About Us

Our Origin

Manitowoc Cooperative Ministry (MCM) is a unique endeavor by First Reformed United Church of Christ, St John’s United Church of Christ, and First Presbyterian Church PCUSA—three local congregations that chose to put the Gospel before preserving the status quo.

In a process started in 2016, we discerned that we were spending more time, money, and energy on survival mode than on being the hands and feet of Christ in Manitowoc. Certain that God is still speaking to our congregations throughout our combined 400 years of witness, and recognizing that we are forever being reformed by God’s spirit, we chose to find a new way of being church—a way that allows us to share our resources in order to provide a common witness of Christ’s love, hospitality, and hope.

We believe that working together is more fruitful than preserving the historic denominational lines that divided us. We believe that when we work together we can best share the peace and justice of God’s beloved community in all the world.

Our Values

  • All people are of sacred worth.
  • How we live our faith is more important than the specific doctrine to which we adhere.
  • God’s love and grace extends to all. We welcome all into our faith family and into a walk with Jesus regardless of age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, social status, ability level, economic status, political view, nation of origin, or any other label placed upon people.
  • Following the path of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred, including forgiveness, transformation, and eternal life.
  • Spirituality is deeper than religiosity.
  • The diversity of faith calls us to a place of holy conversation, not fear. We embrace our sisters and brothers of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Bahá’í Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Unitarian, and other traditions on the journey of faith, including those who are agnostic or questioning.
  • Building partnerships with other faith communities, as well as with our neighborhood and community, is essential to who we are.
  • No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, we welcome you into the life and ministry of any of the MCM Congregations.

Our Leadership

Each MCM congregation is governed by its own council, comprised of active members (women and men!) of the congregation. The councils are responsible for both the spiritual and business aspects of their respective congregations. There are further opportunities for members to be involved in leadership through various committees and special projects.

The MCM Coordinating Body is comprised of members from each of the three councils. The MCM Coordinating Body makes recommendations to each council for approval and implementation.

We are served by our co-pastors, Judine Duerwaechter and Matt Sauer. Both have dual standing in the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA.  Pastor Judine specializes in Pastoral Care and Counseling, while Pastor Matt specializes in Administration and Community Engagement. Together they serve with energy, creativity, imagination, and love.

Judine Duerwaechter and Matt Sauer, Co-Pastors of Manitowoc Cooperative Ministry
Judine Duerwaechter and Matt Sauer, Co-Pastors of Manitowoc Cooperative Ministry

Our Foundation

Here are some guiding Scripture passages that form the foundation of who we are:

That they may all be one. John 17.21

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22.37-40

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4.7-8

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11.28

You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine. Leviticus 20.26

Now says God, who created you: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I’ve called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43.1

What does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6.8

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19.34