Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
March 21, 2018 
Rev. Rob MacDougall image Insights from the Rural Ministry Conference
by Rev. Rob MacDougall

Each March, the Center for Theology and Land at Wartburg Seminary (ELCA) in Dubuque, Iowa, hosts their Rural Ministry Conference. The definition of what constitutes "rural" ministry seems illusive and fluid. One presenter commented that industry and government now define rural as including towns of populations of twenty five thousand or less, whereas people in rural areas consider towns of twenty five thousand to be regional urban hubs.
There was some good humor and laughter on the part of folk from rural areas when they hear how non-residents categorize them. But beyond the humor, particularly among church people of almost all denominations and traditions, there are sobering understandings of rural life. The nodding heads of the more than one hundred clergy and lay attendees expressed consensus regarding the aging, economic decline and shrinking church membership of many rural communities. Like their urban counterparts, rural church folk are struggling with the cultural shifts of competing for people's time, commitment and spiritual engagement.
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Parish Paper logo
Finding Significance as a Small Church
by The Parish Paper

Imagine a company with more than 300,000 small retail outlets, which are locally owned and supported. Their presence is so evenly distributed geographically that every county in the U.S. has one or more outlets-in some cases, even dozens of outlets. Almost all own their facilities and attract millions of volunteers. If such an enterprise existed, it would be widely recognized as a success story of unmatched magnitude. Such an organization does exist. It is the story of American congregations, whose founding dates go back hundreds of years. Frequently, commentators focus on the size of each church rather than the large numbers of congregations engaged in ministry in local communities. If a congregation is small, is it also small in mission or significance? What are we worth?
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AM18 logo Annual Meeting: Why Are We Afraid? The Winds and Waves of Race and Privilege
June 8-10, 2018
Green Lake Conference Center

Come join friends and colleagues from around the Wisconsin Conference for our 2018 Annual Meeting , Why Are We Afraid? The Winds and Waves of Race and Privilege, June 8-10, 2018, at Green Lake Conference Center.  

The full program booklet is now available! Click here to download the book and read about the workshops and speakers at the meeting. You can also access the annual meeting information from the Wisconsin Conference UCC annual meeting website.

Other highlights:
  • Dr. Ben Sanders III will present our Thursday Pre-Meeting workshop: White Identity and Christian Faith: Reflection and Practice. In this workshop, Rev. Sanders will use a combination of lecture, discussion, and small group work to:
    • help participants think about how white privilege functions in the life of the church, and
    • reflect on how to practice Christian faith in more effectively anti-racist ways.

Read all about the Thursday workshop and Rev. Sanders here

Annual Meeting website 

world people image Becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation
Saturday, April 14th, 2018
10:00am - 3:30pm
First Congregational Church, Waukesha

The United States is a nation of immigrants, continually reshaped by new groups of people bringing diverse cultures, perspectives, and resources.  Yet immigration has become one of the most emotionally charged and polarizing social and political issues.

Immigration is a core issue for faith communities. The Bible is full of stories of people on the move, and continually shows God's concern for the migrant and the outcast. Churches have been in the forefront of those who have supported and spoken up for the more recently arrived members of their communities.

Come to this event to find out how your church can become more welcoming to the immigrant neighbors in your community. Be inspired by stories of what other congregations are doing. Bring back useful information and resources for education, advocacy, or service that is appropriate to the needs and readiness of your congregation. No matter how much, or how little, your church has been involved with immigrants and immigration issues, these plenary presentations and workshops will help you move forward with courage, justice, compassion, and solidarity.
More information and registration
Sr. Simone Campbell image Sister Simone Campbell: Hunger and Hope in the Federal Budget...An Insider's View
Saturday, April 7th, 2018
Edgewood College, Madison

Sister Simone Campbell, best known for initiating the powerful "Nuns on the Bus" tours, will speak on Saturday, April 7, at Edgewood College. Her topic will be: "Hunger and Hope in the Federal Budget ... An Insider's View."
A reception will follow the presentation to allow conversation with Sr. Simone, executive director of NETWORK Social Justice Lobby in Washington, DC. She is also an attorney and poet, with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change.

Noting the themes of the five "Nuns on the Bus" tours give a sense of her broad concerns: economic justice, immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps in wealth and access in the U.S. In this presentation she will give special attention to how priorities in the Federal budget impact major human needs and concerns.
An Inspiring Model of Ministry: Spiritual Life Teams

Many people have life transforming God experiences but they rarely share them with others. During this Inspiring Model of Ministry, you will have the opportunity to observe a Spiritual Life Team in action as they learn to identify and share God experiences and
learn to pray out loud together. You will also have time to reflect on how to bring this type of program to your own ministries with the program's founder, Dr. Bobby McKay.  
  • Who Should Attend? Clergy, Faith Formation staff and volunteers, Adult education committees.
  • Where? Glenview Community Church, 1000 Elm Street, Glenview, IL
  • When? Saturday, May 19, 20189:30am - 1:30pm
  • How much ? $25.00 (Includes lunch and resource materials)
Travel scholarships (up to $200) are available. Please contact Rev. Ivy Beckwith for more information at beckwithi@ucc.org or 216-736-3875.
View event flyer 
workshop logo image
Guiding Congregations in Times of Transition 
May 1, 2018
Trost Center, DeForest

Helping a congregation move beyond inertia: A workshop for pastors guiding congregations in times of transition

Attend this workshop to help congregations in times of transition. Topics discussed will include:
  • Building Consensus
  • Dealing graciously with resistance
  • Identifying reach-able, teach-able moments
  • Deciding when to go ahead and ask for forgiveness later
  • Developing tools and strategies for making change that "sticks"
  • Marshalling spiritual resources
  • Fostering a spirit of curiosity
unite to end racism rally photo Unite to End Racism Rally
April 3-5, 2018

The Wisconsin Conference UCC is co-sponsoring a bus tour to DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by committing to uniting together to end racism.

Here is a sampling of the speakers that will be at the rally: Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Jennifer Harvey, Bishop Darin Moore, Rev. Freddie Haynes, Danny Glover, Esther Lopez, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, DeRay McKesson, Bishop Michael Curry, Phil Lee, Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Rev. Jim Wallis, Lou Gossett Jr., Rabbi David Saperstein, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, and many others.

Buses will depart from four cities to events taking place in Washington, DC, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On April 4th we will join people from around the nation for an interfaith service of prayer and preparation at the Lincoln Memorial and a rally on the National Mall.
More information 
Race: The Power of an Illusion
March 28, 2018, 6:00pm - 8:15pm
Central Library, Madison

If race doesn't exist biologically, what is it? And why should it matter? "The House We Live In," is the first film about race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior but on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others. Its subject is the "unmarked" race: white people. We see how benefits quietly and often invisibly accrue to white people, not necessarily because of merit or hard work, but because of the racialized nature of our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, housing. A facilitated discussion will follow the film.

Hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin in partnership with the Madison Public Library, the Racial Justice Film Series aims to educate and spark community-led conversation on systemic racism and related issues at the heart of the contemporary racial justice movement.
W.I.S.E logo
WISE Congregations for Mental Health Conference
May 4, 2018
St. Paul's UCC
Downers Grove, IL

This one-day conference offers:
  • Ways congregations can address mental health concerns
  • Stories from persons affected by mental health issues
  • Practical steps to engage in a mental health ministry
  • Introduction to the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) Covenant
  • Network with those who are on the journey to address mental health challenges
  • On-going support

More information 

break the silence sunday logo
Break the Silence Sunday
Suggested date: Sunday, April 22, 2018
Break The Silence Sunday is an effort to open up a conversation within the church about rape and sexual assault. Within the context of our faith communities we hope to:
  • acknowledge the reality of rape and sexual violence in our world;
  • support survivors by creating a place where they can tell their stories, feel loved and supported, and find encouragement on their healing journey;
  • commit ourselves to the work of changing the world, creating a future where rape is a memory.
Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
  • Emmanuel UCC in Oconomowoc is seeking a part time minister to start a Farm-to-Table initiative. More information 
  • Bethel-Bethany in Milwaukee is seeking a full time senior pastor. More information 
To see all searching churches, click here.

In Memoriam
  • Joseph Helgevold, father of Rev. Jayne Helgevold, passed away on March 13, 2018. 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
Small church significance
Annual Meeting
Immigrant Welcominging Congregation
Sr Simone Campbell to speak
Spiritual Life teams
Transitional ministry workship
Unite to End Racism Rally
Racial justice film series
WISE congregations conference
Break the Silence Sunday
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

First Congregational UCC, Owen

This Northwest Association church is led by pastor Asafa Vaonirina Rajaofera. The church became official on July 8, 1906...in the caboose of a logging train! This church definitely wins for "most creative church creation site."

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.