Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
October 7, 2020
How to Foster Deep Listening Amid Political Difference
Honest conversation about all matters, even politics, must be part and parcel of a Christian response to daily life, say Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers. Holland and Silvers came to this view after extensive dialogue over their own differing political views. Holland, a liberal, and Silvers, a conservative, knew each other as sorority sisters at Transylvania University in Kentucky, and later began having Facebook discussions after the 2016 presidential election. They now co-host a podcast called “Pantsuit Politics” in which they hold “grace-filled” discussions about politics, democracy, and values they hold dear.

Yet churches in our time confront a dilemma not faced by many previous generations: the divided nature of American culture. It affects how congregations order their life in worship, fellowship, study, and community outreach. Though church and state remain separate in American society, what happens in our divided society spills over into church life. How can churches and church leaders navigate the tricky waters of political difference without harming relationships in the process?

Need more? Attend this webinar, How to Preach During an Election Year (Without Blowing Up Your Church), from the Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wednesday, October 8 (that's tomorrow!). More info here
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • WCC Urges Congregations to Return to Physically Distanced Ministry
  • Clergy Exempt Standing Information
  • Ministry Grants for Congregations
  • A Conversation on Race in 2020
  • A Church's Investment Policy Guide
  • Generous Preaching Webinar
  • ONA Webinar Series
  • Faith Rally: Election Day Home Stretch
  • Webinar Series: Communications to Inspire Generosity
  • Pastor and Leader Cohort for Fall Stewardship Campaign
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
Wisconsin Council of Churches Urges Congregations to Return to Physically Distanced Ministry
From the Wisconsin Council of Churches
The Wisconsin Council of Churches recommends that churches statewide return to remote operations as the COVID-19 crisis deepens in Wisconsin. While today’s state Executive Order to limit indoor gatherings to 25% of building capacity exempts religious services and places of worship, and churches are free to continue operations as they have been, the ecumenical organization recommends that that they not gather in person. 

“Our obligation as faithful people is not to the minimum standard, but to behavior that demonstrates care for the most vulnerable and the well-being of the entire community,” said the Rev. Kerri Parker, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. “In view of the high level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, it is neither prudent nor pastoral to gather groups of people together at this time. We urge you to put a hold on any plans for worshiping or having fellowship together in physical place for the time being.”
Shedding Light on Clergy Exempt Standing and Supporting Clergy Roles
by Rob MacDougall
About four years ago I was sitting in the living room of Revs. Carol and Ralph DiBiasio-Snyder drinking a cup of Ralph’s remarkable coffee and listening to a group of retired UCC clergy. The purpose of our gathering was to discuss a proposed clergy status called Omega Standing. The idea for this standing came from the working group for the new UCC Manual On Ministry. Nobody was getting on board with the name Omega because some clergy thought it implied clergy with one foot in the grave, which was not the intent of the working group. While not a catchy term, the name Omega has been changed to Exempt Standing.

This new standing emerged because of new realities about the longevity of human life and newly established and enforceable requirements for UCC clergy to continue in good standing with the denomination. 
Ministry Grants for Congregations
Apply for a Creation Care Grant Now - Deadline October 31. Would your church like help funding your next step to a healthier Earth? 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 being extended October 31, 2020. For more information and to submit a grant application, go to Creation Care Grants under “Justice Ministries” at wcucc.org. Contact Lisa Hart with questions.

The Wisconsin Conference Emergency Response Fund provides resources as congregations experience financial hardship, meet crucial needs in their community, and adapt to new ways of ministry during the pandemic. Funds can be used for a wide range of purposes, including but not limited to leadership education, programming, outreach, and technology (both equipment and consultants to make the best use of the tech). Through the generosity of our donors, we can offer unrestricted grants of $500 to $2000 to congregations. Click here for more information and to apply.
A Conversation on Race in 2020
Lakeland University Mission House Lecture
Monday, Oct. 19
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Presented via Zoom

The keynote speaker is Rev. Starsky Wilson, Ph.D., president of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis. In 2014 he was appointed by Missouri's Governor to co-chair the Ferguson Commission following the police killing of Michael Brown. Rev. Wilson will start the program with his thoughts on race and systemic oppression as it relates to the Black Lives Matter movement, COVID and the upcoming Presidential election. He will be joined for a conversation on these topics by the Rev. Dr. Julie Mavity Maddalena, Lakeland chaplain and ethicist in residence, and Le'Shay Guy, director of Multicultural Affairs at Lakeland University. There will be time for Q & A.
To receive a Zoom link or phone number to access this virtual program, please register here by Oct. 14.
A Church's Guide for a Customized, Workable, and Effective Investment Policy
Every church and non-profit organization has its own unique mission and financial objectives. With that understanding, Matthew Wagner, Vice President, Institutional Relationships at United Church Funds, has written a helpful guide that describes the building blocks for customized, workable, and effective investment policy.
Generous Preaching Webinar
Preparing for a Stewardship Sermon this month? Join Rev. Andrew Warner for a conversation on "Generous Preaching." We explore how to preach and teach about generosity and the use of our financial resources. Dave Sigmund and Kim Vasko of the Three Great Loves Initiative will co-lead this conversation designed to help prepare pastors for a fall stewardship sermon focused on 1 John 4: 1-7.
Choose from two options -
Oct. 13 – 2:00 pm REGISTER
Oct. 13 – 3:30 pm REGISTER
ONA Webinar Series
The Coalition's popular webinar series resumes on Thursday, Oct. 8, with "ONA 201: Best Practices for Growing ONA Churches." The series continues with "ONA 101" and "1-to-1 Conversations about ONA"—both indispensable resources for not-yet ONA congregations. No matter where you are on your ONA journey, there's a webinar for you! Look for discounted season passes and reduced rates for multiple participants. And please contact us if you'd like to schedule a special webinar or consulting session for your congregation!
Faith Rally: Election Day Home Stretch — A UCC Digital Event
Feeling bruised, battered, or fatigued by this election season? Looking for a source of uplift down the home stretch to November 3rd? Then, this digital event is for you. This will be a time to renew our energies and our focus as we approach an election day with so many profound implications for those who care about the climate crisis and the many interconnected issues of justice that we face today. Our three featured speakers will include: Karenna Gore of Union Theological Seminary, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus, and the Rev. Gerald Durley of Interfaith, Power & Light. The webinar will be co-hosted by the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt of the UCC’s Environmental Justice Ministry and the Rev. Michael Malcom of Alabama Interfaith Power & Light. Even if you can't make its scheduled time on October 14th at 12 pm CT, still sign-up, and we will send you a recording of it. Sign-up now to join the webinar!
Webinar Series: Crafting Communications to Inspire Generosity
October 28, November 18 and December 9
Creating a communications strategy to inspire engagement and generosity is often a daunting task for faith communities. That’s why two expert communications teams are collaborating in a series of webinars to provide the tools that church leaders can use and adapt to their individual settings.
The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the national UCC’s OPTIC team are joining forces to present these webinars, which provide knowledge and skills in key areas of organizational and mission effectiveness and nonprofit administration. The series emphasizes strategic communications for development and explores related planning, management, and leadership skills.

Each one-hour webinar begins at 3:00 p.m. Central Time on the dates indicated. Click "Register" for more information and to sign up.

Strategic Communication for Mission Advancement - October 28. REGISTER
Gratitude and Nurturing Generosity - Nov. 18. REGISTER
Digital Strategies for Reaching new Communities - Dec. 9. REGISTER
Pastor and Leader Cohort for Fall Stewardship Campaign
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 experiences with others. This fall, join an online "cohort" 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. Learn more about this opportunity and sign up here.
Help Others - Donate Now
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
  • UCC Congregational Church Delavan is searching for a pastor. Details
  • Cedar Community in West Bend is searching for a Chaplain for Independent Living. Details

To see all searching churches, click here.

Wider Church Searches
  • The National Setting of the United Church of Christ is requesting Consulting services on Virtual Presence, Digital and IT Strategy. Details

New Calls
  • Rev. Julia Burkey has been called as senior pastor at Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison, effective October 1, 2020. Julia is new to the Conference. Welcome!
  • Rev. Jeannie Douglas has been called as interim pastor at First Congregational UCC in New London, effective October 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Stephen Welch has been called as designated interim minister at First Congregational UCC in Watertown, effective October 4, 2020.

Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Kelsey Beebe was installed by the Union Grove and Raymond church as their settled pastor on Sunday Sept. 20, 2020.

In Memoriam
  •  Rev. Carroll J. Olm passed away on September 26, 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.
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!

Get Involved! A Conference-wide Racial Justice Task Force gathers resources and encourages congregations to engage in conversations around race. If you and your congregation are interested in participating in this group, you are welcome. Contact Lisa Hart get involved.

More information on the Racial Justice Task force is available on the Conference's Racial Justice webpages.

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