What others are saying

We asked some of our members a couple questions, and here’s what they said.

What first attracted you to ORUCC?

Our family first came to ORUCC on the recommendation of a friend.  The Open and Affirming position, the evolving theology, and the strong and active youth program attracted us (and our young family).  We also appreciated the pastors: the connections we were making and their thoughtful sermons.

Harold E.

My husband and I joined Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ because we had been wanting a church that was welcoming to all people.  This was very important to us. We wanted a church that was active in social justice issues.  We felt it was time to expand and nurture our faith journey in a new and different way. 

Jane G.

 We had tried a few churches in the neighborhood but none felt right. We first noticed ORUCC from its signage “…joyfully inclusive…” and thought we’d go to a service to get a feel for the congregation. As soon as we walked in, the atmosphere was immediately welcoming and kind. I remember vividly that during that service’s sermon, pastor Ken presented questions to the congregation and emphasized that there was no one “right” answer. How refreshing!

Paul V.

My husband and I were first attracted to ORUCC because of the messages conveyed in the sermons given by Julia, Ken and Tammy.

Deb D.

What attracted me to Orchard Ridge was the extraordinary unity of spirit that I saw every time folks were together, and the way they unconsciously knew how to love as they interacted with the world. Both were clearly from the heart.

Gary D.

When we got pregnant with our first daughter, we decided we wanted to join a church instead of just attending the one closest to our house. So we attended 14 different churches of all denominations over a period of three months. When we first walked into ORUCC, we immediately felt a sense of community and connection. We were greeted warmly and felt welcome. We loved the mission statement: spiritually alive, joyfully inclusive, committed to justice. And we appreciated the progressive values, focus on music, and that it was open and affirming.

Darcy L.

What keeps you coming to ORUCC?

ORUCC is deeply involved in living out its commitment to openness to all people and to social justice. The opportunity to be a small part of the Southwest Partnership in which ORUCC collaborated with Joining Forces for Families and Commonwealth Development to work alongside neighborhood residents as they sought jobs, housing and transportation to work was both rewarding and eye-opening.

Marv B.

What keeps me coming back is  the quality of the worship services shared with an amazing group of dedicated and talented people.  It is a privilege and joy to be a part of this congregation!

Thea B.

We keep coming back to ORUCC because of its truly caring members and willingness to discuss the controversial topics of religion, climate, social justice, and life & death issues, in depth.  ORUCC is Alive Spiritually with Truly Caring and Loving Members.  ORUCC is a Spiritual Lifeline to Help One Through Today’s World, Week to Week.

Donna L.

I keep coming back to Orchard Ridge because of the flexibility and tolerance that folks here have toward differences in how people view spirituality, both within the congregation and beyond.

Gary D.

We keep coming back to ORUCC because of the friendly, lovely people, because of the justice work that is interwoven in the ministry and outreach of the church, and because of the variety of ways to be involved.

Deb D.

At ORUCC, there are many opportunities to become involved, and amazingly so during a pandemic.  The last two years, we have felt very connected.  The people are the church at Orchard Ridge.

Jane G.

It’s become where we feel comfortable!  Over the years, we have made friends in Orchard Ridge, and our relationships with the pastors have deepened as well.  The hopeful, change-based message is a refreshing counter to society at large.

Harold E.
  • ORUCC Welcomes 14 New Members

    Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ

    Spiritually Alive, Joyfully Inclusive, Committed to Justice

    ORUCC Welcomes 14 New Members!

    Laura Conners writes: I am originally from extreme southeastern MN and grew up in a tiny town along the Mississippi River. I attended Concordia College’s Institute für Deutsche Studien in Bemidji, MN, and also the main campus of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where I did a lot of choral singing and earned degrees in German and English Education. I worked a few years as a German teacher and then went to UW- La Crosse for a Master’s Degree. After that I worked at a few midwestern colleges/universities in student services related positions. Ryan and I met in late 1999 and married in 2005. We moved to Madison in 2007 and first lived in the Greentree neighborhood, and we now live in the Fox Ridge Neighborhood in Middleton. Devin was born in 2009. I eventually was an at-home parent until Devin went to kindergarten. Since 2014, I’ve been working in a non-scientist support role at Mirus Bio, a small biotech company in Research Park. As a family we enjoy traveling. Our next trip is to the Banff and Fairmont Hot Springs areas in British Columbia, Canada. Our most recent other trips were to the Ozarks in Arkansas and to Zermatt and Zürich in Switzerland. I’ve always enjoyed outdoor pursuits like running, biking, kayaking, canoeing, observing nature, and hiking. When I have time, I can be found running on local trails. My favorite local trails include the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail, Blue Mound State Park, and Cross Plains State Park. I also like to read a lot. And if you know me well, you’ll also know that I love to bake sweet treats and even had my own in-home baking business for a few years. Sometimes I undertake creative pursuits like crocheting or other craft projects. Those often can take years for me to complete, but I do like them! 

    Ryan Conners writes: I grew up on the far west side of Madison and earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Electrical Engineering and Music Composition. I moved to La Crosse, where I worked for Trane as an engineer for five years, during which time I met my then-future wife, Laura. We moved to Grinnell, Iowa in 2004, got married, and lived there for two years, then moved to Minneapolis for a year. We moved to Madison in 2007 where we purchased our first house in the Greentree neighborhood. We now live in Middleton with our son Devin, who was born in 2009. My day job is at Epic out in Verona. My hobbies include kayaking, writing and recording music, video editing, vintage video games, playing volleyball, softball, and other sports, and travel. I’ve posted various kayaking, music, and family videos here: https://www.youtube.com/@RDConz/videos. A hearty portion of recordings of my classical compositions can be found here: https://ryanconners.bandcamp.com/

    My two most recent attempts at making an album of pop music can be found here:


    And here:


    I’m on facebook as Ryan Daniel Conners because facebook told me to use my “full name” when I signed up, not because I want people to include my middle name when addressing me. Usually only my mother does that, and only when I’ve done something bad. I’m mostly not on other social media networks.

    Chris Dankmeyer writes: I am a long time native of Baltimore, MD and still have family there. My nearby relatives are my daughter, son in law and two granddaughters. My son lives in Florida. Some of my interests are music, theatre, folk dancing and book clubs. I retired but am currently doing some part time senior care work. I appreciate Orchard Ridge’s social justice missions and many varied activities.

    Rev. Bev Davis is an avid “observer of life,” a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ. Bev has served a small UCC congregation in North Central Wisconsin and served as a hospice chaplain in Milwaukee and Madison. Most recently Bev was serving as Interim Pastor to Peace UCC Brillion and First Congregational UCC DePere, Wi. She is an author of a series of “children’s books for all ages,” which address bullying and marginalization as we journey through the life of “Great Gray,” an Indian elephant, born a little less that perfect. Bevdavisauthor.com. In addition, Davis has been developing a worship plan entitled, “The Power of Parables.” This interactive program is tailored to the Alzheimer’s/Dementia community, Wisconsin Conference facilities and church communities. As a parish intern, Bev designed a program entitled, “Consider the Lilies,” a church wide study of plants, gardens and flowers in the Bible. This fruitful program culminates in planning and planting a meaningful Memory Garden. Bev’s Creation Station is also available to congregations that want to CREATE! A former interior designer, Bev is a true believer in the importance of involving the senses in worship and everyday life. “Creators Must Create!”

    Susan Dovell writes: I spent my childhood and school years in CT and VA. A tomboy at heart, I was always sunburned from too many hours outside and on the beaches of Long Island Sound and Nags Head, NC. I attended The College of William and Mary in VA, majoring in economics. That and my

    graduate degree in urban and regional planning served me well. I had a fascinating career working with retirement communities all over the country- urban and rural, small and large, single site and multi-facility organizations, mostly non-profits. I worked in the areas of market research, strategic planning, and marketing; and had the privilege of seeing the industry grow and mature over more than 25 years. I met my husband at the bus stop in Washington, DC, commuting to Capitol Hill – the first week of my first “real job” at the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. We raised our two daughters, Kelly and Annie, in the suburbs of VA outside of Washington, DC; we spent our free time hiking in VA and in the White Mountains of NH and ME, where five generations of my family have hiked. We also enjoyed cross-country skiing wherever we could find mountains and snow. My passion for gardening grew stronger as time went on, until I finally enrolled in an associate’s degree program in horticulture and landscape design. I worked part-time as a designer for several years and volunteered in church gardens over the years, now at ORUCC. My friends have sustained me, taught me and made me laugh for my entire adult life. I still see my best friends from high school, college and beyond. I have had the privilege

    of joining women’s groups in every church to which I have belonged, for readings about spirituality, discussions about faith and support through every phase of our lives. My husband and I retired to ME in 2014, and loved every minute in the mountains in the Lakes Region of ME. He passed away in 2019, and by that time both of our daughters had ended up in Madison with their growing families – now including three grandsons, ages 5 and under. So, the handwriting was on the wall for me, and I moved to downtown Madison in September 2021. I love living in the city and exploring the biking, hiking, and kayaking the area has to offer. Most importantly, I feel very blessed to have

    landed at ORUCC, and am finding my way in this wonderful congregation.

    Ellen & Jim Franzone (daughter: Claudia) Jim and Ellen Franzone met in high school, have been married for 25 years, and have lived in Madison since 2001. Jim has worked for UW-Madison his whole career and is currently assistant dean for undergraduates at the Wisconsin School of Business. Ellen was a speech/language pathologist and now is principal at Lowell Elementary on Madison’s Eastside. Jim and Ellen have two daughters, Noelle and Claudia. Noelle is finishing her sophomore year at the University of Iowa studying creative writing and linguistics.  Claudia is finishing her junior year at West High School and is an active member of the West dance team. Jim and Ellen are happy to have found ORUCC and look forward to being part of the community.  

    Debra Greane (bio forthcoming)

    Amy Kell writes: I identified as a Unitarian Universalist for decades, but the need to deepen my spiritual exploration led me to ORUCC. I spent most of my career in the public housing field as staff and/or consultant to public housing authorities around the country. For the past 22 years, I had my own company specializing in federal grant applications for housing authorities. I retired in December 2022.

    I grew up in Michigan and lived in the Boston area twice, DC area twice, Atlanta, Miami, Evanston, IL and Bellevue WA before moving to Madison 19 years ago with my husband Steve. Steve was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2010, and I became his caregiver until he died in 2015. It was a transformative experience for both of us, and I worked with other caregivers as a Lay Minister for many years at First Unitarian Society. I met my partner Ray six years ago through a mutual friend, and we live in Tamarack Trails with our 14 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Charlie. I have an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Oakland University in Michigan. I am also a trained mediator and served as a CASA volunteer.

    Pam Moe writes: I join ORUCC because it is a caring community, accepting all and active on social issues. I enjoy the sermons and programs as they challenge me to think about my faith. I am a retired occupational therapist and worked 30 years at Central Wisconsin Center, here in Madison. I am fortunate to have a large caring family with 12 grandchildren and I so enjoy their activities and watching them mature. I like to sing and belong to a group called the Ragging Grannies who dress in outrageous clothes, sing satire with songs about peace, justice, the environment, and other social problems. I love to be outdoors in my garden, taking walks and volunteering at the arboretum. In the summer I work with the Monar ration Movement and count caterpillars at the Arboretum once a week.

    Leslie & Dale Rebhorn love reading, travel, and all kinds of games (Trivia Night, anyone?). Dale loves to cook, and Leslie doesn’t mind cleaning the kitchen. They enjoy dining with friends and trying new cuisines. They’ve been married forty years, and have two adult children who live in Waunakee and Fitchburg with their spouses and young children. Leslie and Dale are very glad to be nearby for family meals and opportunities to chase after tiny people. Leslie’s career was in educational psychology, and involved teaching at various levels. She also enjoyed a brief second career as an editor. She is a Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader, and was blessed to serve in those capacities for many years. Dale was a technical manager at IBM for 30 years, working with clients and teams in several locations around the world. He taught leadership to students of all ages, most recently at Franklin College (Indiana) and American Family. On any given day now, he might be grandparenting, consulting, or retired. Leslie and Dale say they’ve found the worship services and other activities at ORUCC to be uplifting and meaningful, and look forward to being involved in many ways at ORUCC.

    Ann Rifenberg writes: I have been married to Barbara Zahn for 30 years and together we have five adult children. She developed Altzheimers at age 65 and entered memory care 4 years ago. I am blessed to see her three days a week. In 1992 or 3 we were part of the open and affirming process at ORUCC. I have been away from the church for many years but 3 months ago I decided to “return home.” My career started in 1971 when I became a Lamaze teacher then Doula and finally a Nurse Midwife. I love all things related to women’s health and am currently interested in the final chapter in my earthly journey. My passion is for saving the pollinators and planting native trees, bushes and plants. My city lot has been divested of grass and is full of flying, crawling and buzzing creatures. I am able to take walks with my dog, Harry, to Lake Wingra each day. I am so grateful to ORUCC for being such a welcoming place.

    Susan Wagoner writes: I moved to Madison in the early 1970’s where I raised my 3 children and started a restaurant which has been in the family for almost 50 years now. In the mid-1980’s I moved to California where I launched my career has a therapist, group facilitator, educator, teacher consultant and foster family case manager. In 2003, I returned to Madison to enjoy my role as a grandparent. I then worked within the insurance industry in a number of positions including a Policy and Procedures Specialist and Quality Assurance Specialist which involved procedural development/implementation, curriculum development, training and auditing. My interests include gardening, exploring nature, nutrition and wellness, creative arts, music, photography, reading and enjoying and building loving relationships with my family of 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren. While attending church services and the Wayfinding group, I found church members, staff and pastors welcoming, reflective, and open to a diverse exploration of Christianity. I am also impressed by the church’s commitment to the community. I soon realized I could continue to deepen my spiritual faith and practice within this Christian church. I feel honored and moved to be on this journey with the congregation of ORUCC. 

    Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ

    1501 Gilbert Road

    Madison, WI 53711

    Office Hours: M-Th 8:30-12:30

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