Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
March 16, 2022
Grant Helps Merrill Church Revive Community Meal
St. Stephens UCC in Merrill has restarted a free weekly community meal with support from a $5,000 Catalyst Grant from the Wisconsin Conference.

Dinner @ Five, served at 5 p.m. every Monday, is open to anyone who shows up. The hot meal, prepared by a team of volunteers, attracts families and individuals across the age spectrum. It’s a “no questions asked” environment, said the Rev. Michael Southcombe, St. Stephens’ senior pastor. “Even if you don’t need a free meal, please come. We want fellowship, and we want people treated with dignity and to be a community.”

COVID-19 precautions forced Dinner @ Five to shut down. Then, as plans were put in place to restart late last year, the primary organizer – a local resident who used his own money to sustain the project – fell ill. St. Stephens had to scramble, creating a governing board and soliciting local businesses to sponsor meals and provide volunteers. Dinner @ Five reopened in November, shut down briefly in January because some key volunteers were exposed to COVID-19, and was back up and running the first week of February.

The Catalyst Grant was key. Continue reading
In This Issue: Scroll Down to Find These Articles
  • Thursday Workshop: Trauma-Informed ministry
  • AV Tech Volunteers Needed
  • UCCI Leadership Transition
  • Upcoming Webinars
  • Save the Date for Church Educators Conference
  • Organizing as Evangelism Class
  • Work at Camp this Summer
  • Capital Campaign Services
  • Catalyst Grant Applications Due March 31
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
Sign Up Now for Workshop on Trauma-Informed Ministry
Clinical social worker Dee Savides will lead a workshop on trauma-informed care and ministry from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, at the Green Lake Conference Center, site of the Wisconsin Conference Annual meeting that begins the following day. According to some estimates, up to 60% of Americans have experienced trauma at some point in their lives, a number that includes members of the clergy and people in the pews. Savides works with Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley, a faith-based agency, and is married to a UCC pastor, the Rev. Steve Savides. Register now to receive the $50 early bird rate. Registration for this workshop is separate from the Annual Meeting registration. To register for the full Annual Meeting, please visit this link.
AV Tech Volunteers Sought
Image of people running AV equipment with laptops
The Wisconsin Conference UCC is seeking two creative and tech savvy volunteers to manage the PowerPoint slides and video presentations during the in-person Annual Meeting this year at the Green Lake Conference Center. A full job description can be found here, along with compensation details. If interested, please email Katie Komassa.
UCCI Announces Leadership Transition
Glenn Svetnicka, executive director of United Church Camps Inc., has resigned effective April 29 after 20 years with the organization. In a letter to UCCI stakeholders, UCCI board President Tom Bayer and Conference Minister Franz Rigert praised Svetnicka’s visionary leadership. Most recently, Svetnicka shepherded the renaming of Daycholah Center. The Rev. James Schleif, UCCI’s director of ministry and site operations, will serve as interim executive director starting April 30. Read more about the UCCI leadership transition.
Upcoming Webinars
After Fort McCoy: Immigration Justice Here and Now with our New Afghan Neighbors
The Wisconsin Conference's Immigration Working Group is hosting a conversation about ways congregations around the state are welcoming our new Afghan neighbors. We'll hear updates on the big picture of statewide refugee resettlement and stories of personal experiences in our communities. Inspired and positively challenged, we will then have a chance to brainstorm and share our own ideas. 
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Date: March 22

UCC Webinar—Restoring Nature: What People of Faith Can Do to Heal the Earth
Douglas Tallamy’s books have awakened thousands to the problem of wildlife decline and the solution that resides in habitat restoration. This is a solution of which you and your faith community can be a part. The solution can be as close as your backyard or the property surrounding your place of worship. In this webinar, Tallamy will outline the crisis faced and what we can do in response. Even if you can’t make the scheduled time still sign-up, and we will send you a recording.
Time: Noon
Date: March 23

May Lent be a season of discernment
As we journey through the Lenten season, the Supportive Ministries Team of the Conference invites you to participate in a conversation about the discernment process. Background information can be found here in the Tending the Soul newsletter.
Time: 1 to 2 p.m.
Date: April 6

UCC Webinar—Getting Ready for Earth Sunday: Resources for Congregations
How can our churches be hubs of resilience, helping our neighbors weather the physical and spiritual storms of the climate crisis? Find out in this free webinar on preparing for Earth Sunday. Can’t make the scheduled time? Signup anyway, and we will send you a recording.
Time: Noon
Date: April 13

3 Best Practices for Increasing Giving
Research on stewardship makes clear three practices most likely to increase giving in a local congregation: teaching about generosity, pastoral leadership and online giving options. The webinar will look at why these practices matter and discuss how to implement them in a congregation.  
Time: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Date: April 27
Save the Date for Church Educators Conference
Mark your calendars now for a two-day virtual conference hosted by the Association of United Church Educators. The theme of the event is “A New Turn: Hybrid Faith Formation,” and it will take place from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Central time on June 8 and 9. Registration will open after Easter. Watch for more details in future issues of Wisconsin Conference Life.
The Damascus Project Presents: Organizing as Evangelism
A 4-week exploration of community organizing as a tool for building and transforming congregations and communities. This course features six hours of online learning in community via Zoom and four weeks of self-guided learning using the Damascus Project’s course platform, the Damascus Project Network.

Live Zoom sessions are required for successful completion of this course and meet from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 25, and from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 26.
Work Opportunities Available at Summer Camps
The hospitality and event programs offered at camp depend on finding passionate and caring people who thrive in a growth environment. The team at United Church Camps Inc. brings hospitality to life by providing the best experience for our guests. Summer staff members make friends and memories that last a lifetime.
 
UCCI is currently seeking team members to fill a variety of summer positions at Moon Beach and Daycholah Center. Check out the current openings and apply today.
CB&LF Offer Capital Campaign Services
You’ve been thinking about new mission priorities, property improvements, new construction, technology enhancements, building an endowment or paying off debt. A capital campaign is a great way to raise funds for these projects.
 
Undertaking a capital campaign can be a daunting task, but a Church Building & Loan Fund Regional Mission Interpreter can guide your church through the campaign process, providing resources and support necessary for a successful campaign.
 
It’s a perfect time to explore funding options for new and renewed ministry. Contact Jill White, lead regional mission interpreter, at whitej@ucc.org or 216-736-3820 to discuss your church’s needs and learn more about CB&LF’s services.
Change Your Community With a Catalyst Grant; Applications Due March 31
By Mary Kuenning Gross
 
Do you have a dream for how your congregation can do ministry beyond the walls of your church? Are there partners in your community that you could work with to transform lives? Do you have an idea of how you can meet a need? Does a justice issue -- racial justice, immigration, care of creation -- cry out for your attention in your setting? What does a Sacred Conversation on Race look like? How might your church minister to youth, the elderly, the homeless, the hungry, the refugee, the migrant, the addicted, those with special needs, the unemployed, the prisoner, communities plagued by violence and despair? How is God calling you to respond?
Help Others By Donating 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
  • Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison is searching for an Associate Pastor. Details
  • To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Rev. Andrew Oren was called as interim pastor at Christ Church in Milwaukee, effective Feb. 1.

Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Teresa Howell-Smith was installed at Plymouth UCC in Milwaukee on March 6.

In Memoriam
  • Wendy MacDougall, wife of Associate Conference Minister Rob MacDougall, died on March 1. 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 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.
Ignite Your Fire, Feed Your Soul,
Build Your Faith... In Nature's Sanctuary

We invite all to subscribe to the UCCI email newsletter to receive our latest news and inspiration! Also, please consider liking and following UCCI on Facebook and Instagram. It's a great virtual community–you are an important part of it!

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 "Hospitality: Offering a Third Place to Gather." 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