Well, that was interesting. Somehow I managed to send out the wrong newsletter. How do you even do that? Anyway, here's the right one. Sorry about that.

Northeast Update - July 2017 
A Suggestion
I see a lot of congregations divide up their budget into twelve equal parts and then ask the members to give to that level as their stewardship goal. This makes a certain amount of sense because salaries, utilities, and some other expenses are pretty much constant.

But in fact, expenses do fluctuate from month to month. There are quarterly tax, insurance, and pension payments, and utility bills tend to rise in the winter. So dividing the budget evenly creates an artificial goal, which sets givers up for a sense of failure, particularly in the summer, when giving tends to dip.

People shouldn't take a break from giving in the summer! But they do, and if you can get them to commit to some kind of automatic giving program, that's great.

It might be more effective, though, to average your monthly expenses over the past five or so years to get a better picture of how much you typically need. Same thing with giving: how much usually comes in this time of year? Using those figures communicates a more achievable (therefore positive) goal. It also shows a more accurate message of the need, which hopefully translates into better motivation to give.

Free advice, so take it for what it's worth.
Interfaith Gathering
Sunday, August 6
2:30 p.m. Mosque Tours
3:00-5:00 p.m. Program
Dinner to follow

The Fox Valley Islamic Society (103 Kappell Drive, Neenah) will host this year's Interfaith Gathering. This gathering is held every year to encourage dialog and promote under-standing among people of various faiths in the Fox Valley. The event begins with tours of the Mosque at 2:30 PM, followed by a program from 3:00 to 5:00and a dinner to follow.

Around the Association

Join us for the Church Bonfire!
When: Friday, August 4
Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Dave & Vicki Wagner's Home

Bring a dish to pass, your own beverages and lawn chairs. If we get enough kids, we will have a Scavenger Hunt and hopefully an obstacle course! Invite your neighbor, co-worker, family , friends and more! Sign up in the back of church and bring a friend!!! Sign up in the back of church.

St. John's, Schwarzwald

I am really dating myself with this joke..

Hillary Reynolds and Peridot in Concert

August 9, 7:00 p.m.

In what is becoming a wonderful tradition here at First Congregational, Hillary Reynolds and her band, Peridot, will join us for a corn roast and concert just a few days after Mile of Music wraps up.

Save the date and stay tuned for more details about this fun neighborhood event!

Catch up with Hillary and the rest of Peridot at http://peridotband.com.

First Congregational, Appleton

Rummage and Stamp Scrap Craft Sale

August 10-12
Thursday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. - noon
If you want to get rid of some things and donate to St. John's sale...Bring your donations of gently used or new items to Lecy Hall between now and August 6.

No clothing, tires, TVs, dehumidifiers or large appliances.

If you are interested in a table for stamps, scrap-book items or crafts, Call Lori for information.
Cost is $20.

St. John, Appleton

Church Garden

You might have noticed a few changes around the church building lately. Thanks to a lot of volunteer hours from many wonderful people, we have a thriving garden in our courtyard. Beyond the zucchini, cucumbers, basil, squash, tomatoes, and peppers that are growing, the front of the courtyard is planted with native plants in hopes of establishing a Monarch butterfly waystation. You may have also noticed how wonderful the church grounds themselves look, so special thanks to Mason White and his family for keeping our landscaping looking so good. Soon we will be adding flowers on the shepherds hooks as well so that we might have even more beauty and color on our church grounds. In case you haven't had a chance to come and see it for yourself (or taste the zucchini bread or try a cucumber) here is a picture.

St. Paul's, Sheboygan

Caring Ministries

Care Network

On August 10, 2017, a focus group of our Care Network will consider our best practices on welcoming new people into our church. We will have conversation around the question: "How will we welcome new people into our community of faith?" Child care will be provided if needed.

Then this Fall, in late September or October 2017, the Care Network will gather for a "Care Refresher Learning" to consider creating a shared culture of care in our church. During this hour-long conversation, we will consider "Entering the Space of Others" and "Communicating with and Nurturing Others." Child care will be provided if needed.

Congregational, Neenah-Menasha

Friends Who Care (a small group)

We have been a group for 15 years!

Meetings: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The second Tuesday of each month. We bring our own lunch and dessert is provided by a different member each month. The only month we do not meet is December (We go out to lunch).

What We Do: Care for people in need - we send a note, visit or just sit and talk to the person/s. (What we discuss does not leave our group.) We help out children in the area by making blankets in the fall of the year. We provide a snack, coffee and water for funerals and are available for directions as to where things are in our church. We visit our homebound once a month, if possible.

Members: We are 9 members strong! We would like to have more members. We are a fun group! Come and check us out anytime.

First, Green Bay
Mental Health Training

Do you need tools to address mental health needs in your ministry? Samaritan Counseling Center and NAMI Fox Valley can provide them. Register today!

Faith Leader Mental Health Integration Project
Miron Construction Wenzler Community Room
9:00-11:00 a.m. on Third Thursdays, September 2017 through March 2018
(except December 2017)

 The FLMHIP is a six-session monthly series for professional and volunteer faith leaders. It educates faith leaders on key mental health topics relevant to ministry and deepens understanding of regional resources to which faith leaders can refer those in need of healing.
The first cohort of 37 participants, which met Sept. 2016 through March 2017, highly valued the content. They said things like, "Thank you so much - this pertains to members of my congregation!" and "I am reinvigorated to put my time into promotion of this important ministry."
Questions? Visit the FLMHIP web page or contact FLMHIP leader Doug Bisbee.
Rev. Kathryn Kuhn has been called as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church in Appleton, effective July 24, 2017.

Rev. Linda Forray will be installed as pastor and teacher of Peace, Marinette, on Sunday, August 13 at 3:00. Clergy are asked to wear red stoles, robes optional. Refreshments will be available after the service.

Today I learned you can buy a postcard of U-CC Waupun for $4.95 on ebay Canada.

Union-Congregational Church of Waupun will celebrate its 100th anniversary on August 13th with a potluck brunch party at Westside Park.

Rev. Bonnie Jacques has been named the interim at St. James and St. Mark's, Cleveland.

Rev. Kerri Parker will be the new Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches beginning October 30. Rev. Parker is pastor of the McFarland UCC in the Southwest Association, but many in Northeast will know her as the Moderator of the Conference.
One More Thing
Longish but beautiful, from the Federated, Green Lake Anchor:

Our Wednesday evening Adult Study group (each summer Wednesday at 6:30 - new attenders always welcome) has been going through Life Together in Christ by Ruth Haley Barton.

This book uses the Emmaus Road story to illustrate how Jesus can be involved in community in transforming ways. This means that our minds are renewed, and that we are able to live out our lives according to the power of Jesus' love within us, rather than according to any other fears or habitual patterns that don't sustain transformation.

Barton uses the working definition - "Spiritual transformation is the process by which Christ is formed in us - for the glory of God, for the abundance of our own lives and for the sake of others." Barton challenges the following stumbling blocks: "It is possible to walk with Jesus very closely and miss the whole point of Jesus' life; it is possible to love Jesus a lot and still succumb to fear rather than faith."

"Church" is really about Christian Community. Christian community begins with Jesus and his invitation to be with him. "After a night of prayerful discernment, Jesus, 'called to him those whom he wanted.' He called them first to be with him and them to be sent out into the world to accomplish his purposes - in that order (Mark 3:13 - 14). These called ones became Christ's community not because they were drawn to each other or were seeking some sort of extraordinary social experience; they were called first and fore- most to be with Jesus, and by virtue of their relationship with Jesus they came into relationship with each other." (pg.27)

How is Christ being formed in each one of us? Are we letting Christ form us? What are the practices that keep you connected to Christ's forming of your life? Another piece of Barton's first chapters includes the idea that we are being formed into something that already exists at a cosmic level: "The most important things we need to understand deep in our souls that Christian community - transforming community - is not something we create or bring about by human effort. It is not an ideal that exists primarily in our own imagination and vision. The community we are seeking already exists in Christ at the cosmic level (Colossians 1:15 - 20), and all we can do is find ways to open up to that reality and live it...this community is breathed into life through the Holy Spirit of Christ, not by anything we ourselves can take credit for." (pg.31)

So we ask ourselves the questions about how we can be open to the Holy Spirit's work in helping us as individuals and then community. We do this because there is joy, life, hope, forgiveness available to us in this community, in this kingdom. It's the "good" life that our hearts, minds, souls and bodies yearn for.

And that, my friends, is how you write a spiritual newsletter article.
About the Northeast Update: Published twice per month. Rev. Daniel Schultz, Editor  Mike Mathes, Assistant Editor

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