Newsletter header image
Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
July 24, 2019 
With Gratitude
by Rev. Joanne Thomson

As you may have heard, I'm heading into retirement. You may also have heard of another retirement this year: Rob Gronkowski has hung up his cleats, and the New England Patriots just won't be the same. Retirement is a big transition, and of course there's uncertainty about what comes next. Luckily, I found an interview with Gronkowski's family that made me feel a lot better about how things will work out. "When I asked his younger brother...if Rob had evolved since his first Super Bowl," said the reporter, "he looked at me as though I had just asked him if his brother was pursuing a degree in quantum physics. 'I don't think he's changed at all,' he said.  'He's been the same since he was in 5th grade.' The reporter's conclusion: Gronkowski "excelled at his craft without giving up any part of himself." 
There, in a nutshell, is what I believe about pastoral ministry--that we grow toward excellence but must always lean into our true selves, as much ourselves at age 65 as we were at age 11. I'm taking myself into retirement, vastly different from the person I was in the 5th grade, but in important ways not having changed at all. I trust that God will be as good a guide after August 4 as God has been until then. 
I would like to express my deep thanks to our churches, leaders, and pastors for the trust you've offered me as you've welcomed me into your congregations and communities over these many years. The heart of the United Church of Christ is the local congregation, and it has been an honor and privilege to have been a companion with so many of you, all over our state.
It's part of our code of separation ethics as pastors that we...separate. The role of an ACM is different from that of a pastor of a local church, but the Southwest Association Division of Church and Ministry and I understand that I will not be a part of the institutional life of the Association or Conference for at least the first year of the ministry of my successor, and that the Association, Conference, and I will continue to observe healthy boundaries after that. 
I thank you for the expressions of thanks and the good wishes expressed in notes, emails, and in person at Conference annual meeting and the Mallards game shindig. I deeply appreciate that I will end this phase of ministry where it began, with worship in my home congregation.
 Peace, Rev. Joanne Thomson
Manual on Church Survey

The UCC Manual on Church will be a multi-year process of gathering and writing resources for the Local Church. As we begin the process, this survey is designed to help the working group determine the scope and function of the Manual on Church. Help the working group revamping the Manual identify its scope and function. Seeking input from lay congregational leadership, clergy and committee on ministry members and conference staff. Please share your ideas and suggestions in this survey! Deadline: July 31, 2019.
Link to Survey
Abundant Generosity from the UCC General Synod
from the Pathfinders newsletter, July 17, 2019

When members of the UCC came to Milwaukee for the UCC General Synod, they sent about 20 volunteers (nationally collected donations in tow) to Pathfinders. Volunteers assembled nearly 200 hygiene kits for the Street Beat outreach program and donated extra hygiene products to Pathfinders' other programs!

Participants in the UCC General Synod also raised over $7,500 for Pathfinders, donated all the furniture purchased for the conference, and attended a presentation we put on about youth homelessness in Milwaukee.

Thank you, UCC; your time and effort impacted our youth greatly.
Stewardship Skill Building Opportunities
Don't miss these opportunities to learn how to create a more successful annual pledge campaign. Register now!
From Good to Great Annual Campaigns: A Stewardship Bootcamp
August 11th, 3:00 - 7:00 pm, First Congregational UCC, Eau Claire
Revitalize your annual pledge campaigns with learnings from the best practices of philanthropy, including practical steps you can implement. Well worth your time investment. Includes dinner. Info and registration
Annual Campaigns 101 Webinar 
August 7th, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
We will explore ways to create an effective annual pledge campaign using the resources provided by the national setting of the UCC. Info and registration
Extravagant Generosity as a Spiritual Practice Webinar Series
5 sessions 10:00-11:30 a.m. - Aug 6 (intro session) and Oct 8, 15, 22, 29
Generosity doesn't just touch our wallet but engages our soul. We can more deeply consider the spiritual implications of giving, moving beyond a short blessing in worship. We will discuss the Book of Ruth and John 10 in order to plan an off-lectionary sermon series for a stewardship campaign. Info and registration
Dive Deeper into your Faith with these Damascus Project Offerings
The Crux: Engaging the Wisdom of the Wilderness for Today's Changing Church
This course will offer rich opportunities for reflection on the metaphor of the wilderness in scripture and in our lives personally as well as within our congregations. Any church leader (lay and ordained) grappling with the future of their congregation would benefit from this course. Any person of faith grappling with their own future in this rapidly changing world will find something to hold on to in this wilderness time in which we live. More information
Exploring God's Call in a Changing World
This is a course in spiritual discernment. Anyone who is wondering about their life's next steps, musing over God's call to them, longing to develop strategies for listening for God's voice or desiring to learn how to guide others in spiritual discernment will gain something from this course. More information 
A Flavor of the Old Testament
This is an introductory scripture course for anyone seeking to develop a deeper connection with scripture or to develop tools for reading. It could also be a fruitful refresher course for Clergy as they engage the text from a fresh perspective. More information 
What Does it Mean to Be UCC? Theology, History and Polity
This course is for anyone who is interested in learning more about our unique denomination from someone who has lived the history, theology and polity of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Dr. Clyde Steckel will delight with first person stories and a deep love for our denomination. Deepen your understanding of what it means to be UCC. More information
Communities of Practice for Clergy and for Christian Educators
Registration now open for groups starting in September
Communities of Practice (COP) clergy groups provide the sustenance that your ministry needs in order to be effective well into the future! COP groups are designed to be peer learning groups, focused both on the practice of ministry and your growth in your role as a pastoral minister. Previous participants need to re-register to continue on in a group.
More information
Register for a clergy COP group
COP groups are available for people who work in Christian Education and Faith Formation (CE/FF), too!  
Register for a CE/FF COP group
Register for Lay Academy
Lay Academy is a ministry of the Wisconsin Conference that forms a transformative learning community that engages lay people in spiritual growth and development through theological education. Anyone who longs to grow in faith, discover new ways to serve God and their community, and deepen their knowledge of Christian tradition, ministry, and mission is welcome.
More information
Register for Faith Foundations Year 2  
Our Whole Lives (OWL) Training
Training Lay Leaders and Clergy to Teach Human Sexuality
Grades 7-9 and 10-12
August 9-11, 2019
First Congregational UCC, Watertown
Our Whole Lives is a comprehensive kindergarten through adult sexuality education curriculum series. It provides youth with accurate information on sexual health, human development, sexual behavior, relationships, and personal skills in the supportive setting of their faith community. The Our Whole Lives (OWL) Facilitator Training workshop will ground participants in the underlying philosophy of Our Whole Lives, and train them to conduct parent orientations and lead the OWL classes for youth. The workshop will focus on the curricula for grades 7-9 and grades 10-12. More information and registration
Interim Ministry Training Institute
October 2019-May 2020
This training will benefit those who anticipate doing interim ministry in the future as well as those who are currently in interim and transitional positions. Both full-time/fully supported and part-time/bi-vocational models will be explored. This is an intensive, professional training program for clergy who want to learn the specialized skills to guide and support congregations through times of transition.
A Solar Celebration
Wednesday, August 13, 1:00pm

Join us live at the Trost Conference Center in DeForest, or live on Facebook through the wonders of technology, for a 30-minute service to commission the solar array that was installed on the Trost Center's roof in February. We hope you can join us either in person or on Facebook for this event! No registration or RSVP is necessary.
Thanks Again to General Synod Volunteers


People from all over the Wisconsin Conference, from congregations small, large, and in-between, stepped up to help host General Synod 2019 in Milwaukee. Much thanks to everyone who helped! We couldn't have done it without you.  

Check out the list of volunteers 

Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
No churches have recently started a search. To see all searching churches, click here.

Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Greg Young was installed at Our Saviour's UCC in Germantown on July 14, 2019.


  • Peace UCC in Marinette recently celebrated their 125th Anniversary and the local newspaper ran an editorial about it, which you can read here.

Good Tidings

  • Wisconsin Conference Director of Development Rev. Andrew Warner was recently honored for his service as the Pathfinders Board Chair. View details
In Memoriam
  • Rev. Don Ellerman passed away on July 9, 2019. Obituary
  • Rev. Gary Meade passed away on July 13, 2019. 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
Manual on Church survey
Pathfinders thanks us
Stewardship Skill Building opportunities
Damascus Project courses
Commuinities of Practice groups
Lay Academy
OWL Training
Interim Ministry Training Institute
Solar celebration
Volunteer thanks
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

First Evangelical and Reformed UCC, Lowell  

This Southwest Association church has served the Lowell area since 1858 and Brad Bergin serves as the pastor. The original church building, built in 1860, is still in use today. 
Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is " Team Talk Can Strengthen Volunteer Ministry." Access this issue and archived issues here!
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.