Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
January 21, 2021
Five Assumptions Failing Us Now

In Susan Beaumont’s article, “Five Assumptions Failing Us Now,” she describes the new terrain we find ourselves in as the church. “The pandemic is challenging … longstanding assumptions about engagement, belonging, and membership. We must carefully examine all of our assumptions – otherwise, we risk creating barriers to belonging for people trying to engage with us in new ways.”

In this article, Beaumont challenges five long-standing assumptions about belonging, engagement and membership. We’ve adapted in new ways to the challenges of the pandemic. What will happen when restrictions ease and churches go back to in-person services and activities? Read the full article for Beaumont’s timely insights.

Find this article and many other valuable resources for navigating this challenging time in Tending the Soul of the Beloved Community, a Wisconsin Conference newsletter. January’s feature article is “Shifting Gears in a New Year.”
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • 40-day anti-racism practice
  • Cultivating Generous Congregations seminar
  • Orientation for lay leaders: financial sustainability
  • CHHSM Sunday: January 31
  • Conflict Transformation workshop
  • Sharing Faith Stories to Increase Understanding
  • It's Yearbook time!
  • 3 Great Loves Mission Moment
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
This Lent, Join a 40-Day Anti-Racism Practice
The Damascus Project is excited to bring pastors and church groups a Lenten opportunity that we hope speaks to this critical moment. Learn more about the course and its designer and instructor by watching a short (1:30 min) video here.

The course comes with a digital workbook for the core daily practice, access to four online workshops (participate live or view recordings on your own time), and an online community for ongoing reflection on your experience. Participants will engage in contemplative practices like meditation and journaling, receive support for processing difficult emotions and countering white fragility, articulate commitments that drive everyday decision-making, and set intentions and increase readiness for showing up for racial justice in 2021 and beyond.

This programming is offered at a significant discount for all participants, and especially for groups for 4 or more:
  • $50 for individuals
  • $150 for groups 4-6
  • $300 for groups 7+

If your church is interested but cost is a barrier, please contact The Damascus Project at 507-222-0194 or info@the-damascus-project.org.
 
More information and registration can be found on the Damascus Project website.
Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar
Webinar in 6 sessions 
Feb 9 – Apr 27
Stewardship in any season can be stressful for pastors. It can feel awkward, unspiritual. 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 will have a strategy to guide success moving forward.

The CGC Seminar is $150 per participant. Register by January 31
What’s Next: Best Practices for Financial Sustainability - An Orientation for Lay Leaders
February 4, 5:30pm
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

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.

We also invite you to Worship with Emmaus, using this digital resource kit (links below). This is Emmaus’ gift to the church because of our partnership in ministry together. This resource kit includes an all-in-one video, as well as each worship element separately. This gives you flexibility to edit it or add your own touches, like music and prayer, as desired. There is a Table of Contents below. We at Emmaus hope these resources will bring some fresh content that you can use during this time of virtual, and/or modified worship. The kit can also be used to hold an Emmaus Sunday if desired.

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.
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
It's Yearbook Time!
It’s that time of year again when the United Church of Christ and the Conference would like to update your church’s information. 
 
The Data Hub opened for the churches on January 6, 2021, at noon, 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. Access this new link here!
3 Great Loves Mission Moment
The Mission Team of the Southeast Association has enjoyed hearing of all the ways our congregations are still “Being the Church” in these difficult times. We now offer another opportunity for the congregations in the Southeast association to be united in mission, even as we maintain our unique identity as individual churches. In the winter, using the UCC’s Three Great Loves emphasis, we invited congregations to share under the heading “Love of Neighbor.” Now through Easter we invite congregations to share around the “Love of Children” emphasis. We hope you will share your efforts with us through the association newsletter or Association Facebook page. This video, less than 2 minutes long, explains it well.
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
  • First Congregational UCC in Appleton is searching for a Director of Youth Ministries. Details
  • To see all searching churches, click here.

In Memoriam
  • Rev. Glen Halbe passed away on Dec. 17, 2020. Obituary
  • Rev. Donald Koehn passed away on January 6, 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.

Last month's Parish Paper was "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