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ESTHER’s Story

ESTHER stands for Empowerment Solidarity Truth Hope Equity Reform

Organizer: Bill Van Lopik
Office Assistant: Francisca Hiscocks
Communications Coordinator: Kayla Nessmann

Our Beginnings.

ESTHER held its founding Covenanting Event on November 7th, 2004, with six faith communities participating. Prior to this milestone, gatherings of interested religious and lay leaders were held starting in May, 2002.

ESTHER is an interfaith social-justice organization. We are grassroots and non-profit, focussing our work in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin.

ESTHER aims to bring together people of faith and communities of faith to build community and to identify and act on issues of injustice. Faith communities covenanting with ESTHER join together based on shared values such as equality and human dignity. We work with congregations and individuals in collaboration with community partners and public officials so that everyone can have a voice and role in bringing about strong and just communities. ESTHER sometimes seeks to mobilize support for or opposition to particular legislation or rule-making; we do not, however, advocate for candidates or parties.

ESTHER’s 2021-2022 Yearbook is available for download as a PDF or online viewing at

We seek to:

  • Bring healing and unity as an interfaith community that reaches beyond the divisions of race, creed, and socio-economic status
  • Build solid relationships with one another and with community leaders
  • Identify and address root causes of poverty, oppression, and injustice
  • Be agents of change that unite the community and spread a message of hope
  • Work at local, state, and national levels to promote justice
  • Empower people to overcome injustices and respond to the social-justice concerns of people in the communities of the Fox Valley

ESTHER is an affiliate of WISDOM, the Wisconsin affiliate of GAMALIEL.

Officers and Leadership Board of ESTHER

Gary Crevier, President Steve Hirby
Jo Phillip, Vice President Melissa Hughes
Mary Bissing-Olson, Treasurer Joan Jensen
Nancy Jones, Secretary David Haas
Bill Van Lopik, Lead Organizer Connie Kanitz
Cindy Carter Michele Maki
Sara Companik Fr. Joe Mattern
Terry Dawson Diane Putzer
Dave Fink Connie Raether
Joyce Frohn Penny Robinson
Sharyn Gawlick Jill Smith
Gwen Gibson Robert Zeegers
Kathleen Gribble  

Religious Leaders Caucus of ESTHER

Our faiths tell us to seek peace and justice for all God’s children. We build community as we join together to support each other, to encourage each other, and to walk with each other in seeking justice for all.

We are comprised of clergy and professional staff of faith communities that belong to ESTHER.  We bring together diverse histories of faith traditions seeking to demonstrate unity and build on those values that unite us in community.  The Religious Leaders Caucus is the vision-bearer for the organization and works to shape and forward the vision of ESTHER.  It does so by reflecting on injustices and community needs and making recommendations to the ESTHER Board for new issues and injustices that call for action.

New leaders are welcome to attend our monthly meetings.  The Religious Leaders Caucus of ESTHER meets the second Wednesday of each month from 10:00-11:30 am at First United Methodist Church of Neenah-Menasha (108 West Doty Ave., Neenah) via Zoom (contact Bill Van Lopik for the Zoom link).

Member Congregations:

Oshkosh Religious Society of Friends

Project Partners:


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