Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
February 24, 2021
2021 Wisconsin Conference UCC Annual Meeting
Powered by Generosity
May 11-16, 2021
God makes grace abound, more than enough, so you may do every good deed abundantly - 2 Corinthians 9:8
With the safety for all of the utmost concern, this year’s Annual Meeting will be held virtually from May 11-16, 2021. Though we are unable to see each other in person, we are working hard to put together a great virtual event with exciting content, engaging speakers and plenty of time for personal interaction.

We invite you to visit our website and view the latest agenda. Please check back often for exciting updates!

Participate in the Annual Meeting
Has your congregation held a virtual fundraiser, started a no-contact food bank or connected with isolated members during the pandemic? We would love to feature stories that highlight how congregations are practicing generosity within and beyond their congregation walls. Visit our website for participation details.
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Catalyst funds available
  • Curches and vaccines
  • OCWM in a World in Flux
  • Cultivating Generous Congregations seminar
  • Ministry with LGBTQIA+ youth
  • General Synod 33
  • Free Picture the Bible Curriculum for Churches
  • MID Scholarship information request
  • Video service for April 11
  • Creation Justice Lenten Calendar
  • Does your church have an electric vehicle charging station?
  • Join the Gospellers virtual choir
  • Yearbook: Deadline March 3
  • Lakeland Lecture: Faithfully Queer
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
Catalyst Grant Funds Available
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? Contact 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.
Churches Play a Key Role in the Vaccination Process
by the Wisconsin Council of Churches
As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the country, churches are playing a key role in education and assisting people to access vaccines. We encourage leaders to educate yourselves, your members, and your communities about COVID vaccines in order to stop disinformation and encourage vaccination. Access can be a significant issue for many people, especially those with limited access to technology. We invite you to think about how you might help share important and helpful information with members of the church and community. Don't underestimate your role in this critical time!
 
Rev. Allie Scott (Peace UMC, Brookfield) shared about vaccines in her church newsletter and had an overwhelming response. "In the week since the newsletter went out to our congregation, I've had no less than a dozen conversations with members who had been struggling to learn about their county's vaccine distribution plan and are now connected to the right channels. Beyond just gratitude, I've had even more joy-filled texts, prayer meetings, and phone calls with the many seniors in my congregation who have been - or are scheduled to be - vaccinated. And beyond me, having this information in their hands has encouraged them to help their friends get vaccinated, too. Certainly, they're motivated to get vaccinated so that we can again worship together in person, but I believe it goes deeper than that - they have been empowered to love their neighbors in a new way. In the midst of a complicated and confusing time, it has been so wonderful to see the church doing what it does best: be agents of healing in our community, assisting in God's work in the world."
 
One tool that churches can use for this work is the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry, which the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is launching March 1. This will help connect individuals with sites offering vaccine by providing a central place let people know where and when they can they can get vaccinated and let them schedule an appointment. The Wisconsin Vaccine Registry will be used by those who opt in. While not a comprehensive resource for all vaccination options, it can be a valuable tool as we work towards community vaccination rates that will make it safer to gather in groups again.
 
At the Wisconsin Council of Churches, we are committed to helping Churches equip their congregations and communities with current, factual information which connects science with our faith-based context. Check out our webpage for webinars, links, statements, sample articles and more with information on vaccines.
Our Church's Wider Mission in a World in Flux
by Rev. Elizabeth Hazel
When I think of the purpose behind Our Church’s Wider Mission, I can’t help think of my conversion experience. Oh, yes, UCCers can have conversion stories. I came from a scientifically orientated family, so after 3 years of questioning brought on by campus life and my most fervent prayers not being answered, I decided to turn my back on God and concentrate on other things. I was particularly contemptuous of songs about “God’s loving arms.” But little by little God turned me right around until one day, I felt God coming in at me from all sides, opening my eyes to all the little miracles occurring all around me despite steep odds. In that moment I felt surrounded by God’s care. That’s when I knew what those songs meant about “God’s loving arms.” 
 
The things that the Wisconsin Conference, which receives around 75 % of our gifts to Our Church’s Wider Mission basic support, has done for us in the face of the Covid and climate crises has left a powerful impact on me because it reminds me of that conversion experience. Why? Continue reading article
Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar
Webinar in 6 sessions, May 19 – June 23, 2021
Stewardship in any season can be stressful for pastors. It can feel awkward – “I’m asking people to pay me!” It can feel unspiritual – “Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple!” 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 May 19th through June 23rd, 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. 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.
 
Be sure to recruit at least a team of two from your congregation for this program. The CGC Seminar is $150 per participant. The Wisconsin Conference will cover $100/participant if requested – email Andrew Warner to make this request. Register here by April 21.
Ministry with LGBTQIA+ Youth
March 12-13 | Only $49 |  More information and registration here. Register by March 10.

When we baptize children into our community, we promise to nurture them in the faith and support them as they grow. In addition, many of our churches make commitments to be open and affirming. But what does that support really look like for LGBTQIA+ youth? How do we proactively create spaces in church so LGBTQIA+ youth in the wider community know they are welcome? 

This weekend workshop from The Damascus Project will include practical and meaningful information for building or strengthening a ministry among LGBTQIA+ youth in your church. Check out the video below for more info.

This learning opportunity is generously underwritten by the Ashley Endowment of the Minnesota Conference UCC.
General Synod 33: Rooted in Love
Virtual event
July 11 – 18, 2021
We will gather under the theme: Rooted in Love, July 11-18, 2021. You can expect the vibrancy of Spirit-led worship with prophetic preaching, music- and art-filled experiences that will anchor us. You can expect the same Spirit-filled energy in an engaging meeting of the General Synod that tends to the business and forward-momentum of the United Church of Christ. And, you can expect to learn more and connect with the UCC by attending workshops and other opportunities being prepared for you.

A virtual General Synod presents a significant opportunity for this body of Christ to join together in full participation at General Synod. This is an exciting opportunity for those who have always wanted to attend General Synod, or those curious about this gathering of members of the UCC. Thousands of people can join in full virtual participation. We look forward to welcoming you across the miles.
Churches – Watch for Your Free “Picture the Bible” 4-Week Curriculum
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 mini-series of PTB free to all congregations in the Conference. Each church will receive a packet in the mail by mid-March with four weeks of Christian education, featuring four Bible stories: The Sermon on the Mount; Jesus Blesses the Children; Jesus Feeds 5,000; and Let Justice Roll.
 
Picture the Bible is a set of original art collages depicting individual Bible stories, with corresponding education resources offering a creative approach to Bible study that fosters biblical literacy and interpretation, and encourages people to see connections between their lives and the biblical story. These multi-generational resources can be used in virtual formats or in-person. PTB resources require minimal preparation, and can be used in a variety of ways in your educational and worship ministries.
 
Watch for your packet of materials to arrive in the mail in the next few weeks!
Request for Information on Scholarships for MIDs
The Wisconsin Conference is seeking to increase our emotional, spiritual and financial support of our Members in Discernment (MID). The Wisconsin Members in Discernment Cohort (a committee of members from our four associations) would like to inform MIDs of churches who have scholarship money available to those who are following a path to authorized ministry.

When I attended Seminary, a church in the Association where I held my In-Care (MID) status gave me a scholarship for three years. There was also an individual in the Conference, a retired pastor, who had an endowed scholarship thatI received. Their gifts made a difference in my being able to complete my theological education. Your church and members can also make a difference to our Members in Discernment today. Helping our MIDs fund their education is essential to supporting the development of future leaders. 
 
Does your church have a scholarship available to your Association or Conference members who are discerning their call to authorized ministry? Are there expectations that must be met in order to receive a scholarship or forgivable loan?

Thank you for helping us put together a list of available financial support. Please email me, Pastor Jacoba Koppert, with your information about scholarships or loans of which you are aware or your questions. Thank you for your assistance.
Worship Service for Use on April 11 from Lakeland University
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 of Lakeland University 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 the link to the service will be available the week of March 22, so clergy have time to review it in advance of their final Lent preparations. The Conference will send the service out to all churches and pastors once it is ready.
Creation Justice Lenten Calendar to Download
UCC Creation Justice Ministries offers a Lenten Calendar to download. “This tool will guide you to deepen your Eco-spirituality throughout this holy time. Visualize yourself smiling and feeling fulfilled on Easter Sunday because you made commitments to strengthen and schedule your daily spiritual practices during Lent. Prayerfully reading this Daily Reflection-Action Calendar is a powerful tool to do Creation Justice and connect more fully with our God. 
Anyone have an Electric Vehicle charging station?
Our Conference Creation Care Team is stumped by this question from Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison! Do any of our congregations have an answer? Does anyone have an Electric Vehicle charging station yet? We know they are coming, and we know that many of you are "cutting edge" when it comes to Care for God's creation. If you have a charging station and could share your knowledge and experience, please reply to John Helt. Thanks!
Join the Wisconsin Gospellers Virtual Choir
The Wisconsin Gospellers had our virtual choir debut in December, singing a Christmas/Epiphany anthem, “How Great our Joy!
 
Now, we invite ALL singers to join our next virtual project: “This is the Day!
 
With support from a Catalyst Grant, this virtual choir recording will include singers from across the state, the country, and the ocean! We provide sheet music, practice tracks & step-by-step instructions. No special software needed. We even offer tech support! Ready to sing? Just curious? Email wisconsingospellers@gmail.com.
 
Then lift up your voice with us—from the comfort of your home!
It's Yearbook Time – Deadline March 3, 2021
The National Office had some website and link issues, but everything is working now.  
 
The Data Hub is now open and will be available until March 3, 2021, at midnight.
 
All churches are required to submit their data online. To avoid potential delays please be sure to enter your information as soon as possible. For instructions and all pertinent and helpful documents, click here.
 
If you have any problems or questions, please email Susan Taylor. Please do not contact the National Office. Deadline for reporting: March 3, 2021
 
Again this year! The church officer data form can now be filled out online. The form that was included in the mailing had an error in the link. Please use this link for data entry. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Access this new link here!
 
Thank you for your time and effort with this project and for providing this important information.
Lakeland University Founder's Day Lecture
Faithfully Queer: Moving from Acceptance to Affirmation in the Church
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 from 11am to 12pm via Zoom
Join us for a conversation with Rev. Dr. Emily Carrington Heath (they/them/theirs) and Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath (she/her/hers), married members of the queer community and ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ. The Revs. Heath will be sharing their stories of their faith journeys and answering questions about what it means to be queer Christians. Rev. Dr. Julie Mavity Maddalena, Lakeland University chaplain, assistant professor of philosophy and religion and Ulrich Ethicist in Residence, will facilitate the conversation.
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. Daniel Krueger has been called as pastor at Trinity UCC in Brookfield, effective Feb. 1, 2021.

Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Daniel Krueger was ordained virtually through St. John's UCC in Sheboygan on January 31, 2021.

In Memoriam
  • Erma L. Hazen, mother of Rev. Eldonna Hazen, passed away on February 17, 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 "Connect with Spiritual Seekers through the Arts." 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