction of Pawel Checinski. He also studied organ, privately with Jim Winfield. He has performed classical recitals with a focus on Beethoven as well as the romantic music of Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms. Jim has toured professionally on a national level and has perormed to audiences of several thousand. As a keyboardist he has played in several bands ranging from pop, rock, heavy metal and jazz. At the age of 23 Jim Molina founded the Oak Brook Academy of Music and Art, a private school of the arts that lasted 20 years, with former partner Jan Barker. During that time the school performed over 100 theatre productions (musicals and plays). At its height the private academy had an average of 350 students enrolled. In that time Jim also musically directed for Wheaton Drama Theatre, Summer Place in Naperville, and assisted in the Elmhurst Children’s Theatre. When the school closed, Jim devoted his time to Music and Worship. He also maintains a private piano studio and currently teaches between 25-30 students each week. With a private recording studio he also enjoys recording and producing original music in many styles. He is the founder of the Christian Rock band, Guided Path that continues to perform for the UCC Illinois Conference. Other members, Meg McGarry (vocals) and Dave Benziger (guitar) continue to make music with Jim every Sunday here at First Congregational UCC, Elmhurst. Jim has been enjoying the married life with his wife, Roshiel Salipot Molina. The two were recently married (Sep. 2017) and spend a great deal of time exploring the finer things of life; cooking, playing games, watching movies, and binging on The Walking Dead! Feel free to say hi to Jim and the Music Ministry on Sunday mornings! And if you are interested in singing or playing an instrument, be sure to let us know!
Margaret Bixler, Office Manager
Margaret Bixler and her husband Craig, along with their three adult children have been residents of Elmhurst for 25 years. She has worked at First Congregational United Church of Christ since 1999, first as an Administrative Assistant and currently as the Church Office Manager. "Working at First Congregational has been the most rewarding work experience of my life, it has been a pleasure being in relation with the kind and welcoming members of the congregation as well as the genuinely caring clergy and staff members through the years."
Mary Anne Bixler, Administrative Assistant
Mary Anne joined our staff in 2014. She and Brian Bixler have been married for 31 years. They have three beautiful daughters, Amanda & Brianna (twins 21 years old) and Claudia (19 years old). Mary Anne worked with her father and 2 out of 8 siblings in a family business for almost 10 years. She also worked in 2 different school districts as a part-time paraprofessional and worked with special needs students from ages 3-14 for nine years. Mary Anne says, “I feel very blessed to have this job and to be able to work with such wonderful people.”
Reverend Ernest Huntzinger, Pastor Emeritus
Reverend Ernest Huntzinger was installed as minister of First Congregational Church on April 16th, 1967. He served our congregation and the Elmhurst community faithfully for 35 years and in recognition of his service was named as Pastor Emeritus upon his retirement. Ernie's philosophy as minister was to "serve the people, to teach, and to share his life with all those around him". He also generously shared his considerable vocal talents with us by performing a "Sermon in Song" each May for which he became known as Elmhurst's "Singing Minister". He has made many contributions to our community as Chairperson of the Elmhurst Ministerium; the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Chaplain Search Committee, and is Chairperson Emeritus of the Elmhurst YMCA Board. He has acted as citizen-at-large of the Elmhurst School Board, Unit District 205 and participated in the installation ceremonies of Lee Daniels as Illinois Speaker of the House. Ernie now enjoys retirement in Port Washington, Wisconsin where he lives with his wife Nancy. He has two grown children, Erin and Erica. He and his family make occasional visits to our church on Sunday mornings and his bright smile is always a warm sight to see.