Senior Minister Transition


Introducing our Senior Minister:
The Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy


September 13, 2017: Location, Location, Location!

When my husband Brian and I decided it was time for a move, and I began to search for a new ministry, we were focused on getting closer to his whole family who live in Chicago. I narrowed it down to four in-person interviews, all in the Midwest. Two of those congregations were closer to Chicago than Appleton. Two were in larger metropolitan areas than Appleton.

Originally, Brian and I thought we were seeking a larger city. We have always considered ourselves “city people” and we like the hustle-and-bustle and energy of large cities: Appleton wasn’t high on our list. But we decided to come take a peek at the town before my interview, and we were really surprised!  We were surprised, first, because we found Appleton and the Fox Valley to be a much more vibrant community than we had expected. We loved the downtown activities, arts, outdoor opportunities, and the presence of Lawrence University. We were also very surprised by our own internal reactions. We suddenly realized that maybe we aren’t “city people” after all! Maybe what we love about cities is just the ability to “get out and do stuff” and we realized we would be able to do that here in the Fox Valley.

In fact, when we continued the search process, we realized that Appleton provided us a far greater flexibility for our lives than we were accustomed to: It was a smallish town without traffic (I’ve seen your traffic. You don’t have traffic!) and it would cut down on our commute times by an hour per day, each! That, alone, would free up so much time and energy to do things we love, like spending time with our toddler son, Nevan.  We also realized that the things we want to do in the evenings or on weekends have drastically shifted since becoming parents. Clubs, concerts, or bars might have been fun when we were younger and single. But now with an almost-two-year-old, the Building for Kids, Farm Market, and swimming at the YMCA sound like so much more fun!

We love that we’re walking distance from a park (we live close to Peabody Park) and are a very quick bike ride or drive from other sights and activities. We’ve already taken advantage of the incredible Farm Market a few times, and enjoyed our first Mile of Music with a few outings and educational opportunities with our son. We’ve found a number of great restaurants in town, and enjoy trying new foods. We enrolled Nevan in the parent/toddler swimming class at the YMCA, and will continue to take advantage of their great programs as well as others in the area like Lawrence University’s kids’ education program, Music for the Very Young (if we can get a spot).

We’re settling into our new home, which we love, as I’m settling into my new ministry here at the Fellowship. Brian is starting a new job in September with Appleton Downtown, and he’s excited about new opportunities there, especially as a great way to get connected to our new hometown right away! Nevan loves his daycare, Project Bridges, and we’re enjoying our new neighbors and community. I participated in mid-August in the spontaneous vigil that was held in City Park following the Charlottesville white-supremacy march and violence, and  I was so heartened to see the turnout of my new chosen community, candles in hands, coming together to affirm our collective commitment to justice, love, and anti-racism. Thank you, Appleton, for being great! I look forward to getting to know you more in the coming months and years.

August 3, 2017: Hello Again!

I am SO happy to be writing to you, finally, officially, as your new Senior Minister. It has been a long road to get here, but my husband Brian, son Nevan, dog Zoe, and I have all settled into our new home near Peabody Park in Appleton, and the senior minister’s office is unpacked and starting to look like “my office!” I am greatly appreciating the warm welcomes from people I see throughout town, and Rev. Leah and your wonderful Fellowship staff have been helping me as I learn the ropes around the Fellowship.
I am eager to see you all again this Sunday, August 6, for my first service on New Beginnings. We’ll be dedicating a new child, and I’ll be talking all about the ways we can learn from children how to follow our calling, take risks, mess up, and try again. That is going to be my theme for myself this year—“Mess up and try again!”  
I love the Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind,” remembering to stay open and willing to learn, not thinking we “know it all.” I feel confident in my education, training, and experience as a Unitarian Universalist minister but I am a brand-new beginner at being YOUR minister!  I know the Fellowship has a long history of excellence, community-engagement, and shared ministry with professional clergy, but you are brand-new beginners at shared ministry with ME! This beginning is a wonderful gift, and one that I hope we can see as an opportunity for rich questions, powerful reflections, and deep conversation. It’s an opportunity to remember your history, and to find your calling for the future.
I beg for your patience as I get settled here this first month. My August calendar is very full already with many “start up events” for various committees and groups at the Fellowship so we can get started off right.  One of my primary goals for this year is to meet as many of you as possible, and not just in passing, but for some conversation! August is probably too busy to do many of these conversation meetings, but I hope to start scheduling those in September.  Additionally, I plan to start “Community Office Hours” in September, starting Sept. 7, almost every Thursday (barring holidays or travel) from 12:30-3:30pm at a different coffee shop each month.  I’ll be at Tempest during September, and welcome you to come by, no appointment needed, to chat. If more than one person shows up, we’ll have a group conversation. I plan to rotate between Appleton and surrounding communities in coming months. Watch The Scroll for details, schedule, and location.
I look forward to getting to know you. Keep wearing your nametags, and be prepared to smile for a picture if I want to take one for my private file so I can learn names and faces! I’m so honored to be on this journey of shared ministry with you. Thank you for calling me to be your senior minister.



A few of Rev. Christina’s past sermons

Covenant of the Broken Hearted

Pantheism & Mysticism

Question Box

Love the Hell out of the World

A Leap of Faith