Volume 3 , Issue 5
November 2022
Participants from across Wisconsin gather at Daycholah to spur creation care work
About 40 planet healers from through the Wisconsin Conference UCC came together at Daycholah Center the first the weekend of November to work together to expand creation care efforts at congregations throughout the Conference. The retreat, titled "Creation Care 101: Uniting Hearts and Hands to Help Save the Earth," brought together about 40 people from Madison, Tomah, Wisconsin Rapids, LaCrosse, Oshkosh, River Falls, Milwaukee, Two Rivers, Mount Vernon and West Bend.

“The Creation Care retreat was a wonderful way to meet people with an interest in creation care,” said Lynn Miller of Zwingli UCC in Mount Vernon.“ It helped clarify for me the urgency to be proactive in caring for God’s creation.”

One of the presenters, Patricia Dwyer-Hallquist of First UCC, Oshkosh, said, “The Daycholah Center is a beautiful place to meet.” (See full photo gallery on Facebook.)

Five workshops covered topics that included solar installations and sustainable gardening, how to start a green team and how to connect your congregation's creation care ministry with the wider community.

“I was inspired by the community connections session,” said Cathy Putman of Union UCC, Green Bay, writing online after the retreat in the new Damascus Project Creation Care Team cohort. “Helping me to chart out a notion of church within a diverse neighborhood of plants, air, water and people. Got my mind rolling about orgs to partner with, events to propose, finding out what local government was up to. The last item has proved most productive -- listened to several video meetings of our Sustainability Task Force which is peopled by tech college and university reps, hardworking public servants and some citizens with a passion.”

At the retreat’s opening devotion, participants took turns reading the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, which became familiar to many people in the Conference during last year’s Big Read of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.” It begins: “Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.”The Thanksgiving Address set the tone for the gathering. Download Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address here.
On Saturday morning, the group listened to a powerful TED talk by climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe. In her talk, titled “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it,” Hayhoe’s notes, “Hope begins with a conversation today!”

Many retreat participants will be joining the ongoing activities of the Creation Care Team. “There is great interest in what we can do as individuals and as churches to respond to our climate crisis. This was very evident in the conversations I had had at the conference,” said Susan Webb. (To join, contact co-chairs Bob Ullman or John Helt.)
You can also join the Creation Care Team cohort on the Damascus Project, where you instantly connect with people throughout the Conference and where the creation care work continues 24/7 at this link.
Daycholah: You’re invited
United Church Camps Inc. Interim Executive Director the Rev. James Schleif welcomed participants to the creation care retreat at Daycholah and encouraged Wisconsin Conference congregations to consider Daycholah Center and the other UCCI sites – Moon Beach and Cedar Valley – as places to gather as they build community and develop programming. He emphasized the many ways UCCI is leaning into the creation care and justice work of the congregations in the Conference, with events, programming, and possibilities for 2023 that include:

  • Black Joy 2023
  • Alliance Immersion Event
  • Budget Line Item for Indigenous Justice
  • National Day of Mourning
  • Daycholah Welcome Center
  • Effigy Mound Preservation

Contact the Rev. James Schleif about including Daycholah in your congregation’s 2023 plans. 
WOW! Youth Art Pointing the Way to Creation Care
Here’s a collage of artwork produced by young people from Wisconsin Conference congregations at the recent Knock Knock Retreat at Daycholah Center. Knock Knock is an opportunity for middle school youths to gain independence, explore new friendships and become aware of more complex life situations through the lens of faith, while also developing and deepening relationships with the youth and adults in their church groups. The art shown here was produced during a session (“door”) on “influence.” The theme was “What are your concerns, if any, about Creation Care, and what would you like adults in your life to know/do about them?” The prompt provided was Katherine Hayhoe’s mantra that the best thing anyone can do about climate change is talk about it, and participants were asked to consider how much influence they could have on the things that concerned them if they did, in fact, talk about it with others.

Up next: be sure to check out the Winter Soulstice High School/College retreat on Jan. 6-8.
Nurturing Community-Wide Creation Care Alliances in River Falls
One of the workshop leaders at the Creation Care Retreat was Carol Merriman from First Congregational Church in River Falls. Carol has shared her slides about “Hope for Creation” – communities of faith partnering for a sustainable future in River Falls. Activities described include:

  • Going solar – 3 churches and counting
  • Green Teams
  • Multi-generational Activities
  • Community Read / Poetry Reading
  • Interfaith Fellowship
  • Sustainability Speaker Series
  • April: Earth Fest and Earth Month Activities

As Carol’s presentation says: 

You don’t have to do it all on your own.
Partner with organizations already at work!

You can view all the slides at this link. The slides are full of ideas for developing creation care alliances in your community.

To learn more, contact Carol Merriman.
Is solar power a priority for you and your congregation?
There was robust discussion on this topic at multiple sessions during the Creation Care Retreat, and we realized we have a lot of knowledge to share at our congregations throughout Wisconsin.

Sam Dunaiski from Renew Wisconsin made a presentation at the retreat, and here is a video that contains the majority of the slides that he shared. (Fun fact: Sam was named executive director of Renew Wisconsin earlier this month.)

John Helt, co-chair of the Creation Care Team, says: “Solar is more affordable than ever. Besides the reduced carbon footprint and energy bills that solar makes possible, it is an often highly visible sign and witness to the community that sustainable practices are within reach. And, before a solar installation, there are often many ways that we can reduce our energy consumption, employing new efficiencies that we might not have explored otherwise. One of our congregations that installed solar on the church roof found that there were members inspired to do the same on their homes.”

If you are interested in connecting with others about solar, contact John or join the Creation Care Team cohort on the Damascus Project.
Does your project need a Kairos Grant in 2023?
By Kathy Bartilson

Many of the sessions at the Creation Care Retreat featured presenters describing activities at their congregations that had been supported in part by a Kairos Creation Care Grant.

Kairos Grant funds continue to be available. Instead of having a fixed application period and deadline, the grant period is an open process, and applications will be accepted at any time. Grant awards of up to $1,000 per project are available as long as our current allotment of funds lasts.  

Congregations are encouraged to apply for funding for eligible projects. These include any work that advances care of Creation such as faith formation activities, resource conservation efforts, church and community projects, and energy efficiency initiatives. Past grants have been awarded for community organizing around care of the Earth, speakers on key environmental topics, solar panel and LED lighting installations, native plantings and pollinator gardens.

To apply for a grant, complete the application and return it to Lisa Hart at the Conference office. Future Kairos newsletters will provide details on newly funded projects and on the availability of remaining grant money.

Kathy Bartilson is a member of Namekagon UCC in Earl and chairs the Resources Work Group of the Conference’s Creation Care Team. Contact Kathy here.
November: Native American Heritage Month
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we are sharing material provided by the Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center -- the beautiful graphic here and the information below, highlighting the waters that we refer to today as the Great Lakes. In Nishnaabemwin language, the Great Lakes are collectively Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin. Each also have their own individual name, which can be found on the illustration and below: 

  • Nishnaabewi Gichigami - Nishnaabe Sea (Lake Superior) 
  • Odaawaawi Gichigami - Odawa Sea (Lake Huron) 
  • Niigaani Gichigami - Leading Sea (Lake Ontario) 
  • Waabshkiigoo Gichigami - Neutral Sea (Lake Erie) 
  • Ininwewi Gichigami - Illinois Sea (Lake Michigan) 

To learn more about the Nishnaabemwin language, visit this link.
Illustration by Anna Heffernan (Miskwaa Designs).
Awesome Video: Thomas Berry and the Earth Community
Are we facing the end of a 65 million-years-long era in planetary history? This six-minute video by Caroline Webb uses words written or spoken by American writer and teacher Thomas Berry on core points of the human-Earth relationship. (Special thanks to composer Martin Buntrock from Germany for his music track “Early Morning” from the album Atlantic Symphony.)
Creation Care good news
New Book: “Speak with the Earth and It Will Teach You” by Daniel Cooperrider
Daniel Cooperrider is a writer, teacher and pastor in the UCC. A fly fisher and forager, Cooperrider lives with his spouse and their young one on the edge of the Driftless Area in Madison, on ancestral Ho-Chunk Land. His new book, “Speak with the Earth and It Will Teach You: A Field Guide to the Bible,” is published by Pilgrim Press.

An Environmental Justice Hymn by Amanda Udis-Kessler
“All the Earth Belongs to God” is a new hymn, made available to us by a colleague in Colorado, Amanda Udis-Kessler, who has connected with us through the Damascus Project. You can find abundant music resources on Amanda’s website

Madeline Island Sermon by Andrew Warner published as “When the Land Owns Us”
The national setting of the UCC recently published an article derived from a sermon by the Rev. Andrew Warner given at St. John's UCC on Madeline Island: "When the Land Owns Us." An excerpt: “As we move from thinking that land belongs to us to feeling that we belong to the land, our generosity changes. We understand the web of relationships that shape our lives.”

Financial Benefits for Churches: Video Describes IRA Bill’s Impact
Alexander Malchow, Wisconsin policy coordinator for Faith in Place, has provided a recording of a recent webinar, “Climate Wins Here: The Inflation Reduction Act's Impact in Wisconsin.” The recent changes include substantial benefits affecting churches carrying out solar projects.

Coming in January: Renewable Energy Summit in Madison
Join RENEW Wisconsin and presenting sponsors greenpenny and Invenergy LLC as they gather with renewable energy industry experts, utility leaders, government officials, students, and advocates for RENEW’s 12th Annual Renewable Energy Summit to be held Jan. 26 at Monona Terrace and Convention Center in Madison. 

Do you have a news item for the Kairos Newsletter? Send it to Joe Scarry.
COMING SOON: Spring 2023 Creation Care plans
The next edition of the Kairos Newsletter will feature suggestions for Spring 2023 creation care programming – Lent, Easter season and beyond. Does your congregation have creation care programming in the works for spring? Let us know so we can share it in the upcoming edition. Contact Joe Scarry.

View Franz Rigert's video Announcing the Wisconsin Conference UCC Kairos Call To Action and share with your congregation!

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