Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Dec. 14, 2017 
Franz Rigert image A Messy Christmas
by Rev. Franz Rigert

Yesterday I saw the most immaculately decorated home. It was altogether perfect! Three Christmas trees, each uniquely adorned with ornaments. A crèche, a Santa, a train, a charming old sled-it was all so beautiful. A fire crackling, carols jingling, cookies displayed on Holly & Ivy platters . . . even a red Christmas bow on the dog! No signs of messiness or sadness or struggle. Immediately, I mused over the irony that this setting stood in stark contrast to my imagining of a chilly stable night in that obscure little Palestinian village, where Mary and Joseph huddled around a trough surrounded by smelly beasts and curious onlookers.
For several moments I marveled in this exquisite display of festive cheer. I even felt nostalgic, remembering my own childhood traditions, recalling in particular my father's insistence on a "Charlie Brown" spruce tree rather than a statelier Fraser fir. For years I thought such a dud of a tree reflected our family's necessity to "live within our means" (no doubt partially true), but I've since come to realize it also reflected the reality of celebrating Christmas amidst the imperfections and hardships of life. We used to joke that our tree was the least wanted, most overlooked misfit on the lot!

In ministry, our most important Christmas preparations come in remembering and reaching out to those too easily overlooked. Read more>
graphic-fist-globe.gif Creation Care: An Economic Approach
by Alan Green
Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team Member

Does the Economic Model serve planet? Concepts of "Gaia" and "Spaceship Earth" say no.

Last month I wrote to argue that the only mass-produced evidence for American economic growth is the GNP/GDP and Stock Market numbers in the daily news. These numbers are based on dollars in circulation, as if money is wealth and is the main element that counts in our culture, a Culture of Growth. The truth is that money is not wealth; it is an abstract medium believed in as a claim on the efforts of others to provide something wanted by the moneyed. We are told by many influential "Economists" that America is the wealthiest country in the world, assuming that the amount of money in circulation determines its wealth, regardless of its distribution, which at this point is grossly uneven.
Faithful Innovation in an Uncertain World
2018 Wisconsin Council of Churches Winter Forum
March 2-3, 2018
Stevens Point

In today's dynamic cultural environment, churches have to be more than faithful-they have to be agile. That means embracing processes of trial, failure, and adaptation as they form Christian community with new neighbors. And that means a whole new way of being church.

Taking one page from the Bible and another from Silicon Valley, priest and scholar Dwight Zscheile brings theological insights together with cutting-edge thinking on organizational innovation to help churches flourish in a time of profound uncertainty and spiritual opportunity. Picking up where his recent bestseller,  People of the Way  left off, Zscheile answers urgent and practical questions around how churches become agile and adaptive to meet cultural change.
More information
Plymouth church construction image
Plymouth UCC, Eau Claire, Begins Rebuilding

Last year, Plymouth United Church of Christ suffered a devastating loss. But now, walls for this sanctuary are rising from the ashes.

Plymouth UCC  burned down after it was struck by lighting in September of 2016.   Over the past year, the church has worked with architects to design a new building, which Reverend David Huber estimates will cost nearly $1.5 million.
Read more
Resource Center Spotlight: Financial and Insurance

Need to know what your insurance rates are for next year, or how much to pay your next pastor? Or maybe you want to better understand how OCWM is used. You can find these resources - and more - on the Financial and Insurance page of the Wisconsin Conference website.
A Call for Sermons in Solidarity with Youth Seeking Justice

Twenty-one youth have taken our federal government to court in demanding accountability and action in response to the damage done to our climate and the immense impact this damage has on their generation. One of those youth is Kiran Oommen, the son of the Rev. Melanie Oommen of First Congregational UCC in Eugene, Oregon. Ultimately, the case brought by the youth is about seeking justice for #EachGeneration. To further the compelling and inspiring efforts of the youth, the UCC Council for Climate Justice has initiated a call for more than a thousand sermons to be preached in solidarity with them. To pledge a commitment to deliver a sermon, visit eachgeneration.org. Youth are especially encouraged to preach.
Jennifer Harvey to Speak in Madison and Milwaukee
Madison, February 9, 2018, 7 pm to 9 pm
Wauwatosa, February 10, 2018, 10 am to 12 pm

Dr. Jennifer Harve y, author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation, will be in Wisconsin to speak and share conversation on the subject of the church and racial justice.

Dr. Harvey
has spoken and led workshops for faith communities and academic audiences around the nation. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and keeps her own blog:
Developing Leaders Through Coaching
January 9, 2018
Trost Center, DeForest

You are invited to this day-long, interactive, hands-on coaching event where you will:  
  • Learn a basic coaching model you can use right away in your context
  • Strengthen your pastoral leadership skills
  • Learn how to initiate a coaching movement in your congregation
  • Meet the coaches of the Wisconsin Conference 
  • Explore how coaching can support you in ministry
Who should come? All pastors and paid or volunteer staff in Wisconsin Conference congregations. How Much? $50, which includes all materials, lunch and the opportunity to sign up for one free follow-up coaching session with one of the Wisconsin Conference coaches 
Online registration
Reconnect with God's Purpose!
Five Practices Kick-off Event
February 3, 2018

Trost Center, DeForest

The Five Practices program will help you to take practical steps to strengthen the quality of your church's essential ministries and to reconnect with God's purpose for your congregation. These are two important components of making a small but significant SHIFT from Maintenance to Mission.

Our text is Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, which focuses on the five essential activities of vital, healthy churches. The Five Practices are:
  • Radical hospitality
  • Passionate worship
  • Intentional faith development
  • Risk-taking mission and service 
  • Extravagant generosity 
Jesus Core High School Retreat
Register by December 26, 2017
January 5-7, 2018

Pilgrim Center

Experience faith in community, meaningful worship and great music, silence and time for prayer, getting to know new people and hanging out with friends.Rest from the stress of school, listen to God's word, connect with yourself and others, and find satisfaction in silence and in fun activities.Be inspired  by the songs of musician Andra Moran, by the beauty of God's Creation on Green Lake, and by workshops and discussions with adult leaders and your peers. Who? Youth grades 9-12, individually or with their church groups (We ask for 1 adult leader for every 5 youth from one congregation). 
Pathways Online Theological Education
New courses begin January 10, 2018
PATHWAYS Theological Education announces course offerings to begin the new year. With a start date of January 10, 2018, these courses will provide local church leaders and Members in Discernment with knowledge and expertise needed for ministry today.  
Upcoming courses include:
  • Small Church Administration
  • Lifelong Christian Faith Formation
  • Dynamics of Difference
  • Singing the Bible

More information 

Interrogating Spaces and Structures for the Empire of God: Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark and Our Contexts
2018 Lakeland University Lenten Lectionary Workshop
Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause of Eden Theological Seminary presents this year's 2018 Lakeland University Lenten Lectionary Workshop on Monday, January 29, 2018.  
9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
$35; Lunch included
Lakeland Campus
Registration is required by Jan. 22 on the Lakeland website or by emailing Linda Bosman.  
Picture the Bible Workshop
January 27, 2018
First Congregational Church
River Falls
Picture the Bible engages learners and leaders in conversations that take Bible stories seriously and connects them to peoples' lives in the world.
Picture the Bible is a set of 36 images depicting 36 individual Bible stories. The images and related resources offer a creative approach to Bible study for learners of all ages. Picture the Bible adapts to a wide variety of settings, including: graded classrooms, intergenerational learning experiences, teen groups, and worship.
This workshop is designed for pastors, Christian educators, and lay church leaders and volunteers. The workshop will:
  • Outline a theological and developmental foundation for biblical literacy and interpretation
  • Introduce Picture the Bible resources
  • Offer strategies for facilitating conversations at the intersection of life and faith
  • Be interactive, inspiring, engaging, and practical
  • Provide a time of fellowship and sharing
  • Include a luncheon

More information and registration 

Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • First Congregational UCC, Rhinelander, seeks a full time pastor. More information

To see all searching churches, click here.

Installations and Ordinations
  • Joshua Simon was Ordained on December 9, 2017, at Plymouth Church in Milwaukee

The Conference Transitions feature appears monthly in the Wisconsin Conference Life. Please share your transition information, including church anniversaries, with the newsletter editor by emailing Nola.
This newsletter is made possible by contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support.

The Wisconsin Conference UCC is an Open and Affirming Conference.

Plymouth UCC construction image courtesy of WPTA 21, Eau Claire

Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ
4459 Gray Road | DeForest, WI  53532

In This Issue
Creation Care
Winter Forum
Plymouth Rebuilds
Resource Center Spotlight
Youth Seek Justice Sermons
Jennifer Harvey Event
Coaching Event
Five Practices Event
High School Retreat
Pathways Online Theological Ed
Lakeland Lenten Lectionary
Picture the Bible Workshop
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

This Southwest Association church was formed in 1936 and joined the UCC in 1968.  Rev. Jim Iliff has led the congregation since 2001. 

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Does Our Pastor Need a Job Description?" Access this issue and archived issues here!
Quick Links

rainbow comma image
Is your church considering an Open and Affirming Process? The Wisconsin Conference has a committee to help!  Please feel free to use us as resources for your discussions and preparations. Contact Laura McLeod of the Wisconsin Conference UCC Committee on Ministry with LGBTQ Persons.

Also: check out the Facebook page for ONA churches
Got News?
Let us know! If you have something you'd like considered for publication in
Wisconsin Conference Life, email Nola at the Wisconsin Conference. 

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