Professional Biography

Daniel M. Saperstein, D.Min.
Professional Biography

The Rev. Dr. Daniel M. Saperstein is Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Lake Huron, serving 47 congregations and nearly 8000 members in mid-Michigan. He began his service in October, 2015, after twenty years of parish ministry in Idaho, Utah, and Washington state, and over eleven years of executive service in Colorado and Texas. He and his wife Elizabeth (Booth) Saperstein, CPA, have been married thirty-seven years. They have two grown children, Jennifer and Bethany.
Dan earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Occidental College in 1978 at the age of twenty. He completed a double major in Psychology and Religious Studies, was awarded departmental honors in Psychology, and was inducted into the national honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi. While enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary, he continued his association with Occidental, serving as Chapel Intern and, later, Acting Chaplain.  In 1979, he was awarded a California Graduate Fellowship in Arts and Humanities.
Also in 1979, he found a spiritual home in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and joined Eagle Rock Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. After becoming a candidate for ordained ministry under the care of San Gabriel Presbytery, Dan transferred to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received the M.Div. in 1983. At Princeton, he crafted an independent pattern of study in Hermeneutical Theology under the tutelage of Dr. Gibson Winter. From 1979 to 1981, he served as Seminarian Assistant at First Presbyterian Church, Succasunna, New Jersey with the Rev. Sue Ellis Melrose as his mentor.
In August 1983, he accepted a call to serve as Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho, and was ordained to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament in the newly reunited Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by the Presbytery of Boise in October. During his tenure in Boise, Dan inaugurated the church’s university student ministry, led a comprehensive study of church evangelistic and outreach strategies, facilitated the peace and justice ministry of the church, and served on the Boise Interfaith Task Force on Housing and the Homeless. His leadership was recognized by the presbytery, which elected him moderator of the presbytery Christian Nurture Committee. He served on the Snake River Mission Area Council, was twice a featured teacher at the Synod School, and helped spearhead joint youth ministry events between the Snake River Mission Area and the Sierra Mission Area in the Synod of the Pacific.
In November 1986, Dan followed a new call to serve as Pastor of Westvale Presbyterian Church in West Valley City, Utah. He led a successful revitalization effort in this small congregation in a predominantly Mormon community. Under his leadership, the congregation grew by 20%, inaugurated a community food bank and commodities distribution center, and became financially self-sustaining for the first time in its 25 year history. He actively participated in Shared Ministry in Utah, an ecumenical consortium of seven Protestant denominations, chairing the Communications Committee and serving on the Shared Ministry Council. He served on the Committee on Vocations in the Presbytery of Utah, with responsibilities for congregational vitality, pastor-parish relations, and the preparation of candidates for ministry; and organized two presbytery-wide pastor retreats. He was a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the PC(USA) General Assembly in Salt Lake City in 1990, chairing the Support Subcommittee. Based on his service at General Assembly, he was invited to serve as an Assembly Assistant at both the 1992 and 1993 assemblies.
In September 1990, Dan began thirteen years of service as the Pastor of Pullman Presbyterian Church in Pullman, Washington. He guided this university church of 230 members through a long range revitalization process that resulted in two successful major initiatives: a $1.6 million sanctuary and building renovation project, and the introduction of a second, contemporary worship service. As pastor, he nurtured close relationships with the Chinese and Korean immigrant congregations which met at the church, the Koinonia House (ecumenical campus ministry at Washington State University), and the Pullman Hindu Community, with which the church held a month-long interfaith dialogue. 
While in Pullman, Dan held leadership positions at every level of the Presbyterian Church. In 1997, he was elected to the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in the first successful floor challenge to a GAPJC nominee in the denomination’s history. He served seven years as a commissioner to the Synod of Alaska-Northwest, and moderated both the Synod Personnel Committee and Synod Permanent Judicial Commission. He then served four additional years on the Synod Board of Trustees, and was elected Secretary of the Synod Corporation and moderator of the Synod-wide Church Loan Committee. In the Presbytery of Inland Northwest, he was vice-moderator of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and then moderator of the Committee on Ministry. He was a regular teacher, retreat leader, and congregational consultant in the Presbytery.
In late 2000 he enrolled in the Executive Leadership track of the Doctor of Ministry program at McCormick Theological Seminary, with an emphasis on multicultural ministry. The Doctor of Ministry Forum, consisting of representatives of every D.Min. cohort, twice elected him to serve as D.Min. representative on the seminary Board of Trustees. As a trustee, he served on the Student Life committee, and helped develop a policy to permit gay and lesbian couples in civilly-recognized relationships equal access to married student housing. Upon receiving his doctorate in 2006, he was honored with the John Randall Hunt Prize for Outstanding Thesis and Academic Record for his thesis, When the Pastor Leaves: A Manual for Presbytery Intervention during the Early Interim Period.
While engaged in his D.Min. studies, Dan began coursework towards a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, where he was a graduate assistant to Dr. Shann Ferch researching media coverage of compassionate behavior pre- and post-9/11. These studies were cut short, however, when he was called to serve as Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks in February 2004.
As Executive Presbyter, Dan served 43 churches and three immigrant fellowships in Colorado and Nebraska as a pastor/mentor to ministers; consultant to congregations, especially in times of crisis, conflict, transition, and transformation; and as administrator of the presbytery’s ongoing mission. He led a comprehensive review of the mission design of the presbytery, guided the presbytery through two major legal issues, and defused an explosive crisis by negotiating the peaceful dismissal of a disaffected church. Policies he drafted on disaffected churches and the examination of candidates have been used as models throughout the denomination. On behalf of the Synod of the Rocky Mountains, Dan secured two Board of Pensions grants: one in 2006 for the Cornerstone Project, a program which he designed, convened, and co-taught, to build confidence, competence, and community in a cohort of recently ordained pastors, and the other in 2010 for the Leadership CROP (Cohort of Recently Ordained Pastors) Program, an improved edition of the Cornerstone Project. He has been widely sought out as a teacher and consultant, including seven invitations to serve on the faculty of the Western National Leadership Training Event in Jackson, Wyoming.
            In 2006, Dan was elected to the General Assembly Advisory Committee on the Constitution, becoming one of the few persons to have served on both General Assembly entities charged with interpreting the PC(USA) constitution. While on the ACC, he served as constitutional consultant to the historic General Assembly Commission on Mid Councils. He is respected as one of the leading polity authorities in the denomination. In February 2016, Dan was appointed to fill a vacancy on the ACC, beginning a second term of service on that body.
            The Louisville Institute awarded Dan a Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders in 2008 to pursue “A Polity Pilgrimage for Reflection and Renewal.”  The sabbatical, undertaken in 2009, included an appointment as Theologian-in-Residence at the American Church in Paris in June, and as the PC(USA) Stated Clerk's representative to the official celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland in July.
             In July 2013, Dan accepted a transitional ministry as the Co-leader for Mission and Partnership in the Synod of the Sun, where he was charged with developing, coordinating, and resourcing the mission of synod through eleven presbyteries (with over 840 congregations) and over twenty different ministries, networks, and covenant partnerships. He served as a member or liaison to the boards of eight different educational and mission organizations, and was on the organizing team for the National Multicultural Conference in 2014.
             At the completion of his contract with Synod of the Sun in October, 2015, Dan began service as the Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Lake Huron, where among other responsibilities, he has helped coordinate the denominational response to the Flint Water Crisis. 


April, 2017