Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Nov. 27, 2018 
The Doctrine of Discovery
by Rev. Jacoba Koppert

The delegates at the 2018 Annual Meeting voted to undergo a study of the Doctrine of Discovery by congregations so that next spring we are ready to vote as to whether we believe this doctrine should be repudiated (rejected, retracted). I have heard several say that they do not know what all this means. Let me try to explain.

When the explorers of the 1400s (Columbus and others) set out to explore the world, the Pope decreed in the "Doctrine of Discovery" that if they found any inhabitants on the land across the ocean, they were to force them to become Christians, and if the inhabitants refused, their land was to be taken from them and they should be enslaved or killed. That Decree was the basis of treaties and laws in the US that forced indigenous people to move from one place to another as the Europeans took over the land where the Indians first lived. That Decree by the Pope in the 1400s and the treaties and laws based on it continue to be among the laws still used by US courts to make their decisions concerning Indian Affairs and Lands.

Several members of the Northwest Association have been meeting with members of the Hocak (pronounced Ho-Chunk) UCC church in Black River Falls this year. We are hearing their story, learning much and growing in relationship. The Doctrine of Discovery that was supported by the church through the years has, over time, caused the Indians and also the Hawaiians and Alaskan Natives to lose their lives, land, culture, traditions and language. To acknowledge what our ancestors did and to repudiate the Doctrine may help further relationships between us.

Churches are asked to learn about the Doctrine of Discovery and how it continues to affect the Tribes. At the April 5-6, 2019, Combined Annual Meeting for the Conference and Associations, delegates will be asked to vote to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. Study guides are available at wcucc.org/doctrineofdiscovery and at ucc.org; Ho-Chunk Tribe members of the Hocak UCC Church in Black River Falls are willing to come to speak with UCC Churches. You can contact Rev. David McBride to make arrangements for speakers. Congregations that study this issue are asked to return this Study Response form by March 31, 2019, to Lisa Hart or the Conference office, 4459 Gray Rd, DeForest, WI, 53532. The Conference needs a response from 1/3 of churches in order for this issue to appear in the agenda at Annual Meeting.
Hands holding paper house image
by Rev. Jeannie Douglas

My home town has just disappeared off the map. It's still there, mind you: it just doesn't exist as I have known it all my life. My home town is Paradise, California. If you don't know the story, Paradise caught fire last week and the whole town was evacuated. Other little towns around the area were evacuated also and many, many people lost everything except their lives.
Being thankful for your life on a daily basis is one thing; being thankful after such a great loss is altogether another thing. On that dreadful day, so many people were running (some were literally running) for their lives. But in all that chaos, in all that fear, human nature took effect. 
Editor's note: the Conference financial office is happy to forward donations for the fires in California to the national office's disaster fund. You can read more about the national UCC's response to these devastating fires at this link
You Have a Story to Tell!

Wisconsin UCC congregations engage in a multitude of vibrant ministries within and beyond their congregation walls, changing lives and living out the gospel. We love to lift up these stories - to celebrate, to appreciate and to share great ideas with others who may be seeking a new avenue for growing, giving, caring or sharing.
The theme for the 2019 Annual Meeting is "Living the Light." During this meeting we plan to feature a video presentation highlighting how the United Church of Christ in Wisconsin is living the light in congregations and communities.
Would you like to see your congregation or group's story included in this tribute? To be considered for inclusion in this video all you need to do is record a 1-minute video briefly describing your program or ministry initiative, including a scene of this ministry in action. The deadline for submission is February 17, 2019. Videos can be taken with a smartphone or camera. Further instructions for creating a video can be found on our website at wcucc.org/annualmeetingvideo.  
Stories can feature initiatives or programs in any area of ministry - justice, worship, community engagement, spiritual formation, innovative ministries and more. Read on for examples and more information.
For more information go to wcucc.org/annualmeetingvideo or contact Deb Simon at dsimon@wcucc.org.
Upcoming Events at Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach

  • Epiphany Retreat: Dec. 27 - January 1 - Moon Beach
  • Jesus Core retreat - Sponsored by Wisconsin Conference UCC and Pilgrim Center: January 11-13, 2019
  • MLK Jr. Day Anti-Racism Training and Retreat - Sponsored by Wisconsin Conference UCC and Moon Beach: January 20-22, 2019
  • "Care for the Caregiver" - A Retreat for Parents and Caregivers: January 25-27, 2019 - Moon Beach


Fire Safety Tips for the Holidays
by the Insurance Board
Christmas is one of the most cherished times of the year. However, there is an increased risk of fire and injury if proper precautions are not taken for outdoor lighting displays, candles, extension cords and space heaters.
People walking in fog image Returning to Sacred Texts and Finding Stories You Can Live In
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Orchard Ridge UCC, Madison
A Damascus Project course
Online course: Feb. 4, 2019 - April 5, 2019
Reading scripture can feel intimidating and complicated and its message is often difficult to comprehend and to relate to in today's world. In light of these challenges, 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.
All are welcome! There are no prerequisites for this course, though participants must have access to high-speed internet to participate.  Click here to access the online registration. The course fee is $250.
More information
A Spiritual Journey in Germany, Austria, and Italy
June 14-28, 2020
Plan now to join this Berlin-to-Rome spiritual journey, organized by Rev. Phil Schneider of St. Paul's UCC in Wausau.  
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • Salem UCC in Verona is searching for a Director of Youth Ministry. This is a half-time position with formal training and experience in Christian Education preferred, to coordinate youth activities for middle school and high school. Salary negotiable. Send references and resume to Salem UCC, P.O. Box 930125, Verona, WI 53593-0125 or call 608-845-7315.  
To see all searching churches, click here.
Wider Church Searches
  • Fairhaven Senior Services is searching for a Campus Administrator. View details
  • Rev. Ruth Ann Bradshaw was installed at Olivet UCC in Columbus on November 18, 2018.
  • Rev. Moira Finley was installed at St. John's UCC in Black Creek on November 18, 2018. Moira also serves Trinity UCC in Shiocton and St. John's UCC in Cecil.
New Calls
  • Rev. Lori Powell has been called as pastor at Congregational UCC in  Edgerton, effective November 5, 2018
  • Plymouth Congregational UCC in Burlington celebrated their 160th anniversary on Nov. 18, 2018. Click here for a news article about the this milestone.
Good Tidings
  • Rob MacDougall, Associate Conference Minister, has a new granddaughter, Maia, born November 19, 2018. Maia is the daughter of Rob's daughter Hannah and her husband Jake.

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.

Advent wreath image credit: hraska/shutterstock
Hands with paper house image: ThitareeSarmkasat/iStock
People walking in a foggy woods image: Federherz/iStock
Paradise, CA image in linked document public domain/Wikimedia Commons

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

In This Issue
You Have a Story to Tell
Upcoming camp events
Fire safety
Returning to Sacred Texts
Germany, Austria and Italy trip
Conference Transitions
Advent wreath image Resource Center Spotlight
The blessed season of Advent is nearly upon us! Our Resource Center has Advent readings for your use. Check out the Worship section of our website here
Church Spotlight

Neillsville UCC image
The Neillsville UCC was formed on March 1, 1959, but its roots go back much farther to the two churches that merged to form it: The First Congregational Chruch (1891) and Zion Reformed Church (1903). This church in the Northwest Association is led by pastor Jacoba Koppert.  

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
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.