News and Notes

Due to weather and church being cancelled, we were unable to share with you Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo. We have decided to reschedule for this Sunday, April 22 at the 8:45 AM service only.

Our Kenya partners, Mildred and Jeremiah have arrived safely to Wisconsin. Please take a moment to introduce yourself and extend a hand in friendship during worship. They will be giving us information about the students during the Kenya Student Sponsorship Luncheon on Sunday, April 22 from 11:45 AM–2:00 PM. You are still welcome to join us even if you didn’t sign up ahead of time.

Thanks to everyone who has taken our survey. If you haven’t had a chance to take our survey, we have decided to extend it until April 30. Below is the link to take the survey online or you can stop by the church office and fill out a paper copy. We greatly appreciate all input from anyone who uses our facilities. Thank you!

Please support our high school mission trip to Pine Ridge, SD by purchasing “stock” in our youth. All proceeds will go towards sending our teens on this important mission. We will be having our stock sale April 22 and 29 after worship services. Thanks!

Please join us on April 22 for our Annual Kenya Student Sponsor Appreciation Luncheon in the Fellowship Hall from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM. This year, we will be joined by two of our Kenyan partners (Mildred Chepkonga & Jeramiah Kibor). After lunch, they will share news from Kenya and give updates on our students.

There is a sign-up sheet in the Narthex for those who are interested in attending or you can message Matt Wiskerchen. We hope to see you there!

The Kenya Partnership Team

After the Easter Egg Hunt last week, First Congo children will return to their lessons this Sunday and continue with Rotation 5 through April 22. On that day, they will also be singing two special songs during the Children’s Sermon. They have been learning and practicing the songs under the direction of Ken and Aimee Eubank. Watch for them on April 22! Some additional dates to be aware of are as follows:

  • April 22 is the final day of church school lessons.
  • April 29 will be our Children and Youth Sunday Worship Services.
  • May 6 will be a church school group activity.
  • May 13 will be an end of year church school celebration.
  • May 20 we will honor church school teachers during the church service.

We invite all of our children and youth to participate in leading our annual Healing Service on Sunday, April 29. This is a service of prayers and reflection about the healing work of the Holy Spirit. This year our theme is, “We are God’s Offspring.” There is a place for everyone in this powerful, enriching, and intergenerational experience. For youth and children, we have a variety of ways they can help including ushering, reading, and more. To sign up, please contact the CYF staff you are involved with, Colleen, Joel, or Nick, via email. Students will need to be present on Wednesday, April 25 from 6:00-7:45 PM for dinner and a rehearsal.

A Geography of Grace: Exploring the Soul’s Landscape
Friday, May 4 • 5:30-9:00 PM
Saturday, May 5 • 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
$65 suggested donation

Just as we often lose contact with the natural world because of our busy lives, we also live distanced from the inner nature of our souls. Using poems, art, images from the natural world, and metaphors from the geography of land and sky, A Geography of Grace will guide us in exploring our soul's landscape. 

This Friday evening and all-day Saturday Circle of Trust retreat takes place at First Congo, and you’ll spend Friday night in your own bed. Facilitators include: Albert Bellg, a retreat facilitator with the Center for Courage & Renewal and member of First Congo; Anne Powling, writing coach and trained Geography of Grace facilitator; and Pastor Kathryn. Dinner on Friday evening and lunch on Saturday will be provided.

You can register on the signup sheet in the Narthex. There’s a limit of 20, so please sign up soon.

No one will be excluded for financial reasons—if you need to pay a lower amount to attend comfortably, please let us know.

Friday, May 4, 2018
First Congregational UCC
724 E. South River Street, Appleton

This year’s speaker will be Tracy Plamann who is the Community Educational Coordinator for Harbor House. RSVP by April 30 to Jayne Henrich at or call her at 246-8569 or Marilyn at or call her at 788-5850. 

  • 9:30 AM – Registration
  • 10:00 PM – Program
  • 11:00 AM – Brunch (cost $10)

We will also be collecting items for the Fox Valley Warming Shelter. Items needed include bathroom tissue, paper towels, 39-gallon garbage bags, toilet bowl cleaner, bleach, belts (new or used), razors, shaving cream, and laundry detergent.

The members of First Congregational Church UCC would like to honor and celebrate Fabrice Kalamba’s recent achievements. In February he earned his GED at Blackwell JobCorps from Laona, WI. He also earned an Entry Level One Firefighter certification from Nicolet College in October, 2016 and has already served many weeks as a firefighter out in Montana last summer, as the forest fires were out of control. We will be recognizing Fabrice’s hard work and commitment during the 8:45 AM service on Sunday, May 6. Cake and refreshments will be served between services. We hope you can join us to congratulate him.

First Congo's Friends in Christ will meet Sunday, May 6, from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM in the Upper Lounge. Refreshments will be available. This will be a chance for current "Friends" to check in, and for those interested in the ministry of Christian friendship to find out more about us! Join us to find out more about how we walk alongside those who benefit from regular support and encouragement. Contact Pastor Kathryn or Jean Coenraad for additional information or sign up in the narthex to let us know you'll attend.

May 16
Lakeland University Fox Cities Center
2320 Industrial Drive, Neenah
Classes will be held between 8:45-11:30 AM

Lakeland University and the City of Neenah’s Committee on Aging co-sponsor a unique, tuition-free Lifelong Learning event. Lakeland faculty and staff will simultaneously teach the different 45-minute courses during the multi-hour session. Senior-citizen enrollees will be able to rotate, taking one, or more, classes, as desired. Residents of Neenah and area communities are welcome.

Classes offered:

  • Understanding Religious Extremism
    Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn, Professor of Religion
  • Talking to Your Tech: Interactive Technology in our Daily Lives Chuck Grubisic, Director of Technology Services and Operations
  • What to Say: Using Dialogue in Fiction Writing
    Jeff Elzinga, Professor of Writing

RSVP by Monday, May 14 by calling Lakeland University-Fox Cities Center, 920-727-0777. Registration, refreshments and information tables will be available beginning at 8 AM on the day of the event, and classes will be held between 8:45 and 11:30 AM.

Our church is in need of 1-2 people who would be interested in discerning their possible involvement with our HR committee. HR meets once a month (or every other month) and we have a flexible meeting schedule. The current state of our ministry is in excellent shape: all our foundational documents and policies are all current! Thus, our work focuses on improving upon and caring for our staff and church as a whole. It’s a great group and we do wonderful work. If you are interested, please contact Pastor Nick

THANK YOU for another record-breaking year for The Family Radio Network’s “Help for the Homeless” hygiene drive! In the Fox Cities:

  • $168,035 worth of hygiene supplies donated by…
  • 265 Fox Cities employers, churches and schools hosting collection boxes, helping…
  • 18 Fox Cities crisis programs – serving approx. 16,000 people annually.

You are already making a difference: “She’d just bought a trailer home – then her hours were reduced at work, and she learned she had ovarian cancer.  A single parent with an 11-year-old daughter, she’s struggling to make payments on the trailer now. Cleaning or self-care products are out of the question. She was so grateful for the big basket of Help for the Homeless supplies! Thank you!”  -Maria Vargas, Partnership Community Health Education Center, Appleton  

After seven years of service, Pastor Nick has submitted a plan for a three-month sabbatical that was approved by Church Council. It’s called A Season of Ecological Justice and it will be happening this year, June 4-August 26. We have carefully planned out all ministry responsibilities to ensure that nothing will be left undone during his absence. It’s important to note that at our church a Sabbatical is understood as a time for personal renewal and a season to prepare for the years of service to come.

Jonathan Steffen, our Technology Coordinator, is creating a documentary about First Congo’s building for its 50th anniversary! If anyone has any fun stories, cool photos or videos, or any information to share on the history of the building, feel free to reach out to Jonathan Steffen. Thanks!

The Church’s technology needs your help! Recently the Church’s technology has grown, and we are looking for volunteers to assist our Technology Committee this program year. Additionally, our Audio/Video capabilities in the Sanctuary have grown and volunteers are welcome to this opportunity as well. If you are interested in helping with the Church’s technology or A/V, or both, please contact the church office at (920) 733-7393. Have questions? Contact Technology Coordinator Jonathan Steffen at ext. 226.

Our community partner Project NOAHH is in desperate need of twin-size bedding for bunk beds. Please consider donating twin sheets, pillows, plastic mattress protectors and comforters — the sheets and pillows are the most needed.

You can drop off your donations at the Church Office.

Thank you for your help!

Learn more at our Project NOAHH page.

First Congregational takes the cultivation of a loving and safe environment for all of its members very seriously. Our SafeConduct™ Policy protects the safety of everyone who participates in ministries for children, youth and vulnerable adults. The Code of Conduct section within this policy is required reading for anyone applying to volunteer in these ministries. You may view the policy at

If you are interested in volunteering with children, youth or vulnerable adults, we invite you to apply in advance so that you have the flexibility to jump in whenever an opportunity comes your way. Please contact the church office to get the application process started.