Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
September 23, 2020
Care, Leadership, and Self-Renewal in Uncertain Times
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, it ushered in a prolonged period of uncertainty. Since that day it has appeared that this crisis will be one that ebbs and flows, requiring flexibility, endurance, and no small amount of creativity. A few strategies may help church leaders flourish in uncertain times.

Read this Parish Paper article for tips on focusing on caring and leadership, personal renewal, and loving your neighbor.
In This Issue: scroll down to find these articles
  • Love Thy Neighbor: Being the Church in the Shadow of COVID-19 workshop
  • Creation Care Survey
  • Webinar series: Communications that inspire generosity
  • Orion Launches Emergency Fund
  • ESTHER Banquet to feature Traci Blackmon
  • Being a Faith Change Agent course
  • Help Others
  • Conference Transitions
Love Thy Neighbor: Being the Church in the Shadow of COVID-19
The Wisconsin Conference Conflict Transformation Team invites you to gather a team from your church to join them on Zoom for a facilitated discussion on the challenges of Being the Church in these pandemic times. 
How can congregations successfully navigate through re-opening our churches? The Conflict Transformation Team is here to help your church with this potentially divisive issue. The workshop will briefly discuss causes and levels of conflict, and how grief and conflict intersect. The workshop will move on to discussing church conflict amidst COVID-19 and how to navigate through Being the Church and the many conflict touch points it represents. There will also be time for participants to bring up their concerns for discussion. The workshop costs $50 per church.

Kairos Call to Action: Where We Are in this Urgent Moment
Greetings from the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team! Earlier this year we launched a survey of Wisconsin UCC churches inquiring about current creation care practices and awareness in local churches. Please continue reading to learn what congregations around the state are doing to care for the earth. For example, nearly three quarters of congregations responding have installed energy efficient LED lighting. Almost one half of responding congregations have pollinator gardens. Read more
Webinar Series: Crafting Communications to Inspire Generosity
First webinar October 7, 3:00 pm CDT
Creating a communications strategy to inspire engagement and generosity is often a daunting task for faith communities. That’s why two expert communications teams are collaborating in a series of webinars to provide the tools that church leaders can use and adapt to their individual settings.

The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the national UCC’s OPTIC* team are joining forces to present these four webinars, with the first scheduled for October 7. The webinars provide knowledge and skills for congregational leaders in key areas of organizational and mission effectiveness and nonprofit administration. The series emphasizes strategic communications for development and explores related planning, management, and leadership skills.

*Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity, and Communication (OPTIC)
Orion Family Services Launches Emergency Assistance Fund
Orion Logo
Orion Family Services is launching the “Orion Family Services Emergency Assistance Fund” and would appreciate your support! Orion Family Services is a CHHSM agency that serves children, youth, and families throughout southern Wisconsin by providing mental health and other related supportive services. The staff at Orion see the challenges people face every day and often feel helpless to assist with financial issues. However, now staff members can apply for grants up to $500 on behalf of their consumers experiencing financial emergencies or barriers. The money may be used for car repairs, rent assistance, moving costs, food, clothing for job interviews or whatever else is required to resolve the emergent need.

Orion hopes to grow this fund to further meet the unexpected and challenging financial and concrete needs individuals and families experience. Donations to this fund give you the opportunity to provide hope and stability, and to impact the lives of those in your community. Donations are tax deductible. Please contact Stacey Parke via email or (608) 270-2511 ext. 15, 6333 Odana Road, Suite 20, Madison, WI 53719 if you have any questions or if you would like to contribute to this important and meaningful fund.
ESTHER 2020 Virtual Banquet: Voices for Justice
Sunday, November 1, 5:00 pm
Featuring Keynote Speaker Rev. Traci Blackmon

As a featured voice on many regional, national, and international platforms, Rev. Blackmon’s life work focuses on communal resistance to systemic injustice. Her response in Ferguson to the killing of Michael Brown resulted in national and international recognition, gaining her audiences at the White House, the Carter Center, and the Vatican. She co-authored the White Privilege curriculum for the UCC and toured the nation with Rev. Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breach and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, proclaiming the need for a Moral Revival in the nations.
Note: ESTHER’s traditional silent auction has been moved to an online format this year, running from October 29 until the start of the banquet on November 1.
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.
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 Presbyterian Congregational Church in Ashland is searching for a 3/4 time Youth Ministry Coordinator. Details

To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Stephen Stepp has been called as pastor at Church of Peace in Fond du Lac, effective September 21. Stephen is new to the Conference. Welcome!

In Memoriam
  • Rev. John Mendonca, husband of Rev. Dorothy Heckner Mendonca, passed away on September 8, 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.
Creation Care webinars

The Conference Creation Care Team has recorded webinars available for viewing:
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