Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
March 11, 2020
Supporting Our Members In Discernment
Over the past few years, there have been dramatic shifts regarding the oversight and support for people in our midst who are hearing the call to ordained ministry. In the United Church of Christ, persons on the path toward ordination are called Members In Discernment (MIDs). It is the responsibility of Association Committees/Divisions on Ministry to guide, nurture, oversee and finally call ecclesiastical councils when a vote takes place to approve candidates for ordination pending a call. In the past, much of the preparation for ministry took place through accredited seminaries, but the 2018 General Synod’s approval of the new Manual On Ministry established Multiple Paths to Ordained Ministry, which shifted greater preparation and oversight to Association Committees/Divisions on Ministry (COMs).
 
The Wisconsin Conference Commission on Church and Ministry, which is comprised of COM members from the four Associations of the Wisconsin Conference, has been working diligently with Association COMs over the past few years to understand the expanded responsibilities of Associations regarding MIDs. Along with the COMs, the Commission has developed tools and training to assess the competencies of MIDs based on the UCC Marks of Ministry and then to create learning/formation covenants for each MID. The Commission is currently working on re-writing the Wisconsin Conference’s MID Manual and is looking toward greater training for MID advisors. The Damascus Project is also creating courses focusing specifically on education for MID formation.
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Annual Meeting registration now open
  • Opening Roads Ahead program
  • Catalyst Grant deadline
  • Picture the Bible Curriculum Gift
  • Immigration Justice Reset webinar
  • Break the Silence Sunday 2021
  • United Church Camps news
  • Pastoring in the Age of Conspiracies and Disinformation webinar
  • Video service for April 11
  • Financial resources to support older/historic buildings
  • Interfaith Peace Working Group news
  • Winter storms response
  • In-person mediation training
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
2021 Wisconsin Conference UCC Annual Meeting
Powered by Generosity
You are invited to join friends and colleagues from around the Wisconsin Conference for our 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting from May 11-16.
 
Click here to register
 
This year’s theme, Powered by Generosity, will invite participants to recognize the abundance of spiritual, relational and material blessings evident in the Church even at a time when we gravitate all too naturally to scarcity thinking.
Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, will deliver the keynote address Rethinking Generosity on Tuesday evening, May 11th. Rev. Lamar is honored to serve Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he seeks daily to extend Metropolitan’s nearly two centuries-long legacy of bearing witness to and ushering into this world the reign of the living God. He is actively involved in several community organizations to enact social justice ministry and to exhibit a real embrace of the beloved community. 
 
For more detailed information and to find out how you can participate, visit our website: wcucc.org/annualmeeting.
"Opening Roads Ahead" - Small and Rural Church Leadership in the Aftermath of the Pandemic
The Northwest Association invites Wisconsin Conference pastors and members to attend the program of our annual meeting.

It has been a very tough year for all of us, for our families, neighbors, churches and communities. But as spring unfolds we are finally able to look ahead, toward summer, fall, and the hopeful decline of the pandemic that has shaken the world. Rural church leaders and pastors have had a critical role to play in helping us through this time. Our moral voices have helped shape smart, safe responses to the virus, including masking up, social distancing, and creative worship and outreach. But now it's time to look ahead. How might we go forward? What future do we envision growing into? How might our ever-shifting culture and its demographic changes affect our future? And what creative, inspiring, and new "open roads" might we take as we prepare for the days ahead, even though "a return to what was in the past" is unlikely. We hope you'll participate with us in an engaging exploration of the opening roads ahead for our smaller congregations and for their communities as we seek to create new pathways for ministry and mission in 2021 and beyond.

9:30am - Welcome with Teri Hanson, Moderator of the NWA Association followed by Opening Worship with Rev. Franz Rigert, Conference Minister
 
10:00-11:00am - Program speakers Rev. Dave Ostendorf and Prof. Paul Lasley

Join us for the opening worship and program, then leave when the business meeting begins

Register here by April 4, 2021
Catalyst Grant Deadline: March 31
Have a ministry idea or project to impact your community for good? Maybe a Catalyst Grant could bring that idea to life!

A new pool of Catalyst grant funds is available for 2021 to support innovation in your congregation and community. What is innovation, you ask? Catalyst defines innovation as anything that stretches your congregation out of its comfort zone, opens you to new community partnerships, engages your ministry resources in a different way or enlarges your impact in your community. Have an idea you’re not sure about? Call Tisha. She is happy to consult with anyone in the conference who is percolating ideas but might need support in discerning their viability or developing a plan.

Every successful project proposal comes with a Catalyst grant liaison who is available to you through your project to provide feedback and support and to connect you with others in the conference doing similar projects. Our desire is to help you succeed in your efforts and harvest what we all can learn from the times when we fall short.

The Catalyst Team looks forward to partnering with you as you explore new ideas in ministry. Contact Tisha Brown today to start a conversation about your innovation ideas and whether or not your project would be eligible for Catalyst funds. Proposals received by March 31, 2021 will be considered for funding in May. Proposals received by September 30, 2021 will be considered in November.

Find out more about the Catalyst Grant process here

Click Here to learn about the projects that have received funding recently.
Picture the Bible Curriculum Gift
The Wisconsin Conference is partnering with the creators of Picture the Bible (PTB), the outstanding Faith Formation resource, to provide a 4-week, post-Easter series of PTB free to all congregations in the Conference. Each church will receive a packet in the mail by mid-March with 4 weeks of Christian education for all ages, featuring four Bible stories: The Sermon on the Mount; Jesus Blesses the Children; Jesus Feeds 5,000; and Let Justice Roll.
 
The Informational Guide in the packet provides directions for free access to electronic files which you can download and print as needed. Also, a Zoom session on how to use the Picture the Bible resources will be offered by Rev. Stacy Johnson Myers on March 23 at 11:00 a.m. To join this session, request a Zoom link from Lisa Hart at lhart@wcucc.org. This session will also be recorded for future viewing.
 
Be sure to check it out when it arrives in your mailbox, and share with Christian Education leaders.  Also find more info here.
Immigration Justice Reset: How to Support Family Reunification
Join the Immigration Working Group for a discussion about family reunification. This webinar is part of a three-part Zoom workshop series that will explore what immigration policy (and reality) may look like in 2021 nationally, on the border, and in Wisconsin. The first workshop was held on February 16 and can be viewed here. The second and third workshops are being held March 16, and April 20, respectively, from 6:30-8pm. In the second workshop, the presenters are from Al Otro Lado and will be talking about their work with family reunification. Al Otro Lado is a bi-national advocacy and legal aid organization serving migrants, refugees and deportees in the United States and Mexico. Register here.

These workshops are sponsored by The Immigration Working Group (IWG). The IWG introduced the 2017 Wisconsin Conference Resolution inviting our churches to become “Immigrant Welcoming” so that we might be inspired to practice the Old Testament mandate to welcome the stranger as well as follow Jesus who went out and healed the most desperate people of his time. Everyone is invited to our monthly zoom meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at 1pm. Contact Lisa Hart to be added to our email list. To find out more about our work, check out our webpage and please join us for our upcoming workshops.
Break the Silence Sunday
The materials for Break the Silence Sunday for 2021 are now available here.

Suggested date: April 25, 2021
 
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.
What's Happening at Our Camps?
United Church Camps, Inc. shares news from Pilgrim Center, Moon Beach and Cedar Valley. Check out the latest newsletters:

Pastoring in the Age of Conspiracies and Disinformation
From the Wisconsin Council of Churches
Webinar on March 16 - 6:00pm-7:30pm
Pastors are struggling with the challenges of ministry amidst the growing influence of conspiracies and disinformation that sow confusion, create chaos, and undermine relationships. How can clergy talk with those who are caught in the web of “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories? What support can they offer to parishioners who are navigating relationships with family members or friends involved with cultish movements?
 
Our panel of experts will share resources, strategies, and practical ideas for clergy to offer pastoral guidance and spiritual support for their congregations. We will discuss options for finding a way through the ever-changing landscape of disinformation and the controlling influence of cultic groups. Together, we can help each other stay grounded in the biblical and theological principles of truth-telling, trust, and hope.
Video Service for April 11 Forthcoming
As a sign of support for Conference clergy and the extraordinary efforts they have put forth this past year for their congregations, Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn and Rev. Dr. Julie Mavity Maddalena are preparing a complete service for use on Sunday, Apr. 11. The service, “Doubting Thomas/Faithful Questioning” will be based on John 20: 19-31, the Lectionary reading for that day. It will be recorded at First Congregational UCC in Plymouth and we intend to make the link to the service available the week of March 22, so clergy have time to review it in advance of their final Lent preparations.
National Program Offers Financial Resources to Support Congregations with Older/Historic Buildings
Does your congregation or historic sacred place have local, regional, or national significance? 

Are you community-minded, and do you want to affect change for others? Have you often wondered how you will complete that complex preservation project with so many priorities competing for attention and money? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the National Fund for Sacred Places, managed by Partners for Sacred Places, might be the program for you. 
The first and only program of its kind, The National Fund for Sacred Places is a grant-making program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This groundbreaking program, made possible thanks to Lilly Endowment's generosity, strives to help congregations large and small invest in their assets and capacity to serve. 
To learn more about the program, the application process, and the substantial impact congregations like yours have made since joining the program, visit The National Fund for Sacred Places. NOTE: Letter of Intent due March 15!
Interfaith Peace Working Group Newsletter
If you'd like to connect with other followers of a nonviolent Jesus, read the latest newsletter from the Interfaith Peace Working Group. The group is an associate member of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and works to promote the understanding and practice of nonviolence demilitarization throughout Wisconsin. To read the newsletter, click here! The newsletter's first article is by former Wisconsin Conference UCC Conference Minister, Rev. Fred Trost.
UCC Issues Appeal in Response to Winter Storms
The United Church of Christ is issuing an appeal to assist people affected by this year’s Winter Storms. The impact of massive and intense storms is being felt across a wide swath of the United States. So far Texas has been particularly hard hit.
Attend Mediation Training in Person
Please join us for the training event that a previous attendee described as “the Golden Globe winner of conflict resolution programs”! The summer session of Mediation Skills Training Institute for Churches will be conducted in person in the Chicago area on August 2-6, 2021. The exact site has yet to be determined, but it will be within driving distance of O’Hare Airport. Should circumstances force us to revert to an online-only presentation, registrants will have the option to attend remotely, apply full credit towards a future LMPC event, or receive a full refund. A final decision will be made by the end of May. Online registration is now open. Additional sessions in May, June, October and November will be offered remotely or as hybrid events. For more information call the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at 630-627-0507, email us, or visit our website. Acquire 32 contact hours of instruction, enjoy Christian fellowship, and learn skills that will help transform destructive conflict into an opportunity for growth and renewal – register today! 
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
  • St. John's UCC in Fountain City is searching for a pastor. Details
  • Congregational UCC in Sparta is searching for a pastor. Details
  • Hope UCC in Cochrane is searching for a pastor. Details
  • Zwingli UCC in Paoli is searching for a pastor. Details
To see all searching churches, click here.

Wider Church Searches
  • The national office has several current, varied openings. Details

New Calls
  • Rev. Sonny Graves has been called as interim pastor at Congregational UCC in Mineral Point, effective March 1, 2021.
  • Rev. John Helt has been called as bridge pastor at St. Pauls UCC in Erin/Colgate, effective March 1, 2021.
  • Rev. Marilyn Lange has been called as interim pastor at Peace UCC in Shawano, effective March 1, 2021.
  • Rev. David J. Schnepf has been called as pastor at First Congregational UCC in Hartland and at First Congregational UCC in Genesee, effective March 1, 2021.
  • Rev. Judith Wang has been called as interim pastor at First Congregational UCC in Elkhorn, effective March 1, 2021.
  • Rev. Dean Kucera has been called for extended pulpit supply at Zwingli UCC in Paoli, effective March 1, 2021.

In Memoriam
  • Betty Bartlett, mother of Pastor Mark Bartlett, passed away on March 1, 2021. Obituary
  • Rev. Dale G. Kuck passed away on March 8, 2021. 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.
The Kairos Call to Action Newsletter was created to support the efforts of congregations, families and individuals who want to be a part of the UCC’s Kairos Call to Action. Through this newsletter the Conference Creation Care Team will provide resources for study and worship, encourage advocacy on behalf of climate justice, and help congregations find and connect with partners who share this common concern and commitment.
Tending the Soul of the Beloved Community is a monthly communication dedicated to sharing resources and tools, wisdom and insight for congregations and individuals navigating these challenging days. Created by the Conference Supportive Ministries Team, this publication will highlight resources to aid in steering your path forward.
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 "How can We Build Trust in a Vaccine?" 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