Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
December 10, 2020
Stewardship Webinars Will Help Kick Off A Stronger 2021
Andrew Warner, Wisconsin Conference Development Director, presents webinars for pastors and church leaders to enhance their Generosity practices. Mark your calendar for these webinars in January and early February.
 
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
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Reflections from Damascus Project participants
  • Creation Care grants awarded
  • Emergency Grants available
  • Reinvigorate your sermon process
  • General Synod 2021
  • Webinar: Forming a Green Team
  • My Favorite Things from United Church Camps
  • Worship service videos to come
  • Advent Hope
  • Lakeland University scholarship opportunities
  • Help others
  • Conference transitions
Reflections from Damascus Project Participants
The Damascus Project launched its 2020-21 program year with three fall courses—Leadership Skills, Faith Foundations, and Being a Faith Change Agent.

All three courses drew people from a range of professions, church settings, and even locations around the country. Here are a few of their stories:

Learning to be a better leader — inside and outside of church

Jean Ostrom of New Journey UCC in Hutchinson has served in many leadership roles — in her church and community and at work —but a desire to develop more faith-based leadership skills led her to The Damascus Project. “I would definitely encourage others to take the Leadership Skills course, as well as others through The Damascus Project,” she says. “The skills learned in this course will help anyone who takes it to become not just a better church leader but also a leader in their life outside the church.”

In particular Ostrom says she enjoyed learning about different personality types as well as different leadership types. “We have all different God-given gifts. Learning to balance our strengths and weaknesses with others with whom we serve will make us better leaders.”

Creation Care Projects Receive Grant Funding
The Creation Care Team is pleased to announce nearly $10,000 in grants are being awarded to 10 Wisconsin congregations and our United Church Camps, Inc. to begin implementing the Conference’s Kairos Call to Action adopted at this year’s Annual Meeting. We are most grateful that these churches and our camps have stepped forward with a variety of faithful actions for the sake of God’s creation and our common home. Our team is also grateful to the Wisconsin Conference Catalyst Fund for making these grants possible. 
 
The projects underway are very creative, including solar-panels, LED lighting, heating improvements, outreach to local communities, and spiritually-enriching educational work. 
We hope these projects inspire all churches to become “Kairos-Covenanted” congregations to sustain our earth. Below is a list of the grant recipients. To learn about each project read the full article.

Bethel-Bethany UCC, Milwaukee
Congregational Church UCC, Ladysmith
First Congregational UCC, Madison
First Congregational Church UCC, Wisconsin Rapids
Grace Congregational UCC, Two Rivers
McFarland UCC
Memorial UCC, Fitchburg
Plymouth Congregational UCC, Madison
Saint Stephens UCC, Merrill
Trinity UCC, LaCrosse
United Church Camps, Inc.
Emergency Grants Still Available
Emergency Grants are still available through The Wisconsin 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 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. To date, grants have provided critical help to 44 congregations and United Church Camps Inc. That's 20% of the congregations in our conference! Click here for more information and to apply.
Time to Reinvigorate Your Sermon Process?
In challenging times, you wonder if there's a better way to prepare your sermons. But it's hard to know where to start and how to make change that matters — and lasts. The Damascus Project is partnering with Backstory Preaching to offer you a roadmap to a new approach rooted in prayer & best practices.
 
Sermon Camp is fully online, runs from January 11 to February 19, 2021, and costs $299. Experience what participants describe as "the class I wish I had in seminary," "the exact sermon-writing refocus I needed for this time in my ministry," and "salve for my soul."
 
More details and registration here. Please direct questions to info@the-damascus-project.org or 507-222-0194.
Save the Date for General Synod!
July 11-18, 2021

General Synod 2021 will be taking place entirely online. Read a welcome message from Synod leadership, check out the General Synod website, and mark your calendar for July 11-18, 2021, for General Synod! Registration opens January 1.
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 will be 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. Be sure to save the date for 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 adopted at the 2020 Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting 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
My Favorite Things: An Excerpt from the United Church Camps Newsletter
The Sound of Music is one of my favorite Julie Andrews films. Andrews' character Maria sings the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “My Favorite Things” to the Von Trapp children after they’re frightened by a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. This pandemic is the ultimate thunderstorm in the middle of the night! United Church Camps, Inc. (UCCI) doing business as Cedar Valley, Moon Beach, and Pilgrim Center had some beautiful momentum and sunny skies building as we entered 2020. We were coming off a successful Campital Campaign, expanding our ministry at Cedar Valley, and enjoying all-time highs of registrations. Then the great storm of 2020 … worldwide pandemic. While we are proud to report that no one was infected, nor did anyone die, as a result of our decisions to suspend operations, the economic fallout has been rough.

So, with an apology to Rodgers and Hammerstein … here’s hoping you find a little comfort in this little ditty:

Wisconsin Conference Working on Two Worship Services for Pastoral Use
Conference Ministerial Staff is working on two worship services for pastors to use – an Epiphany Service and a Lenten Service. The Epiphany Service will focus on the lectionary scriptures for January 10th (Baptism of Christ Sunday) but it could also be used on January 3rd or 17th. This service will include all the usual worship pieces plus music and a children’s time. Pastors will receive it via email later this month. The Lenten service will come to you by early February and will be appropriate for any of the Sundays of Lent.
Advent Hope
by Jerry Folk
The Christian community begins a New Year on November 29, the First Sunday of Advent. One of the dominant themes of Advent is hope. For most of its history, the church has interpreted this Advent hope as the hope of entering heaven after we die. But Advent hope is the hope proclaimed by Jesus, for whose birth the Advent Season prepares Christians. The hope Jesus offers is not just hope for life in heaven after we die but hope for new life together here and now on earth.

Continue reading article in the Interfaith Peace Working Group Newsletter
Lakeland University Offers Outstanding Scholarship Opportunity
Pastors, please pass this on to your congregations

Are you looking for ways to get involved in a religious studies community during your time at college? Do you have a passion to speak out for justice in our communities and world? Lakeland University offers a full-tuition scholarship competition opportunity to students with these interests; it’s called our Ulrich Scholars Scholarship Program. The Ulrich Scholarship is named after the long-time and beloved Lakeland Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Reinhard Ulrich. 

Each year, nine Ulrich Scholars earn a $20,000 per year scholarship to attend Lakeland University. We also offer one student a full-tuition award. Students who receive these awards major or minor in Religion, participate in Ulrich Scholars events throughout the year (including lectures, retreats, community service, and visits to various religious communities), and lead a social justice initiative on or off campus in their junior or senior years. 

If this sounds interesting, we would love to have you learn more about the Ulrich Scholars Program. You may apply for the opportunity at lakeland.edu/portal. The full-tuition competition is set to take place on January 29, 2021. Applicants must submit their materials by January 22, 2021.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about this opportunity! Contact Dr. Karl Kuhn at kuhnka@lakeland.edu or admissions@lakeland.edu.
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
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New Calls
  • Rev. Teresa Howell-Smith has been called as pastor at Plymouth UCC in Milwaukee, effective November 15, 2020.
  • Rev. Michael Bober has been called as pastor at St. Pauls UCC in Oshkosh, effective December 1, 2020.

In Memoriam
  • Frances Wentz, wife of Rev. Roger Wentz, passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2020. Obituary
  • Rev. Susan Faunce-Zimmerman, wife of Rev. Jim Faunce-Zimmerman, passed away on December 2, 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.
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 "Using Surveys to Guide Decision Making." 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