First Congregational United Church of Christ

2810 West 7th Street, Hastings, NE 68901


Our Pastor

Pastor Jessica Palys comes to First Congregational United Church of Christ from Chicago, Illinois, a 2014 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. During her 13 years in Chicago, Jessica was a community organizer who collaborated primarily with clergy and communities of faith.  Her work on the issues of of health, health equity, immigration, racial and economic justice led her to enroll in Seminary at Chicago Theological Seminary in 2008, and she graduated in 2014.   Jessica grew up about 50 miles NW of Chicago in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and most of her family still lives in that area.   When not found at FCUCC or the Blue Moon, can be seen walking her two dogs, Muppet and Stella, around town. 


Our Office Staff

Our Church Secretary, Sandi Rasser-Herbek, is that someone behind the scenes that helps a church run smoothly.  Sandi comes to FCUCC with knowledge of Quickbooks, from her and her husband having their own business for 10 years.  She is a 2010 graduate of SCC-Beatrice, with an AA in Education. She is working on a dual major of SPED and business.  Sandi is also employed by Mid-Nebraska Individual Services here in Hastings and loves spending time with her clients.Sandi lives in Lawrence, NE with her husband Daniel, and their three children, Gabi, Timmy and Kacie.  Her hobbies include watching whatever sport her children are participating in at the time, playing and watching softball and baseball are her favorites. Sandi is also very involved in helping her kids and other kids in 4-H and with their animals and projects.

Our Organist

Kathy has been a church organist since age 14!  She started lessongs at 9 and  prior to being Organist, she played the piano for Sunday School and the junior choir (which her mother directed).  Kathy remembers sitting at her grandmother’s upright player piano when very young and getting a penny stuck between the keys.  When the “handyman” removed the penny, he prophetically told her grandmother that Kathy would play the organ in their church someday, and in fact this has been her longest running job.   The oldest item of clothing she owns are her organ shoes.  Kathy grew up on a farm south of Hastings, graduated from Adams Central High School, and from the University of Nebraska at Kearney twice:  first for her bachelor’s degree and then, years later, for a master’s degree in Community Counseling.  Her 'other' work has taken her to  various employers:  J. M.  McDonald Headquarters, Farmland Industries, Hastings Industries, Adams County Senior Services, General Counseling, and Midland Area Agency on Aging.  Kathy and her husband Fran, retired, have one daughter Ashley, who lives in Boulder, Colorado.  Kathy enjoys reading when she can find the time and has an impressive cookbook collection.

Our Choir Director

Deb has been the choir director since 2006.  She loves working with the choir to expand their voices with a variety of music styles and  arrangements.  She also shares her musical talents for area funerals, weddings and other gatherings.  When not working with the choir, Deb is the Executive Director of Leadership Hastings, an educational and community awareness program in Hastings that focusses on Leadership training and the diversity of the area.  Prior to working with Leadership Hastings Deb worked as a licensed insurance professional and the Director of Housing at Good Samaritan Society, Hastings Village.  Deb is a certified trainer with Sertoma, Inc. serves asPresident of the Friends of the Library Board of Directors and is a member of the Board for the Hastings Noon Sertoma Club.  Her husband, Jim, is the Inside Sales Rep for Phoenix Casting & Machining, Inc. in Juniata. Their daughter, Jenny, is the First Five Coordinator for Family, Inc. in Southwest IA and  lives in Omaha.  Deb has a Bachelor's of Music Degree from Hastings college and in her "free" time, chan be found reading and cooking.