News and Notes

Our audio/visual team has helped make First Congregational worship services what they are today. If you have an interest in A/V and would like to join this team, 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.

Whether you’re looking to cut back on how much paper you use, want to see colorful photos or simply prefer to read on your smartphone, our downloadable bulletin is just what you’re looking for.

Simply scan the code with your phone’s QR scanner to download a PDF of our Sunday bulletin/The Open Door. On Sunday, grab the music handout from our ushers and you’re all set for service!

If you or someone you know cares for a family member with memory loss, direct, one-on-one assistance is available.

The challenges of living with and caring for someone with progressive memory loss are life changing—there’s no need to go it alone! The REACH Program provides a certified caregiver coach free of charge to educate, support and problem-solve in the caregiver’s home. For more information or to discuss your caregiving, contact certified Caregiver Coach Karen Aspenson at (920) 997-8407 or by email at

REACH is a program of Mosaic Family Health, the Fox Valley Memory Project, and in partnership with the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Family Caregiving.

This fall, First Congo will introduce Realm, a database and social-media-style platform that will allow you to manage your personal information, register for programs and events, review your giving history, donate, join church groups, and more.

Our administration team will send your invitation to Realm to the email address we have on file. Think your email record might be out of date? Please contact the church office as soon as possible at (920) 733-7393 or through the First Congo website.

Special note for adults who share an email: Unless you have Gmail, a single email address cannot be associated with more than one individual in Realm. If you think you and your spouse or partner might share an email, please contact the church office to provide an alternate email.

Nine months ago, the members of First Congregational United Church of Christ entrusted the Search Committee with the responsibility of prayerfully selecting for your approval a candidate to be our Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions. We gathered input from many of you as we assembled our Local Church Profile which addresses who we are now as a community of faith, who we are called to become, who our neighbors are and who we seek to join us on our faith’s journey. We carefully reviewed Ministerial Profiles of 20 candidates; we interviewed three via Skype, arranged to hear two of them preach and, after checking references, invited those two to visit in Appleton with us and, separately, with Pastors Steve and Nick.

After prayerful reflection, we then unanimously and unreservedly agreed to recommend Reverend Kathryn Kuhn as our candidate as Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions. Kathryn has enthusiastically accepted our nomination.

Here is what Kathryn had to say:

Grace and peace to you! I am looking forward to meeting all of you in a few days. I feel so blessed to be considered for this position. It truly feels like my 20 years in ministry have been preparing me to serve in this role. My undergraduate degree is from Miami University. After a brief detour to law school at William and Mary in Virginia, I found my way to Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. I was ordained via a four-way covenant with an HIV/AIDS ministry in Milwaukee. I have pastored three different congregations along the way. Most recently, I have served as the Director of Mission and Ministry for Cedar Community in West Bend — a senior living community affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Providing oversight for spiritual care among our 950 residents and 650 staff team members has helped me grow as a pastoral caregiver and colleague alongside the administrative team.

I live in Kiel, Wisconsin along with my family. I enjoy cooking, CrossFit, running, hiking, reading, listening to music of all kinds and spending time with family and friends. My husband, Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn, serves as Professor of Religion at Lakeland University. He is passionate about making connections between the world of theological studies and the local church. When he isn’t teaching at Lakeland or speaking out in the community, he can usually be found tending our 30-acre wooded property, or perhaps hunting deer, elk or turkey to fill our freezer. Our son, Joshua (19) just completed his first year at Carroll University in Waukesha where he studies exercise science. Clare (15) will be a sophomore at Kiel High School this fall. She loves horses, though we do not own one. I am hopeful all or most of my family will be present on June 25, though beyond that date they would likely divide their worship time between First Congregational and our current church home at Grace Congregational UCC in Two Rivers.

Again, I look forward to meeting you, and listening together for God’s call on our shared future!

—Rev. Kathryn Kuhn

Kathryn will bring many gifts to our church. She is wise, mature, energetic, thoughtful and compassionate. She believes in faith in action and has ministered joyfully to older adults since childhood. She is an experienced minister who has served other churches and large organizations, and she has worked collaboratively as a member of a leadership team.

Comments from Kathryn’s references include:

She makes immediate connections with people; her heart is in pastoral care; she is one of the best listeners I have ever met.

In worship, Kathryn has a spirited voice and communicates information that is thoughtful and fresh. She clearly loves the church and the Word of God.

I always sense her to be authentic, sincere and passionate. She has a passion for teaching all of us to really live our lives and live our faith.

She will approach missions with enthusiasm and joy; she is able to think outside the box.

The church of Jesus Christ is blessed by Kathryn’s ability to teach, preach, pray and think through challenging situations.

Kathryn will start with us in August.

We believe that God has led us to this exciting moment in the ministry of our church . . . and so does Kathryn. We look forward to growing together as a faith community, serving others and proclaiming the good news of God’s love.

Thank you for your support on this gratifying journey to call our new pastor.


Members of the Search Committee
Barb Armstrong; Chris Danz; Sue Detienne, Chairperson; Mark Shropshire; Al Bellg; Mary Dees; Sam Mast; Wanda Van De Hey

We’re happy to announce that First Congregational has upgraded its WiFi network. This means you don’t have to wait to share that cute photo of your child’s baptism, you can upload church group documents on the fly, and you can download our bulletin to your smartphone—all without using data.

Our revamped network is named FCUCC-Guest and the network password is UCCWireless. Happy surfing!

First Congregational’s Facebook page is close to breaking 1,000 likes! To achieve our goal, we need your help.

Our Facebook page is a great place to keep tabs on upcoming events — both at First Congregational and in the community — as well as current mission, service, music and worship news.

If you haven’t yet done so, visit our page at and click “Like.” Consider recommending the page to your friends, family and others who you think might be interested in our church and all we do to celebrate God. 

We know that life can be hectic for parents—especially when kids are involved in a number of activities. That’s why we’ve designed calendars specially for parents of children and youth in Church School, Middle School Ministry, High School Ministry and Confirmation. Calendars can be found at the bottom of these pages. Print off the relevant calendar and never miss a CYF event!

We have a small group of individuals at First Congo who have been working on efforts to impact the care of creation. We are going to be sharing tips on “green living” in the bulletin and through occasional displays in the Narthex. If you would like to find out more about these efforts or to share your own tips, please contact Chris Brittnacher.

Tip: Save water while gardening

Trick out your garden hose so you waste less water when you do need to use it. Add an automatic shut-off nozzle to the end of your hose. You could save 5 gallons of water per minute.

Tip: Plant natives

Native plants have evolved over thousands of years and, as such, have adapted to local conditions. They flourish without fertilizers or synthetic pesticides and rarely need watering. They provide food and habitat for wildlife, and contribute to biodiversity. You can contribute to your landscape’s health by planting native species that flourish in harmony with nature.

Tip: Rethink your use of bottled water

Producing bottles for bottled water uses enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. Other costs to the environment include the oil used for transportation and the low recycling rate for plastic.

Using one water pitcher filter and a reusable bottle can replace 300 16-ounce bottles of water — good for your wallet and the planet!

Tip: Eat local

Choosing local food when possible has many benefits to the environment, our local economy and our health.

  • It reduces the pollution and energy use associated with transporting, storing, and refrigerating the food.
  • It supports smaller growers whose scale and diversity allows them to use less pesticides and fertilizers than large monoculture farms.
  • Local foods taste better and are more nutritious since they are picked at their peak and haven’t been sitting in a warehouse.

Tip: Choose organic in the grocery store

Buy organic food because you will be eating food without synthetic pesticides, synthetic herbicides and hormones. You are also supporting an industry that doesn’t use petroleum-based fertilizers, which damage the environment.

Tip: Go meat-free on Mondays

Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car! Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.

Tip: Save money and the environment by reducing your food waste

Did you know that 40% of food in America is never eaten?

The average American household is throwing away $120 each month in uneaten food. Nationwide, we waste $165 billion in food. Food is the number one thing in our landfills and is a big contributor to climate pollution.

One in eight Americans struggle to put food on the table, so there are many good reasons to be conscious of food waste. Here are some tips:

  1. Plan your meals in advance and shop with a list. Only purchase what you can consume before it expires.
  2. Use leftovers and ingredients that you have on hand as inspiration for future meals. The internet is full of ideas!
  3. Freeze what you can't use up soon: berries, bananas and greens can be used for future smoothies, while onions, peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs can be chopped up and frozen for chili, stews, etc. For more ideas, check out

As a member of First Congregational, you’re part of our family — our really big family. With that in mind, please remember to wear your name tag during service, so that we may all great each other by name.

Additionally, please remember to sign the pew cards — even if you’re a staff member, usher, choir member or greeter. This helps us keep accurate attendance records, which means we’re able to print the right amount of bulletins each week,  record accurate data in our annual reports and much more.

Thank you for everything you do at First Congregational. We love having you as part of the family!

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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Today, the crews working with kids in the community (both at a kid’s camp and a sports camp) held a ping-pong tournament, played basketball, and did crafts and board games. Two young girls at the kids camp styled hair and did nails for members of our work crew, including some boys and adult leader Jerry, which they loved. One 10-year-old girl even gave Emma E. an impressive full head of cornrows! Any difficult situations that did come up with any of the kid’s club kids were handled with great patience and understanding by the crew working at the site.

The work crew said they have lots of little jokesters in the group that always give them a good laugh. Today, for example, some of the kids were telling us how old we are. According to them, Kyle was 1,000 and Maria was 20. 

Another of the kid’s club work crews spent the morning at a local nursing home, where they heard lots of wisdom and great life stories from the residents. They also got to paint residents’ nails, serve them snacks, and even share their musical talents. The work project crews were scattered around the area today doing lots of awesome work. One crew worked on painting a local home and getting to know the resident, while another continued work on painting the exterior of a local church. One other crew, before painting, spent their morning at the humane society cleaning and distributing dog bowls. MVP Carmen cleaned shelving in the room that houses the cats, and the rest of us walked some very excited dogs and gave them baths afterward.

Dinner was Taco Tuesday night complete with jamming to salsa music, followed by cake and ice cream in celebration of our beloved bus driver Wendell’s birthday. Our evening activity was a tour and short walk at the Mississippi River State Park, where one of the rangers also made us peach cobbler over the fire with a Dutch oven. Needless to say, we were all very full after that.

We had a great worship service and discussions in our nightly small group. We look forward to another day of awesome service — more updates to come!

Written by Maria and Hannah Sorensen, First Congo high school youth

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Being in Marvell in the middle of July, it’s not a surprise that there would be a heat advisory. Despite this, we prepared ourselves to spread the Word of God at our individual worksites today. First, we took the time to make sure we were about to spend the day doing our work safely, by drinking LOTS of water and Gatorade. As some of us were setting off to work with kids at day camps, other groups were getting ready to paint a local church and help out at different houses in the area. Personally, I was spending the day at a local woman’s house, Jesse. Jesse worked as a social worker in the area and needed some work done at her house with some touch-up painting and an installation of a screen door. I can’t get over how, although the people may not have much, they have the most positivity and love to give. It truly is an eye-opening experience and it offers an opportunity to see life from a new perspective.

During the evening, we shared God’s love through a dinner offered to us at a local Baptist church. We shared stories with each other and bond as our very own Jack Murphy led us in a sing-along that included some Journey, The Beatles and Jason Mraz. It was a powerful experience that connected us with our local community, and for that, we are grateful.

Written by Joel Morien, Director for Youth Ministries

Thursday, July 20, 2017/Friday, July 21, 2017

Hi, everyone!

Well, all good things must come to an end and today, we had to say goodbye to little Marvell, Arkansas. It was a bittersweet morning; as our crew cleaned up the building in which we worked, I took time to reflect on the impact we made on the community, especially the children, in just four short days. This week, I had the opportunity to work at a sports camp where I connected with some of the most precious kids I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. My mission this week was more than just playing games with kids all day (by the way, it was fun to get out on the court and play hours of basketball in the warm Arkansas sun!). It was about learning their stories and digging deeper behind the shells many of them have had to build growing up. Needless to say, it was emotional. The good moments were amazing and the not-so-good moments were challenging, and sometimes even a little scary. Yet, the tools I have built for myself through working with these beautiful children will help me for future opportunities.

We parted ways with our YouthWorks staff just before 9 this morning and jetted (or should I say bussed?) off. We got to pass the time by watching fun movies like Tangled, Herbie: Fully Loaded and Sing! but most of us napped and relaxed after our week of hard work. We did a few stops for lunch and bathroom breaks and most of our traveling was down the county highways of Arkansas and Missouri. Traveling through the hills was quite an adventure and absolutely gorgeous!

Finally, we reached Steelville, Missouri around 6 PM. I was in awe of the area's picture-perfect small Southern town vibe and it sounds like the owner of the lodge we are staying at also owns an old-fashioned soda pop shop downtown, where he will treat us to, well... treats!

Sounds like we got our dose of Southern hospitality!

The Wildwood Spring Lodge is breathtaking and overlooks a valley below. It sounds like it will be a fun, relaxing weekend before we come home on Sunday!

Jack Murphy


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wow, what a day!

Today we went tubing on a river in Missouri. Some of us floated on the tubes and some of us swam in the river alongside the floaters. Even if you didn't swim a lot, you had to get in the water every once in a while because it was so hot!

It was about 6 hours and super hot outside. We left early in the morning after the amazing breakfast we had at the lodge. We used so much sunscreen. We spent most of the day on the water and came across a really cute dog who followed us for a little while. We also had tubes for water and our packed lunches that the Wildwood Springs Lodge packed for us.

After the tubing trip, we headed back to the lodge and ate a delicious meal. For dinner, we had pulled pork, potatoes, beans and several other things. Their food is so good and is one of my favorite things about the lodge. We then got to go to an ice cream shop. The owner of the lodge was kind enough to invite us to get free ice cream.

It was really hot today and I got to hang out with my friends, which I didn't get a lot this past week because we were in different work groups. Today was a day to reconnect with some people from our confirmation class. It was a fun day and topped off our week. As a treat, we get to go to an ice cream shop and do our final worship. We celebrated our seniors which honored all of their hard work and dedication to the church and to us. It was a beautiful service with many tears shed and hugs given.