Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
Dec. 7, 2016
by Jane Anderson

Advent is a season of waiting, waiting for the Christ-child to be born and ultimately waiting for Christ to come again. I am mindful that most of you begin worship during this season by lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, each week leading up to Christmas. As each candle is lit, another aspect of the season is lifted up and celebrated-love, hope, peace and joy. I am mindful, though, that every church has a different liturgical order for the candle-lighting ceremony and each church uses different sung response to the scripture reading and prayers.
Traditionally I have turned toward peace on this third Sunday of Advent. One of my favorite songs for the candle of peace goes like this:
Kindle this flame of peace. May it burn bright and true.
God's realm is our desire, where peace and justice reign.
Lighting the way that is of God, the journey we pursue.
Heaven and earth combined as one, when Christ shall come again.
We wait, we wait for Christ to come. We wait for Christ to come and bring peace to us; peace to our broken, heartbroken, conflicted, war-torn world. We hope and pray for it daily. Now, more than ever we stand in need of peace. But, we need not wait for Christ's coming in some ultimate time and place. Christ comes in the here and now. When the light of peace burns in our hearts and spreads to actions of peacemaking and justice-making in our world, then Christ's peace in made known in this time and place.
Peacemaking and justice-making are never easy, as you well know. Continue reading article 
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Listening and Witnessing in Washington DC
Bus Trip
January 19-22, 2017

Organizers in the Wisconsin Conference are coordinating a bus trip to Washington, DC, for a weekend of listening and witnessing. The trip is open to all - lay people and clergy. The schedule includes:
  • Listening: On Friday we will partner with other UCC churches and faith partners in the DC area for a day of education and reflection around social justice concerns facing religious and ethnic minorities in our nation. The day will be concluded with dinner and a community-wide interfaith worship service hosted by Emmaus United Church of Christ in Vienna. 
  • Witnessing: On Saturday we will join the Women's March on Washington as faithful witnesses of our commitment to radical love, and vision of a more a just a generous world for all people. Throughout the weekend we will enjoy fellowship, common meals, and guided opportunities of preparation and processing as a group. 
This trip will fill up fast! Register soon if you want to participate.    
Welcome to Your New Home
by Joya Colon-Berezin  

Students of Middleton UCC's Very COOL Sunday School (VCSS) put their faith into action recently during their "I've Got it to Give it" Service Project Day. These days are designated for students to consider more deeply what it means to share the gifts God has given us. Together they created a banner that will be used to welcome newly arrived refugees who are resettled in this country. The banner - an outward sign of God's love - reads "Welcome to Your New Home."
Creating the banner was the culmination of several weeks devoted to learning about the plight of refugees, and the ministry of welcoming displaced people regardless of religious or ethnic background. To help deepen their understanding, VCSS invited a refugee family from Iraq to share a bit of their personal journey... Continue reading article 
Immigrant Welcoming Conference Resolution
Immigration is currently a hot issue around the world. In response, the Wisconsin Conference is undergoing a period of study surrounding a resolution to become an Immigrant Welcoming Conference. The resolution will be voted on at the 2017 annual meeting in June. As part of this process, the Conference has called on at least 30% of churches to report by March 1, 2017, that they have engaged in study on this issue. More information, including study guides and the study response form, is available on the Wisconsin Conference website immigration page.  
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Jesus Core High School Retreat
January 6-8, 2017, Pilgrim Center
The overarching theme of Jesus Core comes from Romans 12:9. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." (The Message) Last year, youth focused on "Love over Fear", considering how we can overcome fear by loving from the center of who we are. This year, we will build on that theme by examining how this scripture verse informs how we are to treat our neighbors. We will spend some time considering who our neighbors are and how we are called to be in relationship with them. If we love from the center of who we are, how does this affect how we treat our neighbors? How do we live this out as people of faith? This is an opportunity to join other high school youth in discussing issues that really matter in our society today.
More information and registration
Register by December 22, 2016!
Five Practices: Rediscover Your Congregation's Purpose and Passion
Starts January 28, 2017

Hospitality. Worship. Faith development. Mission and service. Generosity. These are practices that have been undertaken by churches for generations. But how would your church be renewed by radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity? The Wisconsin Conference's Church Renewal Program seeks to help churches renew and grow their congregations by teaching churches the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.
Read more
chhsm logo image Health and Human Service Sunday
January 29, 2017

Health and Human Service Sunday is a special opportunity to create awareness of the health concerns of our communities and world, and to learn about the many and various health and human service ministries of the United Church of Christ.
It is observed annually in the United Church of Christ and is an opportunity to talk about health in a holistic way, address the issues of justice in our health care systems and learn about how each of us can become involved. Plan now to observe this special day!
Link to more information and resources for churches 
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Loving our Interfaith Neighbors: A Study-Action Guide

The Wisconsin Council of Churches (WCC) has created a groundbreaking resource for Wisconsin congregations, "Loving our Interfaith Neighbors: A Study-Action Guide." Copies have been mailed to every WCC member congregation in Wisconsin, and copies can be downloaded at no charge from the WCC website. You can read more about the study guide and the "love your neighbor" background behind it at the WCC website.
Does your Church Share Earthly and
Spiritual Resources?

This month's "Be the Church" statement is: "Share earthly and spiritual resources." Submissions this month are due by December 31 (an extension due to the holidays!). The winning church earns the "Be the Church of the Month" title for the following month. All winning churches and their accomplishments will be featured on UCC social media and ucc.org, and they'll receive a prize in the  "Be the Church" collection   from UCC Resources. To enter send information, photos, or video of what you're doing to jannsoha@ucc.org . The winner will receive a special prize and will "Be the Church of the Month!"
More information

Conference Transitions

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New Calls
  • Rev. William Rishel has been called as interim pastor at St. John's UCC, New Holstein, effective November 11, 2016
  • Rev. Stephen Davis has been called as interim pastor at First Congregational UCC, Redgranite, effective November 13, 2016
  • Rev. Deborah Howland has been called as interim pastor at Congregational UCC, Delavan, effective November 15, 2016
  • Rev. Laura McLeod has been called as pastor at Brookfield Congregational Church, Brookfield, effective November 20, 2016
  • Rev. James Gorman has been called as interim pastor at St. Paul's UCC, Menomonee Falls, effective November 23, 2016
  • Rev. Becky Johnston has been called as interim pastor at Bethlehem UCC, Kiel, effective December 1, 2016
  • Rev. Barbara Brakey has been called as pastor at Immanuel UCC, Darlington, effective December 4, 2016
  • First Congregational UCC in Fort Atkinson celebrated their 175th Anniversary on November 20, 2016
  • Emmanuel UCC in Oshkosh celebrated their 125th Anniversary on December 4, 2016

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.

Image credits:
Candles and Welcome images from Constant Contact
US Capitol building image: Wikimedia Commons, Kevin McCoy
Interfaith Neighbors image from Wisconsin Council of Churches 

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
Bus trip to D.C.
Middleton Youth Welcome Refugees
Immigrant Welcoming Conference Resolution
Jesus Core Retreat
Five Practices
Health and Human Service Sunday
Loving Our Interfaith Neighbors
Be the Church of the Month
Conference Transitions
Shift blog 
Check out the
SHIFT BLOG for inspiration! 
Read about & share congregational shift stories.
Church Spotlight

Monticello zwingli image
This church in the Southwest Assoiation is led by Pastor Lance Smith. The church began in 1887 as a German Reformed congregation and has been serving the community ever since, caring for their own congregation, members in the community, and those farther abroad in the world. 

Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.

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 Micah Schlobohm of the Wisconsin Conference UCC Committee on Ministry with LGBTQ Persons.
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.