If it feels like you don't know where you're going, that's okay. Here's something that can help you reflect on what God might have in store for you and your congregation.
Issue #21: January 2023
Loving the World
As we continue our journey toward Renewing the Soul of the Beloved Community in these still-tenuous post-pandemic times, we continue to explore the guidance found in Kate Davies’ book Intrinsic Hope on practices that can uncover and nurture that deep spiritual well within us that can carry us forward. In the past two issues of Renewing the Soul we explored the practices of Being Present and Expressing Gratitude. This month we explore the practice of Loving the WorldAs the late eco-theologian Sallie McFague wrote:
There is only one world, a world that God loves. Since God loves it,
we not only can but should. In fact, loving the world (not God alone),
or rather, loving God through loving the world, is the Christian way.”
Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril
Like intrinsic hope, love wells up from within. To touch that deep well, contemplative prayer practices of being present and expressing gratitude lead us deeper into love. As Christine Valters Paintner expresses it:
“True prayer increases our capacity for love, so that the circle of who is included in our love is widened and the depth of our love is made more profound.”
Water, Wind, Earth and Fire
So let us dive deeper with the wisdom of Kate Davies as we explore with her the deepening possibilities for uncovering and nurturing intrinsic hope through Loving the World.
  • Loving the world nurtures intrinsic hope because when we feel love for others or experience others’ love for us, we feel more hopeful. The more we love, the more hopeful we become.
  • Love desires the happiness and well-being of others. Our compassion longs to alleviate the discomfort and distress of others – being willing to experience others’ suffering as our own. True compassion focuses on the person or being that is suffering rather than the pain itself. (Com- with passion-feeling).
  • Like love and compassion, community nurtures intrinsic hope.
  • Just as belonging to a community nurtures intrinsic hope, so does loving places. Being in a place and getting to know it is the only way to love it. When we love a place, we are more likely to care for it and protect it.
  • At a larger scale loving the Earth nurtures intrinsic hope. We can love the Earth because
She is so beautiful
She provides everything we need to live.
She is so tolerant of us (to a point).
  • We can also love future generations. From time immemorial, love and affection have come down from one generation to the next in an unbroken chain.
  • Our love and suffering and despair for and about the world reveal the love that lies beneath them. Our hearts break open so we can experience love. We would not be fearful, disappointed, sad and grief-stricken if we did not love. We suffer because we love. Suffering and love merge together in a poignant bittersweet feeling that is intrinsic hope.
A few years ago the United Church of Christ launched an initiative called Three Great Loves – Love of Children, Love of Neighbor, Love of Creation. That work goes on in us and through us. As the apostle Paul reminds us: “Now faith, hope, love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) 

We hope you will join us at noon Feb. 1 for our First Wednesday conversation as we explore the many opportunities for Loving the World. We will be joined by the Rev. Daniel Cooperridder, author of the recently published book Speak with the Earth and It Will Teach You. Here’s a video introducing the themes of his book.
Use the link below to register for our first Wednesday conversation.
Join the Discussion: Loving the World
The Supportive Ministries Team hosts a monthly discussion on topics from this newsletter. The next one, "Loving the World," takes place on Zoom at noon on Wed., Feb. 1.

Please join us for a discussion on Loving the World, from the article above.

Game-Changers Cohort with Kay Kotan
We are living in a time of great opportunity for the church, but it will take great intentionality and some major shifts to take advantage of this opportunity. Kay Kotan has written Being the Church in the Post-Pandemic World as a guide for navigating these uncertain, yet opportune times for the Church. Watch her introductory video “Eight Game Changers for the Post-Pandemic Church” initial webinar to get an overview of opportunities that she sees for the future of the Church. (Free but you’ll need to register to access the video) 
Recruit a team of leaders to join a cohort group of three one-hour workshops unpacking game changers for the church in the post pandemic world she will be offering in the next 3 months. (This work is best engaged by both the clergy and 4-6 leaders from their church.)
Each workshop will be one hour of content followed by a 30-minute cohort coaching session where you will assess your church’s current levels of game changing leadership and work towards creating a MAP (ministry action plan) to enact the needed game changing leadership strategies in your local church context.
Use this link to register for the three sessions. You are invited to a Zoom meeting. This registration link is the same for all three sessions. If you are not a member we will email you with information on how to become a member or see below. You can also email us to see if you are a member.
When: Feb 9, 2023 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
When: Mar 9, 2023 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
When: Apr 30, 2023 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Registration for Non-Members of Practical Resources for Churches (www.prcli.org)
Missed these articles?

Revisit these thought-provoking articles from previous issues. Many include questions for groups discussions in your congregation, or for personal reflection.
Conference Supportive Ministries

In addition to the direct support to pastors and congregations provided by Wisconsin Conference staff, here are some of the supportive ministries congregations can take advantage of. Follow the link below to learn more about this programs and how your church might benefit.
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Coaching Partners
  • Grants and assistance programs
  • Communities of Practice for Clergy or Faith Formation
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations
  • Readiness 360
View a comprehensive list with more information about Supportive Ministries offerings.
Photo of Supportive Ministries Task Force
Supportive Ministries Task Force
Through this communication, the Wisconsin Conference Supportive Ministries Task Force provides articles, discussion guides and other resources for clergy and congregations on coping and thriving as we navigate the current turbulent waters. Supportive Ministries Task Force members from top left are Bob Ullman, Lisa Hart, Bonnie Andrews, Cathleen Wille and Tim Perkins.
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