Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Dec. 12, 2018 
advent wreath image Christmas Eve 1992
by Rev. Joanne Thomson

On December 20, 1992, I offered the benediction after morning worship at Middleton Community Church, changed into traveling clothes, and headed off for the bus to O'Hare and the start of my 24 hour-long trip to Asunción, Paraguay. In Asunción, I'd pick up my infant daughter Jessie, visit the US Embassy, and head back to the airport for the return trip to the United States. This would be the culmination of a long adoption process, which had led us through many bureaucratic tangles in both the US and Paraguay.
My husband and I had first met Jessie in the fall, when we'd gone to Asunción to complete the Paraguayan side of the adoption process. Things had not gone as planned, however. What was supposed to be a visit of several weeks turned into an open-ended stay as the legal process stalled, and we were forced to return to Wisconsin, leaving Jessie behind in her foster home. After a wait that seemed endless, we learned that our adoption had been finalized, and that Jessie could come home in December. Because I am the parent in our family who is an American citizen--my husband is not a US citizen -- it fell to me to make the trip. My husband would stay behind with our one-year-old son.
Continue reading 
Is There Room for Them?
by Rev. Leslie Schenk

They had to leave their home and travel far. For safety reasons they joined with others along the way, forming caravans of sorts. Their names were Mary and Joseph, traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Their names were Marta and Josef, traveling from Bavaria to Ellis Island and then to Milwaukee. Their names are Maria and Jose, traveling from Honduras to the US border, seeking asylum. All seeking a safe place to rest, a home, a welcome.

The stories are similar, but is our response? Continue reading
Dorhauer christmas message quote image Remember the Power of Love

In his Christmas Message, United Church of Christ General Minister and President the Rev. John C. Dorhauer urges the wider church to use the power of love to overcome the divisions that exist in our world. Read his message here
Together, We Are Stronger
As you contemplate your year-end giving, please consider a gift to the Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ Annual Appeal. The Annual Appeal supports vital Conference-wide programs and staff that serve local congregations, helping to keep local churches strong and their ministries thriving.
A gift of any size is important and appreciated. We value your investment in our shared ministry. Together we are stronger, our reach is wider, and our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is deeper.
Your gift to our Annual Fall Appeal will support these vital Conference-wide programs and services:
  • A new Legacy Program to assist local churches in cultivating bequest gifts
  • A ministerial training track for those who feel called to Authorized Ministry but cannot attend seminary.
  • Seed Grants in support of emerging justice and community-based ministries
  • A dedicated Conference Staff that faithfully guides pastoral transitions, offers care and counsel to clergy, and provides a myriad of resources for congregations.
  • Trained Conflict Resolution teams that help congregations navigate through challenges
  • And - in just nine months - our Wisconsin Conference will host General Synod in Milwaukee!
To give to the Wisconsin Conference Annual Fall Appeal click here.
With grateful hearts . . . in Christ,
Rev. Franz Rigert, Conference Minister
Rev. Jim Hollister, Board Chair
Insurance Notes
Health and Dental Insurance will continue to be billed quarterly by the Wisconsin Conference in 2019. The Pension Boards will bill pension and life and disability monthly. Monthly billing by the Pension Boards for health and dental insurance will begin next December 2019 for the January 2020 payment.

Questions? Please contact Tracy or Vicki at the Conference office.
UCC Webinar Features Leading Climate Scientists and Faith Leaders
January 9, 2019, 2pm Central time
Recently, a couple of major climate reports have been released that highlight the impact of climate change on our world and the urgent need to act. As part of the UCC's monthly Creation Justice Webinar Series, the insights and moral imperatives of the reports will be discussed by three leading climate voices. Katherine Hayhoe was a coauthor of the National Climate Assessment, and she has frequently focused on communicating about climate change to an evangelical audience. Naomi Oreskes is a professor at Harvard University and has long been engaged in high profile discussions and documentaries about the science of climate change. Jim Antal is a national leader in faith activism on climate change and is the recent author of "Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change."  Sign-up now to join this webinar. While the webinar is on January 9th, register even if you can't make it, and a recording will be sent to you.
anti-racism training logo Anti-Racism Training and Retreat
Sunday, January 20 - Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Moon Beach Camp
Racism dehumanizes us all - Dismantling racism heals us all.
Increase your understanding of the systemic violence that is racism in our society, our communities, and our churches by attending this workshop and retreat. As the church, it is our duty to not just be not racist, but to be anti-racist. This means we need to identify and work against racism. This workshop will help us to identify the insidious ways we perpetuate racism without even thinking about it. Whether this is your first step or a continuation of your journey, this workshop will meet you where you are to help you get closer to being an anti-racist, pro-reconciling leader for your church and community.
More information

apple core image Jesus Core Retreat
January 11-13, 2019
Pilgrim Center

The world is a diverse place . We meet people who think differently, believe differently and live differently than we do. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to communicate with them. This is especially true when we do not agree with each other. As people of faith, we are called to be love one another...even those we disagree with.
At this year's Jesus Core, we will spend time exploring and discussing some of the topics that seem to create tension and division in our society . We learn how we can communicate with, and be in community with, those who think differently than we do. We can be a blessing in our world when we are able to show compassion to each other .
Who ? Youth grades 9-12, and young adults up to age 22, individually or with their church groups (We ask for 1 adult leader for every 5 youth from one congregation)
Register here
people walking in fog image Returning to Sacred Texts and Finding Stories You Can Live In
Online course: February 4 - April 5, 2019

There is no lack of bad biblical interpretation available these days, one consequence of which has been almost a wholesale rejection of the Bible and the Christian tradition it undergirds. But even for those who stand in the tradition and hold the Bible in high regard, reading it can feel intimidating and complicated, and its message distant and maybe even a little bit irrelevant.
This course will give you the opportunity to:
  • Discover what happens in the act of reading and what the implications are for reading the Bible, so that the Bible can become a source of wonder, wisdom, and inspiration for you;
  • Learn some specific tools to increase your competence and strengthen your confidence in reading and interpreting the Bible;
  • Spark your spiritual imagination so that you might understand and appreciate more deeply the circumstances of your own life by finding your story in the sacred stories of the Bible;
  • Become better equipped to respond to and lead today's changing church by engaging your community's stories with the sacred stories of the Bible.
Matching Grant for ABHM logo America's Black Holocaust Museum

America's Black Holocaust Museum (featured in the September 26, 2018, issue of Wisconsin Conference Life) is trying to reopen and is seeking donations. A generous donor will will match every gift given to the museum by the end of 2018, up to $100,000! This is in addition to a separate $4,000 matching grant from the Southeast Association UCC. Plymouth UCC in Milwaukee is the financial agent for this offering and you can donate at this link online (select the museum from the drop-down list). Any checks should be made out and sent to Plymouth UCC, 2717 E. Hampshire Ave., Milwaukee, 53211. Please make sure to put ABHM in the memo line of the check.
Join the Wisconsin Gospellers in Germany
June 24-July 10, 2019

On this trip to experience cross-cultrual, ecumenical fellowship with gospel choirs in Hesse and the Rhineland, we will:
  • relax in Rudesheim at a family owned hotel/winery
  • enjoy a Rhine River cruise
  • participate in Frankenberg's annual open-air concert
  • enjoy homestays, fellowship, rehearsals & concerts with gospel choirs in/near:
    • Essen--center of Germany's iron/steel industry
    • Kalkar--13th century town near Dutch border
    • Kassel--safe haven for Huguenot refugees and
      home to the Brothers Grimm
    • Bad Arolsen--historical spa city
More information is available in this flyer
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
No churches recently started a search. To see all searching churches, click here.

Wider Church Searches
New Calls
  • Rev. Greg Young has been called for a six-month long designated minister position at Our Saviour's UCC in Germantown, effective December 2, 2018
In Memoriam
  • Rev. John Klindt died on November 15, 2018. Obituary
  • Dorlee Rohlfing, wife of the late Rev. David Rohlfing, died on December 3, 2018, 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.
Photo credits:
Advent wreath: Bubamaria [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons  
Arizona border photo from Leslie Schenk  
People walking in the fog photo: Federherz/iSock 
Clasped hands photo: vadimguzhva/iStock

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
Is there room for them?
Merry Christmas 2018
Together, we are stronger
Insurance Notes
Climate webinar
Anti-racism training and retreat
Jesus Core retreat
Returning to Sacred Texts class
Matching grant for ABHM
German trip
Conference Transitions
Congregations studying the Doctrine of Discovery
Can we count you in?
Conference Holiday Hours 
The Conference Office will be closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays as follows:

December 24
December 25
December 31 January 1
Church Spotlight

For 177 years, this Southeast Association church has served the people of Milwaukee. Since its inception, Plymouth Church has been active in social, political and religious issues. Plymouth has been an ONA church since 1991. Rev. Andrew Warner has been their pastor since 1997.   

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Getting to Know Our Neighbors: One-on-One Interviews." 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
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.