Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
September 10, 2020
Dear Friends,
Six months ago I attended my local church in-person. Even then, people felt nervous about the coronavirus. We smiled through our awkwardness at passing the peace without handshakes. But none in my church imagined we’d go six months without gathering together in-person. Now its Rally Day Sunday in my local congregation, a name that seems oddly out of place in our zoom-moment.   
This six month mark causes me to think about three related questions:
  • What’s been the most challenging aspect of the pandemic so far?
  • Where do I see hope in the midst of it?
  • And what have I learned about myself that I want to hold onto moving forward?
I’d welcome your thoughts on these questions. Here’s some of my thoughts.
Challenge: My low point came this June, when it became clear that the numbers of infections and deaths weren’t declining. It’s when I realized how long it would be until “normal” returned. And the weight of our new “normal” felt particularly heavy.
Hope: Initially my hope came from seeing the creativity of our congregations and leaders; this still impresses me. But now, further into it, my hope actually comes from the friends that grew through zoom meetings and phone calls. There are people I feel closer to now than I did six months ago, some I hardly knew. New and growing friendships give me hope.
Learned: While I’ve long loved to cook, I never did much in the garden. But this summer my husband and I spent our weekends planting, tending, weeding, watching, harvesting, canning. We’ve treasured this time together in the garden, our six-month long couples retreat.     
Something occurs to me as I think about these questions of challenge, hope, and learning: I faced none of this alone. Friends, colleagues, pastors, parishioners all walked these last few months with me. In a deep way I realized the truth of the United Church of Canada Creed, “We are not alone. We live in God’s world.”
My prayer this Rally Sunday is that you know you are not alone, too. The Wisconsin Conference goes with you on this pandemic journey.
Yours in faith, Andrew
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
  • COVID resources
  • Being a Faith Change Agent course
  • Flourishing in Ministry event
  • Courage to Lead program
  • Building Church Differently event
  • Catalyst grants - deadline soon!
  • Creation Care grants
  • Keeping Faith: child abuse response
  • Interim Ministry Training
  • Boundary training
  • How the Light Gets In retreat
  • WCHHSM requests help
  • Solar energy grants
  • Children & Youth Speak webinar
  • WISE conference
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In the UCC, we are blessed to have the UCC Mental Health Network (UCC MHN). The UCC MHN has compiled, along with Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe, author of The Lifesaving Church, some of her videos and other resources for National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The UCC MHN hopes and prays that you will find the resources useful and helpful as we continue to navigate our current way of life with COVID-19.

Resources include a list of things you can do right now about suicide prevention, videos on suicide prevention, videos specifically for clergy, warning signs, how to provide support in a suicide crisis, and more.
COVID Resources from the WCC
The Wisconsin Council of Churches (WCC) has been working hard to lead churches through this pandemic. Below are some recent WCC resources. The Conference also has resources for churches and pastors on our Coronavirus Resources webpages.

  • COVID Science for Churches is a recorded webinar featuring Lisa Allgood, a Commissioned Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church US, who is also a trained immunocytochemist. Allgood offers clarity with easily understood, up to date information within the context of her understanding of church dilemmas.
  • Returning to Church recommendations (July 2020)
  • COVID-19 Ministry Stresses Survey: in a previous Wisconsin Conference Life, we shared this survey for clergy. The survey is now complete and the results were presented in a webinar, which you can view here. Additional information, an executive summary, a full report are found here.
  • Additional resources from the WCC
Calling All Faith Leaders Navigating the New Reality of COVID-19
Save your spot in “Being a Faith Change Agent,” an adaptive leadership course from The Damascus Project!

“Faith Change Agents” help their communities recognize crisis and major change as opportunities for faithful action and organizational transformation.

The timing for this course could not be any better! As our churches are engaged in adaptive change--however successfully or not--it is the ideal time to learn the key moves of Faith Change Agents. Participate in a course that integrates adaptive change theory with an emerging pastoral leadership paradigm that plays out in real time. 

Join Mark Tidsworth--pastor, leadership coach, and congregational consultant--and a group of colleagues to explore what it means to be a Faith Change Agent from grounded practical and theological perspectives. Learn best practices, how to apply them in congregational and ministry contexts, and reflect upon your own leadership efforts in a supportive community of learners.

Recommended for: 

  • Pastors currently serving congregations
  • Lay leaders seeking to influence change in their congregation
  • Members-in-Discernment (extra fee of $80; learners will receive additional instruction and assessments appropriate for sharing with Committees on Ministry)

The course consists of six weekly Zoom sessions: Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:00 pm, October 1 – November 5, 2020, with assignments between meetings. 

More information and registration here by Monday, September 28.
Flourishing in Ministry: Cultivating Trustworthy Relationships
Flourishing in Ministry is a Circle of Trust® retreat series for pastors and faith leaders. Flourishing in Ministry is for you if you are either an ordained/authorized minister/faith leader in a formal leadership role and any of these describe you.

This is an invitation to step away from your daily work to explore your inner life, to reconnect with your calling and passion, and to join a global movement that believes that leadership begins from the heart of who you are. This is a different kind of leader development program. There are no assessments, instruments, or strategic planning workshops. Instead, the focus will be on building trustworthy relationships, with ourselves and the people in the circle, through a process that is intentionally ecumenical, cross cultural and multi-aged.

Flourishing in Ministry is rooted in the Circle of Trust® approach developed by Parker Palmer, led by trained facilitators (who are also experienced pastors and congregational leaders themselves) from the Center for Courage & Renewal.
Courage to Lead: An Online Offering for Faith Leaders
The Minnesota Conference of the UCC is offering a new Courage to Lead series using an extended, virtual model of gathering together with a redesigned experience to meet the new demands of ministry during a pandemic.

Participants will be invited to the following:
  • An opportunity to reconnect with our sense of call. With the new and powerful demands of ministry in a time of pandemic, it is easy to lose a sense of self in the crush of our work. This experience will invite participants to explore how we can reconnect who we are with what we do in ministry. We will explore several themes that relate to the rhythms of our vocational lives as clergy or faith leaders.
  • As we journey through a career in ministry, we often find ourselves living in the gap between what we believe possible in ministry and faith, and life in ministry as it really is. We’ll explore what it means to stand in this gap and understand its influences on our sense of ministry today.
  • Time to become acquainted or renew your experience with the Circle of Trust approach developed by the Center for Courage & Renewal, and its unique ability to create safe space and relational trust. Included in this will be learning the practice of asking honest open questions, learning to listen to our inner teacher, and embracing paradox as a frame to understand ministry.
  • Experience a community of other clergy and lay leaders interested in growing Circle of Trust work in their ministry setting.
  • Receive exposure and hands on experience with practical ways Circle of Trust material can be used in a variety of settings.
Building Church Differently - Partners in Building Event
Partners in Building (PIB) is a multi-day training event, where leaders from congregations are invited to attend and engage in various informative presentations and workshops that are facilitated by UCC Church Building & Loan Fund. PIB connects pastors and other church leaders with information on how to repurpose, finance, and manage church-owned property. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from and engage with experts including a variety of topics: Impact Measurements, Navigating Land Use, Repurposing Resources for Mission, Faith Based Entrepreneurs, Fund Raising, Social Media & Marketing and so much more.

Please join us online on September 17, 24 and October 1, 2020! Register here
Catalyst Grants Available to Support Creative Ministry Projects
Over the summer we sent a series of three dedicated emails to pastors and congregations highlighting the various ways that Catalyst Grants have sparked creativity over the last three years. This three-part series highlights projects in which congregations have addressed racial justice and white privilege, imagined new uses for their buildings and formed or expanded partnerships in their community. Click below to read more.
Got an idea for developing or expanding a community-based ministry or partnership, addressing racial justice or re-imagining how your building can be a resource for your community? Maybe the Catalyst Team can help! Click HERE to go to the Catalyst Grants page for application instructions. The deadline to apply for a Catalyst Grant is Monday, October 5, 2020. Not sure your idea would fit? Be sure to reach out first to Tisha Brown to share your idea and receive guidance on your application.
Creation Care Grant Application Deadline Extended to Oct. 31
Would your church like help funding your next step to a healthier Earth? 
  • Would a few hundred dollars make it possible to replace all the incandescent bulbs in the church with efficient LED lighting?
  • How about programmable thermostats to fully heat zones in your buildings only during the times they’re used?
  • Hiring a consultant for energy efficiency recommendations could lead to further fuel and money savings, or help get the advice needed to take the next step toward a solar installation.
  • Faith Formation materials that embrace care for our earthly home are also a possibility – creative outreach and education is encouraged!
In response to the Kairos Call to Action, the Conference Creation Care Team is offering grants of up to $1000 available to Wisconsin Conference UCC Congregations that are planning initiatives to deepen their love of creation and positively change their relationship with the environment. The application deadline is being extended October 31, 2020. For more information and to submit a grant application, go to Creation Care Grants under “Justice Ministries” at wcucc.org. Contact Lisa Hart with questions.
Further, the Team is pleased to announce it has awarded the first grant to Rev. Tim Perkins of Milwaukee. The grant helps cover the cost of a community environmental education course offered by the Urban Ecology Center. Tim was able to learn alongside participants from across the country and from Mexico. He plans to use the knowledge and tools gained through the course for further community organizing and mission building. He’s also willing to share what he learned with the Creation Care Team, other churches and communities as opportunities arise.
Keeping Faith: Empowering Faith Communities to Recognize and Respond to Child Abuse
A Virtual, Interfaith Workshop with Victor Vieth with Zero Abuse Project in Minnesota and Honorable Rev. Everett Mitchell, Dane County Circuit Judge and Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church. This event is supported in part by the Wisconsin Conference UCC.

Monday, September 21, 2020 - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Participants will learn
  • best practices to prevent abuse within faith communities;
  • how to recognize and respond to physical, emotional and spiritual impact of child abuse;
  • spiritual care for both survivors and offenders;
  • how to recognize and respond to sexual behaviors of children;
  • corporal punishment, the law and the faith community;
  • optimal response to allegations of child abuse within a congregation.
Interim Ministry Training Institute
The Interim Ministry Training Institute is an intensive, professional training program for clergy who want to learn the specialized skills to guide and support congregations through times of transition. Often this follows the departure of a settled pastor, but may apply to transitions of size or location or mission. This training can benefit those who anticipate doing this ministry in the future as well as those who are currently in interim and transitional positions. Both full-time/fully supported and part-time/bi-vocational models will be explored. Now available as a live online program: attend from anywhere! Registration deadline: September 18, 2020.
Boundary Training has Moved Online
Boundary Training for authorized ministers and Members In Discernment in the Wisconsin Conference will be done online this year. We have worked out an arrangement with Convergence, which has a well-developed boundary training program, to offer this at a discount to people in the Wisconsin Conference. We have reviewed their program and think its content meets many of our needs for boundary training.
How the Light Gets in: Reclaiming Our Wholeness
A virtual retreat for Northwest and Northeast Association Clergy, Oct. 4-6, 2020

Join the Northwest and Northeast Associations at this retreat for sharing and learning about leading in complex times. Guest speakers Dr. Al Bellg and Rev. Holly Whitcomb will lead us in a Zoom format with time for conversation and personal reflection.

Five workshop options will also be offered:

  • Worship design with Rev. Julia Hollister
  • Pastoral care with Rev. Lynn Martin
  • Mission/outreach with Dr. Jon Pahl
  • Faith formation with Bonnie Andrews
  • Stewardship with Rev. Andrew Warner

Please register by September 28 and be prepared to sign up for 2 workshop choices.
View retreat flyer here (includes detailed schedule)
Wisconsin CHHSM Agencies Request Help
Residents, students and staff of our CHHSM agencies are struggling in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, despite their creative and valiant efforts to buoy morale and engagement. They can use your help! Can you bake cookies, sew masks, or write notes of encouragement? CHHSM has some special support opportunities for you!
Solar Energy Grants
The Fall 2020 Solar for Good grant cycle is now open through Renew Wisconsin. Applications are due by Thursday, October 1st, 2020. Winners will be announced on or before Thursday, October 15th. Solar cells and cash grants are up for grabs!
Children and Youth Speak: Your Vote Matters - A UCC Webinar
With the climate crisis and the struggle against inequality, the younger generations have served as today's prophets in provoking a global reckoning of the dire situation faced. As the November 3rd elections approach, children and youth are raising their voices again with a moral urgency as they awaken us to how much is at stake. This webinar will present children and youth from ages 10 to 18 who have a message and perspective that needs to be heard before those older than them vote. Register now!
WISE Conference Dates Announced
We, the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network, invite you to save the date for our first online WISE Conference, sponsored and hosted by the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The conference will be via ZOOM on Friday, November 13, and Saturday, November 14. It will include a panel discussion during Saturday's lunch hour that will address intersectionality - mental health with the queer community, mental health with disabilities, and mental health with People of Color. Stay tuned for more information!
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
  • The United Church of Christ churches in Elcho and Kempster are searching for a shared pastor. UCC Elcho details here; UCC Kempster details here.

To see all searching churches, click here.

Wider Church Searches
  • The United Church of Christ is searching for a Sermon Seeds Writer & Editor. Details

In Memoriam
  • Rev. William Brown passed way on July 2, 2020. Obituary
  • Rev. Herbert Feierabend passed way on August 13, 2020. Obituary
  • Rev. L. Scott Crandall passed away on August 24, 2020. Obituary
  • Rev. Robert C. Davis passed away on September 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.
Subscribe to the
Generosity Forward e-newsletter
to learn about new ideas, best practices, and training opportunities around
congregational fundraising.
Check the Conference calendar for upcoming events.
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.
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!
This month's Parish Paper is "Getting Started with Livestreaming." Access this issue and archived issues here!
Image credit: Stand Up Against Racism image by PhotographerIncognito/shutterstock/com.

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