Pastors & Staff
Read our Pastors’ Blog.
Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Savides, Senior Pastor
(920) 851-3655 | Contact
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
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 for two years. In the summer of 2011, Nick was called to First Congregational UCC and his position has evolved over time in concert with the needs of the church and his developing skill set. Nick and Amanda have two children, Maddison and Elijah. Maddison’s interests include practicing her art and reading a lot. Elijah loves his Legos and cracking jokes. Amanda is currently enjoying being a mother and at-home teacher, while taking a break from her career in nursing. 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 canyoneered 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. Dr. Laurie Lyter Bright, Interim Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions
(920) 733-7393 | Contact
Rev. Dr. Laurie Lyter Bright is delighted to be a part of the First Congo family. Laurie is a life-long Presbyterian from the north suburbs of Chicago. She received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. She recently earned her PhD in Education and Research Methodology from Colorado State University. Laurie collects acronyms.
Professionally, she’s served as executive director of an international peace-building non-profit, a solo pastor, and an advocate for the church’s commitment to social justice, particularly around issues of child abuse, human trafficking, and sexual violence. Laurie’s first book came out in 2018 and her second will be out with Routledge Press in Fall of 2021.
Laurie also collects stamps in her passport. With her ever-patient husband, Jesse (currently completing a masters in nursing), and their two young daughters, Tillie and Sonora, Laurie has a willing crew to participate in the relentless quest for adventures.
The Lyter Bright crew can usually be found amidst a pile of books, painting impromptu murals, planting in the garden, and generally stirring up good trouble.
Pastor Dianne Droster, Interim Sabbatical Pastor
(920) 733-7393 | Contact
Dianne Droster will be serving as our Interim Sabbatical Pastor during Pastor Steve’s absence. She will assist with worship, prayer chapel and pastoral care.Dianne began her faith journey anew at First Congo in 2011. She completed training for Stephen Ministry, received a certificate for four years of Lay Academy, and is now a Member in Discernment on a path to ordination. She has been a Stephen Minister and a member of the Fellowship team, the Service Sunday team, the Mental Health Task Force, the Intergenerational Musical and Children’s and Youth Ministry. She has completed additional training in Congregations and Mental Health and Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
Dianne has been the Caring Ministries Coordinator for First English Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Appleton, providing pastoral care for the homebound, hospitalized and those in hospice care since 2017. In 2020 she served for seven months as the Interim Pastor for Our Shepherd UCC in Howards Grove, Wisconsin, leading them into the era of on-line worship and outdoor services.
Dianne is an avid reader, enthusiastic walker and nature lover. Her pandemic partner is Pip, a bouncy Bearded Collie dog. She has two beloved step-daughters, Tanya and Kate.
John Albrecht, Director for Music Ministries
(920) 733-7393 | Contact
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 Children’s Ministries
(920) 851-9559 | Contact
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 granddaughters, Annabella and Kennedy.
Director for Youth Ministries (Currently Open)
Carolyn Frederick, Office Manager and Administrative Assistant
(920) 851-9832 | Contact
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 her 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.
Holly Volkman, Administrative Assistant for Communications
(920) 851-9769 | Contact
Holly grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. She attended Ripon College where she earned a B.A. degree in Psychology. Holly has previously worked at SOAR Fox Cities and the Salvation Army. She enjoys spending time with her Dad and her cat, Jasmine.
Her interests include reading, volunteering and selling vintage toys on Etsy.
Jane Malin, Administrative Assistant
(920) 851-4518 | Contact
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.
Jennifer DeWitt, CYF Coordinator
(920) 851-6938 | Contact
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 is a student at Fox Valley Technical College in the Criminal Justice program. 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
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.
Scott Knutson, Temporary Technology Coordinator
(920) 915-7974 | Contact
Bart Forseth, Custodial Supervisor
About Bart Forseth
Bart was born and raised in Appleton. He graduated from Appleton East High School. Bart and his wife, Ann, both volunteer at the PAC and for the Salvation Army. Bart enjoys cheering for the Packers and Badgers.
Mary Lou Cliff, Custodial Assistant
About Mary Lou
Mary Lou grew up on a farm west of Oshkosh. She has a nutrition degree and worked in healthcare. She’s lived in LaCrosse, Madison and Appleton.
After she left Ascension Healthcare and sold her Stockbridge home of 25 years, Mary Lou started this new custodial assistant venture.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons. Mary Lou’s hobbies are: being out in nature such as walking and biking, living in downtown Appleton and finding joy in God’s Presence.
Lauren Micke, Weekend Custodial Assistant
Lauren comes from a family committed to working in the non-profit sector. Her family is greatly involved in the Fox Cities community and Lauren is proud to continue that tradition in her role as custodian.
When not working, Lauren greatly enjoys crossword puzzles. Love of words and reading are integral to her psyche and her ability to empathize with others.