The Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah

311 East Harris Street, Savannah, GA 31401  *  Troup Square  *  912-549-0326

UU Savannah Minister and Staff

Rev. David Messner - Minister

Rev. Dave was called by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah in May and began serving in August of 2012.  Themes of his ministry include how our spiritual beliefs and commitments directly impact our choices, enliven our relationships and transform the real experience of living.  He believes that an active faith life and a caring church community can make all-the-difference, even for devoutly ‘non-religious’ people. He believes that church can do more, if we expect more, invest more and open ourselves to the possibilities.

Dave was born and raised as a Unitarian Universalist and has been part of a number of UU congregations, large and small, over the past 40-plus years.  He was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Rochester where he served as a ministerial intern and as a consulting assistant minister for membership development. His training has also included being a chaplain intern and resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center and as a weekend minister with the Green Bay Area UU Fellowship.  He earned his Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago with particular emphasis on theology and religious ethics.  His education also includes an MBA from Yale University with concentrations in marketing, strategy and organization and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Reed College.

David’s prior professional life was in business, primarily working in corporate strategic planning and partnership development. Relationships and growth remain part of his core commitment to congregational development and making sure that the church is meaningfully connected to the world around it. 

David and his wife Jennifer have two children and one large dog.  They all love food, travel, the outdoors and books.  They live in Savannah.

Rev. Dave can be contacted at

Kelly Blackmarr - Music Director 

Kelly Blackmarr Carlile has been a member of UUCS since 1991 and its part-time Music Director since 1993.  Her musical background includes, since her teens, working in a variety of denominations (Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, First Christian and Methodist) as well as in Reform Jewish Temples.  In addition to serving UUCS, Kelly currently also provides keyboard and vocal music for Wesley Oak United Methodist Church and Congregation Mickve Israel. 

Kelly is a Suma Cum Laude graduate of Florida State University where she majored in Music Education with an emphasis in Choral Music, and she is a recipient of the prestigious Robert Shaw Choral Conducting Award.  Truly a Renaissance woman, she is an accomplished pianist, organist, singer, flautist, guitarist, percussionist and penny whistle player, plus choral arranger and composer.  Kelly is well known in Savannah as both a performer and director. 

Kelly also has a Master’s Degree in Social Work, with a license in clinical social work, and in the past she served Savannah’s military veteran population in that capacity.

The UU Church of Savannah has been Kelly’s spiritual home of more than twenty years.  She believes in the church’s principles, loves its people, and thrives on serving them the best way she knows how…with beautiful music!

Kelly and her husband, Larry, have two daughters, Lillian and Nina.

Kelly can be contacted at

Luke Higgins - Director of Religious Education, interim

I have lived in Savannah for five years now with my wife Jenny Woodruff and, more recently, our one year old son, Hugo. For the last two of those years I have been teaching philosophy at Armstrong State University.

I am originally from Connecticut, moved out to northern California to finish college, and ended up living on the west coast for about a decade altogether. The last three of those years I attended seminary school at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, and from there went back to the northeast (northern New Jersey/New York City suburbs) to work on a Ph.D. in Theological and Philosophical studies at Drew University's Graduate Division of Religion.

My academic work focuses on theology's intersection with ecology, feminist studies, science studies, Process philosophy, and Continental philosophy (especially Bergson and Deleuze).

Other things about me: I am a great enthusiast of music of many kinds: I love to sing and play guitar, but my passion is primarily channeled into listening. My musical interests range from international music, indie/electronic, jazz, and contemporary classical to traditional Americana. My wife Jenny is also a musician and in her work she directs the education programs at the Savannah Music Festival.

Although I was baptized Greek Orthodox, for most of my life I have been affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a denomination whose history is closely intertwined with that of the UU. From the first Sunday I attended worship at our church, this faith community has felt like home to me: A place where both the heart and the mind are nourished for the "Great Work" (to use Thomas Berry's term) of building meaningful and inclusive community, and serving/saving our larger planetary home.

Luke can be contacted at

Alan Kindler – Office Administrator  

Alan was raised outside of Pittsburgh, Pa but has lived in Virginia, North Carolina and New York City.  He and his wife, Rev. Susan Karlson came to Savannah in 2015, drawn by her rough-around-the-edges charm and a chance to lower their environmental footprint.  He and Susan have four daughters, all grown, and one cat.  Alan has run several remodeling companies and also worked in electronics sales and mobile phone customer service and tech support.  When not working, Alan is biking, hiking, kayaking or painting.

Alan can be reached at

Marc Coulombe - Wedding Coordinator and Sexton

Bio pending!

Marc can be reached at

Alex Borthwick - Accounting

Bio pending!

Alex can be reached at