Pastor Mary Snell Willis
Being the called and settled pastor of both Ely Memorial United Church of Christ and the Phelps Congregational United Church of Christ since December 2017, I am pleased to introduce myself:
I’m Reverend Mary Snell Willis and I use my maiden name as my middle name to honor my parents who were inspirations to me. I’ve been a pastor since 1992 when I graduated from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT (on a dare with God) and I’ve served United Church of Christ (UCC) churches in Miami, FL; Silver Lake, OH; Charlevoix, MI; Stratford, CT; Canton, OH and now Land O’ Lakes and Phelps WI in a yoked calling. My husband Michael and I have been together forever and are so very happy to be living in The Northwoods once again! We lived in Eagle River a long time ago when I served as the Vilas County Commission on Aging Director and Mike and his brother owned a marine business in Eagle River. I also had a gubernatorial appointment to serve as one of five on the Wisconsin Waterways Commission.
Mike and I both just love the water and enjoy any activity that involves being on or in the water such as swimming (me), fishing (Mike), pontooning, kayaking, sailing (though we don’t have a sailboat right now) and just gazing at it, too. Mike is a singer and music maker (with instruments he will play more) and most often the lay leader during worship. I have always enjoyed reading, photography, painting, beading and I am now just beginning to teach myself piano. But mostly, I minister with two churches!
In our family, we have three children and five grand-children. Our first daughter lives in FL with her family; our second daughter lives in OH with her family. Our son is a twin to our younger daughter and he lives in OR. All of our kids have pets and so do we—two Labrador retrievers, a mother and her son.
I am honored to be called to serve as a pastor for Jesus Christ! I have a strong belief in prayer and I really do believe that prayer changes things. I love to pray with and for others. I trust the words of the Bible and recognize the power of God in them. I seek to draw others to the heart of God and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I know that the Holy Spirit directs our thoughts and ways, what we say and do each day. I believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe and that we are called as Christians to accept God’s love in Christ Jesus and pass it on to each person we meet each day.
I laugh a lot—mostly at myself! I’m earning the nickname as “the laughing pastor” and just that thought makes me laugh! How is our worship? It is interesting, Biblical, and real (in my opinion.) I try never to be boring. We have a choir and a men’s singing group and special music each Sunday. I invite you to come and see for yourself! YOU are invited to join us as we seek to become shining lights for God’s love in Christ through worship, prayer, study, song, service and ‘phun!’ God is always good and YOU are always welcome! So come as you are to praise the Lord with us! Refreshments always follow worship!