Wisconsin Conference Life Newsletter
March 3, 2016
Tisha Brown image Lay Academy is Shifting, Too
by Tisha Brown

SHIFT is in the air, and not only in local congregations but at every level of our conference life. As part of my personal commitment to engaging SHIFT and also because I believe we can always be doing what we're doing more effectively, I have identified a few ways the Wisconsin Conference's Lay Academy program can build on its strengths to become even better.
The greatest strength of our Lay Academy is its emphasis on making high-quality theological education available to anyone with an interest in diving deeper, asking questions, and exploring spirituality. As I experienced this particular strength of our Lay Academy ministry in my first year as its Director, I began to wonder what I could do slightly differently so that we would not lose the core of what makes Lay Academy special but could build on its greatest strength. In response to these musings and in conversation with the wise and wonderful Lay Academy Advisory team we are making the following shifts: Continue article

2016-2017 Lay Academy class information 
AM2016 logo 2016 Conference Annual Meeting!
SHIFT: A Hope-Filled Future
June 10-12, 2016

Join congregations from around the state at the 2016 Annual Meeting, as we explore together how to shift from a maintenance mindset to a mission mindset.

Keynoter Rev. Cameron Trimble of the Center for Progressive Renewal will bring us insights into trendlines and how they impact the present and future of our congregations. She will also share uplifting examples of congregations around the country that are shifting their ministry focus, and inspire us to think creatively about our own ministries. More about Rev. Trimble

This year's annual meeting will build on work being done by congregations throughout the Conference seeking new approaches to mission and ministry. Through small group sessions on Saturday morning (June 11) we'll deepen our connections and learn about resources available to support our efforts to move in new directions. Saturday afternoon workshops will explore five areas of ministry that we believe will be the focal point for most congregational Shift efforts. Attendees will gain valuable information to use in your home congregation.

Plan to bring a team from your congregation to Annual Meeting, whether to work on your own SHIFT project or to share your experiences and learn about what other congregations are doing.  Register for the entire weekend for the greatest value, or for Saturday only.

The Conference Annual Meeting is a great opportunity to gather with friends from around the state in worship and song, in camaraderie and fun, and to be the church. Participate in the social gathering on Friday evening, view the exhibits -- including "Bookstore Bob"! -- and enjoy the beautiful setting. Registration is open - make your plans now.  

Annual Meeting information and registration
SHIFT information
Exhibitor opportunities

Leading Adaptive Change in Your Congregation
Thursday, June 9, Green Lake Conference Center
with Mark Tidsworth of Pinnacle Leadership Associates

This Annual Meeting Pre-Conference Workshop offers the opportunity to delve more in-depth in your learning about guiding change. This will provide a strong foundation for your Shift efforts and for the weekend's activities.
Successful organizations adapt to their changing environments, becoming sustainable in the process. Congregations are currently in a high change environment. At the same time, our world is hungry for faith communities based on the love of God expressed through Jesus Christ. Congregations are living in the tension between the world's needs and the church's culture. See what you will learn in this workshop

Thursday, June 9, at Green Lake Conference Center
10:00am - 4:00pm
What Numbers Matter for Congregations? Lessons from Five-Year Trends
From The Parish Paper

Church growth, as measured by the average number of
regular participants or worship attendees, has been the
go-to statistic for many researchers and leaders tracking
religion. Leaders less often consider other yardsticks of
vitality, such as more meaningful worship, growth in
ministry with youth, social advocacy, or engagement in
foreign mission work. A new report based on information
from over four thousand congregations gives us
new insights about how congregations have responded
to change over the past five years. The study suggests
that some churches are thriving and surviving, despite
the discouraging overall attendance trends.
What are strong congregations focusing on? Read more
Exploring Digital Ministry
Featuring national experts on digital ministry
April 28, 2016 - 9am-3pm

Wisconsin Conference Trost Center, DeForest

The world around us keeps expanding the ways people can connect with one another and these connections offer us new opportunities and new challenges in ministry. We invite you to join in a day of considering how we can think theologically and connect digitally as we do ministry in 2016 and beyond. Our Digital Ministry Workshop will be April 27 at the Trost Center in DeForest and will feature Rev. Elizabeth Dilley (National UCC), Rev. Nicole Havelka (Ohio Conference UCC) and Nick Buck (New Media Project).
UCCI logo
Mission Grants offered by UCCI
United Church Camps, Inc. (UCCI) invites ministries of our covenantal partners to apply for our new yearly Mission Grant to help improve, build, and grow their programs! Grant recipients will receive a 10% tithe of our yearly mission offering with the other 90% used to support our scholarship fund to welcome those who are otherwise unable to afford to participate in the ministries at Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach. The recipient will be promoted within our materials and be discussed throughout the year with the thousands of attendees that come. The amount awarded each year will be approximately $1500 and will be dispersed at the end of the calendar year. Grant Applications are to be electronically submitted through the UCCI Mission Grant Page and are due March 15th.
NYE logo National Youth Event: Change Announced

Previously, and early on in the planning process, an invitation was extended for families to join the youth at National Youth Event at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Since that time, some concerns have developed regarding the implications of extending such a wide-reaching invitation to family members. These concerns include programmatic, logistical and financial issues.
Spotlight Discussion Guide a Meaningful Conversation Starter for Preventing Sexual Abuse in Churches

Spotlight, the story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up in the local Catholic Archdiocese, took Best Picture honors last weekend at the Academy Awards. Sexual abuse of children, teens and adults by church leaders is a serious problem brought back into focus recently by this film. To aid thoughtful dialogue about issues highlighted in the movie, the United Church of Christ has released a film discussion guide for use by churches interested in addressing ways to ensure members of our faith communities are not vulnerable to abuse.
Read more and download the discussion guide
break the silence sunday logo Break the Silence Sunday

The Wisconsin Conference invites congregations to focus on sexual assault awareness and supporting survivors of sexual assault on Sunday, April 24, 2016. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we have designated the fourth Sunday as "Break the Silence Sunday." Rev. Moira Finley, pastor of St. Johns UCC in Cecil and Trinity UCC in Shiocton, led an effort to develop resources for congregations to respond to this issue, inviting several colleagues to share creative writings, music, stories and statistics, worship tips, sermon suggestions, and state/county contact information. This has been compiled into a wonderful resource, including liturgical materials for "Break the Silence" Sunday.
Read more
Save the Dates!

Save the dates of May 3-6 on your calendar! No, not for a wedding, but for the International Theological Colloquy, aka Trialogue, taking place at Pilgrim Center this spring. Participants from Wisconsin, Germany, and Honduras will gather to discuss the Temptations of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels as they relate to the religious, economic and political situations in each participating country in the 21st century. This year's event is part of a series of similar gatherings that have taken place over the past twenty years.

Cost for the whole event is $175 and a daily commuter fee is $25.  Complete information and registration forms for this event will soon be available.
Immigration Lecture Series Begins March 6
Conceptions & Misconceptions about Immigration
March 6, 2016 - 11:00am, Emmanuel UCC, Oconomowoc

Immigration is an issue of major importance for people of faith in this election year. Emmanuel UCC has brought together 6 speakers to address issues surrounding immigration over the course of 6 months. March 6 features the first of these six speakers, Benjamin Shryock.
More information and complete lecture schedule 

Conference Transitions

Searching Churches
No churches have started searching for a new pastor since the last newsletter. To see all searching churches, click here.

New Calls
  • Rev. Craig Modahl has been called as interim pastor at St. Peter's UCC in Saukville, effective January 26, 2016.
  • Rev. Erik Koepnick has been called as pastor at Calvary Memorial UCC in Wauwatosa, effective February 17, 2016.
Installations and Ordinations
  • Rev. Glenn Danz was installed at St. Paul's UCC in Colgate on February 28, 2016.
  • Rev. Colleen Kwong was installed as pastor at Hope UCC in Cochrane on February 28, 2016.

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.
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.

Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ
4459 Gray Road | PO Box 435 | DeForest, WI  53532

In This Issue
2016 Annual Meeting
Thursday Workshop
What should you measure?
Exploring Digital Ministry
Camps Mission Grants
NYE Change Announced
"Spotlight" discussion guide
Break the Silence Sunday
International Colloquy
Immigration Lecture Series
Conference Transitions
Church Spotlight

Peace UCC in Schofield is in the Northwest Associaiton near Wausau and has its roots in the German Evangelical tradition. Rev. Thomas Williams is currently serving as their interim pastor.
The Parish Paper
This month's Parish Paper is "What Numbers Matter for Congregations? Lessons from Five-Year Trends." Access this issue and archived issues here!

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 Micah Schlobohm or Rich Fluechtling of the Wisconsin Conference UCC Committee on Ministry with LGBTQ Persons.
Quick Links


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Wisconsin Conference Life, email Nola at the Wisconsin Conference.