Walter Hackney

Transitional Pastor


Not many interim (or transitional as we are called now) pastors get to return to a church, but I have the privilege of coming back to First Presbyterian, Oostburg! Since I arrived on Jan 1, 2023, so many folks have blessed me in so many different ways, especially in getting the Youth House ready for me. (I love my Wisconsin “blessings blanket” that was given to me and my family a number or years ago!)

I was born and raised in Louisiana, most of the time in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. (My wife Kristi and our son Walt are in Baton Rouge while I am up here. My daughter Anne & her husband
Shant and our two grandsons, Stephen and Andrew, live in Virginia across the Potomac from Washington, DC.) I enjoy much about Cajun culture, especially the food, LSU football, and parades where people throw beads, cups, and doubloons. (However, going to school for three years in Boston ruined most of my southern accent!) I am ready to reconnect with the Packers, Brewers, Bucks, and other Wisconsin teams.

My favorite sport is wrestling (although I love almost every other sport); my favorite school subject is math, which I have taught and tutored for many years. I love the Old Testament, and my favorite book in the Bible is the Psalms (a number of which my family and I have memorized).


I am a cradle Presbyterian, who grew up singing the hymns of the faith and appreciate many of the newer songs. I believe that God will pay whatever price, no matter how painful to himself or us, in order to connect with us. His love burns that brightly for us. I hope that you will come and join us.

Michelle Gross

Associate Pastor of Families


I’m a hometown girl, but it’s been 15 years since I lived in Oostburg. When I graduated from OHS in 2007 I thought I was never coming back, but as many say, Oostburg has a gravitational pull and here I am glad to be back in my hometown. I’m especially grateful to be serving as the Associate Pastor of Families here at FPO where I get to help coordinate the children and youth ministries and connect with the wonderful families of our church to help fulfill the “til all are disciples” part of our mission as a church. 

It’s a long story of what brought me to this church and this position, but it’s one I believe God has written. I grew up as a daughter of First Reformed Church here in Oostburg. I experienced a traumatic falling accident and broke my back the summer before starting my freshman year of high school, which caused me to ask God all kinds of questions and pushed me to seek him through a very difficult time. God showed up as he always does and I joyfully participated in three area youth groups during my high school years. I like to call those my “youth group junkie” days, but I grew so much in my faith and it was very formative for my call to ministry. I studied Spanish at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa with the intention of becoming a missionary someday. While I will always have a missionary heart, the path that God led me on looks a bit different than what I pictured for myself, however, I always believed God has me right where I need to be. I met my husband, Josh, at the Gibbsville Transformers college group. He wooed me by writing old fashioned letters, we fell in love and later got married in July of 2012. 

After college I went straight to Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan where I earned my M.Div and did a dual track program with Master of Social Work at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with the goal of being better equipped to provide pastoral counseling to the many hurting and broken people in the church. After seminary we came back to Wisconsin where I served at First Reformed Church in Sheboygan Falls as the Youth Ministry Coordinator for a couple of years. I felt a sense of God calling me to college ministry and was ordained in the RCA to serve in campus ministry at UW-Oshkosh and Josh began his work as a teacher at a local Christian school. In 2020 I took on a side gig as a chaplain at Winnebago Mental Health Institute and suddenly found myself a health care worker at the height of the pandemic, which later became my primary job. It was rewarding helping people search for God when they found themselves at rock-bottom. 

This season was also personally challenging for Josh and I as we struggled with infertility for a few years and two pregnancy losses, but God graciously gave us our beautiful daughter, Lydia, who was born at the end of 2021. During this time I also felt a sense of call to return to a discipleship focused ministry, which is when God led me to FPO and I am so grateful to be here! Josh is also excited to be teaching at Sheboygan Christian School. We are glad to be closer to our family here in Oostburg as well. 

I’m a big fan of coffee and I’m already becoming a regular at Kups. We have an overzealous golden retriever, Ruby, and three rabbits named Honey Bunny, Peter, and Carlita. I enjoy reading books that help me grow as a pastor and a person and watching all kinds of movies. I like long walks on the beach, kayaking, biking, and hiking in the woods when there aren’t mosquitos or ticks. I love traveling and keeping up with my Spanish skills. My favorite food is “tacos al pastor” (…shepherd tacos?), not because I’m a pastor, but because they are simply excelente.