Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
August 12, 2020
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Coping with Covid-19 and suggestions for churches
  • Part-time meeting planner sought
  • Trost Center staff work remotely
  • Leadership Skills course
  • Faith Foundations 1 course
  • Wonder Wednesdays videos for children
  • Recovering Hope: emotional care resources available
  • Grant Opportunities for Creation Care Initiatives
  • Rev. Barb DeSouza reflects, offers wisdom

  • Annual Campaigns 101 Webinar
  • Webinar - Engaging the Climate Emergency in preaching and worship
  • Stewardship campaign cohort opportunity
  • Wisconsin UCC Clergy Engage U.S. House Representative
  • Interim Ministry Training Institute
  • Keeping Faith: Churches and child abuse training
  • Campus Ministry During Coronavirus
  • Donate now
  • Conference transitions
Coping with Covid-19: A Personal Perspective and Suggestions for Churches
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In late May, I tested positive (infected) with the COVID- 19 virus. After 29 days in quarantine, I “count it all joy” that I am now negative and have freedom. In this reflection, I share some highlights and struggles of my journey in isolation as context for making some suggestions for church communities as they begin to further open up in this new era.

I was shocked that I got COVID – 19, since my wife, Judi, and I had been very cautious, given our age and Judi’s preexisting health condition. I have no idea how I got it. I quarantined in our bedroom, with a bed, TV, easy chair and bathroom and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. We communicated by phone. I opened the door three times a day to get my meals prepared by my very supportive wife, an excellent cook. During this period we celebrated our 56th wedding anniversary, waving to each other ten feet away.
Part-time Meeting Planner Sought
The Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ is seeking a Meeting Planner to plan and implement its annual meeting. This is a part-time contract position with an annual time commitment of around 250 hours. Hours are lightest in summer and heaviest in January through early June. We’re looking for a long-term commitment for this very important Conference event. This is an ideal engagement for someone who desires flexible hours and primarily working from home.

The Meeting Planner is responsible for the planning and execution of all aspects of the Conference’s 400+ attendance, 4-day annual meeting, including workshops, business meetings, exhibits and gatherings. Requirements include at least two years successful meeting and event planning experience, associate’s degree or above, exceptional organizational and project management skills, as well as excellent written and verbal communications skills. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and online meeting platforms is essential. Candidates must be available for overnight travel (in-state) for the four days of the annual meeting in June. For full details go to wcucc.org/planner. Application deadline is August 29, 2020.
Trost Center Staff Continues to Work Remotely
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Following guidance from the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin Conference staff who normally work at the Trost Conference Center in DeForest will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future. All conference staff personnel are available by email and phone (download list of staff contact info). If you don’t know who to talk with, call the Conference number, 608-846-7880, to be directed to someone who can assist you.
 
The entire staff remains eager and able to serve you and continues to be focused on the best ways to connect, support and resource local congregations and leaders during this challenging time. We hold weekly staff meetings to ensure we are remaining connected with one another and with the vital concerns of the Conference. Like you, we look forward to returning to the conference center’s building but are grateful to have a way to continue our work during a time when the best option is to remain socially distant.
 
Changes in the Finance Office
Tracy Hauge took on a new role as the Finance Manager after the retirement of Vicki Graff. Tracy brings many years of experience and a deep commitment to the mission and ministry of the Wisconsin Conference to her expanded responsibilities. She is the first contact for local church leaders on financial questions. Tracy works closely with Andrew Warner to provide reports as needed to conference and association leaders.  
Leadership Skills Equips Lay People to Lead in Uncertain Times
We all know churches face unprecedented challenges and decision making in this time. That’s why The Damascus Project is offering a unique resource to equip and encourage lay leadership. This 10-month learning experience is fully online and ideal for moderators, council members, task force chairs, and others called to serve your church. 

Participants will:
  • Discover the gifts, joys, and challenges of the UCC
  • Strategize, share resources and give and gain support in a community of leaders 
  • Learn to lead more effective meetings to get things done in church
  • Learn an approach to leading change and transformation
  • Discover their PeopleMap personality type and how to develop their strengths and avoid their Achilles’ heels

We invite you to consider: Do you know a lay leader who would benefit from this experience? Does your church have the resources to support their participation? 

Learn more and register on the Damascus Project website. Registration Closes Monday, August 31. Course Orientation is scheduled for Friday, August 21, 6:00 to 8:30 pm on Zoom.

Special payment options are available; please read the full course description before making your purchase. If you have questions, contact Abby or Tisha at info@the-damascus-project.org or 507-222-0194.
Faith Foundations 1 - Be Transformed in Faith
In these unusual times, we're all grappling with big questions. Why not grapple together in the safe, thoughtful community that the Damascus Project provides? Our online Faith Foundations course begins mid-August. This course welcomes all but is especially suited for lay people and members-in-discernment eager to explore theology and find spiritual grounding in a welcoming learning environment. 

Learn more and register on the Damascus Project website. Registration Closes on Monday, August 31. Course orientation is scheduled for Saturday, August 22, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Zoom.

Special payment options are available; please read the full course description before making your purchase. If you have questions, contact Abby or Tisha at info@the-damascus-project.org or 507-222-0194.
Wonder Wednesdays
Redeemer UCC in Sussex has created "Wonder Wednesdays," and the youth of your church are invited to join in. Wonder Wednesdays uses Redeemer's beautiful prairie to connect with youth through the wonder of God's creation. Each Wednesday at 10am the church presents a Facebook Live event, which is available on YouTube following the event. Here are the dates and topics:

  • Bird Nests, August 5
  • Nature's Glitter, August 12
  • Leaves, August 19
  • Dragonflies, August 26

You can join Redeemer online at their Facebook page at 10am on August Wednesdays, or you can view the archived videos on their YouTube page.
"Recovering Hope" Offers Emotional Care Resources During COVID-19
Disasters are stressful for survivors and caregivers alike, including the pastors and chaplains to whom survivors turn for spiritual and practical help.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. This long-running disaster is taking an enormous emotional toll on millions of people, sparing no one as they and those around them suffer sickness and death, isolation and loss of community and livelihoods.

In response, a multidisciplinary United Church of Christ team is launching “Recovering Hope,” which is rolling out resources for emotional and spiritual care to pastors, chaplains and other church leaders, congregants, vulnerable communities and beyond.
Grant Opportunities for Creation Care Initiatives
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In response to the Kairos Call to Action, the Conference Creation Care Team is offering grants of up to $1000 available to Wisconsin Conference UCC Congregations that are planning initiatives to deepen their love of creation and positively change their relationship with the environment. The application deadline is September 30, 2020.
 
These initiatives could address new models for community-based cooperation and ministry, environmental and economic justice work, theological grounding for your congregation's response to the climate crisis, and/or potential leadership identification and development for guiding the congregation's response. Additionally, because the Creation Care Team has connected with the Native American communities of Wisconsin, consideration will be given to congregations who use this as an opportunity for multi-cultural literacy and cooperation.
 
These initiatives can be small or large, focused on enhanced efficiencies, consciousness-raising and education, or organizing and advocacy. Because of the far-reaching dimensions of the climate and ensuing economic crisis, priority consideration will be given to initiatives that somehow connect with multiple partners within or beyond communities the congregation serves. 
 
For more information and to submit a grant application, go to wcucc.org/creationcare. Contact Lisa Hart with questions.
Barb DeSouza Reflects on 50 years of Ministry among the Desperately Poor; Offers Wisdom for Pastors
Rev. Barb DeSouza recently spent time reflecting on her 50 years of ministry in Brazil, and shares these words of wisdom with her fellow Wisconsin Conference pastors.

Some of you may remember that most of my ministry was spent among the poor, but spiritually rich, in the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. It was there I had the privilege of working with women who were living in impoverished conditions in city shanty towns and rural areas. Together we empowered one another to speak truth to power. We were often overwhelmed but our faith gave us the courage to remain strong and unashamed.
Annual Campaigns 101 Webinar
Two sessions to choose from: Tuesday, Sept. 1, or Monday, Sept. 14
5:30-7:00 pm
Join this webinar to develop and strengthen plans for a successful fall campaign. Several churches that joined this webinar last year reported improved results from their pledge campaigns! Designed for pastors and lay leaders planning an annual pledge campaign, we will explore ways to create an effective campaign. We will reflect on core purpose of a campaign, discuss practical steps leaders can take, and explore creative ideas to design a campaign uniquely suited to your congregation. Invite others in your congregation too!
 
There is no fee for participating in this webinar, however registration is required to receive the link to join the webinar. 
Webinar: Engaging the Climate Emergency in Preaching and Worship
It's not too late to sign up for this webinar that takes place August 13, from 7:00-8:30 pm.

God is calling the church to shape our preaching, worship and liturgy as if life itself depends on it. Clergy must fully engage the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. This webinar will help pastors offer their congregations hope, engage their imagination, and inspire them to take action on climate justice.
 
How can pastors best unpack the relationship between racial, economic and climate injustice? How can the church shape the new realities emerging from the pandemic so that we experience a #JustRecovery for "the least of these among us" AND for the ecosystem? How can pastors connect the Black Lives Matter movement with the climate movement? What inspiration can we draw from the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement? How can congregations help make us the generation God has dreamed us to be?
 
Presenter Jim Antal, Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the UCC General Minister and President, will share insights from his 2018 book, Climate Church, Climate World and from his experience preaching on the climate crisis to hundreds of congregations. Jim is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian, and has been an environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970.
 
Register (free) for this webinar here. You will receive a link to join the meeting once you've registered.
Pastor and Leader Cohort for Fall Stewardship Campaign
Group starting now! Sign up (free) below.
 
Share and learn from your peers to strengthen your stewardship campaign
 
Pastors and congregation leaders have an opportunity to enhance their stewardship campaigns by connecting and sharing ideas and resources with others. This fall, join an online “cohort” group for stewardship campaign leaders using the Three Great Loves Stewardship Theme Materials. Participants will use an online forum to connect, ask questions, offer success stories, and learn together about what works in your setting. This cohort group will kick off in August and run through mid-November.
 
Andrew Warner and Bob Olsen will moderate this online forum, offering weekly posts with ideas and resources designed to strengthen stewardship campaigns. Participants will sign into the online site to connect with the moderators and other participants. Participants will be able submit questions for the moderators or other group members, as well as adding their own stories and information. The group could also choose to hold an online live session for a group discussion. 
 
Andrew Warner and Bob Olsen are development directors of the Wisconsin Conference and Minnesota Conference, respectively. 
 
This cohort group is being hosted on the Damascus Project website. To sign up for the group, click here, then 1) click on the ACCESS box, and 2) Provide your information to create a free account. Email Andrew Warner or call 414-758-6233 with questions.
 
Wisconsin UCC Clergy Engage U.S. House Representative
At Rochester Park in Sheboygan Falls on August 3, eight clergy and one layperson demonstrated with Black Lives Matter signs at an outdoor townhall meeting held by U.S. Representative Glenn Grothman. This group included Mark Jaberg, Becky Johnston, Julie Mavity Maddalena, Penny Mealiff, Roger Mealiff, Chris Ross, Tom Schroeder, Lorri Steward, and Laura Yurs. We displayed our signs for all to see as attendees entered the gathering space, and then we moved to line the back of the area and remained standing with our signs facing Rep. Grothman during the event. The demonstration was without disruption or incident.
 
Afterward, Rep. Grothman’s staff contacted our clergy group to arrange a discussion meeting. So, on August 10 five of us—Mark Jaberg, Julie Mavity Maddalena, Chris Ross, Lorri Steward, and Laura Yurs—met Rep. Grothman for coffee and conversation at Ebenezer UCC in Sheboygan. This conversation lasted almost two hours and centered mostly around issues of racial justice.
 
If anyone would like more information about this event or conversation, please feel free to contact any of the participants. 
-submitted by Chris Ross
Interim Ministry Training Institute
The Interim Ministry Training Institute is an intensive, professional training program for clergy who want to learn the specialized skills to guide and support congregations through times of transition. Often this follows the departure of a settled pastor, but may apply to transitions of size or location or mission. This training can benefit those who anticipate doing this 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. Now available as a live online program: attend from anywhere!
Keeping Faith: Empowering Faith Communities to Recognize and Respond to Child Abuse
A Virtual, Interfaith Workshop with 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

Monday, September 21, 2020
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Participants will learn:
  • 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.

Sponsors: Madison Christian Community and Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ
Campus Ministry during Coronavirus
I am Lori Ruge-Jones, ELCA campus pastor at UW-Eau Claire. We are the only denominational campus ministry on our campus, so I consider myself the pastor for all mainline Protestant students. Since we will not be able to meet students at our usual gatherings for orientation, student organizations, or back to campus activities due to COVID, we will rely on referrals more than ever. Will you please tell your students about us, and tell us about your students, so that we might connect and help them find a faith home-away-from-home?

Questions? Contact pastor Lori here. To learn more about ELCA campus ministry or to refer a student to one of our 400 sites, visit www.luminelca.org.

Note: this request comes from UW-Eau Claire, but all campus ministry organizations are in the same boat this fall. Please consider referrals to a campus ministry at a university your members attend.
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
  • The Lighthouse Youth Ministry is searching for a part-time youth director. Details

To see all searching churches, click here.

Wisconsin Conference Searches
  • The Wisconsin Conference is searching for a meeting planner. Details

Wider Church Searches
  • The national United Church of Christ has a couple openings. Details


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.
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.
Join the Conference-wide Creation Care Team!

Are you passionate about Creation Care? Want to connect with others who are taking action to care for the earth? The Creation Care Team's primary focus is to encourage, support and provide resources to congregations in the Wisconsin Conference as they do what they can to care for creation. If you would like to be a part of this team, or for more information on the Creation Care Team, contact John Helt. You can also go to the Creation Care webpage to learn more.

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!
This month's Parish Paper is "Hospitality: Offering a Third Place to Gather." Access this issue and archived issues here!
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