Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Jan. 17, 2018 
Rigert family image Blessings Abound in Brush with Scarcity
by Franz Rigert

We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica on Christmas evening. Trinn and I planned to savor precious time with our three mostly adult children and to celebrate her 50th birthday in a rental home high up in the rain forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After a night in the capital we drove over the famous "crocodile bridge" to the coastal city of Jaco, and then headed south toward Manuel Antonio National Park. Just a half hour before our destination, we stopped at an open air roadside restaurant for lunch. Upon returning to our definitely locked car, we discovered the passenger side door lock had been picked and burglars made off with four backpacks containing our passports, wallets, glasses, numerous electronic devices, and all sorts of sentimental valuables. Among other things, I lost a journal in which I had chronicled all of the Sunday preaching, clergy visits and church leadership meetings experienced in my first three years as Conference Minister. Ugh.
We stood there dumbfounded, feeling utterly violated and helpless. 
The Chippewa Valley Street Ministry: Support in the Street, and Beyond

Pastor Mike Henry works with the Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, a street ministry in Eau Claire that "seeks to meet the needs of those who are not able to find housing, clothing, and other...needs to survive." The Ministry has volunteers from many churches and other institutions but began in 2012 through pastor David Huber and Plymouth UCC in Eau Claire. Anyone interested is invited to "shadow" Pastor Mike as he reaches out and listens to those living on the streets. We are fortunate to have Cindy Halfen, from the Northwest Association's Division of the Mission of the Church in the World, describe the powerful experience that led to her passion for this ministry.
Read on >>

Wisconsin EXPO Project Gives Explorers an Opportunity to Serve a Church

Stacy Craig, a member in discernment in the Northwest Association, rode on a windsled called Angel (see picture at right) to her first day of her internship at St. John's UCC in La Pointe, on Madeline Island. Stacy will work at the church part-time for 6 months under the supervision of Rev. Marina Lachecki. Stacy was given this opportunity to serve in a local church setting during her period of discernment through a pilot program of the Wisconsin Expanding Pastoral Opportunities (EXPO) Project. The Northwest Association Division of Church and Ministry and the Wisconsin Conference Catalyst Committee helped to create the EXPO Project, in consultation with Wisconsin Conference Lay Academy leadership and advisement from United Theological Seminary.

The EXPO Project, currently in a pilot phase, is a part-time stipend experience in a local church to learn firsthand what severing in a pastoral role entails. This opportunity is available to persons in the Northwest Association: those attending seminary, persons who have attended Lay Academy, and persons who have been part of other programs of formation for ministry but have not had a direct experience of serving in a local church. 
Good luck during your internship, Stacy!
Unite to End Racism Rally: Bus Trip to DC
April 3-5, 2018

From Franz: Join me April 3-5 as we launch an ecumenical movement toward racial justice throughout the state of Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Conference UCC is co-sponsoring a bus tour to DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by committing to uniting together to end racism.

Buses will depart from four cities to events taking place in Washington, DC, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On April 4th we will join people from around the nation for an interfaith service of prayer and preparation at the Lincoln Memorial and a rally on the National Mall.
More information
Rev.Traci Blackmon image Traci Blackmon to Speak at Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting this June
Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, will speak at our Annual Meeting, June 8-10, 2018. Traci was recently named the 2017 Person of the Year by the St. Louis American newspaper.
More information about annual meeting coming soon!
Clergy/Spouse Retirement Retreat
February 19, Cedar Valley Retreat Center, West Bend, 9am-3pm
March 17, Grace UCC, Wausau, 9am-3pm

Starting to think about retirement? Or recently retired?
Do you have questions about how to best navigate this transition?
Attend this event to learn how to plan for healthy and transformational steps in your retirement journey. Through a combination of presentations, access to resources and dialogue, you will have an opportunity to ask your pressing questions and share concerns and possibilities with other participants. Clergy and their spouses/partners who are beginning to think about, nearing and/or recently retired are encouraged to attend.
Register for the event in Wausau
Five Practices Kick-off Event
February 3, 2018
Trost Center, DeForest
Are you looking to jump-start a new initiative in your congregation?
Do you want to expand your ministry, but you're not sure where to start?

The Five Practices program is a catalyst for implementing the change you want for your congregation. You will learn a process that can help you identify and achieve your ministry vision. Applicable to small or large projects, short-term or long-term change, the Five Practices process sparks ideas, as well as energy.
This facilitated program helps you stay on track, and ensures that there is follow through to achieving your vision for change. You will have guidance from a trained facilitator over six at-home sessions as you move through the process.
Gather your team and sign up for Five Practices now!
Learn more
Youth Faith Formation Retreats
February 23-25, 2018 or March 2-4, 2018
Pilgrim Center

Bring your confirmation class and join us for a weekend of faith and team building. We'll spend time with the bible, our identity as Christians and members of the UCC denomination specifically, and our personal faith journey. More specific information to come. Check-in begins at 7pm on Friday. The retreat ends after worship on Sunday, between 11:00 and 11:30am.
The Faith Formation Retreats are a partnership of the Wisconsin Conference UCC and United Church Camps, Inc. Program planning and leadership is offered by a team representing the four Associations of the Wisconsin Conference UCC. Partial scholarships available.
For registration instructions, please contact Laura Pine
Dr. Jennifer Harvey image
Dear White Christians: A Path toward Racial Justice
Featuring Dr. Jennifer Harvey
Madison, February 9, 2018, 7 pm to 9 pm
Wauwatosa, February 10, 2018, 10 am to 12 pm

Dr. Jennifer Harvey, author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation, will be in Wisconsin to speak and share conversation on the subject of the church and racial justice.

Dr. Harvey has spoken and led workshops for faith communities and academic audiences around the nation. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and keeps her own blog:  
Wauwatosa event registration

Share Your Three Great Loves Story

Three Great Loves, a storytelling initiative of the UCC, wants to hear how your ministries living into God's love are making an impact in your community.  
Yearbook Reporting

The National UCC Office's Data Hub  is now open for your yearbook data entry! What is this information used for? Here's eleven reasons why reporting your church's annual data is important. 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.
Graduate-Level Scholarships Available

Graduate-level religious scholars are eligible to apply for one of 50 $5,000 scholarships for tuition, feels, books or other costs of attending school full-time during the 2018-2019 academic year. Church Mutual Insurance Company's foundation, CM Cares, is the sponsor of the scholarships.
More information

Save the Date: Break the Silence Sunday 2018
April 22, 2018

Materials for this year's Break the Silence Sunday will be available in February. Break The Silence Sunday is an effort to open up a conversation within the church about rape and sexual assault. Within the context of our faith communities we hope to:
  • acknowledge the reality of rape and sexual violence in our world;
  • support survivors by creating a place where they can tell their stories, feel loved and supported, and find encouragement on their healing journey;
  • commit ourselves to the work of changing the world, creating a future where rape is only a memory.
More information
Dwight Zscheile image Faithful Innovation in An Uncertain World
Wisconsin Council of Churches' Winter Forum
March 2-3, 2018
Stevens Point

In today's dynamic cultural environment, churches have to be more than faithful-they have to be agile. That means embracing processes of trial, failure, and adaptation as they form Christian community with new neighbors. And that means a whole new way of being church.
Taking one page from the Bible and another from Silicon Valley, priest and scholar Dwight Zscheile brings theological insights together with cutting-edge thinking on organizational innovation to help churches flourish in a time of profound uncertainty and spiritual opportunity. Picking up where his recent bestseller, People of the Way left off, Zscheile answers urgent and practical questions around how churches become agile and adaptive to meet cultural change.
More information

Racial Justice Film Series
First film: January 24
Race: The Power of an Illusion (film 2 of a 3-part documentary)
Madison Public Library, Central library

If you are in the Madison area, you may be interested in this Racial Justice-focused film series sponsored by the Madison Public Library and Community Shares of Wisconsin. The first showing on January 24 will be "The Story We Tell," the second film in the Race: The Power of an Illusion documentary series. The film uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination.
More information
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
No churches have begun to search for a new pastor recently. To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Rev. Michelle Freeman has been called as pastor at St. Peter's UCC (Parkside Community) in Saukville, effective January 14, 2018.
Installations and Ordinations
  • Beth Petzke was ordained at First Congregational UCC, Sheboygan, on January 14, 2018.
Good Tidings
  • Rev. Dan Stark and his wife Sonia welcomed their son, Elliot James Stark, to the world on December 19, 2017. He weighed 9 pounds and was 21" long. Congratulations!
In Memoriam
  • June Knoth, mother of Rev. Russell Knoth, died December 31, 2017. Obituary 
  • Sheila Bock, wife of Dr. Robert Bock, former treasurer of the Wisconsin Conference, died January 10, 2018. Obituary
Thank You, Volunteers!
  • Nancy Marks and Kay Hallanger recently volunteered for the Conference office. Thanks so much!

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.

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

In This Issue
Chippewa Valley Street Ministry
Church internship project
Unite to End Racism Rally
Traci Blackmon keynote
Retirement retreat
Five Practices event
Youth Faith Formation retreats
Dear White Christians event
Three Great Loves stories
Yearbook reporting
Scholarships available
Break the Silence Sunday
Winter forum
Racial Justice Film Series
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

This Northwest Association church, led by pastor Don Quigley, was formed in 1897 by the Park Falls Congregational Society and was the first church organized in the north woods town of Park Falls. 

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
Quick Links

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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
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Let us know! If you have something you'd like considered for publication in
Wisconsin Conference Life, email Nola at the Wisconsin Conference.