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Meet Our Pastors & Staff

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Co-Pastor

Pastor Nick grew up in Mahomet, Illinois, the son of Dr. Terry Hatch and Rev. Dianne Hatch. His home church was First Presbyterian of Champaign Illinois. His mother was called there to be an Associate Pastor. He has many fond memories of his Presbyterian upbringing and, later, theological training. His summers were spent at the family property just east of Park Falls, WI. It continues to be Nick’s family'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 Bachelors in Psychology. During seminary Nick was a Youth Director at Glenview Community Church UCC in Glenview IL. where met his wife and best friend Amanda, and they were married in 2005. After being a Tomlinson Hampton Scholar at McCormick Theological Seminary, Nicks first call was to First Presbyterian Church of Great Falls MT where he served two years. Nick was called to First Congregational in September 2011 as Pastor for Youth and Family Ministry. Nick has two children, Maddison and Elijah Hatch. In 2024 Nick’s role changed as he became a Co-Pastor for First Congregational.  Nick and Amanda both feel very blessed that God brought them to Appleton to grow in place through committed long-term ministry in a church that they call home.

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Co-Pastor

Rev. Dr. Katherine Willis Pershey joined First Congregational United Church of Christ on Easter Sunday in 2024 as the new Co-Pastor. A native Ohioan, she received her Master of Divinity degree from the Claremont School of Theology in California. She recently completed a Doctor of Ministry degree on the theme Holy Presence: Eugene Peterson and the Pastoral Imagination from Western Theological Seminary in Michigan. She was the solo pastor of South Bay Christian Church for five years and served as Associate Pastor of The First Congregational Church of Western Springs for fourteen years. Katherine is a member of the Board of The Christian Century and is also a regular contributor to the magazine. She is the author of Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family and Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity. She completed yoga teacher training in 2018, and is certified through YogaDevotion to teach faith-integrated yoga. Katherine and her husband, Ben, have been married since 2002 and are raising two teenage children.

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Director of Operational Ministries

Originally from metro Detroit, Vince grew up in rural Wisconsin and has lived most of his life in the Appleton area, graduating from Xavier High School and Lawrence University.  After a 30-year business career, most recently as chief financial officer and co-owner of a local company, he felt called to use his abilities and experience in a professional capacity for a nonprofit organization.  In addition to his professional experience, Vince has served since 2014 as treasurer and as a member of the board of trustees for his home congregation.  So the transition to the business director role with First Congregational UCC has felt very natural.  Vince and his wife Sarah have been married since 2008 and have two teenage children.  Additionally he has two adult children from his first marriage, both of whom also work for local nonprofits.  Beyond being a dad, Vince enjoys reading, cooking, studying languages, playing piano and mandolin, and practicing yoga and tai chi.  Vince is excited to join the First Congregational staff and looks forward to working with the team to serve the church and the wider community.

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Pastor of Visitation & Youth Ministry

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Rev. John McFadden

Pastor Emeritus

Rev. John T. McFadden served as Senior Pastor from 1983 to 2006, and hopefully did no lasting damage to the church.  Since retiring from that position, he and Susan have written and lectured extensively about aging, dementia, friendship, and community.  They were among the founders of the Fox Valley Memory Project, which offers the nation’s most extensive array of services to persons living with dementia and those who care for them.  He plays ukuleles.  A lot.

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Director of Music Ministries

John Albrecht joined our staff in 2007, having previously served church music programs in OH, IL and WI.  He holds degrees from Northwestern University (B.M.E.) and the University of Iowa (M.A. in Choral Conducting) and has served in leadership roles in the Wisconsin Choral Directors’ Association and the North Central Division of the American Choral Directors’ Association.  His background includes teaching public high school vocal music and extensive work with community children’s choruses/boy choirs. His duties here include worship planning, conducting ensembles, supervising our LU Music Scholar program and organist, and developing the music ministries of the church.  John is married to Kristy, a German teacher, and they have a married son living in the Chicago area.  He enjoys

attending concerts, attempting

home improvement projects,

reading mystery/thriller novels, traveling abroad with Kristy and

her students, and caring for Ruby

the Rescue Beagle.

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Organist

Nathan Birkholz began his work in church music ministry in Urbana, Illinois at St. Matthew Lutheran Church (ELCA). After several years and three degrees in piano study, conducting, French, and musicology, he moved back to his hometown of Appleton and started working as organist at Zion Lutheran Church. He then served for over seven years at First English Lutheran Church as organist, choir director, and handbell choir director before coming to First Congregational in 2021. He holds degrees from Northern Illinois University (BM), Indiana University-Bloomington (MM), and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (DMA). He also serves as staff accompanist at Lawrence University in its vocal arts program.  He is the father of two boys who love to fish and enjoys helping coach their various baseball and soccer teams. His other hobbies include gardening with native perennials, lifting weights, hiking, birding, and following his favorite Wisconsin sports teams.

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Director of Children, Youth &

Families Ministries

My husband, our sons, and I have been members of FCUCC since 2015. I have been our Director for Children, Youth and Family Ministries since 2022. There is nothing like being able to spread God's love to little ones! In addition to hanging with the young at heart while working, I enjoy fostering children with my family, playing games and laughing with friends. Taking walks in God's creation is my favorite way to be mindful of the amazing world we live in. 

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Bookkeeper

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Office Manager

Zaina officially moved to Wisconsin in 2022 with her family and joined the FCUCC team in March of 2023. Outside of being Office Manager, she enjoys spending time with her family and reading. As Oprah Winfrey said, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.”

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Administrative Assistant

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AV & Technology Coordinator

Matt started part-time at FCUCC in September 2021, as the AV Coordinator running the livestreams and creating video projects as needed. At the end of March 2024, he reduced his freelance workload and came on full-time as the church's AV & Technology Coordinator; assuming the lead on all things technology-related for the church. When not working, Matt loves working on passion (video) projects, spending time with his twin 13yr-old daughters (Tallulah and Alejandra), and teaching his cats (Sir Wigs Alot and Squanch) new tricks! Stop by his office down in the CYF building, and say hi!

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Childcare Provider

Danielle Bruce

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Custodial Supervisor

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Patrick Metoxen

Custodial Assistant

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Custodial Assistant

Tom Ott

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Tim Krause

Weekend Custodial Assistant

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