Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
January 11, 2021
Using Surveys to Guide Decision Making
from The Parish Paper
In A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations, Cynthia Woolever points points out the many factors that can drive the congregation’s decisions, including its understanding of theology, guidance from favorite Bible passages, God’s Spirit present in discernment and prayer, and traditions particular to the congregation and its history. Unfortunately, a fifth factor, information or data about the congregation and its community, often gets left out. Data-driven decision making can often steer the assembled faithful away from disastrous results.

Read the full article to learn when and how to use surveys in congregational decision making.
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Conflict Transformation Workshop
  • CHHSM Sunday Jan. 21
  • Webinar: Forming a Green Team
  • Generosity Practices Workshops (3 options)
  • Fresh Ideas For Confirmation
  • Gift Acceptance Policies
  • UCC Webinar: Faith and Climate Policy
  • Sharing Faith Stories to Increase Understanding
  • Racial Justice Book Immersion
  • UCCI Camps News
  • Emergency Grants Still Available
  • Conference Transitions
What Unites Us? Using Core Values to Navigate Conflict
A Conflict Transformation Team Workshop
Sunday, February 21, 3:00-5:00 pm, online
“Love God and your neighbor as yourself.” Upon these commandments depend our mission and vision as covenant congregations in the ‘United’ Church of Christ. Since our unity isn’t uniform, what holds us together? What essential, core values serve the church when times are tough? Let’s talk! Join our Conference Conflict Transformation Team for a Zoom workshop on Sunday, February 21 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm to discuss the role of core values when dealing with church conflict. The cost is $50 per church (up to four participants) or $15 for individuals.

NOTE: All attendees from a church must be registered at the same time in order to take advantage of the $50 per church price. Please be prepared with email addresses for all attendees, as these are needed to send the meeting link to every participant.
Register Here> by Monday, February 15.
CHHSM Sunday is January 31
The Wisconsin Council for Health and Human Service Agencies (CHHSM) wants to remind everyone that Sunday, January 31, 2021 is CHHSM Sunday. This is the day we set aside to honor all those who serve, and are served, in our care agencies. Many churches celebrate this day with a blessing of hands, a special liturgy or just take a moment to honor these folks and the important work they do with prayer.
In the best of times these people do important work; with Covid they are doing heroic work. Please consider holding a special celebration on January 31 to celebrate the important work our agencies are doing. The CHHSM website provides downloadable resources for celebrating CHHSM Sunday, including a Litany of Gratitude for Essential Workers, a Prayer of Remembrance for those lost in the coronavirus pandemic, and more. In addition, CHHSM recently released an article about Health and Human Service Sunday. 
Information about the CHHSM agencies is available on the Wisconsin Conference website.
Webinar: Forming a Green Team
January 14, 7:00 p.m.
Interested in forming a green team, or just wondering what other green teams are doing? The Conference Creation Care Team is kicking off the new year with a series of webinars to help congregations begin to implement the 10-year Kairos Call to Action plan adopted at our 2020 Conference Annual Meeting. Don't miss this webinar featuring members of St. Stephens UCC, Merrill, and First Congregational UCC, River Falls who are at different stages of forming Green or Kairos Action Teams in their communities. We hope this will provide inspiration for congregations and help them connect with others working toward the same goals. Guided by the Kairos Call to Action, the Conference has established goals of having 100 congregations engaged in the Kairos Call to Action by the end of 2021, and 150 congregations forming a “Kairos Action Team” by the end of 2022. Register Here
Want to strengthen your Generosity practices in 2021?

These upcoming webinars will fuel your Generosity efforts.
2020 Hindsight - A Conversation for Pastors and Lay Leaders
January 19, 5:30 pm
As we close out the books on 2020, we want to consider lessons learned about the finances of our congregations and the generosity of our community. Join Andrew Warner to talk about the financial situation of your congregation, identify options and opportunities for promoting generosity in 2021, and develop a plan for the new year. Register here
What’s Next: Best Practices for Financial Sustainability
An Orientation for Lay Leaders: Treasurers, Financial Secretaries, and Stewardship Chairs
February 4, 5:30 pm
This webinar reviews basic aspects of the treasurer, financial secretary, and stewardship chair roles. Please complete the Congregational Economic Evaluation (CEE) Survey from CARDD before the webinar. The CEE Survey will inform our conversation. We focus on how to organize and lead an effective year-around practice of storytelling (or testimonials) related to generosity, effective ways to record and thank donors for their gifts, and creating a “financial dashboard” to help fellow board members understand the finances of the congregation. Register here
Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar - Webinar in 6 sessions, Feb 9 – Apr 27
The Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar for pastors and lay leaders offers an opportunity to explore faithful, practical, and tested ways for promoting generosity in our congregations. We will draw on current research, seek guidance from the wisdom of scripture, and discuss the best practices in church-based fundraising. 
This seminar will help pastors and leaders engage generosity as a spiritual practice, and will improve the “bottom line” of your congregation – mission and ministry. Six online sessions run on Tuesdays at 5:30-7:00 pm, from Feb. 9th through Apr. 27th, and will be taught by the Rev. Andrew Warner, Wisconsin Conference Director of Development and the Rev. Andy DeBraber, Generosity Officer of the national setting. Between class sessions, Andy and Andrew will provide materials to help you analyze the culture of your own congregation and learn how to create change. Invite at least one other person to achieve the most impact. By the end of the seminar, pastors and leaders will be equipped to lead effective fundraising and you will have a strategy to guide your success moving forward. $150 per participant. Register by January 31.
Fresh Ideas For Confirmation Resources
A Confirmation Conversation with Rev. Stacy Johnson Myers
January 19th at 1:00 pm
Looking for fresh ideas for confirmation resources/curriculum? Wondering how to connect with confirmation students when you aren’t able to meet in person? Join us on Zoom on January 19th to learn about the Picture The Bible Confirmation curriculum that has been developed by Rev. Stacy Johnson Myers, co-pastor at First Congregational UCC in River Falls. Picture The Bible is a creative and inspiring faith formation curriculum that has been expanded to include materials for your confirmation program. In response to the pandemic, the curriculum has been modified for use online and at home. 

During this Zoom conversation, you will learn more about the Picture The Bible curriculum and resources, with the opportunity to experience how the confirmation resources are used. It will also be an opportunity to discuss practical and creative ideas for offering confirmation during this unusual time and beyond. Register>
The Importance of a Gift Acceptance Policy
By Matthew Wagner, United Church Funds
Imagine this scenario for a moment: An unexpected package from a law firm arrives at a church’s office addressed to the Pastor. Inside is a letter from an out-of-town attorney explaining that a person who was baptized and confirmed in the church nearly eight decades prior had recently died and left a portion of her sizable estate to the church, despite having moved across the country to attend college many years ago and never returning to her hometown. (Side note: Wouldn’t that be a terrific surprise?)
The donor left the gift, which totals $500,000, with a few instructions: 50 percent of the gift was left in cash as unrestricted to be invested as the church wishes and distributed to any part of the church’s mission or operations. The remaining 50 percent of the gift is in the form of stock in Exxon Mobil, and the church is required to hold the stock in perpetuity. Additionally, the church may only distribute the quarterly dividend payments from the Exxon Mobil stock to fund parsonage upkeep.
The Pastor’s initial smiles at the prospects of such a generous gift turn to a grimace at the instructions in the letter. Unbeknownst to the donor, the church voted in 2018 to remove all fossil fuel holdings from the investment portfolio and sold the parsonage 10 years ago. Continue reading for strategies and practices for establishing a gift acceptance policy.
What’s Possible?: Faith and Climate Policy in 2021
UCC Webinar Wed., January 13th at 12:00 pm CT
With the new legislative landscape for Congress, what will be possible for climate policy? What might President Biden accomplish through executive orders? Sign-up for this webinar that will consider what faith communities can do to press for policies that reflect our values. Sign-up now
Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Christianity:
Sharing our faith stories to increase understanding and respect
Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, online. 6:30-8 p.m.
Fear, distrust, and misinformation have often characterized the relationships between Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. This is still the case today. Featuring a panel of Jewish, Muslim and Christian thinkers, this program will help participants understand forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia in contemporary American society, and dispel the biases that contribute to these occurrences of prejudice and hate. The presentation will include time for questions. This program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Conference UCC Christian Education/Faith Formation Commission and Lakeland University.
Register here> or call 920-565-1023 ext. 2151
Racial Justice Book Immersion
8 online sessions
Tuesdays 6:30-8:00pm beginning January 26 through May 11
You are invited to participate with Madison Christian Community in a book immersion using Drew Hart's new book Who Will Be a Witness: Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance. Some of you participated in a 2018 Big Read of his earlier work, Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism. In this book, Hart writes in greater detail about the intersection of racism/white supremacy and white Christianity in America. Using theological and historical lenses, he outlines the responsibility and opportunity of the church to reclaim the radical way of Jesus and be a credible voice and instrument for healing.
Small group break out rooms will be incorporated to foster conversation. There is no fee to participate, but you must provide your own book. They can be purchased through the publisher, mennomedia.org, or any book outlet. Download the flyer for full details. Register here>
Camps News and Updates
Check out the latest news about 2021 plans on the UCCI/Camps website. Here's a preview:

"We cannot wait for youth, families, and adults to again explore everything we have to offer at Cedar Valley, Moon Beach, and Pilgrim Center. We understand many are longing for the connection and memories they have experienced with us. We also endeavor to do that in the safest ways possible and have COVID safety protocols in place to keep our guests and staff as safe as possible! As this is a dynamic situation, our practices will be examined and modified regularly so that we reflect the most current science-based recommendations. Prior to each event, all registered guests will receive information about what exactly to expect. We will also keep the most current information up to date on our website at www.ucci.org."
Emergency Grants Still Available
Wisconsin Conference UCC churches can still apply for emergency grants through the Conference Emergency Response Fund, which was created to provide resources as congregations experience financial hardship, meet crucial needs in their community, and adapt to new ways of ministry at this time. Funds can be used for a wide range of purposes, including but not limited to leadership education, programming, outreach, and technology (both equipment and tech consultants). Through the generosity of our donors, we can offer unrestricted grants of $500 to $2000 to congregations. To date, grants have provided critical help to 45 congregations and United Church Camps Inc. That's 20% of the congregations in our conference! Click HERE for more information and to apply.
Conference Transitions
Searching Churches
  • Pilgrim UCC in Fond du Lac is searching for a pastor. Details
  • To see all searching churches, click here.

Wider Church Searches

New Calls
  • Rev. Peter Haskins has been called as pastor at St. Pauls UCC in Menomonee Falls, effective 12/13/2020.
  • Rev. Scott McLeod has been called as pastor at First Congregational UCC in Port Washington, effective 1/1/2021.
  • Rev. Lucas Williams has been called as senior pastor at New Horizon UCC in Kewaskum, effective 1/4/2021.
  • Rev. Jen Bloesch has been called as interim pastor at Community UCC in Middleton, effective 1/4/2021.

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 Kairos Call to Action website 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 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