Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
June 12, 2019 
The Damascus Project Announces Four Fall Courses for Growing in Faith and Developing Spiritual Leadership
by Tisha Brown

I wonder how many people reading this today lie awake at night, not quite sure how they, a loved one or their congregation will find a meaningful path through life in this confusing and rapidly changing world. I wonder how many are at crucial decision points in life and seeking God's direction for next steps. I wonder how many would like to be able to talk more easily and with greater conviction about what they believe. I wonder how many are feeling a little lost when picking up the Bible or sitting down to pray but would rather feel confident and comfortable with both.
These are some of the big questions of faith, life and spiritual leadership that the Damascus Project helps its participants to engage. We want to provide God's people (both lay and ordained) in UCC congregations in Wisconsin and Minnesota with opportunities to seek understanding, strengthen their faith and develop as spiritual leaders through engagement in robust learning communities. Each learning opportunity we offer is rooted in our desire to support you in mission and ministry as you walk the journey of faith to which God called you at the moment of your baptism. Whether your call is to be an effective lay leader, community organizer or neighbor; a loving parent, family member or friend; a Member in Discernment (MiD) or a pastor, the Damascus Project is developing courses with you and your needs and interests for growing in faith and service to God's mission in mind.
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. 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  
Ole Olson image Sacred Texts: My Damascus Project Experience
by Ole Olson, Buffalo, Minn.
I was very excited when the Minnesota and Wisconsin Conferences announced last fall that the next Damascus Project course would be "Returning to Sacred Texts and Finding Stories You Can Live In." As a UCC Licensed Minister, I know that one of my shortcomings is a lack of Biblical training and interpretation. This sounded like an excellent opportunity to expand my Biblical knowledge and understanding and I was NOT disappointed.
Continue reading
General Synod Begins Next Week!
June 21-25, Milwaukee
Want to learn about the important resolutions that will be considered at General Synod? Read about the resolutions here.  
You can still plan to join in the free Sunday events at Synod - Participate in a wonderful worship service, the fun and lively Shine! outdoor festival and the grand exhibit hall. Plus experience this exciting setting of 3,000+ UCCers from around the country, gathering to participate in the important work of the Church. Follow these links  
for more information:

Other Synod-related items:
  • There are a few volunteer opportunities left. If you're interested, send an email to GS2019volunteer@wcucc.org.
  • Online registration for Synod is closed, but you can register onsite in Milwaukee.
  • General Synod will be Live Streamed! Information on how to access the live stream is not yet available, but look for this in the coming days.
  • Take a bus to the free Sunday events at Synod!
    • First Congregational of Watertown (120 Kuckkan Lane) will provide a FREE round-trip ride to General Synod on Sunday, June 23, leaving the church's parking lot at 11:00 am to return around 7:00 pm. Seats are limited, so please call the church office at 920-261-6213. 
    • The Southwest Association may still have room on their Synod busses. See more info here.
    • The Northwest Association has three busses going to Synod on Sunday. Check with Missy Miller for details and availability. 
Rev. Joanne Thomson image Rev. Joanne Thomson Retirement Event
Last Call to Play Ball! Register through the Conference by June 19
July 14, Warner Park, Madison
Retirement for Joanne is just the beginning and not the end, but it is the end of her time serving among us. Please join us for this fun event to celebrate Joanne and her ministry!
Rev. Joanne Thomson, currently the Associate Conference Minister for our Southwest Association, will retire at the end of July. Joanne has served the Wisconsin Conference since 2001. A chance to say farewell to her will be at the Madison Mallards baseball game on July 14.One cannot spend any amount of time with Joanne without learning that she is an avid sports fan, so enjoying a baseball game with her is the perfect send-off after her many years of ministry among us. Discounted Mallards "Duck Blind" tickets through the Wisconsin Conference must be purchased by June 19.
Click here for more details and to sign up
Annual Campaign 101 Webinar
August 7 at 5:30pm
Presented by Andrew Warner

Would you like to build on your congregation's stewardship skills and create a stronger annual pledge campaign? Designed for pastors and lay leaders, this 2-hour webinar will explore ways to create an effective campaign using the materials provided by the national setting of the UCC. The webinar will include developing a campaign calendar, key messaging, recruiting advocates, engaging lay leadership in making early pledges, and thanking donors.
Invite others on your stewardship team to join in this webinar too, and build a strong foundation for planning a more successful pledge campaign.
There is no fee to participate in this webinar; however, registration is required. Once you register, you will be sent instructions for joining the webinar. Registration link
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
image of balanced tower of stones at sunrise 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
Advocacy That Works Course Recordings Offered
From the Wisconsin Council of Churches, supported in part by a UCC Neighbors-in-Need Grant
Faith-based communities and grassroots organizations can and should express their values in the public square. We have a responsibility to speak truth to power in strategic ways. Whether you're dealing with local community needs, statewide or national issues, an effective advocacy strategy depends on credibility and consistency. Recorded content from four online sessions with national advocacy expert Breon Wells, including lectures and Q&A from the live sessions, is available for purchase. Set aside an hour at a time on your own schedule to make yourself a more effective faith-based advocate.
Peace UCC image
125th Anniversary Celebration
June 29 and 30, 2019
Peace UCC, Marinette
Everyone is invited to help Peace UCC in Marinette celebrate 125 years of ministry! We will rededicate the Church and its mission during two days of history, music, worship, food, and fellowship!
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • Cedar Community in West Bend is searching for a chaplain. Details 
  • The United Church of Christ in Windsor is searching for a full-time pastor. Details
  • To see all searching churches, click here.
New Calls
  • Rev. Lisa Bodenheim has been called as pastor at Prescott United Church of Christ, effective June 1, 2019
  • Rev. Stephen Welch has been called as interim pastor at Plymouth UCC, Milwaukee, effective June 4, 2019
  • Rev. Tom Schroeder has been called as interim pastor at Our Shepherd UCC, Howards Grove, effective June 10, 2019
Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Nancy Zorn Micke was installed at Peace UCC in Brillion on June 2, 2019
  • Diane Cayemberg was installed at Bethel UCC in Elkhart Lake on June 2, 2019
In Memoriam
  • Mary Carolyn Taylor, mother of Rev. Chris Buckingham-Taylor, pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fort Atkinson, and mother-in-law to Delisa Buckingham-Taylor, member in discernment and pastor at Grace United Church of Christ (Friedens UCC) in Fort Atkinson, passed away on June 3, 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.

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

In This Issue
Sacred Texts review
General Synod
Thomson retirement event
Stewardship webinar
OWL training
Lay Academy
Advocacy that Works course recordings
Peace Marinette Anniversary
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

When Rev. Kathleen Remund came to serve this Northwest Association church in 2016, she asked members what they love about this church. The two most common responses were: "This is a welcoming, friendly, nonjudgmental community," and "We love the unique blend of traditional worship and progressive theology." 

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Overcome Volunteer Burnout by Building Capacity." 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.