A Community of Connection
How to Reach Us:
You can reach our ministers at the Fellowship office: 920-731-0849
To speak to a member of the Care Team, connect with Rev. Hannah who will make referrals.
To reach one of our ministers in an emergency, call our Emergency Care Line at 920-383-1565.
Anyone in our community may seek care and support, confidentially and free of charge. Our concept of care comes from our Unitarian Universalist values that each person deserves emotional and spiritual support, and that accessing it in a community can be especially helpful and healing.
Here at the Fellowship, it means that individuals can access a listening presence with someone who represents the support of the whole community, so that their pain and gladness can be held in love.
Congregational care (sometimes called pastoral care) is not a substitute for mental health care, legal counsel, family mediation, social work, or even professional therapy. It is a purposeful, low-pressure way to connect with others and yourself, spiritually and practically, for the purpose of sacred peace, emotional growth, or problem solving about a variety of life issues.
Examples of why someone might desire care could include:
- interest in deepening meaning in life
- family conflict
- personal evolution
- life changes
- gender transition
- a new diagnosis for you or a family member
- religious growth
- coping with illness
- death of a family member
- caregiver or parenting challenges
- making a decision
- …and more!
Providers of Care:
Assistant minister Hannah Roberts Villnave is the lead person for care, supported by senior minister Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy, other staff, and the Care Team (CT).
CT members are lay leaders whose talents and experience enable them to meaningfully respond to people in times of joy and sorrow. They practice a ministry of presence and quiet listening, and are available for one-time or ongoing connection. CT members are vetted, trained and supported by our ministers.
Other Care Resources:
- Reach out to one of our ministers if we can help by providing modest and occasional financial help swiftly and confidentially from the donation-supported Ministers’ Discretionary Fund.
- Ask assistant minister Rev. Hannah to have our Meal Ministry offer you a home-cooked dinner to help get you through a sad, busy or difficult stretch.
- As assistant minister Rev. Hannah if you are in need of rides, or other limited kinds of practical support. She will try to connect you to someone in our community who might be able to help.
- Request that a care team member or minister get you a grief kit, which is a small bag of items that can help you create a ritual for sorrow at home. This can be a meaningful symbolic reminder that you are always held in the loving embrace of community. You can read more about grief kits and their contents here.
- Collaborate with a minister to create a private ceremony, whether for a wedding, a funeral/memorial service, or blessing a new child.
- Our ministers can also help to create rituals to support you with all sorts of life changes. Examples include: a blessing for transitioning genders, moving to a new home, returning to civilian life after service in the armed forces, or retiring from the workforce; or a ritual to commemorate divorce, entering hospice care for the final life stage, finalizing an adoption, offering a child for adoption, or having an abortion.
Important Contacts Outside of the Fellowship:
Ministers are always happy to work with members to find supportive resources such a professional therapist specializing in an issue or experience you might be facing, online NA group, local grief support meeting, and more. Please contact them directly!
Calling 2-1-1 (or visiting 211wisconsin.org) will put you in touch with information, referrals, advocacy, crisis intervention, and more. This is a 24/7 statewide resource.
9-8-8 is a nationwide crisis/ suicide hotline that is also available.
877-565-8860 Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support that is divested from police.
If you are afraid for your own safety or the safety of others, please call 911 immediately and then let a minister know afterward.
Together, we create the caring community we desire.
Meet the current members of our Care Team:
Michael Yonkers (he/him)
Care Team Chairperson
I am a retired healthcare sales and marketing executive. I am also a husband (I met my wife, Julie, at the Fellowship 20+ years ago), a father/stepfather of three grown children, and the grandfather of 3. My background includes professional training for the ministry and ordination in another church tradition. As a Humanist and a UU, I have always considered providing service and care to others as the highest and best expression of my worldview and beliefs – an aspiration to live out, in practical terms, our first principle about the inherent worth and dignity of every person. My wife and I live in Neenah where we work as staff for two very pampered cats.
Dana Johnson (he/him)
I am a social worker who is passionate about serving children and families, our community and enhancing social justice. I wants all in the Fellowship to feel a sense of belonging. I live with my husband in Appleton with our two dogs (Harlow & Alfie) and cat (Yikes!).
Debbie Wagner (she/her)
I have been a member of the fellowship since 2001. I live with my spouse Veronica in Appleton. A retired social worker and therapist, I have chosen to redirect my energies by offering a supportive presence to those in my faith community.
Chris Wales (she/her)
I’ve been a member of the Fellowship for over 10 years. 10 years ago I was in an emotionally difficult place in my life and the Fellowship was there for me. Being a member of the Care Team gives me the opportunity to pay that kindness forward. I’m so grateful to be a part of this team of caring and compassionate people who want to serve!
Mary K Knox (she/her)
I have been in the Fellowship for about 12 years. I am enjoying retirement after 44 yrs of teaching. My four children and six grandchildren keep me busy with their news and entertainment. The Fellowship has meant so much to me for the continuous education, friendships, and hope for this world we are living in. Being a member of the Care Team is important to me as I love connecting with people and getting to know so many new people in the fellowship.
Deb Andrews (she/her)
I’m a longtime Fellowship member, retired children’s librarian, writer, and avid reader. I’m married to Gerry, have two grown sons and two wonderful daughters-in-law. I love my work as a lay minister at the Fellowship, as part of the Care Team.