Welcome to the Church of the Open Door, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ! Please join us for worship!

Pastors & Staff

Our Pastors

Read our Pastors’ Blog.

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Savides, Senior Pastor
(920) 851-3655 | Contact

About Steve

Steve grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a degree in Theatre Arts. Steve was a two-time winner of the Best Actor award while in college. He performed professionally in the Twin Cities area and around the country doing improvisational comedy and street theater with SAK Theatre, through which he met his future partner, Dee, before being called into ministry.

Steve attended United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities as a George Dayton scholar and was given the graduating class preaching award. He was awarded the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2009. Prior to coming to Appleton, he served churches in Zumbrota and Oronoco, Minnesota, and Williams Bay and Watertown, Wisconsin. Steve serves as the Senior Pastor here at First Congregational. Dee Savides works as a therapist with Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley. Dee and Steve have three children, Grace, Emily, and Paul.

Steve’s interests include playwriting, acting, movies, reading and racquetball.

Rev. Nicholas Hatch, Pastor for Youth and Family Ministries
(920) 733-7393 | Contact

About Nick

Nick grew up in Mahomet, Illinois, the son of Rev. DiAnne Hatch and Dr. Terry Hatch. His home church was First Presbyterian of Champaign, Illinois, where his mother was called to be an associate pastor. He has many fond memories of his Presbyterian upbringing and theological training. His summers were spent in Wisconsin at the family cabin on a lake just east of Park Falls. Renovating the cabin has been a labor of love for all ages. It continues to be Nick’s favorite place in the world and a true retreat for his spirit in the midst of ministry.

Nick graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He then attended McCormick Seminary, where he was a Tomlinson Hampton Scholar. During seminary, Nick served as a youth director at Glenview Community Church UCC in Glenview, Illinois, and met his wife and best friend, Amanda, who is from Houston, Texas. They were married in 2005.

Nick’s first call was to First Presbyterian Church of Great Falls, Montana, in a general associate position. During his two years there, Nick continued to feel a strong pull towards full-time ordained youth ministry. In the summer of 2011, Nick was called to First Congregational UCC. Nick and Amanda have two children, Maddison and Elijah. Maddison’s interests include coloring and wearing Elsa dresses. Elijah loves napping and steering wheels. Amanda is currently enjoying being a young mother. Nick and Amanda both feel very blessed that God has brought them to Appleton and opened up such a unique, specialized ministry opportunity in a place they feel called to be. Nick enjoys road biking, working out, hiking, woodworking, and anything with his kids. Nick also has extensive training in wilderness and outdoor recreation through the National Outdoor Leadership School. He has backpacked, sea-kayaked, canoed, and cayoneered across the continent and greatly enjoys sharing his love of God’s creation in the outdoors with others through the church’s Wilderness Ministry.

Rev. Kathryn Kuhn, Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions
(920) 851-9455 | Contact

About Kathryn

Kathryn grew up in Michigan and Ohio. The daughter of Rev. Jerry and Barbara O’Connor, she was raised in the United Church of Christ. After graduating in 1991 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she found her way to Eden Seminary near St. Louis, receiving her M.Div. in 1995. While at Eden, she met and married Karl Kuhn. They moved to the Milwaukee area after seminary, where Karl completed his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (New Testament) at Marquette University. Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn is Professor of Religion at Lakeland University, near Sheboygan.

Kathryn was ordained to ministry in the United Church of Christ while serving St. Camillus HIV/AIDS Ministry in Wauwatosa. Since then, her ministry has included serving parishes in Germantown, Kiel and Sheboygan Falls. Most recently, she served as Director of Mission and Ministry for Cedar Community, a UCC-affiliated continuing care retirement community with campuses in West Bend and Elkhart Lake. Kathryn serves as chair of the Wisconsin Council on Health and Human Service Ministries and as a board member of the national UCC Council on Health and Human Service Ministries.

Kathryn and Karl live in rural Kiel with their daughter, Clare, who attends Kiel High School. Their son, Josh, attends Carroll University in Waukesha. Clare loves horses, and Josh is a swimmer and a fitness fanatic. Karl is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Kathryn is a recent convert to CrossFit. She also likes to run, especially with Hazel, the family’s beloved and sometimes poorly behaved rescue dog.

Rev. Maynard E. Beemer, Pastor Emeritus
Contact

About Maynard

Maynard grew up in Dickinson County, Kansas, one of five children on a dairy farm with a menagerie of animals. He graduated from Lakeland College, Mission House Seminary and has his M.Div. from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He began serving in Appleton in June of 1994, having moved from Columbus, Ohio. He has served churches in Missouri, Kansas, Arizona and Ohio, and First Congregational UCC, Appleton, from 1972–1982. Maynard completed 17 years of faithful service at the church in December of 2001 and had the title and privileges of pastor emeritus bestowed upon him. Maynard enjoys wood finishing and refinishing, fishing, reading, bicycling and gardening.

 

Church Staff

John Albrecht, Director for Music Ministries
(920) 733-7393 | Contact

About John

John joined the First Congregational UCC staff in August of 2007, having previously served as Director of Music at Worthington Presbyterian Church in Ohio. John holds degrees from Northwestern University (B.M.E.) and the University of Iowa (M.A. in choral conducting). He has taught senior high school vocal music in Iowa and Illinois, and has worked extensively with private children’s choruses, including serving as the Associate Conductor of the renowned Anima/Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus in Illinois. Prior to his ministry in Ohio, John also served as Director of Music Ministries at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn.

John’s responsibilities at First Congregational include developing the worship, music and fine arts ministries of the church, working in conjunction with the clergy, organist, program staff, the Worship and Music Ministry Team, and the church’s Lawrence University Music Scholars program. His time here has included starting and directing a children’s choir and a youth handbells choir, presenting major choral works with orchestra, coordinating mid-week summer worship services and concerts, directing children’s musicals, serving as music director for intergenerational musicals, implementing a new audition process for the church’s Lawrence University Music Scholars, and hosting workshops and concerts with numerous choirs, such as the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir and the Millikin University Choir. John led the church’s Steinway piano project, made possible through a generous gift from the Trina Reynolds Bequest, providing a new Steinway B grand piano for the Sanctuary and a rebuilt Steinway B for the choir room. An Organ Preservation Fund and an LU Music Scholars Endowment Fund have been established during his tenure. The church’s Sanctuary Choir was honored to be selected by audition to perform a 25-minute program at the 2016 Wisconsin Choral Directors Association Convention. John was also honored to receive the WCDA 2016 Outstanding Church Musician Award.

John is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and has served two terms as the
Repertoire and Standards Chair for Music in Worship in the North Central Division of ACDA. He currently
holds the position of WCDA Life-long Repertoire & Resources Coordinator, as well as the Music in Worship Repertoire & Resources Chair. John holds professional memberships with the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the American Guild of Organists, and Choristers Guild. In addition, he served eight seasons on the Appleton Boychoir conducting staff, directing the Junior and Senior Choirs. John and his wife, Kristy (a German teacher), have a son, Ethan, a recent college graduate. John’s hobbies include traveling, reading, attending student recitals and concerts and attempting home improvement projects.

Colleen Berry,  Director for Christian Education
(920) 851-9559 | Contact

About Colleen

Colleen grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She attended University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she earned a B.S. degree in social science broad field, U.S. history, and secondary education. She also earned a master’s degree in education. Colleen taught various social science classes for 32 years at New London High School, where she also raised her sons, Ian and Devin. The family belonged to First Congregational United Church of Christ in New London, where she served as a member of the Christian Education Committee and taught Sunday School. She joined the staff of First Congregational in 2017.

Her interests include daily walks, knitting, reading and playing with her granddaughter, Annabella.

Joel Morien, Director for Youth Ministries
(920) 851-7745 | Contact

About Joel

A native of Winneconne, Wisconsin, Joel is a UW-Fond Du Lac graduate. He served in AmeriCorps from 2015 to 2016. During the same period, he was the Teen Leadership Coordinator for the YMCA of Stevens Point and served as a camp counselor and the Ministry Coordinator for Pilgrim Center-UCCI. He also served on the Wisconsin Conference UCC Youth Ministry Team. He joined the First Congregational Staff in 2016 and is currently attending the Wisconsin Conference UCC Lay Academy.

In 2012 Joel met his best friend, Brittany, at Pilgrim Center. They were married in July of 2016 and are current residents of Appleton, where Brittany was raised. Joel and Brittany are very excited that God has brought them here to First Congregational UCC.

Joel enjoys fishing, reading, being active with sports and camping.

Carolyn Frederick, Office Manager and Administrative Assistant
(920) 851-9832 | Contact

About Carolyn

Carolyn grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in microbiology. After marrying her husband Dave, she left the world of medical research and became a stay-at-home mom with their children Andrea and John. She joined the staff at First Congregational in February 2007 as an Administrative Assistant with the Children, Youth and Families team. Currently, she works in the main office and serves as the Office Manager.

Carolyn loves spending time with the family and friends playing board and card games. She also enjoys gardening, arts and crafts, traveling, volunteering at the PAC and for other community arts groups.

Christina Trepanier, Communications Specialist
(920) 851-9769 | Contact

About Christina

Christina was born in Suring, a small town in northern Wisconsin. Upon graduation from Suring High School in 2012, Christina attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she earned a B.A. in communications studies. During college, Christina was an active member of the Communications Club and the Marketing and Sales Club. She also volunteered actively, mentoring truant students, serving at the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Organization, and helping out at breast cancer walks and Relay for Life. She joined the staff at First Congregational in 2017. She currently resides in Appleton, Wisconsin with her sister Stephanie.

In her free time, Christina enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, camping and anything else outdoors. Her favorite activities are reading, writing and traveling. She spent three months backpacking Europe as well as three weeks in Tanzania while in school.

Jane Malin, Administrative Assistant
(920) 851-4518 | Contact

About Jane

Jane grew up on a farm on the outskirts of La Crosse, Wisconsin. She attended high school at West Salem and upon graduation attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jane is married with two children and enjoys spending time with them. Jane and her husband also own 18 rental properties.

Jon Riehle, Organist 
(920) 851-9981 | Contact

About Jon

A native of Appleton, Jon is a graduate of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, where he studied organ and harpsichord with Miriam Clapp Duncan and George Damp and was a recipient of the LaVahn K. Maesch Prize Scholarship in Organ. He came to First Congregational UCC as an organist after serving for twenty years as an organist and worship coordinator at his family’s church, Mount Olive Lutheran of Appleton. He played a key role in overseeing the design, installation, and dedication of the church’s 38 rank mechanical action Dobson Pipe Organ.

Active as a choral accompanist and conductor, Jon has become well known to audiences for his work with such diverse groups as Appleton Boychoir, AAL Choir, Appleton MacDowell Male Chorus, Chaminade Women’s Chorus, and the UW-Fox Chorale. Families of nearly every faith group have turned to him to provide music for weddings, funerals, anniversaries, and other milestones of life. He has welcomed the opportunity to give back to the community musically by participating in benefit performances for Habitat for Humanity, Outagamie Museum, Fox Valley Arts Alliance, Peace Project, Harbor House, Community Clothes Closet, as well as others. Professional affiliations include the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association, the Hymn Society of America, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Professional Music Fraternity, and life membership in the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

In his spare time, Jon enjoys reading, gardening, taking long walks, hacking his own computer (out of frustration) and waiting for Godot.

Jennifer DeWitt, CYF Coordinator
(920) 851-6938 | Contact

About Jennifer

Jennifer grew up in Menasha, Wisconsin and graduated from Menasha High School. After many years as a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, Jennifer attended Fox Valley Technical College and earned an Associates’ Degree in meeting and event management. Jennifer is the Children, Youth, and Families Ministry Coordinator at First Congregational. In that role, she plans CYF special events, mission trips and other fellowship activities, along with fulfilling various administrative duties. She especially enjoys sharing these experiences with the children and their families!

Jennifer is blessed with a loving, supportive family which consists of her fabulous husband Shad, a Chicago truck driver with NM Transfer, and their awesome son Quinn, who plans to become a Marine. They have three dogs and enjoy traveling, dining out, going to the movies and entertaining family and friends.

Siri Witt, Bookkeeper
(920) 851-8605 | Contact

About Siri

Siri grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin and is a life-long member of First Congregational. A graduate of FVTC and Lakeland University, she has more than 30 years of experience in accounting, finance and administration. She returned to the church staff in 2016 as the Church Bookkeeper.

Siri and her husband Jeff have enjoyed traveling around the country to watch both their sons compete as track athletes for Carroll University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. When not at track meets, they enjoy spending time at their cottage in Minocqua and biking throughout the state.

Jonathan Steffen, Technology Coordinator
(920) 915-7974 | Contact

About Jonathan

Jonathan was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, and graduated from Neenah High School. After high school, he worked as a duct technician for several years until his daughter Chloe was born. After her arrival, he returned to school and earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in audio engineering and music technology from Madison Media Institute. While there, Jonathan became certified in Pro Tools Music and Apple Logic Pro, and he opened a commercial audio recording, production, and mastering suite in Neenah. After successfully running Suite Five Media LLC for two years, he decided to return to college to pursue a liberal arts education. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley with an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree in ethnic studies with honors and an emphasis in geography. During this time, Jonathan was inducted into the Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society and was awarded a Recognition of Excellence award from the Earth Sciences Department. He subsequently transferred into Lawrence University of Appleton and graduated in June 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts and a major in environmental studies, cum laude. During his education at UW-Fox and Lawrence, Jonathan had the opportunity to travel around the country and present the findings of his research projects at academic conferences as well as political functions.

In the past, Jonathan has done Front of House mixing as well as audio engineering at other houses of worship in the Fox Valley. Jonathan tremendously enjoys being the Technology Coordinator at First Congregational UCC and coordinating the Church’s audio/visual and technological endeavors daily.

In his free time, Jonathan enjoys being with his family, two dogs and other pets, including a common snapping turtle that he rescued. Additionally, Jonathan enjoys breeding and raising many types of exotic fish from all over the world, designing audio and producing music for various television shows, speaking and learning Spanish, gardening, visiting state parks, camping and working on automobiles.

Custodial Supervisor
(920) 851-9907

About Custodial Supervisor

Coming soon.

Kathy Kennedy, Housekeeper
(920) 733-7393

About Kathy

Kathy Kennedy was born in Cambria, Wisconsin, where she attended Cambria High School. Kathy is a graduate of Fox Valley Technical College and works at the church as the Housekeeper/Supervisor.

Kathy has three daughters and seven grandchildren whom she enjoys spending time with. She also enjoys camping and fishing.

 

Tom Ott, Custodial Assistant
(920) 733-7393