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Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
July 29, 2020 
God is Waiting Everywhere
by Lorraine Ceniceros

At the end of February most of us had no idea of the changes that would soon be rolling toward us, making us adjust our way of living and how we are in relationship with the world outside of our individual family units. We were hearing news of a virus that seemed like it was happening in other countries but silently, slowly, moving toward the United States. By March those of us who could work from home were adjusting to the work-at-home routine. Those in our community who did not have that choice or opportunity were continuing to go to work to help support our lives and the economy or were filing for unemployment. 
Understanding Conflict Progression
By Beth Voigt, Wisconsin Conference Conflict Transformation Team

Our beloved beagle mix died last fall at 17 years of age. It was the first time in twenty years I had been without a dog in the house. was nice! We could leave the garage door open without fear of the dog hurtling through to terrorize the neighbor. No more late night trips to the 24 hour grocery store because we had (again) left dog food off the shopping list. Of course, we missed the companionship but I was in no hurry to add a canine member back into the pack. Until the pandemic hit. We were cooped up together, three teens distance learning, and... surfing the rescue dog websites. So now we have a young shelter dog, who has an abundance of energy and unwelcome behaviors.
This may seem a strange way to start an article about conflict, power, control and competing values in congregations, but what we are learning from working with our dog has much in common with how conflict escalates in church! 
Catalyst Grant Helps Lead to Repurposed Room, New Healthcare Initiative, New Revenue Stream
by Jon Paul
A few years-ago I heard a Lutheran Bishop say: "Pledge and plate is dead."

Now, for some congregations, this Bishop's death-report was premature. There are still churches blessed with generous individuals who tithe (or who at least give their 2.5%). The congregation I serve, Union Congregational UCC in Green Bay, is among them. We have a healthy pledge-plate program.

But the trends aren't encouraging. Partners for Sacred Places, a church-consulting non-profit, encourages congregations to think outside the box, or, rather, to think about "the box" in new ways. They suggest identifying mission-driven re-use of a congregation's most important physical asset--its building.

It makes sense--but how does one go about it?  
Editor's Note: You, too, can apply for a Catalyst grant! See the Catalyst grants page on our website for more information.
Clergy Survey on Ministry during COVID

The Wisconsin Council of Churches is surveying clergy leading faith communities to understand how Wisconsin churches and clergy are affected by COVID-19. Very early returns tell us that a low percentage (about 12%) of churches surveyed are worshiping indoors while more church buildings are open for essential services - 37% for food pantries, 21% for take out meals, and 27% for 12 Step Groups. We are also collecting testimony from clergy across the state about the reality of leading a faith community in our current context. Help us continue to learn and collect data that we can use with government officials and policy makers, public health experts, community leaders and the media. Clergy in Wisconsin are invited to take the survey. If you are not a pastor or priest, we would love for you to pass this link onto clergy in your church.
Access the survey here

Celebrating the ADA, UCC Leaders Commit Anew Toward Greater Accessibility

As the United Church of Christ marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we celebrate that we have come a long way and we confess that we have a long way to go. We recommit ourselves to the dismantling of racism and ableism from our institutions and systems. We commit ourselves anew to continuing to shift paradigms toward greater accessibility.
Read the entire article here

Editor's note: Be sure to read about First Congregational UCC, Madison, becoming an A2A Church in the "Good Tidings" section of the "Conference Transitions" article near the bottom of this newsletter.
Join The Damascus Project Network - For Free!

In this time of continued physical distancing, it is more important than ever to find new ways to connect. That's why we invite you to join The Damascus Project Network. The Network is the platform for our online courses, but it is more than that: it's also a gathering place for learners across Minnesota and Wisconsin to connect, engage, and grow. More than 100 people have already created their free accounts. Join us!
To help get you oriented, we've created these brief videos about The Damascus Project and our Network. Check them out:
Get Acquainted With Us
Sign Up
Learn More
Ready to go? Join The Damascus Project Network here (select the "free" membership plan), and register for courses on our 2020/21 Offerings page . There are learning opportunities for lay leaders, spiritual seekers, pastors and staff, and members-in-discernment. Our first classes begin in mid-August.
We look forward to seeing you in The Damascus Project Network! Questions? Contact Tisha and Abby at or 507-222-0194.
Communities of Practice for Clergy and for Christian Educators
Registration now open for groups starting in September
Note: Previous COP participants need to register again each year to continue in a group

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.
COP groups are available for people who work in Christian Education and Faith Formation (CE/FF), too!  
Register for a CE/FF COP group
Grant Opportunities for Creation Care Initiatives

In response to the Kairos Call to Action, the Conference Creation Care Team is offering grants of up to $1000 available to Wisconsin Conference UCC Congregations that are planning initiatives to deepen their love of creation and positively change their relationship with the environment.  
These initiatives could address new models for community-based cooperation and ministry, environmental and economic justice work, theological grounding for your congregation's response to the climate crisis, and/or potential leadership identification and development for guiding the congregation's response. Additionally, because the Creation Care Team has connected with the Native American communities of Wisconsin, consideration will be given to congregations who use this as an opportunity for multi-cultural literacy and cooperation.  
These initiatives can be small or large, focused on enhanced efficiencies, consciousness-raising and education, or organizing and advocacy. Because of the far-reaching dimensions of the climate and ensuing economic crisis, priority consideration will be given to initiatives that somehow connect with multiple partners within or beyond communities the congregation serves.  
For more information and to submit a grant application, go to Contact Lisa Hart with questions.  
This opportunity has been funded in part by a Catalyst Grant from the Wisconsin Conference UCC. Catalyst Grants are enthusiastically and generously supported by the people of the Wisconsin Conference, UCC through our giving to Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM).
Interim Ministry Training Institute

To all clergy:
  • Are you restless in your ministry?
  • Do you enjoy a challenge while working with congregations?
  • Are you concerned about the health and vitality of congregations and their ability to address the changes they face?
Interim Ministry might be right for you. Our churches need Interim guides and coaches to help them prepare for a new pastor, to navigate a change in size, or to evaluate their values and purpose for the days we see before us. Interim work is a specialized ministry with its own set of tools and practices. At the same time, transitions happen around us all the time, and the techniques and approaches of Interim ministry are valuable in many settings.
The Interim Ministry Training Institute offers training at a pace that allows for working pastors to attend and to study and apply their knowledge in real time. Now available entirely online, the class will include live Zoom time one day a month for 8 months with stimulating readings and videos ahead of class and assignments that mix analysis and practical application. Go to to find more information and an application.
Webinar: Engaging the Climate Emergency in Preaching and Worship
With Rev. Jim Antal
August 13, 7:00 pm

God is calling the church to shape our preaching, worship and liturgy as if life itself depends on it. Clergy must fully engage the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. This webinar will help pastors offer their congregations hope, engage their imagination, and inspire them to take action on climate justice.
How can pastors best unpack the relationship between racial, economic and climate injustice? How can the church shape the new realities emerging from the pandemic so that we experience a #JustRecovery for "the least of these among us" AND for the ecosystem? How can pastors connect the Black Lives Matter movement with the climate movement? What inspiration can we draw from the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement? How can congregations help make us the generation God has dreamed us to be?
Jim Antal is the Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the UCC General Minister and President. Jim will share insights from his 2018 book, Climate Church, Climate World and from his experience preaching on the climate crisis to hundreds of congregations. Jim is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian and has been an environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970
Solar for Nonprofit Organizations
Thursday, July 30, at 1pm CDT

RENEW Wisconsin will be hosting a webinar called " Solar for Nonprofit Organizations" intended for mission-based and other not-for-profit groups interested in installing solar power. We'll be briefly discussing how solar energy works, the economic benefits it can provide, plus incentives and/or programs that can help reduce costs. RENEW will be co-hosting this webinar with guests from Legacy Solar Co-op and the First Unitarian Society of Madison.RENEW will also make an important announcement regarding the Fall 2020  Solar for Good grant cycle.
A Tribute to Rev. CT Vivian
by Rev. Paula Anderson

Recently, two very important civil rights' icons passed from our midst; 80 year old Representative John Lewis and 95 year old Rev. C.T. (Cordy Tindell) Vivian. Both men carried the flame of the civil rights' movement, working with Martin Luther King, Jr. and others to fulfill a vision of America where all are treated equally, justly, where the color of a person's skin is not important.
Reading C.T. Vivian's obituary along with descriptions of him provided by colleagues and family as well as viewing pictures of him in various situations and times of his life have brought back personal memories. For a few years in the 1980's, C.T. Vivian directed a workshop on racism for the middlers at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
In the fall of 1986, my middler year, the time arrived to take the workshop. Were we excited to be in the presence of such an important leader in the civil rights' movement? The answer was NO. 
Continue reading article
UCC Webinar: The Green New Deal and Reparations
August 5, 2020, at 12:00pm CDT

When it comes to justice-oriented policy proposals that seek to fundamentally transform our society, the Green New Deal and reparations currently rise to the top. Yet, often they are discussed separately, despite clear and compelling connections. The Green New Deal Resolution proposed in Congress sought "to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression." At the same time, the demand for reparations compels our society to address the historic injustices of systemic racism, including environmental racism. To explore such connections and how faith communities can work to advance just policies, this webinar will feature three panelists: Congresswoman Barbara Lee,'s North America Director Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, and the UCC's Economic Justice Minister Sekinah Hamlin. Register now!
Help Others - Donate Now
The Emergency Response Fund of the Wisconsin Conference will provide help as congregations deal with critical needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. All funds will be awarded to organizations experiencing financial hardship and those meeting crucial needs in their community. Donate to the Emergency Response Fund
The General Fund of the Wisconsin Conference helps us connect, support, and resource pastors, leaders, and congregations.  Your gift allows the Conference to provide relevant and timely help during the pandemic and beyond. Donate to the General Fund 
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
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Wider Church Searches
  • Back Bay Mission seeks an executive director. Details 
New Calls
  • Rev. Susan Drake has been called as pastor at Parkside Community UCC in Saukville, effective July 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Don Niederfrank is serving from July 20 to August 30 as interim pastor at Pilgrim UCC in Grafton.
  • Rev. Nathan Athorp has been called as pastor at Our Shepherd UCC in Howards Grove, effective July 27, 2020.
Installations and Ordinations

  • Congregational UCC in Whitewater recently celebrated its 180th Anniversary. Congratulations!
Good Tidings
  • Congratulations to  First Congregational UCC in Madison! The church has officially been listed as an A2A Congregation! A2A, Accessible To All, is a distinction awarded by the UCC Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM) to congregations who strive to become Accessible to All in all aspects of their lives: buildings, worship, education, fellowship, and service, in order to proclaim God's word to all people. The A2A marker also recognizes congregations committed to be advocates with and for people with disabilities to overcome marginalization and injustice. First Congregational Church, Madison, joins just one other A2A Congregation in the Wisconsin Conference, and 15 nationally. Read more 
In Memoriam
  • Theodore "Ted" Feierabend, father of Rev. Lois Rosko, passed away on July 8, 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
Understanding Conflict Progression
Catalyst Grant Success
Survey for Clergy
ADA Anniversary
Damascus Project Network
Register for Communities of Practice
Creation Care grant opportunity
Interim Ministry Training Institute
Webinar with Jim Antal
Solar for Nonprofit Organizations webinar
Tribute to Rev. CT Vivian
Green New Deal and Reparations webinar
Emergency Response Fund
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.
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.