About US

Vision Statement

We are revising our Vision as we prepare to do God’s work as the twenty-first century church.

Watch this space for updates!

Short History

The first regular worship service conducted in the little settlement of Rhinelander took place in 1883, nine years before the city of approximately 2,000 was formally incorporated. Deacon Tibbetts came from Antigo to help start the congregation of seven women and one man. In 1887, Rev. Andridge became the first resident minister.

The first church building in Rhinelander was built by this congregation in 1885, and was located at the triangle between Alban, Anderson, and Frederick Streets. This structure was well built, and served two other congregations as a temporary meeting place, later housed the first electric light plant in Rhinelander and then become a lumber warehouse for many years. Our current church building on East Larch Street was built in 1962.

The women of First Congregational Church of Rhinelander have been instrumental in the development of the congregation and in contributions to the community. The Ladies Aid Society was organized in 1886. Through community oriented events and sales, they raised money for missionaries, building remodeling, contributions to Northland College and community service. This group became Women’s Fellowship.

In 1957 our congregation voted to join the newly formed United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC brought together congregations from the Congregational Christian Churches and Evangelical and Reformed Churches. In 1963, our church voted to be an Open Congregation, specifically welcoming worshippers of all races. In response to a different civil rights issue, in 2014 we voted to be an Open and Affirming congregation, declaring a welcome to all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.

Church attendance and participation in congregational activities are not as central to our lives as they were in the middle of the 20th century. First Congregational United Church of Christ in Rhinelander remains committed to our tradition of loving God, loving all people, and serving our local and global communities as we seek to follow the teachings of Jesus.


We are currently between called pastors at First Congregational of Rhinelander.

We look forward to sharing news about pastoral leadership soon.

Our Staff


Wendy Huhn

Office Manager

I was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, where I married my high school sweetheart, Charlie. We have one daughter, who recently married, moved to Texas, and adopted a tuxedo cat she named Deli.

While living in Janesville, our family vacationed at our cabin up north for many years, until moving to the area permanently in 2018. Before moving to the Northwoods, I worked as administrative support for the Beloit YMCA, UW Rock County, and the Rock County YWCA. My favorite things to do are: spend time with family and friends, walk on the Bearskin Trail, boat on the Willow Flowage, read, cook, and spoil my tuxedo cat named Huey.


Carla Chropkowski


Originally from Canada, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri to marry my husband Gene in 2007. Before leaving Canada I worked in the field of criminology, serving clients both in prison and in the community, as well as counseling victims of abuse. Before Gene retired he told me of his wish to someday move to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. We moved permanently to our home on the river in 2014. We were invited to attend at First Congregational United Church of Christ by friends. We enjoyed the open welcome and faith community that embraced everyone. We became members in 2019.

My faith has changed since joining this church. My faith has given me the courage to accept challenges and make mistakes. This faith is what led me to put my name forward to become Moderator, a position I accepted in January 2023. Since then I have seen my faith grow even more.

Serving has brought authenticity to my life and a closer relationship with Jesus. Faith has not given answers, but has been a guide as we move forward as a congregation. Faith has allowed me to release control and listen for how God will answer my prayers.

I’m very committed to clear, concise and open communication. I like to work in a collaborative environment and to encourage participation from everyone. My goal is to lead our congregation through prayer, compassion, conversation, and reflection. We will move to a future of grace by turning fear into courage and listening to the people around us.

Sandy McKitrick

Sandy McKitrick

Vice Moderator

Manitowoc is my hometown, but after college, my husband, two young sons and I moved to Rhinelander.  We established a chiropractic health care practice where I managed the business aspect.  We joined First Congregational UCC in the early 1970s and raised our children in the church.  My husband and I retired a few years ago.  Our sons are grown:  One lives in Rhinelander, and the other resides in Canada with his wife and our two grandchildren.

I play violin in the Woodland Strings ensemble and am the treasurer of the Crescent Lake Association.  Before volunteering to serve as Vice-Moderator in January 2024, I was chair of the Administrative Board and co-chair of the Spiritual Life Board.  I have sung in the church’s choir for over 40 years.  More recently I have been writing articles about climate change for our church newsletter and have helped plan a community prayer service.


John Stein


I was born in Milwaukee but moved to the Northwoods with my parents when I was about a year old. Rhinelander is home. I attended UW Madison and worked for three years in Green Bay. In 1985 I married my high school sweetheart, Lisa. Our son Andrew, daughter-in-law Sara, and granddaughter Alaina live in Superior, Wisconsin. I am still working full-time but am starting to see the glimmer of retirement in the next few years.

Our family joined the church in the 1990's. I have served on the Building and Grounds Board as well as a search committee for a pastor. I was the financial secretary for ten years, and have been treasurer for three years. If anyone ever has questions about our finances, please leave a message with the office manager at 715-365-1535 or on my email, js.fcucc@gmail.com.


Darlene Cole


A love of the Northwoods and a family cottage brought Sue and me to Rhinelander.  My love for playing piano keeps me involved in playing for worship services.  Wanting to be helpful within the church has motivated me to work with the Christian Education Board and Interim Task Force.  I also enjoy playing piano at assisted living facilities, volunteering with the Rhinelander Woman’s Club, studying harp, reading and sharing life here with family.


Marilyn Norden


A summer job in northern Wisconsin during college persuaded us to choose the job opportunity for my husband in Rhinelander in 1973. We figured we would live here for two or three years, but it has now been 50. I had taken piano lessons all through school, then in college took piano and organ lessons for fun. Wherever we lived I found an organ teacher. Once settled in Rhinelander I found a highly trained teacher at the Wausau Conservatory and studied with her until her retirement. It was a great joy to learn with a talented, demanding teacher and to be able to play some of the great music composed for organ, with her as coach.

A neighborhood friend once said to me, "I know you play the organ on Sundays, but what do you do the rest of the week?" The rest of the week I play the organ, exercise, cook, read, and enjoy friends and family.

Mary P #3

Mary Peterson

Vocal Choir Director / Accompanist / Organist

In 1968 I came to Rhinelander to accept a position as a vocal music teacher in the public schools. I taught in elementary, junior high and high schools for 38 years, traveling between buildings, and teaching all ages.

My husband and I were raised in the Methodist Church and attended that church in Rhinelander. We felt it was important to participate in a community of faith and provide religious education for our children. We learned that First Congregational held Sunday School for children while parents were in worship, which worked well for the small, restless members of our family. This has been our church home for over forty years.

I have directed the vocal choir for ten years and also served First Congregational UCC as a piano accompanist, organist, board member and moderator.

After retiring from teaching, I ran for a seat on the Rhinelander School District school board. I have served the community in that role since 2007.


Tom Winquist

Rainbow GEMs Handbell Director

I am a native of Rhinelander, the son of Wisconsin natives.  My knowledge of accounting led me to serve as church treasurer for over 40 years.

Music is an important part of my life.  I have sung in the choir for 72 years, and have filled in as choir director.  In addition to the vocal choir, First Congregational has a bell choir.  I have played in the bell choir since 1975 and have directed it since the early 1980s.  I play cello with the Woodland Strings and sing with the Rhinelander Male Chorus.  I enjoy serving as a docent at the Rhinelander Historical Society Museum.  Additionally, I am the treasurer of the Northern Arts Council and provide assistance through the AARP income tax program.


Gary & Heidi Buntrock


Heidi and I moved to Rhinelander in 2016 after selling our home in Fredonia, Wisconsin and our cabin in Price County. We wanted to be on a lake and found a nice home on Squash Lake.  We have been repairing and remodeling the house, as well as sprucing up the yard.  We enjoy the two seasons of Northern Wisconsin: winter and mosquito, and consider ourselves blessed to be in such a beautiful place. Heidi enjoys sewing and is on the quilting team at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, our place of worship. We are blessed to have three adult children, two sons and one daughter. We also have four granddaughters: the Arizona State graduate is married, two attend UW Madison, and one is finishing her education at Marquette University. We are very proud grandparents.

We were looking for a part-time job to supplement our income. We began work at First Congregational UCC in Rhinelander in November 2019, before Covid. The quiet building during the 2020 Covid pandemic allowed us to take on deep cleaning and deferred maintenance. We have kept up with custodial work and small projects since. We want to say thanks for the opportunity to work here with a kind and appreciative group of people and staff.