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Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
July 8, 2020 
Pandemic of Grief:
Interaction and Dynamics

by Jane Anderson and The Conflict Transformation Team

This pandemic has taken a toll on us and the longer it goes on the greater the toll. In the US, more than 3 million people have contracted the virus and over 130,000 people have died. If that wasn't alarming enough, the ways that it is affecting the very fabric of our society is taking a huge toll. Initially, we saw how people pulled together and did whatever was necessary to help one another stay well and stay safe. But, now, in our grief we are pulling one another apart.
David Brooks, a columnist for the NYT, has said this has proven true throughout history. That in the early stages of a pandemic we see people exercising patience and understanding, care and compassion. But as it wears on, not only do people die, but compassion dies.
I fear we are beginning to bump against this phase of the pandemic. Continue reading article
Generous Preaching
July 14, 2020, at 2pm CDT

Join Rev. Kathryn Kuhn and Rev. Andrew Warner for an exploration of Biblical texts and their message for preaching about generosity. On July 14th, Kathryn and Andrew will discuss the story of Abigail and Nabal (1 Samuel 25). 
Abigail and Nabal appear to have it all: three thousand sheep, a thousand goats, and a pantry chock-full of raisin clusters and fig cakes. But all is not as it seems, and a potential political conflict reveals deep divisions between their personalities and the ways they wield their power. The movement of this narrative (and thus, Israel's history) hinges on acts of hospitality and generosity. Abigail musters her resources and ensures peace, despite her husband's churlish nature and clumsy politics. 
How does the perception of abundance (or scarcity) affect power dynamics within households of faith? How do moments of crisis break open the divisions between us? How can acts of hospitality and generosity lead to peace? Where have we witnessed such risk-taking from unexpected corners of our community? What hope is found in the notion that our individual choices and household decisions contribute (or not) to a larger sense of wholeness in our world?
Join us for an imaginative conversation around a scarcely-preached text. Together, we'll survey the pantry shelves of scriptural tradition for other unique witnesses to the power of generosity.
The discussion is hosted on the Damascus Project website.  Joining the Damascus Project is free.  
Register for Faith Foundations 1 and Leadership Skills Courses
Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills (formerly Lay Academy) Registration available here.

Watch this video by Lou Norsetter about her Lay Academy journey:
Lay Academy Promo - Norsetter 
Lay Academy - Lou Norsetter
This year's Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills courses are only $375 for a full year of learning and growth! Two or three individuals from the same congregation or from partnering congregations can register for just $600. Each additional member beyond three is just $125 per person. Click here to find out more about Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills and to register.
Those who are considering pursuing licensing or ordination via a non-seminary path and Members-In-Discernment may want to sign up for the "Assessment Level" of Faith Foundations for an additional charge. This option offers the same benefits of the Faith Foundations curriculum, plus a more robust learning experience - deeper assignments, extra time with instructors and Damascus Project co-directors, and evaluation according to the UCC Marks of Ministry (appropriate for submission to Committees on Ministry). Total cost is $800. To pay in monthly installments, click here .
Pastors: Please consider using this bulletin/newsletter announcement in your communications with your congregation to help us reach curious learners in your communities. Thank you!
Religious Leaders ask Legislature to Act on Covid-10

Concerned about the lack of an effective statewide response to COVID-19, Wisconsin religious leaders sent a letter today calling on the state legislature to work across political divisions to protect the people of Wisconsin.
The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and signed by members of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, including 6 Wisconsin Conference UCC leaders, 34 bishops, executive leaders, and pastors from Lutheran, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, Orthodox and other Christian traditions. 
Racial Justice Webinar Series Continues

The Wisconsin Conference has been invited to join in on the Minnesota Conference UCC's Racial Justice webinar series.

The Minnesota Conference's new webinar series, "Justice Talk to Justice Walk: Building Awareness, Strengthening Our Resolve," launched June 30 with an insightful conversation with Rev. Traci Blackmon , Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ. The webinar will be available to view later this week on the Minnesota Conference's website.
Next Up: "Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th and Chicago"
Wednesday, July 15, 7-8:30 pm

Join guest speakers Rev. Gary Green and Rev. Dr. Justin Tabia-Sanis , both faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, for a dynamic conversation about how our sacred scriptures and our theologies can help shape our responses to George Floyd's murder and a history of racial oppression. How can we disrupt existing realities to create something new? Free but registration is required here.
NYE 2020: Unite Through the Extraordinary
A Virtual Gathering
July 25-26, 2020
Although we cannot meet in person at Purdue, your ability to connect and encourage one another does not end. For UCC youth, young adults and ministry leaders in the immediate pandemic this gathering will bring us together for important conversations and activity.
We will gather on July 25 and 26 for online service projects (Sat), workshops (Sat) and a worship service (Sun) and hear from these amazing voices: Lea Morris, Sof Berlanga, Andrew Wicks, Trayce Potter, Tracy Howe-Wispelwey, and the Refresh Collective.
No Justice - No Peace
July 28, 2020 - 4:30pm CDT
Youth and young adults within the United Church of Christ will be gathering virtually with special guests to host a 75-minute rally around the topic of Race Relations & Justice as a starting place for future engagement and leadership development opportunities.
For more information please reach out to Rev. Trayce Potter, Minister for Youth & Young Adult Engagement.

Empowering Faith Communities to Recognize and Respond to Child Abuse
A virtual event, September 21, 2020

Register now for a virtual, interfaith workshop featuring Victor Vieth with Zero Abuse Project in Minnesota and Honorable Rev. Everett Mitchell, Dane County Circuit Judge and Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church. This workshop addresses the following topics:
  • best practices to prevent abuse within faith communities;
  • how to recognize and respond to physical, emotional and spiritual impact of child abuse;
  • spiritual care for both survivors and offenders;
  • how to recognize and respond to sexual behaviors of children;
  • corporal punishment, the law and the faith community;
  • optimal response to allegations of child abuse within a congregation.

Register here 

Event flyer 

Event brochure 

Catalyst Grants Support Racial Justice Efforts
What can YOUR congregation do with a Catalyst Grant? 

Racial justice, Black Lives Matter, White privilege, White supremacy, Juneteenth, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more...

These are words, concepts, a movement for social justice and a few of the names of siblings in Christ who've been murdered by police that are flooding our social media feeds, filling our television and radio airwaves and reverberating on our streets. For some of us, the attention being paid to the cries of African Americans has been a long time coming and we are diving in with both feet to attend rallies, march for justice, buy from Black-owned businesses and do our part to see and confront the systems and structures of our society that deny the humanity of some of God's people simply because of the color of their skin. For others of us, this time of awakening to racial injustice is relatively new and we aren't quite sure how to respond, who to listen to or where to turn.

Regardless of where you stand at this time in history, it is difficult to deny that it is long past time for America to confront racism and prejudice and for white people to acknowledge privilege and seek to divest of it in every possible way. Since 2018 when the Wisconsin Conference annual meeting emphasis was racial justice, the Catalyst Team has been providing grants to congregations seeking to inform themselves and to take action to dismantle racism, and address white privilege. Grant funds and resources are available for your congregation to undertake a time of study or to contribute to a movement for justice in your area.
Turbulent Times Offer Outreach Opportunities for Wisconsin Churches

Progressive Christian clergy are finding new people to connect with as the nation confronts a host of turbulent issues - including in southern Wisconsin. Read this article from Public News Service featuring Rev. Tanya Sadagopan from First Congregational UCC in Janesville.
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
  • No churches recently began a search. To see all searching churches, click here.
New Calls
  • Rev. Laurie Lyter Bright has been called as interim pastor for congregational care and mission at First Congregational UCC in Appleton, effective June 22, 2020.
  •  Rev. Craig Jan-McMahon has been called as senior pastor at the United Church of Christ in Windsor, effective July 6, 2020.
  • Gary Wilner has been called as intentional interim pastor at Zwingli UCC in Mt. Vernon, effective June 29, 2020.
  • Rev. Susan Drake has been called as  designated bridge interim pastor at Parkside Community UCC in Saukville, effective July 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Marty Carney has been called as pastor at Williams Bay Congregational UCC in Williams Bay, effective July 5, 2020. Marty also serves First Congregational UCC in Lake Geneva.
  • Rev. Garth Schumacher has been called as interim pastor at Congregational UCC in Amery, effective July 8, 2020.
  • Vicki Graff has retired from the Wisconsin Conference as Finance Director. Vicki worked for the Conference for 27 years and is a member of Olivet Congregational UCC in Columbus. We are grateful for her many years of faithful service. Thank you, Vicki! 
Thank you
  • I have been blessed to be able to use my accounting skills for the past 27 years in such a great place to work as the Wisconsin Conference. It was important to me to apply these skills in a faithful way to support our mission. I made many new friends over the years and I am grateful for each and every one. I also had the opportunity to work with wonderful staff members over my years. I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and cards. I enjoy reading them again and again. Hopefully there will come a day when we can gather again but until then. Thank you!! ~Vicki Graff
In Memoriam
  • Rev. Orris (Bart) Bartholomew passed away on June 23, 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
Generous Preaching
Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills
Letter to Legislature about Covid-19
Racial Justice webinar
Virtual NYE 2020
Faith Communities and Child Abuse event
Catalyst Grants
Outreach during pandemic
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.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Care, Leadership and Self-Renewal in Uncertain Times." Access this issue and archived issues here!
Quick Links

Zion UCC in Milwaukee is selling their building and looking to sell OBO or donate sheet music, choir robes, hymnals, hand bells, many other common church items. Please contact Melissa Dietrich Robe if you are looking for anything! 
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.