Volume 4, Issue 1
January 2023
A Resource for Lent 2023 - Grounded in Hope for Creation
"How might our theology come to be grounded in a sense of our relationship to the Earth, beyond awe and wonder?" 

That’s one of the questions posed on the Damascus Project Network by participants in the Creation Care Team cohort there. Perhaps answering questions like these will require a sustained effort. Does Lent 2023 present an opportunity to enter into these questions at your congregation?
Members of the Creation Care Team have worked with the creators of a Lenten resource at First Congregational Church, River Falls, to provide a resource that all of us can use. The original devotional grew out of the work and commitments not only of church members and leaders but also of the work of Hope for Creation, an ecumenical organization that since 2015 has grown into an influential community-wide initiative addressing a range of environmental, sustainability, energy and educational initiatives.

You can download the resource with this link or via the QR code and participate in discussions throughout Lent on the Damascus Project Network.
For Your Congregational Conversations About Creation Care
Congregations tell us that they are looking for books for small group discussions of creation care and faith. In this video, Wisconsin UCC pastor Daniel Cooperrider talks about his new book, “Speak with the Earth and It Will Teach You: A Field Guide to the Bible.” Register here to meet Daniel by Zoom at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 to learn how this resource might be used in your congregational setting. 
UCC Congregations Advocate for Electrification

Wisconsin Conference congregations including Bethel-Bethany in Milwaukee and First Congregational in LaCrosse have voted on a resolution to be brought before the UCC General Synod this summer that calls for actively planning for and promoting “electrifying space heating and cooling equipment, appliances, and machines when old ones fail or become outdated as one of the ways to protect God’s Earth and its people from climate change emissions, and to become role models for just and equitable electrification for individual members and the broader community.” Read the full resolution. To learn more, watch this video prepared by First Congregational, La Crosse, explaining the underlying issue, the specific resolution, and the way in which congregations, conferences, and the national setting work together within the UCC polity on these urgent issues.
Help Care for Creation at UCCI Sites in Wisconsin
United Church Camps Inc., especially the facilities at Cedar Valley and Daycholah Center, will be coordinating efforts to mitigate invasive species starting this spring. We are seeking creation care allies to assist in controlling buckthorn and other invasives in our wooded areas and with lakefront plantings at Daycholah Center. UCCI will provide equipment and supplies needed for eradication. Email Carol Merriman for updates about dates and locations.
Hard Truth: Climate Crisis Leading to Displacement, Migration
In early January, Wisconsin UCC members joined about 70 others from around the state to learn how climate change is causing migration. Scientist Angela Dickens of the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium, a member of Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, addressed the meeting of 350 Wisconsin on Zoom. She has spoken at Plymouth UCC in Madison and other faith communities in Wisconsin on this issue. 

Among the topics she addressed was the situation in Central America – particularly the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. An estimated 3.9 million refugees will flee Central America in the next 30 years because of the climate crisis.

Want to learn more? Get involved in the Wisconsin Conference Immigration Task Force. For details, contact Lisa Hart, associated conference minister for faith formation and justice ministries. 
Save the Date: Conference Annual Meeting Is June 9-11
Last year’s Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting provided a great opportunity for creation care advocates from throughout the state to meet, and that gathering sparked great initiatives, particularly our November retreat at Daycholah Center.

We’re planning opportunities to gather again at this year’s Annual Meeting. Please save the dates and plan to attend. More information will be available mid-February.
Funds Available for Youth Creation Care Activities
Here are two great ways to obtain support for youth-related creation care work. One is a national effort with a looming deadline, and the other is a Wisconsin Conference initiative.

Summer 2023: The Environmental Justice Ministry of the United Church of Christ is offering grants of $2,500 to UCC congregations, conferences and associations as well as UCC-affiliated theological schools and nonprofit organizations for the purposes of developing and furthering the work of youth and young adult leaders in the movement for climate justice. These Climate Hope Summer Fellowship Grants are to be used during the summer of 2023. The application deadline is March 1. Apply now.  

In Wisconsin: Youth creation care activities, including those associated with community efforts external to your congregation, are eligible for a Kairos Creation Care Grant from the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team. (See next article.)
Two More Kairos Grant Projects Funded
Two more congregations are using grants provided by the Creation Care Team through the Catalyst Grant program for projects to help our Earth and their communities. 

Hope UCC in Sturgeon Bay is using a $1,000 grant for LED lighting to replace all incandescent and fluorescent bulbs inside and outside the church building. This congregation has been active previously in drafting a Creation Care Covenant, partnering on regional seminars and webinars about climate change and environmental justice, and using compostable or reusable products in place of plastics and disposables.

St. Paul’s UCC in Sheboygan has a project underway to conserve water in the church gardens. The $1,000 grant will be used for a rainwater collection and an irrigation system. The congregation started the gardens five years ago to grow vegetables and native plants, help pollinators and beautify the church grounds. Gardening as a way to care for the Earth is part of the Sunday School curriculum, and church members also participate in community fresh food programs.

The Creation Care Team has distributed more than $21,000 in the past two years to similar projects and is seeking more funding to continue care for the Earth at our churches throughout the state. Funds are granted throughout the year as applications are received for eligible projects. There is no application deadline. The application and more information on funding can be found online at this link. Thanks to all of our contributions to Our Church’s Wider Mission, we are all helping to take these important steps for care of our earthly home.
Awesome Creation Care Music!
Enjoy this original composition to inspire your spring planting: “Three Sisters Garden” composed by a member of Memorial UCC, Fitchburg. The video, by singer and songwriter Michael Bryant, tells the story of Memorial UCC's Three Sisters Garden. Background vocals and flute by Jacquie Caravello. (To learn more, contact Susan Webb sfwebb@tds.net.)
The project “Three Sisters Garden” at Memorial UCC was described in detail in an article from 2022

To learn more: Interested in sustainable community gardening and preservation of heritage seeds? Check out this great resource on Tribal Food Sovereignty efforts in Wisconsin!
Are You Seeking a Connection?
How do you help your creation-caring congregants connect with others with similar concerns? Conversations are taking place every day in the Creation Care Team cohort of the Damascus Project Network, and it’s open to anyone. (Many of the stories you are reading here arose from conversations that took place there.) Members of your congregation can get involved simply by registering on the Damascus Project Network and joining the cohort. Register now. See you on the DP!
We Want to Hear Your Stories
Do you have a good story to tell about how members of your faith community are finding renewed vitality through the care for God’s creation? You can tell it by contacting Joe Scarry at jtscarry@yahoo.com so we can include it in a future issue of the Kairos Newsletter. 
Has Your Church Become a Creation Justice Church or Adopted a Creation Care Covenant?
If so, please let us know. The Creation Care Team tries to track our Conference’s success in responding to the Kairos Call to Action and to celebrate and share every congregation’s work caring for the Earth.  

The UCC national setting has a program for Creation Justice church designation, similar to being a Just Peace or Open and Affirming congregation. Our Wisconsin Conference encourages congregations to take this step, or to adopt a Kairos Creation Call-to-Action Covenant. The covenant and the Creation Justice church role mean that the congregation recognizes care for the Earth as part of the church’s stewardship work, grasps the urgency required to help stem the climate emergency, and cherishes our spiritual connection with nature. Accepting this call to action is a serious and collective decision by each congregation, and the covenant document formalizes and records each church’s resolve in this important work.

Please let our team know if your congregation is interested in helping with this process. If you already have taken this step, we would love to hear your story and to receive a copy of any covenant, resolution or program you are implementing. Contact CCT co-chair Bob Ullman or co-chair John Helt to start the conversation.
Creation Care Good News
Climate Hope Cards Results Announced

UCC Minister for Environmental Justice Brooks Berndt introduced the results of the Climate Hope Cards art contest in this video. The announcement included a music video created by Environmental Justice Fellow Andrew Wells-Bean containing work from the finalists.

Zoom Gatherings to Discuss State, Global issues

The Outdoor Ministry of the Minnesota Conference is hosting a series of free Zoom discussions to share vital information around environmental issues. With the help of some amazing speakers, we will learn about and discuss microplastics in the Great Lakes and pollutants from mining. Click here for detailed information about each webinar. 

Wisconsin Green Energy Summit is Jan. 26

Click to register to attend the 2023 summit online. The event, titled “Sizing up the Clean Energy Transformation,” will examine the landmark Inflation Reduction Act its impact on Wisconsin’s energy landscape.

Did you notice?

If you were in church on Jan. 1, you may have noticed the UCC Mission Moment for the day lifting up Psalm 148: “Cosmic Praise … Notice God in the glory of creation, whether your vista of nature is a vast desert landscape, a stand of towering trees, a small city park, or simply the sun rising and setting.” What creation care scripture are you lifting up in your congregation?

Do you have a news item for the Kairos Newsletter? Send it to Joe Scarry.
Coming Soon: Easter Season 2023
The next edition of the Kairos Newsletter will feature suggestions for the weeks following Easter, including Earth Day 2023 and related creation care programming. Does your congregation have creation care programming in the works for the Easter season? Let us know so we can share it in the next edition. Email your program news to Joe Scarry.

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

Sign up for the Kairos Call to Action Newsletter to ensure you don't miss future issues!
This newsletter is made possible by your contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support.
Wisconsin Conference UCC | wcucc.org