Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
June 28, 2019 
Generosity as a Spiritual Discipline
by Andrew Warner
A framework and resources for turning hopes and dreams into programs and ministries
Rick Dunham, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, recently spoke about philanthropy in faith communities . Drawing on research by the Giving USA Foundation, he spoke to the many ways charitable giving continues to change in our country . But then he turned to talking about generosity as a spiritual discipline .
Dunham chose as his text the story of the Israelites after Moses received the Ten Commandments . God told the people to conduct a fundraising campaign in order to build the Tabernacle . "Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me" (Exodus 25: 2) .
The next several chapters laid out in great detail all the different ways the people came together, offered their skills, and created the Tabernacle . God called forth generosity in a way that allowed everyone to participate and know that their gift mattered.
General Synod: Wisconsin Conference Highlights

The word on the street is that our Conference did a stellar job hosting General Synod 32 in Milwaukee, June 21-25!

We couldn't have done it without our Local Arrangements Committee, our volunteer captains, and over 400 other volunteers. See this article for more info about these fine Wisconsin folks, including some photos.

Inspiring worship services were enjoyed by General Synod attendees. There were three main services: the opening worship, the closing worship, and a large community worship that took place on Sunday afternoon and filled our convention center space. You can watch videos of the worship services at the following links:
Opening worship with The Rev. Kaji Spellman Dousa preaching
Community worship with The Rev. Traci deVon Blackmon preaching
Closing worship with The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler preaching
You can read more about the preachers at Synod at this link.

One of the primary functions of General Synod is to bring business and resolutions before the church. Resolutions brought to Synod are first discussed in committees made up of randomly selected Synod delegates. Each resolution is then presented to the meeting in one of the plenary sessions. You can see all of the resolutions at this link (editor's note: I found the resolutions did not view correctly in Internet Explorer. Try another browser if you have trouble). Each resolution was presented in a Plenary session, which you can view recordings of here. From an individual resolution page, click on "view Post-Plenary version" to read the final resolution and the action taken by the voting delegates. The national office has written many articles about Synod happenings and resolutions, so be sure to check them out.

One resolution was sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Conference: Supporting Survivors Of Rape And Sexual Violence Through An Ongoing Church-wide Observance Of Break The Silence Sunday (BTSS). Here in the Wisconsin Conference we have observed Break the Silence Sunday on the fourth Sunday in April since 2016, after Rev. Moira Finley brought the idea to us and prepared worship materials for the day. The resolution passed overwhelmingly! We are thankful for Moira and all of the work she has done breaking the silence on this issue that unfortunately affects so many people.
Read a reflection about BTSS from a delegate of the Connecticut Conference who served on this committee

Many Wisconsin Conference people will remember Rev. Martha (Marti) Baumer from her time serving Windsor UCC, where she is a pastor emerita. Many more in our Conference know her as an instructor for the Lay Academy and for online UCC polity courses. Marti was honored at General Synod with a 2019 Antoinette Brown award, which honors "trailblazers" in the Church.

Got Synod photos? We've created an online Synod photo album, and you can add your photos to it!
View the photos here

There's a lot more that happened at General Synod! Look in coming editions of Wisconsin Conference Life for additional articles.
Sauer Matt and friend Barry image Pastor Shares First-Hand Account of Giving Humanitarian Aid at US-Mexico Border
The Rev. Dr. Matthew L. Sauer, co-pastor of the Manitowoc Cooperative Ministry (First Reformed/St. John's UCC, First Presbyterian PCUSA), recently traveled to Arizona to provide humanitarian aid along the US-Mexico Border. You can read an account of his experience, as shared by the Herald Times Reporter, by clicking here.
Our Whole Lives Training
Training Lay Leaders and Clergy to Teach Human Sexuality
Grades 7-9 and 10-12
August 9-11, 2019
First Congregational UCC, Watertown
Our Whole Lives is a comprehensive kindergarten through adult sexuality education curriculum series. It provides youth with accurate information on sexual health, human development, sexual behavior, relationships, and personal skills in the supportive setting of their faith community. The Our Whole Lives (OWL) Facilitator Training workshop will ground participants in the underlying philosophy of Our Whole Lives, and train them to conduct parent orientations and lead the OWL classes for youth. The workshop will focus on the curricula for grades 7-9 and grades 10-12.
More information and registration
Register for Lay Academy
Lay Academy is a ministry of the Wisconsin Conference that forms a transformative learning community that engages lay people in spiritual growth and development through theological education. Anyone who longs to grow in faith, discover new ways to serve God and their community, and deepen their knowledge of Christian tradition, ministry, and mission is welcome.
More information
Register for Faith Foundations Year 2

Communities of Practice for Clergy and for Christian Educators
Register now for groups starting in September

Communities of Practice (COP) clergy groups provide the sustenance that your ministry needs in order to be effective well into the future! COP groups are designed to be peer learning groups, focused both on the practice of ministry and your growth in your role as a pastoral minister. Previous participants need to re-register to continue on in a group.
More information
Register for a clergy COP group
COP groups are available for people who work in Christian Education and Faith Formation (CE/FF), too!  
Register for a CE/FF COP group
Damascus Project: Four Courses Starting this Fall
This fall we are offering four learning opportunities to equip learners to faithfully serve God in their context. Check out these exciting opportunities to pursue faith, seek knowledge of God and God's word through scripture and in our world and to develop skills for spiritually grounded leadership within Christ's church and beyond. We look forward to seeing you!
The Crux: Engaging the Wisdom of the Wilderness for Today's Changing Church
This course will offer rich opportunities for reflection on the metaphor of the wilderness in scripture and in our lives personally as well as within our congregations. Any church leader (lay and ordained) grappling with the future of their congregation would benefit from this course. Any person of faith grappling with their own future in this rapidly changing world will find something to hold on to in this wilderness time in which we live. Register by August 1! More information
Exploring God's Call in a Changing World
This is a course in spiritual discernment. Anyone who is wondering about their life's next steps, musing over God's call to them, longing to develop strategies for listening for God's voice or desiring to learn how to guide others in spiritual discernment will gain something from this course. More information
A Flavor of the Old Testament
This is an introductory scripture course for anyone seeking to develop a deeper connection with scripture or to develop tools for reading. It could also be a fruitful refresher course for Clergy as they engage the text from a fresh perspective. More information
What Does it Mean to Be UCC? Theology, History and Polity
This course is for anyone who is interested in learning more about our unique denomination from someone who has lived the history, theology and polity of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Dr. Clyde Steckel will delight with first person stories and a deep love for our denomination. Deepen your understanding of what it means to be UCC. More information  
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • Windsor UCC is searching for a full time pastor. Details 
  • St. John's UCC in Germantown is searching for a part time pastor. Details
To see all searching churches, click here.
Wider Church Searches
  • The national UCC has a variety of open positions. Details
In Memoriam
  • Audrey Christofersen, wife of Rev. Arthur Christofersen, passed away on June 4, 2019. 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.

Photo of Matt Sauer and Barry courtesy Matt Sauer

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

In This Issue
General Synod recap
Pastor visits border area
OWL training
Lay Academy
Damascus Project courses
Conference Transitions

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
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Wisconsin Conference Life, email Nola at the Wisconsin Conference.