United in Christ, Together in Ministry!

Meet UNITY's Pastoral Call Team

Call Team

FRONT ROW (L->R): Nelson Brownell, Melanie R. Varin, Linda Johnson, Davida Kroepfl, Jessica Schrieber, Mary Huss
BACK ROW (L->R): Logan Kemper, Jim Johnsen, Matt Jolliff, Mark Krause, David Engle

What UNITY Means to Me

Nelson Brownell

UNITY is a constant in my life while the life I live is not. I feel like life and the world is always changing, especially now that I have kids. My worries have changed, my priorities have changed and everyday presents a new challenge that I have never experienced before.

This is where church fills the stability that I crave. The Bible isn’t changing, Jesus’s teachings aren’t changing and God will always be there no matter what. The great thing about UNITY is that no matter how many times I’ve heard a bible passage or a gospel, I’ve always taken something new out of it. Our pastors connect the stories to themselves and make sure that I understand what the teachings are about and how they connect to what I am doing in my life and challenge me in my faith life.

I also see UNITY as a community that I don’t ever want to walk away from. I have seen a lot of change in leadership in my time at UNITY with 3 youth directors while I was in high school. Both Sherrie and Muriel getting called and becoming UNITY with the Christ the King campus. But through it all our community has never wavered. We continue to have a great youth education the pulls families in(why my parents joined COL), the partners that we continue to support both in time and resources have been able to consistently rely on us, and the people that make up this community continue to make impacts on my life in ways that make me feel a sense of belonging.

This all gives me comfort in knowing that even though we are going through another huge disruption in our community, we’ve got this, we’ve got this together as UNITY. UNITY has prepared us for this and we are going to come out of this stronger together because nothing is easy but we are all walking this faith journey unified.

David Engle

I find the Bible difficult and confusing. The pastors are really great at helping me navigate the Bible. They use many ways to do this. Pastor John knows the history and times of the Bible verse he’s preaching on. He’s very good at telling me what was happening at the time a Bible story was written thus making a Bible verse much easier to understand. Pastor Sherrie takes the same Bible verse and uses her personal experiences to interpret the story in a very human way I can relate to. Pastor Muriel, well you’re never sure what she’s going to do or say, but it always makes you understand the same Bible verse in a completely new and exciting way. The pastors are like the heart of the church. I need the church to keep teaching me about the Bible and what it means.

However, the church isn’t just some charismatic pastors who are really good at preaching. If the pastors are like the heart, then the congregation is the rest of the body. My wife and I have been members of COL, now UNITY, since 1983. Not surprising, most of our close friends are also members of UNITY, with most of us going to the 8:30 am service. I have found the church community to be a place of learning, caring, healing, and strength. It’s where life is. The church community is people who have their own lives, hopes and futures. It’s where we can celebrate these lives, hopes, and dreams with other members. When we gather around the coffee urn, a Bible class, or practice at choir, we add to each other’s lives. It’s where we can be inspired or we can be inspiring.

If the church is successful at teaching God’s word and the congregation is faithful in learning God’s word, then it’s natural that the church turns outward to help our fellow human beings. Luther says that we are saved by Grace alone. However, I think if we follow the Bible’s teachings, we at some point want to pass on the good news we’ve learned. We’d like to make the world a better place. At UNITY we’ve made a big deal of this. We help make dinners for Aspen House. We make cookies for events. We have helped feed the poor by donating to the Waukesha Food Pantry. We helped buy a new van for Hebron House. We travel to El Salvador twice a year to support two churches there. It’s why I have been the unofficial grounds keeper for many years now. It’s why I volunteered to be the administrative assistant until we could find a real one. It’s why I’m on the call committee. When you add up all the donations our congregation made this past year, more than $1.2 million dollars, we gave away 22% of that to other organizations! That’s amazing. That’s doing God’s work.

So, the church is having good pastors who teach me the word of God, a great community of believers who I can share my life

Mary Huss

For me, our church can be summed up in one word – family. I have belonged to Christ the King, and now UNITY, my entire life. The people here have supported me through some tough times, and I like to think I’ve done the same for them. Attending church is spending time with old friends and welcoming new ones.

It is also a place to learn about God’s love and to share that love with others. Dave and Linda expressed this much better than I ever could, but everything that happens in our congregation helps us to grow in our faith as we learn to share with others.

Jim Johnsen

1. It connects me to a higher, shared purpose.
2. It is a community of people with diverse backgrounds seeking deeper meaning together.
3. It is where we worship, sing, learn, and have fun.
4. It is where newcomers—like my wife and me—are welcome to be in community with others who share the stories of our faith.
5. It is where we can explore thoughtfully the mysteries and the truths and the paradoxes of the human condition.
6. It is a place of forgiveness and grace, where we admit our failings and yet are given hope and agency to plow ahead.
7. It is a way to serve others humbly and respect.

Linda Johnson

We first visited CTK, now UNITY, when my friend Kris was the interim pastor here. What kept us coming back, and ultimately convinced us to join, was first and foremost, how warm and welcoming EVERY SINGLE MEMBER was to us each time that we attended. We have moved around a lot during our marriage, and have been members at many churches as a result. The welcome we received at CTK was unlike any other church experience we have had, and we knew that this was a church community that we wanted to be a part of!

As we began the transition to UNITY, our excitement only continued to build. Not only did (do) we have an amazing group of pastor’s, but an exceptional staff that supports this very robust and active congregation! It continued to inspire us to become more involved, not only in worship services, but also in other events. Admittedly, some of that took some pastoral and staff prodding (I’m looking at you Pastor Muriel, Pastor John and Nancy!!!), but each new opportunity that Steve and I have taken within UNITY has impacted us in new and exciting ways, and helped us become more a part of the community and enriched us spiritually.

Be it the opportunity to listen and learn a bible teaching from Pastors John, Sherrie and/or Muriel, or grabbing a cup of coffee after a service and chatting with a fellow member, UNITY is a community that I want to be a part of!

Matt Jolliff

I grew up as part of a large non-denominational congregation. While there were great resources available to the church in order to host events and activities on a grand scale, my experience lacked a sense of invitation and intimacy that I desired in my faith community. My youth generally consisted of going to church most Sundays and then putting faith out of my mind for the remainder of the week. It was not something that I lived and focused on everyday. As I got older, my faith was not a priority in life for a period of time. While I do not blame my childhood church for my choices, I feel that my lack of connectedness to that congregation played a role. In the end, I value the experiences that I had, as to know what I want and need to help me grow in my faith.

These experiences have led to intentionality on my part to find a church that embodied the ideas of family and community. I sought a place that invested in knowing who I was as a person and how my gifts might strengthen the larger whole. Most importantly, I needed a place that prioritized the importance of invitation, by encouraging me to step outside of myself and my small sphere of comfort and seek out uncomfortable experiences that allowed me to strengthen my relationship with God. I needed to feel that others saw me, knew my name, convinced me that it mattered that I was there and held me accountable to using the gifts that God gave me.

As important as my priorities were related to my own faith journey, I also needed to find a place that would provide the same sense of community for my family and provide my children a chance to be raised authentically in living out their faith through a variety of experiences within the church, and with God as the centerpiece. As my family and I continue to stumble through life and our faith journey, I am comforted by the belief that I have a community that will support us along the way.

Logan Kemper

UNITY to me really means a strong bond that connects everyone in the church together. Whether it be someone who has been going to our church for a while, or someone who has just started going, they still feel like part of our family. I think that this togetherness really helps everyone who is a part of the church feel welcomed and accepted. And I believe that our commitment to others is what really creates that sense of unity within our church. The beauty of it all is that unity can mean lots of different things for people, but this is simply what it means to me.

Mark Krause

The depth and breadth of what UNITY means to me runs deep. First and foremost, UNITY is the place where to worship, give appreciation, thanks, and praise for all the gifts God has given me, my family, the Unity family, and the community here and across the world.

UNITY is a place of respite, warmth, and safety . It is a place where we raise our families, come together with friends, and share our lives. We gather in a common purpose and to do his work and help those who need his vision, guidance, and benevolence. We hear the word of God from our pastors and often, each other in a way that brings us together and united us a church community.

UNITY is that wonderful place that means more than can be put into word but is felt in our hearts, our minds, and our souls.

Davida Kroepfl

It is a place where my children are part of a faith community. They are comfortable at church and accepted for who they are.

While our primary goal when we joined was to find a church with a strong children's program, we are still here because we found our faith family.

UNITY offers so much to members of all ages and supports many different organizations.

I like that we have communion at every service. I love the way our Pastors relate the Bible to our lives today.

Words that come to mind: Home. Comfort. Accepting. Welcoming. Easy to get involved. Educational. Spiritual. Real.

Jessica Schrieber

UNITY has a great sense of community and tradition. I feel so blessed to be part of a group of people who joyfully work together to make the world a little better in so many different ways. Christianity and the Bible sometimes feel overwhelming and difficult to navigate.

UNITY is a safe space to understand Jesus’ teachings, through historical context and present day applications. Our pastors and educators are so great at interpreting, teaching, and challenging us.

I appreciate that UNITY is a space to learn, not only about God, but also about myself. There are so many fun things to try and different ways to be involved. I’ve been encouraged to experience new opportunities, and have been exposed to different people, music, and cultures. I’ve also been blessed to have had mentorship from UNITY members and staff throughout my life.

Finally, I appreciate that UNITY is a place where I can be vulnerable and real, and feel supported, comforted, and forgiven.

Melanie R. Varin

Growing in my faith through worship, Bible study, small group discussions and being challenged to think bigger than I otherwise would on my own. This is something to Celebrate!

Sharing with others through community service projects, financial support, ministry partners, and general “in reach” and outreach.

Participating in a community that is great for raising a family – with lots of milestones for Christian development and growth and tons of opportunities for the children and youth to build their own community while integrating well across generations. It’s also a community of friends and extended “family”, which is great because none of our family live in WI. This is part of our opportunity to Renew!