Mission and Service News

Sunday, April 30 • 11:45 AM
Fellowship Hall

Please join us for the Annual Kenya Student Sponsor Luncheon!  Several members of the Kenya Partnership Team were in Kenya this past January. We will be sharing updates on our Kenyan Partners and many of our sponsored students.

Lunch will consist of a traditional Kenyan meal (hot dogs and buns will be available as an alternative for children). Drinks will include water, milk and chai. Dessert will be oranges and bananas.

After lunch there will be a short presentation.

Please RSVP to Matt Wiskerchen or sign up in the Narthex on or before April 16. We hope to see you soon!

First Congo will once again participate in a project to allow members to prepare food in their own home for Homeless Connections. Empty pans will be distributed to willing churchgoers. The pans will contain the recipe and shopping list to prepare and fill the empty pan with lasagna or a comparable dish.

It’s simple:

  1. Pick up an empty pan on Sunday, April 30.
  2. Follow the simple grocery list and purchase the ingredients to make the dish (approximately $13).
  3. During the week, prepare the simple recipe and fill the pan (it’s so simple—no cooking noodles required).
  4. Place the prepared pan in your freezer if possible (the refrigerator is OK too).
  5. Bring the prepared pan to church on Sunday, May 7.
  6. Enjoy the great feeling of using your gifts to nourish others!

Note: If you’re unable to bring the pan back on May 7, please try to bring it the week before. It can be placed in the lower-level kitchen freezer. This makes transport and storage more convenient.

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 www.facebook.com/1stCongo.

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.

Soon Habitat for Humanity's Rock the Block will be in Kaukauna. They are looking for volunteers to work on Saturday, May 6. If you have ever wanted to be involved in a Habitat project, here is your opportunity to change a community.  

Rock the Block headquarters will be at the Saint Katherine Drexel Catholic Church, where registration, meetings, work assignments and meals for the volunteers will take place.

You can either sign up for Rock the Block at Habitat's Volunteer Hub, https://foxcitieshabitat.volunteerhub.com/events/index, or sign up in the Narthex.

Dear First Congregational,

Thank you for showing that people of all different faiths are united in one cause—to make the world a better place.

Your gift of $2,500 will support the Interfaith Builds of 2017. Your gift will mean that the workers will have the tools and supplies they need.

This is the fifth year of the Interfaith Builds. By the end of 2017, over 70 people will sleep in the 9 homes the faith communities of the Fox Valley have built together. Every nail, every action has contributed to this good—and the goodwill built across our communities. You can see it every day at the build sites. The world can be better. And because of people like you, it IS becoming better.

We do not claim to know what the Almighty wills for us. We only know that good people acting in faith will show that there is a reason to have faith.

Thank you for helping people of faith do God’s work. Thank you for being such an amazing partner in our ministry!

John Weyenberg,
President/Executive Director
Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity

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

Due to popular demand, we have ordered another batch of the three-language, neighbor-welcoming yard signs. If you or someone you know would like a sign, you can find them in the Narthex today. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM–3:00 PM, you can find the signs in the Church Office.

The suggested donation is $8.

Thank you for making our community a more welcoming place!

Sundays, April 23–May 7

Stock Sales to support the 2017 Youth Mission Trip to Marvell, Arkansas are taking place this week! Make an investment in the life of a young person and in the lives of those we are serving in the community of Marvell.

Each year we raise almost $5,000 to offset the cost of our trip—help us reach our goal! More information is available at the Stock Sale tables in the Narthex. Thanks for your support!

Kudos to First Congregational member Doug Gilbert, who was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.

Doug has been lending a hand to Fox Cities Habitat for more than 20 years. He was recognized as Volunteer of the Year at Habitat’s recent annual appreciation dinner.

One Great Hour of Sharing enables the United Church of Christ to reach people and communities affected by disaster, displacement and poverty. Your donations provide assistance to families and communities around the world, helping them become stronger, healthier and better equipped to address hardships and catastrophes. 

Every gift you give brings you into another person’s life. You are providing education and tools for a young man in Sri Lanka to become employed and provide for his family. You are providing a boat and nets for fishermen in Haiti who lost theirs in recent storms—they can once again provide food for their families and send their children to school. You are providing mobile clinics to families in East Timor, reducing malnutrition, anemia and intestinal worms among children there.

Thank you for giving generously to our One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Your generosity will change lives and make a difference!

Thank You from the Fox Valley Warming Shelter

On behalf of the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, I want to personally thank your pastors and congregation members for your support in January and February, and for your continuing support throughout the year. The staff, the board and especially our clients are very grateful for everyone who helped in any way. A special thank you to Leigh Grube and Amy Lewis for all their work in coordinating this effort. It is only through the generous gift of talent and time by such dedicated volunteers that our mission of sheltering those who are homeless is possible.

For any of you who enjoyed your experience at the shelter and would like to volunteer again, we would love to have you!

The shelter will be participating in the Human Race, a fundraising walk to be held on May 6. Please consider forming a team to walk with us and/or walking with us individually. Please call Connie at 920-419-0928 or email for more info, or you can join our team online by going to foxvalleywarmingshelter.org and clicking on the “read more” link. See you May 6!

Connie Raether,
Fox Valley Warming Shelter volunteer coordinator


Thank you to our congregants who have served an average of 60 homeless clients at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter this last January and February. We had neighbors team up and prepare meals together and smiles from those who served those meals. There were generous souls who spent early mornings serving breakfast and making lunches, and late-nighters who did lots of laundry.

None of this went unnoticed by the grateful patrons who felt the hands of God extended to them and had a little more comfort added to their day.

Thank you all for making it a success and remember, you can volunteer at any time via foxvalleywarmingshelter.org or by contacting Connie Raether, the shelter volunteer coordinator, at (920) 419-0928.

There will be many warm feet throughout the community this winter thanks to First Congo members who came together to support Mission and Service and the Children’s Ministry in their sock drive.

We collected over 500 pairs of men’s, women’s and children’s socks that included fun socks, athletic socks, fancy socks and dress socks. In addition, the children collected $290 during the December Joyful Noise offering. This money will be used to purchase additional socks when the current supply is depleted.

Deb Burich will begin distributing socks to our ministry partners on an as needed basis.

A great big thank you to all who donated!

Household items are frequent needs for families struggling to improve their quality of life in the Fox Valley. Recently many specific, known needs have come to our attention.

  • A single mom with three kids recently moved into her own apartment and is in need of plates and bowls.
  • A mother of an 8-year-old and baby due this month is low income. She is need of a kitchen table/chairs and dresser.
  • Parents with four children, one a 15-year-old pregnant daughter, are in need of a stroller, bottles and newborn clothes.
  • Parents of two children are in need of a microwave.
  • A mother of two is in need of a kitchen table and chair.
  • Parents with six children recently lost their housing and were staying with relatives. During that time they placed their belongings in a shed, which leaked and ruined the furniture. They now have their own place and are in need of dressers.

Please make arrangements with Pat Hauser before bringing donations to the church. Thank you for sharing with those in need!

April 2-7, 2017

Do you want to help with improving a family’s house by making it safe for everyday living? Are you interested in working on a new build for a family with a lower income but the means to own a house? Are you interested in helping a homeless person with laundry, finding a job or just listening? Do you want to offer assistance at the food bank for someone looking for food to make? Do you want to serve meals to the homeless at Loaves and Fishes? Are you interested in making new friends while serving your fellow man? All these and many more can be yours by doing a mission trip to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi. A signup sheet is available in the Narthex.

One other side note for those who didn’t realize this, the youth were at Back Bay Mission this past July. One of the projects they did was to construct some new bunk beds for the dorm rooms. You can try them out for yourselves to see if they are more comfortable than the metal bunk beds. 


Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Fox Cities logoOnce again, First Congregational UCC is supporting the Fox Valley Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build. Over 25 faith communities will be working together to build two homes during the summer. This year we are partnering with Congregational United Church of Christ, Neenah/Menasha.

Volunteers are needed to help construct the homes at 2300 and 2310 Russet Court in Appleton on July 14 and August 27. Volunteers are needed at the ReStore on September 10. Our church will provide lunches and site support on July 20 and August 20.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate harmony between faith communities by volunteering and meeting new friends while building a home for a family or providing food for working volunteers. Please sign up in the Narthex. Contact  Tim De Hart.

October 1–8, 2016

Assembling a wheelchair ramp in Jonesville, Virginia“Warmer, Safer, Drier.” That is the mission of the Appalachia Service Project. Their goal is to help families in need to improve the condition of their homes.

We are planning our third service trip to Jonesville, VA for October. You need no specific carpentry skills to participate, just a willingness to work and a desire to connect with the families we meet.

The cost of the trip is $325 plus travel expenses. The $325 covers lodging and meals and helps fund the service projects. The first year we helped build a wheelchair ramp for a woman who had been confined to her home because of its inaccessibility. Last year, we replaced a living room floor and the underlying supports. Both years we had wonderful experiences with the families we served.

This year, we also have the option of staying a day longer and stopping at the famous National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Please sign up in the Narthex if you would like to come. You may call or email Valerie Schultz with any questions regarding the trip. You can also go to the Appalachia Service Project website for more information.

Over 180 people participated in Service Sunday last week! Thank you all for making the day brighter for many others!

  • Making fleece blankets on Service Sunday.Made 26 fleece blankets to deliver with our Project NOAHH bunkbeds (Neighbors Offering a Helping Hand).
  • Baked 30-dozen chocolate-chip cookies, with 12 plates of 2-dozen cookies delivered into the community as “random acts of kindness.” Some recipients were the Appleton Police and Fire departments, Kaukauna Recreation Department staff, Kimberly Area School District summer school staff, and Appleton City Hall at Baking cookies on Service Sunday.Plant-a-Row many plants and seeds were planted and yards of irrigation hose laid.
  • Butterfly and bird houses are adorning yards and bringing smiles to many faces.
  • Spread lots of mulch and pulled weeds in the Labyrinth garden.
  • Cut buckthorn and overgrowth in the ravine.
  • Handed out 40 “Have a Wash on Us” bags containing detergent and quarters at local laundromats, as well as quarters for dryers.
  • Spreading mulch on Service Sunday.A multitude of voices shared lovely music with residents at Brewster Village, brightening many faces and souls.
  • 2-dozen bags adorned with artistry and inspirational words will welcome refugees coming to Appleton in the next months.

Opens Friday, April 29

(In)visible at the History Museum at the Castle is an exhibit that will show the spectrum of homelessness in our community. Photos taken by individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Fox Cities area and their stories will be paired with statistics from the 2015 Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness) and historical data in an effort to show how we have managed homelessness in our community and how we might continue to work toward alleviating the issue.

Clients of COTS, the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Homeless Connections and the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities participated in the project. Please visit (In)visible and learn about the experience of homelessness as well as the work of our mission partners in the community.