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Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
April 22, 2020  
Conference Annual Meeting Goes Digital!

In consideration of the extended "Safer at Home" timeline and our concern for the health and safety of our fellow UCCers and our communities, the Board of Directors officially decided to cancel the in-person Annual Meeting originally planned for Green Lake Conference Center on June 4-7. The good news is that we will hold Annual Meeting online.
On Saturday, June 6th from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. the business meeting portion of Annual Meeting will be held for the purpose of abbreviated worship, thematic programming around "Healing our Earthly Home" and conducting conference business. Online registration will be required, however there will be no cost. (Registration will be available soon.) Annual meeting materials, including information about business agenda items, will be sent to delegates and ministers over the coming weeks.
In keeping with our Annual Meeting theme, " Healing Our Earthly Home," we also plan to offer many of the inspirational and educational opportunities already planned for Annual Meeting. Some of this will take place between June 4th and June 7th. Additional programming will be offered throughout the coming months. All of this will be offered online and open to anyone in the conference.
Featured speakers and events will include:
  • Tia Nelson, internationally-recognized champion for environmental stewardship, and daughter of Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day
  • Jim Antal, author of "Climate Church, Climate World" and former Massachusetts Conference Minister
  • Extensive list of Creation Care and other workshops
As you might imagine, changing the entire format of the Annual Meeting is a significant undertaking. The Annual Meeting Planning Committee is working hard to plan and re-schedule implementation. Updates will be provided as further details are available.
For those who had already registered for Annual Meeting, please see additional information here
Planting a Tree; Growing our Future
Who plants a seed . . . beneath the sod
And waits to see . . . believes in God!
From the poem "Heart Belief"
Attributed to John Tyndall
19th Century Irish Physicist
This year the United Church of Christ has set a goal of planting 50,000 trees across the country between April 17th and April 26th to celebrate love of Creation, and as a positive action toward minimizing climate change. This is also a good way to make a commitment to the Earth in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22nd) and to observe Arbor Day (April 24).
Read more in this article from the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team
Grow in Faith with Lay Academy - Online!

A new Lay Academy cohort is forming soon and will launch into learning in a new format this fall. In light of uncertainties about in person gatherings due to the Covid-19, the program will take place entirely online. Much about the program's structure will remain the same. There will continue to be five sessions for each Lay Academy year, evenly spaced between late August and April. Each session will feature the same amazing instructors and transformative learning opportunities. Participants will still have independent reading and at-home activities to complete. There will still be time to engage with the instructor and other cohort members using the same technology platforms many of us are using now under the Safer at Home order. The primary difference is that we will gather virtually instead of in person.
If you've never heard of the Lay Academy or have been thinking of participating for years, I hope you will consider joining this transformative learning community in which your faith will deepen, your knowledge will expand and your understanding of your place in the body of Christ will grow. Throughout your involvement in the program you will dive into scripture, explore theology, consider God's presence in your life and discover fresh ways to speak about and live out your faith in your day to day life.
Because of the many ways we are adapting to this new reality, registration is delayed for a few more weeks. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more or want to be on a contact list when registration is opened, please email Tisha Brown and let her know you're interested. For more detailed information, go to .  
Online Church Conversation with The Damascus Project

At the beginning of quarantine, local church pastors made a quick transition to doing much of their work online. It has been a time of rapid on-boarding of new skills and ways of being in community.
Now we invite you to take a step back and consider:
What about your congregation's online worship experiences and gatherings are going well? What isn't going well? What are the challenges and what are the opportunities? Is your current way of doing online church sustainable? Is it meaningful? When you consider the possibility that we may need to do church this way, on and off, for the next 18 to 24 months, what do you feel and what do you need?
The Damascus Project invites 10 pastors from across the Minnesota and Wisconsin Conferences to join four 60-minute Zoom sessions of reflection and learning around these questions. Together, we will explore how to create online worship and connection that is authentic to you and your community. Conference staff will provide facilitation, support, and resources.
Cost: Free
Schedule: TBD in coordination with participants
Questions? Contact Abby or Tisha
Please note: in order to facilitate engagement, we are maintaining a hard limit of 10 for this pilot conversation on a first come, first serve basis, but other groups will be gathered if there is interest.
Questions about Unemployment Compensation for Church Workers?
Heather Kimmel, UCC Corporate Counsel, offers some guidance on employment benefits for church workers as addressed in the CARES Act. Read her memo for more information.
The Conference website provides information and extensive resources for churches and individuals navigating the challenges of the pandemic. Check it out at
Grant Opportunity for Churches
Thanks to the tremendous support for the Emergency Response Fund, the Conference can now offer ministry grants to congregations financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These grants will range from $500 to $2,000 depending on the need within the congregation and our ability to help. The effects of recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic will not fall evenly on our congregations, members, and friends. Some may find themselves in immediate need of financial support; if this is your congregation, please know that you can apply for a grant at
At the same time, others will find themselves able to give. If you are able, please consider making a gift to support the Emergency Response Fund of the Wisconsin Conference. Please visit and click on "donate." Your generosity matters.
OWL Trainings

Register Today! On August 14-16, the Wisconsin Conference UCC is offering a facilitator training for one of two levels of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) Curriculum at Pilgrim Center. Choose between training for the elementary level (Grades K-1 and 4-6) or the secondary level (Grades 7-9 and 10-12). OWL is a comprehensive sexuality education program, written by professional sexuality educators, that is offered through the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. For more information on OWL click here

This OWL Facilitator Training is being coordinated by Jeff Rabe and Lisa Hart. Question? Contact Jeff or Lisa. 
UCC COVID-19 Daily Briefing

The UCC COVID-19 Daily Briefing is an e-resource to help the UCC's more than 800,000 members separate fact from fiction in the COVID-19 pandemic, address critical issues such as racism and racial disparities in the impact and treatment of people with COVID-19, and contribute to recovery from this global disaster. The Briefing is prepared by Barbara T. Baylor, MPH. Click here for the index to all issues of the "Daily Briefing. "
Creation Care Team Survey

The Creation Care team is excited to launch their 2020 survey to identify progress on environmental stewardship and actions to reduce climate change impacts, and to find out how the Team can best support Wisconsin Conference congregations. Click here to find the online survey. Your information is very important in helping our team plan for the future, as we want to be a resource to help all Wisconsin churches face our environmental future with faith and hope. Thank you!
Stay-At-Home Offerings from the ONA Coalition

Daily Morning Prayer
The UCC Opening and Affirming Coalition is hosting daily Morning Prayer from Monday through Saturday in our Zoom chapel. Times are 8 and 11 am CDT. The 15-minute services are based on the ancient "Hours" of Christian prayer and include scripture, silence, intercessory prayer and TaizĂ© chant. This is a great way to begin your day with centering prayer. 
Service with Communion
Every Sunday evening at 6 pm CDT, the Coalition offers a service of virtual Holy Communion with music and a message. 
Members of any congregation - ONA or not - are welcome to these services, which will continue as long as stay-at-home orders remain in effect.
Join us for prayer or worship during the above times at Click on "join as an attendee." 

Online ONA webinars for ONA and not-yet ONA churches
Start planning now for the future of your congregation. Are you already ONA? Our webinars will help you deepen your ONA commitment and learn best practices for church growth. Not yet ONA? Learn how to lead your congregation towards an ONA covenant in ways that build consensus, strengthen relationships, and reduce the risk of conflict. Our popular webinar series is the perfect stay-at-home activity for church leaders.
Parents and Caregivers Compassion Resilience Toolkit
WISE and Rogers' InHealth Department are excited to announce the launching of the Parents and Caregivers Compassion Resilience Toolkit. You can find the Toolkit here.  
This Toolkit is organized for a facilitator team to implement eight sessions for parents and caregivers. The content is designed to build upon parents' and caregivers' compassion resilience, covering such topics as compassion in action, compassion fatigue, expectations, boundaries, modeling and wellness practices. Though designed for facilitators, individuals could also benefit from reviewing this content on their own and reflecting on their parenting practices.
For those interested in learning more about what the Toolkit has to offer, InHealth is offering a FREE three-hour Toolkit Overview training. It will be delivered virtually in two 1.5 hour segments from 9-10:30am CTS on May 1st and May 8th. If you are interested in attending the Overview, please RSVP to Alison Wolf.
We know these are particularly challenging times for those caring for children. While the concepts in the Toolkit are relevant at all times, they are especially helpful now as we navigate uncharted territory. We hope you will find these resources helpful in building and maintaining your and the caregivers you work with compassion resilience.
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • St. Paul's UCC, Menomonee Falls, is searching for a pastor. Details
To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Rev. Laurie Lyter Bright has been called as interim associate pastor at First Congregational UCC in Appleton. Laurie is new to the conference. Welcome!
Good Tidings
  • St. Paul's UCC in Ellsworth is excited to announce their new website. You can find it here! 
In Memoriam
  • Virginia Carrion, mother of Conference staff member Susan Taylor, passed away on April 15, 2020. Obituary 
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
Plant a Tree for Earth Day
Lay Academy
Online church conversation
Unemployment for Church workers
Grant opportunity
OWL Trainings
COVID-19 daily briefing
Creation Care survey
ONA stay-home offerings
Resilience toolkit
Conference Transitions
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.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Enlist Specialists to Improve Outreach Ministry ." Access this issue and archived issues here!
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

Join the Conference-wide Creation Care Team!
Are you passionate about Creation Care? Want to connect with others who are taking action to care for the earth? The Creation Care Team's primary focus is to encourage, support and provide resources to congregations in the Wisconsin Conference as they do what they can to care for creation. If you would like to be a part of this team, or for more information on the Creation Care Team, contact John Helt. You can also go to to learn more. 
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.