Volume 4, Issue 2
March 2023
Learn About Creation Care at Annual Meeting 2023
Kairos! The time is now, and the need to care for our earthly home is urgent! The Wisconsin Conference Creation Care team is planning workshops, exhibits and discussion opportunities at the Annual Meeting scheduled for June 9-11 at the Green Lake Conference Center. Here is some of what you’ll be able to do:

  • Get project know-how: In our “Solar How-To Workshop,” you will learn how the federal climate legislation contained in the known Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the UCC's own Cornerstone Fund can help churches and individuals fund installation of solar panels. Representatives of Wisconsin Conference UCC congregations that have recently installed solar will share their stories.

  • Learn to develop leaders: In our “Using Creation Care for Leadership Development in Congregations” workshop, you will hear how establishing a Green Team can be a way to recruit, inspire and develop new leaders who don’t feel called to traditional church leadership roles. Global warming is here. People are looking for ways small and large to make changes that have an impact. Hear how forming a Green Team has motivated people to make changes and become leaders in the process.

  • Discover new ideas: In the Exhibit Hall, you will be able to learn more about sustainable products and ways to minimize use of disposable and single-use products. First Congregational UCC of LaCrosse and Creation Care Team members will provide a display of innovative products and information on where to purchase them. Other displays will allow one-on-one discussions and questions on emerging topics.

  • Connect: Our team will host both Saturday lunch and Saturday evening gatherings for those who would like to learn more about creation care or connect with others who are engaged in this ministry. Youths and young adults are especially invited. 

  • Worship: A Sunday worship experience is also being planned to celebrate creation.  

Please share this information with members of your congregation who will be attending the Annual Meeting. Even if you’re not a delegate, you can attend and enjoy these great Creation Care activities! Learn more and register.
Special Opportunity: April 22 NEA Meeting to Feature Speakers with Strong Creation Care Emphasis
The meeting of the Northeast Association will be held at Daycholah Center on Saturday, April 22. The event features two keynote speakers:

The Rev. Dr. Stephanie Perdew, member of the Cherokee Nation and director of the Damascus Project, will speak on “Responsible Remembering.”

Rebekah Edler of the Menominee Nation will speak about the stewardship practices developed by the Nation as it has managed and harvested forest lands over the past century.

“Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life; she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice; if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.” – John Hollow Horn, Oglala Lakota 

Register here for the Northeast Association Meeting by April 10. 
Resources Available for Summertime Programs
Lots of ideas were provided at the March 2 Creation Care Conversation-Summer Programs for All Ages webinar. Many thanks to presenters Jenn Ringgold, Stacy Johnson Myers, Laura Wright and Jim Schleif.

(Pictured nearby: Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby (Adelina Lirius, illustrator), one of the resources shared in the presentation. In the book, readers meet “12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change, [l]earn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.”)
How We Use Church Property Is an Act of Creation Care
By Susan Webb
Memorial UCC, Fitchburg

I am not a pastor or theologian. I’m a lay leader who has been a member of my church for more than 30 years and have witnessed the rise and fall of church membership and all the steps churches have attempted to increase membership and thereby have the means to stay in our church buildings. 

I think it might be time to start reimagining church. I recently attended a housing summit in Madison sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and Faith Voices For Justice. There, I learned that within 10 years 30% of church buildings will close and be sold. 

I wondered: What will happen to these church properties and congregations? What will our church communities, and our congregational properties, look like in the future?

Then I realized: Discussions of how we use church property, and how those uses align with congregational mission, is Creation Care!

We need to reimagine church. Now is the time to start planning. Is properly caring for your church building and grounds holding you back from doing the mission work you are called to do? How can you reimagine your property to align it with your mission? Would your property be a good location for low-income housing? (There is a shortage in every community in the state.) How about child care facilities, a food pantry, office space for nonprofits or service agencies? What does your community need and how can you help provide it? Now is the time to discern how you will “Be The Church” in the future.

Talking about Creation Care can be a starting point for discussions about the uses of church property and how they align with your church mission and vice versa. Caring for our church, our church property and our community is a powerful way for us to engage in Creation Care.
Speak With the Earth: A Resource for Your Congregation
If you missed the item in January’s Kairos Newsletter about the new book Speak with the Earth and It Will Teach You: A Field Guide to the Bible by the Rev. Daniel Cooperrider, here are some ways to make use of this valuable resource.

  • A webinar in February introduced the book and offered options for congregational study. Watch the webinar here.

  • Some additional resources and suggestions for book study: A Group Study Guide is available at danielcooperrider.com. We heard from Federated UCC in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which is taking an innovative approach. Rather than engage in a “book study,” the congregation is inviting members and friends along on a “Book Journey”—using the book’s invitation to encounter God in nature to meet in parks and other natural areas to include the more-than-human world in their conversations with the book and with one another. Contact Daniel to learn more, or to invite him to be a part of your own community’s journey. Daniel can be reached by email at dcooperrider@gmail.com.

  • Earth Element Meditation: In this video, Daniel offers a guided visual meditation on the Earth Element.
Intended as an offering around Earth Day 2023, the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team invites congregations to engage with this video in a variety of ways—including sharing the video during worship on Earth Day Sunday during worship as, for example, a call to worship, offertory or anthem, meditation moment or “creation care moment,” sermonette or introduction to the sermon or benediction.
Witness and Testimonial in the Creation Care Effort:
A Note from Green Bay
The following article was contributed by Union Green Bay member Cathy Putman. It originally ran in their congregational newsletter under the title “Joining the Green Effort,” and it is a great example of how the personal witness of individuals in a congregation can spur the larger Creation Care conversation.

In last month’s newsletter, we put out a call to interested Union members to become part of the church’s green strategy. We had one enthusiastic and knowledgeable respondent: Amanda Hatton, who recently joined Union with her family. The Hattons have solar panels on their house, electric vehicles, a robust composting system, and chickens.  

But it didn’t happen all at once for the Hattons. It began with living out a conviction to become more earth-friendly and taking care of what God has given. Amanda realized that green efforts are investments and assets that pay their way and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gasses. Still, Amanda asked herself: “How do I do this for the least amount of money, because I don’t have a lot of money.”  

Composting was a low cost place to start. The idea to have chickens came out of Amanda’s daughter’s interest in birds. These social egg producers are a natural pest patrol for the home food garden and complete the composting cycle. When they were without the chickens while selling their house, Amanda confessed she missed them.

As the family added an all-electric vehicle to the plug-in hybrid they purchased in 2018, Amanda became more familiar with phone accessible charging station groups for longer trips. The solar panels were installed in 2019.

As her practices continue to evolve, Amanda began buying milk in returnable glass bottles as part of a general strategy to reduce single use plastic. She observed, “There’s another piece of the familiar reduce – reuse – recycle practice, and that’s to refuse.”  

Amanda’s approach is echoed in two books in the church library. Scientist Hope Jahren has written The Story of More: How we got to climate change and where we go from here, which outlines a simple blueprint for personal actions. Bluntly put, it’s putting your money where your values are. Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe’s new book Saving Us: A climate scientist's case for hope and healing in a divided world is a call to congregations and groups to take up the green challenge step by step, starting with a robust conversation with our friends and family members.

Come join the conversation! Let’s figure out together how to tune our personal and church lives to our convictions for creation care.

How have you been sharing Creation Care witness with your congregation? Do you have a story that you would like to share with readers of the Kairos Newsletter? Please forward to Joe Scarry at jtscarry@yahoo.com
Two Kairos Grants Awarded to Congregations for Earth Day Programs
First Congregational UCC in La Crosse and First Congregational UCC in Wisconsin Rapids have received Kairos grants through the Wisconsin Conference to help pay for Earth Day-related events.

The La Crosse congregation is presenting a Creation Care Product Fair. Members of the church’s Creation Care Team have researched products and found many sustainable items available from local sources to replace single use and disposable products. “Our team is doing the research and becoming educated so that we can help others have a positive impact on saving our planet and giving our children the best chance for a healthy and happy future,” the organizers said. 

The Wisconsin Rapids congregation is hosting a special Earth Day celebration for the community, including a presentation by “Eco Evie,” a young girl who has established her own clothing company using fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Proceeds from the sale of her clothing goes to help endangered species. Many fun activities are planned for children and youths as part of the event.

Thanks to all of our congregations for supporting Our Church’s Wider Mission. OCWM supplies the funding for Kairos grants, which help support the important work of caring for our Earth.
An Earth Sunday Theme Song: ‘The Soil’
You are welcome to use this song from the BTS Center Convocation 2021 in a congregational setting. The song is “The Soil” by Pax Ressler, and was commissioned especially for the Convocation.
More information about the BTS Center and its Convocation 2021 can be found here.
Creation Care Good News!
SAVE THE DATE: Spring Work Weekend at Daycholah Center is May 5-8

Help improve our setting for Creation Care programming, Daycholah Center in Green Lake. Projects include spring cleanup, native planting, buckthorn pulling and possible ramp construction. To participate, email Amanda Edwards at aedwards@ucci.org and she will guide you in registering via the camp registration system. 

Fair Trade Products Are Immigration Working Group Focus

Many congregations already are active in lifting up the importance of fair trade coffee and other fair trade goods,= and helping people understand the role of these products at the intersection of eco-justice, immigration justice and anti-racism. In the months ahead, the Wisconsin Conference Immigration Working Group will emphasize this issue. Look for an exhibit at Annual Meeting 2023 and an educational event in the fall, and contact Lisa Hart at lhart@wcucc.org to begin receiving updates about the work of this group, including its monthly meeting notices.

No Mow May is Coming

Is your community working to protect pollinators? Check out this great video about No Mow May put together by Memorial Fitchburg. 

Webinar: Getting Ready for Earth Sunday, Resources for Congregations

Karyn Bigelow, the UCC’s co-executive director of Creation Justice Ministries, will introduce the resource prepared for this year’s Earth Day observance – which brings the lens of justice to food, the most immediate and tangible way that we connect with the natural world around us -- and will talk about specific ways churches can deliver a powerful message and experience on Earth Sunday. Register now for this webinar at noon on April 12.

General Synod: Creation Care Resolutions

The 2023 General Synod of the UCC, scheduled for June 30-July 4 in Indianapolis, will consider resolutions including:

Do you have a news item for the Kairos Newsletter? Send it to Joe Scarry at jtscarry@yahoo.com.
Help wanted!
Would you like to help write for or edit the Kairos Newsletter? Our Creation Care Team is looking for volunteers to help us connect with congregations and UCC members throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Interested? Contact Joe Scarry at jtscarry@yahoo.com.
COMING SOON: Summer 2023
The next edition of the Kairos Newsletter will feature suggestions for the summer months. Does your congregation have creation care programming, such as educational activities for children, in the works for the summer season? Let us know so we can share it in the upcoming edition. Contact Joe Scarry at jtscarry@yahoo.com.

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

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Wisconsin Conference UCC | wcucc.org