Pastor Bridget Flad Daniels
Our Senior Pastor, Rev. Bridget Flad Daniels received her Master of Divinity from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1998 and completed further requirements for Ordination through Chicago Theological Seminary in 2005. In 2003 she was named St. Norbert College Young Alumnae of the year for her work of witness and mission. She was ordained by the UCC in 2007.
A native of the Milwaukee area, Bridget served various churches in the metro area, most recently Plymouth United Church of Christ as their Associate Pastor from 2006-2015. Bridget cites a missionary experience in El Salvador at the end of that country’s civil war as a watershed event in her ministry. After returning to the States, she served as a chaplain at a homeless shelter which focused particularly on hospitality to those dying with AIDS and as a campus minister as she prepared for ordination.
Along with this active work for peace and justice, Bridget brings extensive experience in Christian education, worship leadership, and preaching. She is called upon regularly by congregations across the country to lead workshops and retreats. She, her husband Scott, and her puppy Rufus are excited to relocate to Green Bay. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jon Pahl
Jon Pahl, “JP” to many friends and colleagues, is a historian of American religions and the history of Christianity, a public theologian, and a professor, musician, and pastor. Dr. Pahl received his BA from Valparaiso University, MTS from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Jon has served on the faculties at Valparaiso University, Princeton, Temple, and at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary). He continues as the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor of History at ULS, teaching online and intensive courses. Jon has spoken with audiences at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Stanford and Yale, and many other academic venues around the globe, in addition to his work as a youth minister, lay preacher, administrator, Board member, and teacher in many diverse congregations and social ministry settings. He has published six books, most recently “Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence,” and he is nearing completion on a biography of the controversial Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, tentatively entitled, “Fethullah Gülen as a Peacebuilder: A Life of Hizmet.”
Jon has a passion for faith formation across age groups, and for community engagement. In faith formation, Jon’s book, “Youth Ministry in Modern America,” describes well his approach in that field. In community engagement, Jon is active as a grant-writer and community organizer. His work in community engagement has included partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, Feast of Justice, POWER, the Mayor’s Office of the City of Philadelphia, and many other agencies. He was the architect and Director of the Master of Arts in Public Leadership (MAPL) program at ULS that bridges secular and sacred learning to prepare future leaders of social ministry organizations.
Jon lives on a lake in Clintonville with his wife of 35 years, Lisa, two cats (Izzy and Layla) and a Catahoula Leopard Dog (Theo) that they rescued from a shelter in Philadelphia. Theo is an amazing Frisbee catcher. Jon and Lisa raised three children together–Justin (Genevieve), Nathan (Kate), and Rheanne – and they now enjoy two grandsons, Jaxon and Kyle – sons of their son Nate and Kate, who are members at First Congregational Church in Appleton. Jon enjoys gardening, cooking, reading and writing, spending time with his extended family and friends, and playing alto and tenor sax with various bands. Jon can be reached at email@example.com.
Sandy Polarek is our Moderator, the elected lay leader of Union Congregational UCC. She grew up in the Methodist tradition in Moline, Illinois. She has a degree in social science education from Michigan State University.
Sandy came to Green Bay after college to serve as the Youth Director at the Green Bay YWCA. Eventually, she found her way into the classroom, spending over 25 years working with 7th graders at Washington Middle School. She is currently a guest teacher (substitute) for the Green Bay Area Public Schools.
When Sandy and Mel married, they looked for a church home and found Union. They raised their daughter, Nicole, in the church. She and Jason were married in the church, and their two sons were baptized here.
Sandy and Mel have both been active in the local church, the Northeast Association, and Wisconsin Conference serving on committees and planning and attending meetings and events. Sandy has also served as a delegate to the General Synod of the UCC. Sandy and Mel have served as PF advisors and Faith Formation teachers. They have been ushers and have chaired social concerns committees. This church has truly been their extended family.
Courtney joined the staff at Union Church as Music Director in August 2011. She came to Green Bay in 2009 when she accepted a position on the faculty at UW-Green Bay. She teaches courses in vocal music and musical theatre. Courtney holds a bachelor of music degree in voice performance from Western Michigan University, a master of music degree in opera theatre from Arizona State University, and a doctor of musical arts degree in voice performance from Arizona State University. In addition to her numerous performing credits, Courtney has held leadership roles in the music programs of several churches, including Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix and First United Methodist Church of Green Bay. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys spending time with friends and visiting new places. A native of Ludington, Michigan, she enjoys riding the S.S. Badger across Lake Michigan in the summer to visit her family.
Ray Thompson came to Union Church in 2006 after having served as organist or organist/choir director at churches in Oskosh and Fond du Lac as well as Green Bay. He brought with him a wealth of training and experience. At UW-Oshkosh, where he also studied clarinet, Ray completed his bachelor’s degree in music education with K-12 certification in vocal and instrumental music. He continued his studies at Northwestern University, earning the master of music degree in organ and church music. Ray taught in public schools at all levels, elementary through high school, for 22 years before retiring. He spent all but his last two years of teaching in the Oshkosh Public Schools. During that period, he was also an instructor in organ at UW-Oshkosh and Marian College. Ray lives in Allouez with his partner, Tom Towill.
Eric is our administrative assistant and he manages the church office. His duties include record keeping and production of worship bulletins and the Still Speaking newsletter. Eric is an amateur photographer and free-lance writer. His photos appear in Still Speaking, and his by-the-numbers columns on the Green Bay Packers appear in the Green Bay Press-Gazette during the NFL season. Eric and his wife, Ann, have two daughters: Nicole and Rebecca.
Winnie Hutjens says she “grew up at Union Church” where she and her parents were members. She took her half-time post in the church office in January 2000. As manager of the church’s finances, Winnie keeps records and produces reports. Winnie and her husband, Dale, live in De Pere. They have two grown daughters.
Scott’s background has been varied from working for the pharmaceutical company, Amgen, Inc., to working in hospital ER’s to working building maintenance. When he gets a weekend off, he likes to go camping. Scott enjoys music and writing and is a published poet. He and his wife, Susan, live in Bellevue with their family of cats.