Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Nov. 7, 2017 
tisha brown image Leadership and Jazz
by Rev. Tisha Brown

In January of this year I started a DMin program in Creative Leadership at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. The course I am currently taking is titled "Engaging the Power of Change." The first book we read for this course was Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy by Chad R. Abbott. This book is a collection of reflections from a wide range of clergy who write about how they are cultivating habits that help them to be creative, transformative leaders in their particular contexts. I was pleased to note that a number of UCC colleagues have reflections in this book including our very own Rev. Zayna Thomley, a pastor in the Southwest Association.
This book inspired me to think about my own journey to embracing creativity in my personal life, which has led to my ability to be more creative in work and ministry. My particular journey toward greater creativity began when I began following my high school dream of being a jazz singer. So far, I've identified four significant lessons about creativity along this journey. These lessons influence the way I approach ministry and which I believe support my efforts to be creative not only when I'm singing but also when I'm engaged in ministry.
Continue Reading 
graphic-fist-globe.gif My Creation Care Story
by Sarajane Snyder, for the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team

In 1960 my dad bought a lot on the Oconto River. I was 5. Our whole family loved that place. Then spring arrived and it became clear the river was badly polluted. The Scott paper company a few miles upstream had been dumping efflu ent into that river for over 50 years. The efflu ent was a thick, black scum that floated on the water in vast rafts. The surface dried and ducks, geese and birds would land on it and walk across it. It was not possible to push a boat through. We saw deer try to walk across it because it looked so solid, then fall through and be unable to get out.  
rob macdougall image
Northern Wisconsin Churches and the Economy
by Rev. Rob MacDougall
I have had a spectacular fall traveling to our Northwest Association UCC churches. The colors have been beautiful and the temperatures unseasonably warm.
During my visits to clergy and local church members I try to ask questions about the life of their congregations and also about what is going on in their local communities and areas. There are a couple themes that get described over and over again. One theme is about the aging population in churches and in the communities where the churches are found. Another theme has to do with the economics of our norther communities and how small businesses are closing on a regular basis. People in the north say that everyone has to have more than one job to make it financially in the northern third to half of the state.
Continue reading
Rev. Everett Mitchell to be Featured at Mission House Lecture
An Uncertain Sound: From Irrelevant Social Clubs to Sacrificial Places of Disruption
Monday, November 13, 2017
Lakeland University Bradley Fine Arts Auditorium
In his 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King Jr. sounds a warning to the good folk of mainline churches: those who align themselves with unjust forms of power disregard the vision and sacrifice that is required to stand on the side of justice. The Honorable Reverend Everett Mitchell, who gave a keynote address at the Wisconsin Conference UCC annual meeting last year, will help community members and students see the relevance of King's warning for good folk today. His lecture explores how student organizations and churches can become more than social clubs, and instead be living,  sacrificing witnesses to the dignity and worth of all persons.
missioninsite logo MissionInsite: A Useful Resource
Discovering your church's ministry opportunities has never been easier. MissionInsite provides instant access to community information for your church via The MI System. As part of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ, you have free, unlimited access to MissionInsite. You'll get desktop, web-based access to demographic data for a variety of geographic levels.

MissionInsite helps churches become more stable and engage more congregants, visitors and volunteers.  Some of the many benefits include:
  • Better understanding your church's "reach"
  • Discovering gaps in presence or services within your mission area
  • Better understanding your community
  • Finding growing and changing communities quickly

MissionInsite website 

How to register for MissionInsite  

The Transformative Power of Blessing:
An Advent Retreat
December 8, 2017
Cedar Valley
Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor says, "To pronounce a blessing on something is to see it from the divine perspective." When we bless something, we confer goodness on it and declare it holy. In this Advent retreat, we will delve into Blessing as we consider: How did Jesus live in blessing? How do we offer and receive blessing? From whom are we withholding blessing? How do we turn blessing into daily practice? Rev. Holly Whitcomb leads this retreat at Cedar Valley.
Boundary Training
December 9, 2017
First Congregational Church, Oshkosh

Wisconsin Conference UCC ministers are required to renew their boundary training every four years. On December 9, the Northeast Association is hosting a boundary training to help ministers meet this need. Can't attend this session? An additional boundary training will be held next June at Green Lake Conference Center.
Christmas Fund
Special Mission Offering: December 24, 2017

Provides direct financial assistance to retired and active United Church of Christ authorized ministers and lay employees and their surviving spouses, including pension and health premium supplementation, emergency assistance, and Christmas thank-you checks.  A ministry of the Pension Boards, the offering is received annually on the Sunday before Christmas. This offering is received on the Sunday before Christmas (December 24 in 2017). To order additional Special Mission Offering materials call United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394 or to place or change a standing order call the Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship at 866.822.8224. 
Jesus Core High School Retreat
January 5-7, 2018
Pilgrim Center

Experience faith in community, meaningful worship and great music, silence and time for prayer, getting to know new people and hanging out with friends.Rest from the stress of school, listen to God's word, connect with yourself and others, and find satisfaction in silence and in fun activities.Be inspired  by the songs of musician Andra Moran (andramoran.com), by the beauty of God's Creation on Green Lake, and by workshops and discussions with adult leaders and your peers. Who? Youth grades 9-12, individually or with their church groups (We ask for 1 adult leader for every 5 youth from one congregation)
Coaching flyer image Developing Leaders Through Coaching
January 9, 2018
Trost Center, DeForest

You are invited to this day-long, interactive, hands-on coaching event where you will:  
  • Learn a basic coaching model you can use right away in your context
  • Strengthen your pastoral leadership skills
  • Learn how to initiate a coaching movement in your congregation
  • Meet the coaches of the Wisconsin Conference 
  • Explore how coaching can support you in ministry

Who should come? All pastors and paid or volunteer staff in Wisconsin Conference congregations. How Much? $50, which includes all materials, lunch and the opportunity to sign up for one free follow-up coaching session with one of the Wisconsin Conference coaches 

More information

Online registration

Picture the Bible Workshop
January 27, 2018
First Congregational Church, River Falls
Picture the Bible engages learners and leaders in conversations that take Bible stories seriously and connects them to peoples' lives in the world.
Picture the Bible is a set of 36 images depicting 36 individual Bible stories. The images and related resources offer a creative approach to Bible study for learners of all ages. Picture the Bible adapts to a wide variety of settings, including: graded classrooms, intergenerational learning experiences, teen groups, and worship.

This workshop is designed for pastors, Christian educators, and lay church leaders and volunteers. The workshop will:
  • Outline a theological and developmental foundation for biblical literacy and interpretation
  • Introduce Picture the Bible resources
  • Offer strategies for facilitating conversations at the intersection of life and faith
  • Be interactive, inspiring, engaging, and practical
  • Provide a time of fellowship and sharing
  • Include a luncheon

More information (PDF) 

Reconnect with God's Purpose!
Five Practices Kick-off Event
February 3, 2018
Trost Center, DeForest

Five Practices will help you to take practical steps to strengthen the quality of your church's essential ministries and to reconnect with God's purpose for your congregation. These are two important components of making a small but significant SHIFT from Maintenance to Mission.

Our text is Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, which focuses on the five essential activities of vital, healthy churches. The Five Practices are:
  • Radical hospitality
  • Passionate worship
  • Intentional faith development
  • Risk-taking mission and service 
  • Extravagant generosity
Bi-Vocational Ministry Incubator
Offered by Sand Bur Consulting
April-November, 2018

Increasingly, congregations can no longer afford a full-time, fully-supported pastor. And pastors are needing to wrestle with tough questions about how to sustain themselves while being faithful to their sense of call. The Bi-vocational Ministry Incubator provides a safe space where pastors can dig deeper into these questions, hone skills for doing ministry in a different way, develop tools to guide a congregation into making a transition into a more shared model of ministry, and find the courage to explore options.

Monthly day-long gatherings over the course of 8 months will offer skill-building, peer support and coaching/mentoring. The program is offered inter-denominationally and designed for both ordained and licensed/commissioned pastors, for those who want to explore this option and for those who have already made the transition and want additional support and tools, for those who seek additional income and for those who seek part-time arrangements in order to juggle home and care-giving responsibilities. Offered by Sand Bur Consulting, LLC. For more information, contact Linda Kuhn at linda@sandburconsulting.com. Registration is limited and deadline is March 2018.
More information (PDF)
Event Canceled

The Conference wide Bethlehem Partnership Event scheduled for November 15 has been cancelled. However, the Bethlehem Partnership Working Group will continue to provide opportunities for pastors and churches to learn about and support the work of the church in Bethlehem.
Anthology of Alzheimer's Caregiving
a book by David R. Cook, member, First Congregational UCC, Menomonie

David R. Cook, member of First Congregational UCC, Menomonie, has self-published a small book, Anthology of Alzheimer's Caregiving. The book contains his collected writings about his journey with his wife Anne as they journeyed through the stages of her Alzheimer's disease together.  The writings include reflections, poetry and articles he has shared over the internet. Mr. Cook would like to share the stories of his life with Anne with others.  He is making his book available to purchase for the cost of printing and shipping. You can contact him davecook@wwt.net or 715-505-2998.
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
To see all searching churches, click here.
Wider Church Searches
Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Rich McLeer was installed at Congregational UCC in Mineral Point on October 29, 2017
  • Rev. Topher Mehlhoff was installed at Union Congregational UCC, Three Lakes, on October 29, 2017
  • Rev. Nancy Taylor was installed at First Congregational UCC, Oshkosh, on October 29, 2017
  • Rev. Kristin Gorton was installed at Fitchburg Memorial UCC, Fitchburg, on November 5, 2017
  • Rev. Julie Eklund was installed at Redeemer UCC, Sussex, on November 5, 2017

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.

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

In This Issue
Creation Care
Churches and the Economy
Rev. Everett Mitchell to speak
Advent Retreat
Boundary Training
Christmas Fund
Jesus Core
Developing Leaders through Coaching
Picture the Bible Workshop
Five Practices
Bi-Vocational Ministry Incubator
Event Canceled
Anthology of Alzheimer's Caregiving
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

Phelps Congregational UCC image
 Congregational UCC, Phelps
This Northwest Assocation church, led by pastor Mary Snell Willis, has been yoked with Ely Memorial Church in Land O Lakes since 1969! The church has been serving their northwoods community since 1908. 

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Mistakes Churches Make During an Interim Ministry." Access this issue and archived issues here!
Quick Links

rainbow comma image
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.