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Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Feb. 19, 2020 
Franz Rigert
Angels and Prophets
by Franz Rigert

In a rousing and prophetic sermon marking the 175th Anniversary of First Congregational UCC in Janesville last Sunday, the Rev. Tanya Sadagopan raised an intriguing rhetorical question - "What is the difference between angels and prophets? And, which would you rather be?" After a brief pause, she offered, "Yeah, me too!"
You see angels appear out of nowhere, bringing good news and glad tidings, and then - poof - they disappear! Remember the reassuring words the angel Gabriel brought to Zechariah and then to Mary? Who can forget the "angel of the Lord" delivering great joy to shepherds in the fields? Most of us would probably prefer to be the voice of hope for those who stand in fear, the spiritual guide for those who are lost and broken. Who wouldn't want to make such a profound impact in just a few fleeting moments?  
Rev. Elizabeth Hazel image Without OCWM
by Rev. Elizabeth Hazel, chair, Northwest Association Division of the Mission of the Church in the World

Without OCWM, it would be like having the roof over our heads collapse. I know OCWM stands for Our Church's wider mission, and sometimes the sheer number of activities funded by our gifts to OCWM makes it hard for us to grasp what OCWM means for us. Just like a variety of structural elements are needed to hold up the roof over our heads, so the variety of activities funded by OCWM reinforces a shelter-like system of protection and opportunity for spiritual growth and development. That system makes it possible for us to conduct church life without having to "reinvent the wheel" every time life throws us a curve ball. 

Sexual Assault Survivor Support

This April, the Wisconsin Conference UCC will observe its 5th Break the Silence Sunday. This will mark the first year that, having passed a resolution at General Synod this past June, the United Church of Christ will observe Break the Silence Sunday as a denomination. This annual observance to support survivors of sexual violence is scheduled for April 26th, the 4th Sunday in April.  April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Resources for this Break the Silence Sunday, including a full liturgy, are available at
One of the resources available to support adult female survivors of sexual violence is a retreat at Moon Beach. For many years, United Church Camps, Inc. has offered Steps on the Journey: A Healing Retreat to support the healing and wholeness of survivors. The retreat is led by survivors and has provided a circle of support for the survivors who have participated over the years. Our hope is to continue to expand this circle of support. This year's retreat will focus on Resilience. Please include this insert in your bulletins and post them as flyers in your church. It is not easy for survivors to know where to find support, especially within the faith community.  By sharing this information, your congregation can help provide an important ministry to the survivors in your community.
Damascus Project Launches New Website and Two New Courses
Are you curious about how to create real and lasting change in a community of faith? Is your church seeking to develop a faithful and loving response to those living with mental illness? Are you longing for the words to talk about your faith?
If you answered "yes"--or even "maybe"--to any of those questions, The Damascus Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin and Minnesota Conferences, UCC, is for you! We are an exciting hub for spiritual learning, offering sacred learning opportunities to help transform and equip spiritual leaders to navigate a changing world and guide a changing church.
We are thrilled to share our   new website , which now will serve as the central place to share information related to our learning opportunities. We hope you'll bookmark us and check back frequently!  
On our new site, you'll see our two exciting new courses that address key challenges in the lives of local congregations. Check them out:  
Being a Faith Change Agent: A New Paradigm for Transformational Pastoral Leadership
Instructor: Rev. Dr. Mark Tidsworth
Who might want to participate in this course? Anyone curious about how to create real and lasting change in a community of faith will benefit from this learning opportunity. While this course is geared to pastors currently serving in congregations, all are welcome.
The Church's Response to Mental Illness
Instructors: Rev. Abigail Henderson, M.S.W. 
with Rev. Tisha Brown and Hannah Campbell Gustafson, M.S.W. 
This course is designed to help local congregations develop a faithful and loving response to those living with mental illness. It will include coverage of important mental health terms and concepts, exploration of resource availability, and theological reflection on the realities faced by people and families facing mental health struggles.

Click here for more information on these exciting learning opportunities and stay tuned for the reveal of our 2020-2021 full year of learning later this spring.
Interim Leadership in Anxious Times
Continuing education for interim and transitional ministers
March 16, 2020 -- 9:00am - 3:00pm
Trost Center, DeForest

Remaining a calm , non-anxious presence is a challenge in these times of general anxiety and tension, yet it is crucial to our work of caring for churches in transition.
Uproar: Calm Leadership in Anxious Times , Peter Steinke's latest book, captures the tenor of our times. With his work and other resources, we will look at the anxieties our congregations face and what leadership techniques and skills will best serve us and help us all navigate these difficult times and move toward a hopeful, confident and faithful future.
We'll learn about and try out some options, and share our experiences, as we reframe the churches' challenges in the broader context of our social environment.  
Forever earthbound cover image Lenten All-Church Read
Forever Earthbound: Stories for Building a Better Planet
The Creation Care Team encourages your congregation to join with others in Wisconsin to read Chuck Tennessen's book, Forever Earthbound: Stories for Building a Better Planet, together as our Lenten season leads us not only to Easter but to the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day in April. Chuck has been writing a monthly creation care column in the Dodgeville Chronicle for several years; Forever Earthbound is a collection of selected columns.This book offers congregations a gentle entrance into the sometimes complex and contentious issues around environmental stewardship and global climate change. 
The Study Guide offers suggestions for beginning those conversations. Chuck also presented a webinar about using the book; the recorded webinar is available here.
Additional copies of the book are available to your congregation at the discounted rate of $5 each (plus shipping). Contact Chuck Tennessen to place an order.
Earth Day Liturgy Available Soon
The Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team is developing a liturgy to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The service order uses our upcoming Annual Meeting theme "Healing our Earthly Home" based on verses from Romans 8 and Job 12. All churches are encouraged to use the liturgy around Earth Day (April 22); April 19 is the first Sunday after Easter and may be a good time. This service order will also be used for Friday night worship at Annual Meeting this June. Watch for an announcement in Wisconsin Conference Life in early to mid-March when the Service Order and reference materials are released. There are also past Earth Day liturgies available for use any Sunday when love of Creation is preached. These are available on the Creation Care webpage on
Stewardship Skill Building Webinars - Preaching Generosity
It can be hard to talk about money. And yet Jesus talked about it often, second only to the Kingdom of God. Join Andrew Warner in an exploration of how to preach and teach about generosity and the use of our financial resources. Each webinar will focus on a specific liturgical season and a set of readings. We will plan out at least one preaching opportunity for teaching generosity as a spiritual practice.
Feb 25, 2:00 pm - Lent
Apr 21, 2:00 pm - Easter
Healing Our Earthly Home: Annual Meeting 2020
All Creation is Groaning...but listen and the Earth will teach you --Romans 8:18-25 and Job 12:7-9
June 5-7, 2020 - Green Lake Conference Center
Love of Creation : it's one of the UCC's 3 Great Loves. And it's more important now than ever before. Grounded in our Judeo-Christian faith and seeking to honor the wisdom of the First Nations, we are called to love, revere and care for God's whole creation. Annual meeting will inspire you and provide you with information and connections to resources to help you and your congregation become involved and take action on this critical challenge of our time. Join us at Green Lake Conference Center, June 5-7, 2020, for this year's annual meeting: Healing Our Earthly Home.  
2020 Inter-generational Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

Come join us for a week of canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, August 22-28th, 2020. Our adventure will originate out of our beloved Moon Beach camp and head to the BWCA for five days of canoeing. Pastor Nick Hatch, at First Congregational UCC in Appleton will lead the trip using his NOLS Outdoor Educator training. Participants will learn outdoor skills, enjoy fellowship with one another, and build their ecological theology. You will be outfitted with premium lightweight gear and excellent food (Food restrictions can be accommodated). Target group: Adults and/or adults of youth 12 and up with an adult chaperon. To register or find out more, click here. Registration ends April 30, 2020, so act soon!
Youth Faith Formation Retreats
Last Call to Register!
February 28-March 1, 2020 or
March 6-8, 2020
Pilgrim Center

Bring your confirmation class or other interested participants and join us for a weekend of faith and team building. We will explore what it means to be the church and how that commitment continues to evolve. Our focus this year will be on our faith journeys, both personal and as part of a greater faith community. Participants will explore the journey stories within our scriptures and identify the parallels in our world today. Check-in begins at 7pm on Friday. The retreat ends after worship on Sunday, between 11:00 and 11:30am. Contact Nathan for registration instructions.
Register for the February retreat by Feb. 21, 2020
Register for the March retreat by Feb. 28, 2020
Yearbook Reporting
Please update your church's yearbook information!
The National UCC Office's Data Hub is open for your yearbook data entry. If you have any problems or questions, please email  Susan Taylor, or call her at 608-846-7880. Please do not contact the National Office. Deadline for reporting: March 4, 2020
Remember to fill out the church officer data form online this year: Access this new link here!  
Driving $mart in God's Garden
Webinar, March 12, 2020 - 7:00pm-8:30pm
Let's do some math on Driving $mart in God's Garden! Based on current national averages, you drive 15,000 miles a year in an 11-year-old vehicle that gets 22 mpg and buy 682 gallons of gas (2.50) per year for $1705, but your vehicle also emits 13,620 pounds of CO2 annually into God's Garden. Driving is definitely a privilege with many benefits but also many environmental consequences.

As a Christian, you want to be a better steward of God's garden but since your vehicle costs are the 2nd/3rd highest expense in your budget, right now you can't afford to buy an electric vehicle to help the environment. You may think that you'll just continue to negatively impact the climate and have no options...but you'd be wrong.

Learn to Drive $mart and save up to $340 per year and lower your CO2 emissions by 2,725 pounds in your current vehicle (based on 20% improvement). Join us on March 12th at 7pm for the webinar, "Driving $mart in God's Garden."
Register here, even if you can't attend. A link to a recording of the webinar will be emailed to you after the event.
National Youth Event: NYE 2020

United Church of Christ's National Youth Event will take place at Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana July 22-25th 2020. This 4-day event is celebrated as the largest denominational gathering, often bringing in 4,000 participants. This time together is centered on faith, leadership, service and social justice to empower our youth.

Among an impressive lineup of speakers is nationally-known teen climate activist Jamie Margolin, who, at age 15, co-founded the youth climate action organization Zero Hour, which led the very first Youth Climate March in DC and 25 other cities in 2018.  This is sure to be an inspiring presentation!

The registration fee increases after February 29th. Bus registration is now open. Click here for more info.

Who: Young people who have completed 6th through 12th grade.
What: United Church of Christ's National Youth Event
When: July 22-25th 2020
Where: Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
Cost: $375 (February 1st-February 29th) | $435 starting March 1st
book cover image Minister's Book Honored
Congratulations to Rev. Holly Whitcomb! Her latest book, The Practice of Finding: How Gratitude Leads the Way to Enough, was just chosen by Spirituality and Practice to be one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2019!  
View the list of books at this link. Holly's book is described as "An exceptional spiritual work with plenty of practices for discovering the blessings in our lives."  
catalyst logo image Catalyst Grants Support Innovation in the Wisconsin Conference

Apply for a grant by March 30th to ignite an innovative project in YOUR church!

Nearly 40 Wisconsin congregations have already used Catalyst Innovation Grants to support new and impactful initiatives in their churches. There's still time to apply for an Catalyst Grant for 2020 to support innovation in your congregation and community. Proposals received by March 30, 2020, will be considered for funding in May. Proposals received by September 28 will be considered in November.

What is innovation, you ask? Catalyst defines innovation as anything that stretches your congregation out of its comfort zone, opens you to new community partnerships, engages your ministry resources in a different way or enlarges your impact in your community.

New this year, every successful grant recipient receives funding for their project and is also matched with a coach who checks in with them quarterly to provide support, encouragement and a relational connection between the projects funded and the Catalyst Team. Our desire is to help you succeed in your efforts and harvest what we all can learn from the times when we fall short. The Catalyst Team and Wisconsin Conference coaches look forward to partnering with you as you explore new ideas in ministry. Contact Tisha Brown today to start a conversation about your innovation ideas and whether or not your project would be eligible for Catalyst funds. Proposals received by March 30, 2020, will be considered for funding in May. Proposals received by September 28 will be considered in November.

Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • Our Shepherd UCC  in Howards Grove is searching for a pastor. Details

To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Rev. Jim Burd has been called as interim pastor at Immanuel UCC in Walworth, effective February 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Christie Ann Mandas has been called as associate pastor at St. John's UCC in Monroe, effective February 10, 2020. Christie is new to the Conference. Welcome!
Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Lance Lackore was installed at Hope UCC in Fremont on February 16, 2020.
In Memoriam
  • Rev. Kathryn Rust passed away on February 13, 2020. Her obituary is forthcoming and will be in the next Wisconsin Conference Life. Read more


The Conference Transitions feature appears monthly in the Wisconsin Conference Life. Please share your transition information, including church anniversaries, with the newsletter editor by emailing Nola.
This newsletter is made possible by contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support.

The Wisconsin Conference UCC is an Open and Affirming Conference, and an Immigrant Welcoming Conference.

Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ
4459 Gray Road | DeForest, WI  53532

In This Issue
Without OCWM
Sexual Assault Survivor Support
Damascus Project news
Intermin Ministry education event
Lenten read
Earth Day liturgy coming soon
Preaching generosity webinars
Annual Meeting 2020
BWCA trip
Youth Faith formation retreats
Yearbook reporting
Creation care webinar
NYE 2020
Book honored
Catalyst Grants
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

A unique feature of this Southeast Association church is the ringing of their two bells. The bells were purchased in 1886 and cost $509.50. The bells are still rung according to the continental tradition and rules recorded in the 1886 minutes. The pastor is Rev. Jim Gorman.  
Subscribe to the
Generosity Forward e-newsletter
to learn about new ideas, best practices, and training opportunities around
congregational fundraising .
Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
Quick Links

Is your church considering an Open and Affirming Process? The Wisconsin Conference has a committee to help!  Please feel free to use us as resources for your discussions and preparations. Contact Laura McLeod of the Wisconsin Conference UCC Committee on Ministry with LGBTQ Persons.

Also: check out the Facebook page for ONA churches
Got News?
Let us know! If you have something you'd like considered for publication in
Wisconsin Conference Life, email Nola at the Wisconsin Conference.