News and Notes

Wednesday, June 28
Buses leave from St. Therese, 213 E. Wisconsin Ave., Appleton for Madison at 9:00 AM

Please join members of UNIDOS POR UN FUTURO MEJOR in protest against Assembly Bill 190 and Senate Bill 275. AB190/SB275 would have local law enforcement act as immigration agents, according to ESTHER. AB190/SB275 would separate Wisconsin families, increase racial profiling, harm our economy and make everyone less safe by making community members afraid to report crimes.

ESTHER is an interfaith, nonprofit, grassroots social-justice organization that focuses its work in the Fox Valley. Learn more at

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’s Church Office will be closed Tuesday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

Have a happy and safe holiday! 

Making the world a better place in the name of God can be tough work. We need your help to accomplish this goal! We’re searching for volunteers to help with the following projects:

Project NOAHH blankets: We have enough materials left over from Service Sunday to make 11 more fleece blankets for Project NOAHH. If you would like to help, please come to the church office to pick up your materials.

Tech fans needed: This summer, our office needs to transfer archived documents from the project management tool Basecamp to our new church software, Realm. If you are interested in helping, please contact the church office at (920) 733-7393. Have questions? Contact Technology Coordinator Jonathan Steffen at ext. 226.

The next Social Singles Chatters get-together will be Thursday, July 13 at 11:30 AM at Stone Arch Brewpub, 1004 S. Olde Oneida St., Appleton. Bring a friend!

Saturday, July 15 • 7:00 PM
First Congregational Sanctuary

Noted lyricist and composer David Stoddard is a songwriter and teacher living in the snowy wilds of Western Minnesota. He tours sporadically throughout North America and plays mostly concert venues, living rooms and other dedicated listening environments.

He's played at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas, and been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio's "Tent Show Radio." These days, he plays mostly house concerts. He's shared festival and concert stages with people like Juice Newton, Leon Russell, Rik Emmett, Lou and Peter Berryman, Michael Smith and Pat Donohue. He was once mistaken for George Winston at a bookstore in Milwaukee — true story! He has won the Kerrville New Folk award, as well as songwriting awards at the South Florida Folk Festival, the Minnesota Folk Festival, The Tucson Folk Festival and others.

David is also the composer responsible for writing the scores for all of First Congregational UCC's intergenerational musicals for the past eight years. His songs are known to have sharp insight, clever lyrics and, if you have ever heard First Congo's Still Speaking Players’ musicals, memorable and unique melodies.

We hope you will join us! First Congregational will take a free-will offering and offer treats at the intermission. Please bring a friend!

Wednesday, July 19 • 6:00–9:00 PM

Transport your bike and meet at Just Stop In Bar & Grill at the intersection of Highway 57 and Lasse Road just north of Green Leaf at 6:00 PM. We will bike a half-mile down Lasse Road and enter the Fox River Trail. This paved trail requires a bike pass, which can be purchased at the start of the trail for $5. (No change is available so please bring exactly $5).

This pleasant and popular trail will lead us into De Pere, an approximately 8-mile trip. We will stop and enjoy an ice cream treat, relax, visit and people watch. Then we will return to our cars for a total ride of 16 miles round trip.

Sign up by Monday, July 17 in the church or by emailing Cheryl Nisler.

Wednesday, July 19 at 12:15 PM, First Congregational UCC hosts Dr. Naomi Rowley as part of the Lunchtime Organ Recital Series’ 22nd season. Learn more about Dr. Rowley’s performance and others in the series at

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.

September 23–30
Rainelle, West Virginia

“Warmer. Safer. Drier.” That is the mission of the Appalachian Service Project. This will be our fourth rebuilding trip with ASP. We will be returning to Rainelle, West Virginia, an area hit with devastating floods in June 2016. Each service trip has been an amazing experience for all of us participating; we do our part and turn the project over to the next arriving crew. Amazing work gets done!

This year, our job will be to frame a new house. What an undertaking! If we bring a willingness to work hard and a desire to connect with the families with whom we work and with each other, lives are transformed. Please prayfully consider the role you might play in this service opportunity.

You can now sign up in the Narthex to participate in the trip. Please call or email Valerie Schultz with questions regarding the trip: (920) 915-8008. Learn more about the Appalachia Service Project at

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.

We hope you will make every effort to attend an Ice Cream Social and Open House in our East Parking Lot on Saturday, June 24 from 2:00–4:00 PM. Kathryn will be a pastor to our whole congregation so we encourage congregation members and friends of all ages to come meet her in this informal setting.

Then, we invite you to attend our Sunday morning, June 25, 9:30 AM worship service. Kathryn will lead the worship service and offer the sermon. Following the service, a congregational meeting will be held to hear a detailed report from the Search Committee and vote on the recommendation to call Kathryn Kuhn as our new Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions. Assuming a positive vote, it is our hope that 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!

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!

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

Thank you to all from First Congo who volunteered with Back Bay Mission this year. To celebrate, we’ve posted photos from the trip to our Facebook page. You can find them at

Back Bay Mission also sent a note of thanks for our church’s monetary and volunteer support:

Members of First Congregational Church,

Thank you for supporting Back Bay Mission! Every day, people in need walk through our doors looking for help. Thanks to you, we can make sure they get what they need. From Mississippi’s only client-choice food pantry to the best housing rehabilitation ministry on the Gulf Coast, we’re transforming lives because you’re behind us. As a member of the Board of Directors, I wanted to let you know how much your support means to me personally and to the people we serve.

Thank you!

Grace and peace,
Carol Merriman

You can see this thank you note in person on the Mission and Service bulletin board in the Narthex.

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.