Get To Know Deacon Ellen
Bethany Church welcomes Deacon Ellen Williams as a new, unpaid member of the church staff.
She answered a few questions as a means of getting to know the congregation.
She can be reached at or by leaving a message on the church phone.
What is a deacon?
There are two orders of ordained leadership in the United Methodist Church. Elders (like Robb) are ordained to Word, Sacrament, Order and Service. That means that elders preach the Word, provide the sacraments, order the ministry of the church, and carry out a servant ministry. Elders are usually, but not always, parish pastors.
Deacons (like me) are ordained to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. Deacons lead in these four aspects of ministry, forming a bridge between church and community. Deacons often, but not always, have a ministry in the secular world.
Where are you in the ordination process?
I passed my Board of Ordained Ministry interviews in February 2020 and have been recommended for ordination at the next WI annual conference, currently scheduled for October 23-24, 2020. As a provisional deacon I served People’s UMC in Oregon, WI and New Hope UMC in De Pere.
What will be your ministry?
My primary appointment, approved by the Bishop and cabinet, is as a full-time chaplain at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, where I am currently on furlough due to the pandemic. My particular areas of interest include end-of-life care and trauma care, but as a hospital chaplain I am really “jack of all trades.” I minister to hundreds of people a month, including patients, residents, their families, and staff. I previously worked for St. Clare Hospital and St. Clare Care Center in Baraboo, WI after graduating from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in May 2015. I love being a chaplain!
My secondary appointment, also approved by the Bishop and cabinet, is Bethany Church, where I will assist Robb in leading worship, help grow the small group ministry, and offer pastoral care as a second clergy member for the congregation. The roles of elder and deacon are complementary; a deacon in no way displaces the elder but instead helps connect the ministry of the church with the world.
Tell us about your family
I have three children: Kate (23), Ben (20) and Joshua (16). Kate just graduated last month with an MFA in VoiceArts from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and moved back home to live with me for the duration of the pandemic. You may have heard her sing in Bethany’s Easter service. Ben is a senior at UW-Madison, where he is double-majoring in Computer Science and Environmental Sciences. Joshua is a junior at New Glarus High School and lives with his dad in New Glarus. We divorced two years ago, and I moved from New Glarus to Green Bay to work at St. Vincent.
What were your previous vocations?
I have a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from UW-Madison and worked in a research lab until Ben was born. I then became a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines so I could stay at home for 14 years to raise our kids. I also taught Microbiology at a technical college before discerning a call to ministry and enrolling at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2012. My career path to the ministry has been a bit unusual, but I am excited to be caring for people where I know God is calling me to be.
Is that a Southern drawl we hear?
I sure hope so! I grew up in North Carolina and have lived in Wisconsin since 1991.