Volume 3, Issue 1
February 2022
Lenten Resource: Prayer and Fasting with God's good Earth
The Rev. Mike Mulberry, pastor of Pilgrim Congregational UCC in St. Joseph, Michigan, introduces Lenten resources now available to congregations. Mulberry is one of the leaders of the Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative. Contact him at [email protected]. 

Leaders from the Michigan Conference have fashioned a group of Lenten resources that are now available for use by congregations. The resources have a strong emphasis on creation care and advocacy, and were prepared to offer diverse possibilities for entry so that all may deepen their commitment to the hard road of Lent. The resources include:

  • A ritual of daily and evening prayer 
  • A daily invitation to a relationship with a climate advocacy group, a practice for a renewal, a children's storybook asking for climate action, a random act of climate, or a path you might take to show your solidarity and detachment from the Domination System.   
  • A daily practice of creation examen (an ancient spiritual practice of gratitude) 
  • A weekly spiritual practice of creation lectio divina (ancient spiritual practice) that corresponds with the Revised Common Lectionary through Lent 
  • A foot-washing ritual and Jericho Walk that begins with washing the feet of local climate activists and ends at one of the large financial institutions providing the capital for the continuing systemic violence of fossil fuels. 

Creation Justice from the Sanctuary to the Street:
Linking Worship, Action and Advocacy

6:30 to 8 p.m. Central, March 3

Repentance requires action. This webinar, hosted by the Michigan Conference on the day after Ash Wednesday, will focus on creation justice language within the life of the church. The discussion will explore the way liturgical and spiritual practices like Baptism, Communion and fasting can move us to advocate and act on behalf of environmental justice. How can the language of the sanctuary change the actions we take outside the building – into the marketplace, at city hall and in the street? How can the experiences in our congregations, such as worship, Bible studies, book groups and youth activities embrace the language of planetary health? Register here.
Creation Care Grants Spurred Action in UCC Congregations Across Wisconsin in 2021

By John Helt

At the end of 2020, with the assistance of the Conference Catalyst Fund, the Creation Care Team made Kairos grants to 10 congregations and to United Church Camps, Inc. The projects made possible by these grants expressed the “Kairos Call to Action” urgency of this decade for climate justice. Each project was a local “catalyst” during 2021, focusing mission energy and making something significant happen, even in the midst of the pandemic.

Here are the 2021 Kairos/Catalyst Grant recipients and their projects:

  • McFarland UCC, McFarland: installed native plantings
  • Grace Congregational UCC, Two Rivers: installed LED lighting
  • Saint Stephens UCC, Merrill: began to replace an inefficient heating system
  • United Church Camps, Inc.: enabled study and reaffirmation of indigenous roots
  • Trinity UCC, LaCrosse: installed a dishwasher and planted trees
  • Memorial UCC, Fitchburg: introduced reusable products in an outreach program
  • Congregational UCC, Ladysmith: installed LED lighting
  • Bethel-Bethany UCC, Milwaukee: led neighborhood greening projects
  • First Congregational UCC, Madison: installed rooftop solar
  • Plymouth Congregational UCC, Madison: installed rooftop solar
  • First Congregational UCC, Wisconsin Rapids: installed roof-top solar
I was honored to participate in the solar dedications at Plymouth Congregational, Madison, and First Congregational, Wisconsin Rapids. I was so impressed with the organization, dedication and widespread buy-in for these projects, completed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic last year. All 11 Kairos/Catalyst projects make a hopeful difference toward becoming more sustainable, reducing carbon footprints and demonstrating to the wider community that something can be done on the local level to care for God’s creation and combat climate change. 

These projects are making a difference in their local communities and beyond. Consider a project in your church that helps you to respond to the Kairos Call to Action. Additional grants will be available soon. Watch for details in coming Kairos newsletters and Wisconsin Conference Life. 

John Helt is a retired pastor and co-chair of the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team. Contact John at [email protected].
You Are Welcome on This Team! 

There are lots of opportunities to get involved with your
Conference Creation Care Team 

By Bob Ullman

Many of you have already connected with the conference Creation Care Team via webinars, the big read of Braiding Sweetgrass, Kairos Grants and other activities.

Please consider taking an active role with other volunteers from throughout the conference in shaping the work of the CCT. 

We have numerous areas of activity, including providing resources to congregations for projects as well as study and worship … encouraging advocacy on behalf of climate justice … helping congregations and their members connect with partners who share this common concern and commitment … and more!

Have specific skills and gifts to share? Connect with one of the CCT working groups below. 

Have other ways you want to contribute? Contact me directly at [email protected].

Thanks for becoming an active part of the Wisconsin Conference-wide creation care effort!

Bob Ullman is a retired pastor and co-chair of the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team.

Advocating Working Group
Contact: John Helt 
  • Responsible for … joint efforts to shape public policy at all levels; collaborate with other UCC conferences (e.g., Michigan and Minnesota) in the Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative
  • Seeking people who … like to organize, analyze, speak, write, and convene others
  • Special skills sought … environmental policy analysis, writing, advocacy, organizing

Resourcing Working Group
Contact: Kathy Bartilson
  • Responsible for … Kairos grants, webinars, articles, tools, and other information resources
  • Seeking people who … like to research, write, teach, publish, compile and study information
  • Special skills sought … grant writing, review, and communication

Connecting Working Group 
Contact Joe Scarry
  • Responsible for … Kairos Newsletter, liaison with congregations, connections to other entities
  • Seeking people who … like to connect with people and communicate
  • Special skills sought … writing, graphics, website updating, data organizing
How We Grew Into Becoming a Kairos Covenant Congregation
By the Rev. David Huber

It all started with a strip of splotchy grass and weeds about 5 feet by 40 feet, visible from the sanctuary of our church in Eau Claire. A “small” project to introduce native plantings to that plot eventually involved many members of our congregation, and got us collaborating in a shared effort in the larger community. Several other environmentally friendly projects developed in parallel. And before we knew it, we were voting on whether to become a Kairos Covenant Congregation. Read the story here
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
By John Helt

My wife and I read Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet nearly 50 years ago – in the mid ’70s – and it changed our lives. 

A decade earlier, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring first got me thinking about how we might better care for the Earth. Cindy and I both dreamed of living self-sufficient lives “off the land” or maybe in a commune. Cindy, in what came to be known as “the Bambi approach,” decided not to eat anything that she couldn’t kill herself. We came to Diet for a Small Planet hungry for something we could do about the mess we humans had been making of our common home. 

As a result of reading this book, we decided becoming vegetarians was one small and local thing we could do about the environmental crisis. 

Diet for a Small Planet is now available in a 50th anniversary edition. In the author’s introduction, she urges each of us to find one thing each of us can do to help the Earth, and she makes a powerful case that, when in doubt, the best place to start is the connection between what we eat and the destructive path we are on as a species

A plant-based diet may not be your “one thing,” but there are plenty of other celebratory acts of creation care to choose from. Find yours. Do it. Tell others about it.

We’ve all come a long way in 50 years. Today, the Wisconsin Conference is committed to the Kairos Call to Action and its 10 Ways Churches Can Mobilize to address climate justice. All of us, as individuals, families and congregations of Christian disciples, are invited to “start by doing something, anything, and then talk about it!”  

P.S., Diet for a Small Planet isn’t the only thing celebrating a 50th anniversary. Cindy and I look forward to our Golden Jubilee wedding anniversary later this year.   

John Helt is a retired pastor and co-chair of the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team.

Do you have a story about a creation care book or other resource that changes lives? Share your story in the Kairos Newsletter. Contact Joe Scarry at [email protected]
Moment of Awe: A Prayer for Our Earth

Please enjoy this short video from the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice, in which he prays Pope Francis' Prayer for Our Earth to beautiful imagery and music in honor of Interfaith Power & Light's Faith Climate Action Week on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Creation Care Good News!

First Congregational in Oshkosh video gets the word out about solar
Check out the way the Oshkosh congregation is telling the story of its commitment to improving the environment and to integration with its community via this tremendous 2-1/2 minute video!

100% Renewable in River Falls
First Congregational UCC in River Falls reports as of 2022 it is now 100% reliant on sustainable electricity. Read about the community-wide “Hope For Creation” initiative in River Falls here

Celebrating Solar in Madison
On Feb. 20, First Congregational Church in Madison dedicated its worship service to the positive impact its new solar panel installation will have on the environment and on the community. Watch here 

Watch Online: Honor the Earth Leader Frank Bibeau
Watch the video of the January webinar “Treaties Broken, Earth and Lives in Crisis: How do we change the narrative for the land and all its people?” – provided through the new Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team affiliate, the Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative. Watch here.

Congregational Creation Care Experiences: Think Ahead To Summer!
Summer 2022 registration is now open for a wonderful variety of experiences at United Church Camps sites spread across Wisconsin – Cedar Valley, Daycholah Center and Moon Beach. Updates here

Do you have a news item for the Kairos Newsletter? Send it to Joe Scarry.
Pass It Along
Please take a minute to forward this edition of the Kairos Newsletter to someone in your congregation or community who shares your love for Creation.

And please be sure to sign up here to receive the Kairos Newsletter regularly. We publish every other month.
Please Share Your Creation Care Story With Us
We’re here to spread the word! Please take a moment to let us know what your congregation and community are doing to care for God's beautiful, but threatened, creation by taking this short survey.
Moment of Awe
Awesome Sunset: Madeline Island
View from St. John’s UCC in LaPointe. iPhone photograph by Joe Scarry.

Share your awesome images with us via our Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Facebook group!

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

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