Roberts UCC welcomes new pastor
In her first few weeks at Roberts United Church or Christ, Rev. Melinda Feller has been very busy.
"I've already had communion, I've had a funeral, I've had a double baptism, and I've been doing lots of visiting and being out in the community," Feller said. "And I had to unpack."
Feller's ministry at Roberts UCC officially started at the beginning of February.
One of the first things Feller did upon starting at Roberts UCC was begin learning her new parishioners' names.
"First and last," Feller said. "It is important to me that people be called by name whether in church or outside the church."
In addition to learning everyone's names, and how they are related or connected to one another, Feller said she is becoming accustomed to the customs of Roberts and Roberts UCC, and becoming acquainted with the area.
"This is a church that is incredibly gracious and welcoming and hospitable," Feller said, "so much that, in some ways, it feels like I've been here 10 years."
Feller said her commitment to community outreach will lead to her spending a good amount of time in the community. She said evangelism is one of her passions.
"I think we live in a world that is craving that message," Feller said. "A world that's hurting. Look at the news and you'll see a number of people that commit suicide or struggle with mental health issues."
Feller said she plans to schedule some of her office hours at various locations in the Roberts community, so as to be available to the community at large as well as the Roberts UCC congregation.
She said she also plans to lead mission trips that the Roberts UCC congregation and the community may join.
Feller didn't originally set out to be a minister, she said, but rather got her master's degree in child development. She was working with the worship committee at her local church and played a video featuring three seminaries during a service. Afterward, three church members came up to her and told her they could see her attending seminary. That was Sunday, andon Monday, she received literature in the mail from three different seminaries. On the third day, the staff member at a seminary called Feller, asking if she was interested in seminary.
"I said, 'Well, since Sunday, I have been,'" Feller said. "Those things happening in a matter of three days really was kind of a hitting on the head, saying 'you need to look at this.'"
After several months of soul-searching, Feller said she started attending United Theological Seminary.
Since graduating, she has worked with churches in the Sheboygan County area. Roberts UCC is her third congregation.
Feller was the first female pastor at each of her old congregations, but Roberts UCC has had female pastors before.
"It's kind of fun for me to come into a church where I'm not the first female pastor," Feller said. "I always felt like there were higher expectations in the sense that I knew ... I was a role model."
She said she felt she had to do well as a pastor, not just for her own sake and for the sake of the congregation, but to set the stage for any future female pastors.
"I don't have to do that this time," Feller said. "The stage has been set for me."