Workshops

Building Up the Beloved Community


Simultaneous workshops will be presented on Saturday, June 11th from 10:45 am – 11:45 am and 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm.

10:45 am – 11:45 am

A Taste of the Companionship Movement
Amy McNicholas

This workshop introduces the five tenets of the Companionship Model and provides participants with an understanding of how to move from a transactional exchange model to a relational approach of coming alongside another person with mutuality and reciprocity.  Workshop participants will also learn how their congregations and communities can become part of the powerful movement!

Amy McNicholas, LCPC, serves as Faith and  Mental Health Specialist for Advocate Aurora Health Systems and the manager for Faith and Health Partnerships programs in Illinois. In her role she  partners with and supports faith-based communities around issues of mental health and emotional well- being.  For the past 8 years, she has specialized in working with children, adults, and families coping with trauma and grief. Amy has provided clinical consultation, training, advocacy and education to medical teams, schools, and community agencies throughout the Chicagoland area.


Adaptive Leadership: What Congregations and Pastors Need to Know
Mary Claire Klein, EdD

In this era of constant change, churches need to be nimble in decision making. This workshop will consider some basics in the adaptive leadership toolbox. We will explore approaches to problem-solving through diagnosing concerns, developing possible interventions and setting outcome expectations.

Mary Claire Klein, EdD, is the retired chair of the Communication program and the Leadership program at Marian University of Fond du Lac, where she taught for 35 years.  Mary’s education includes masters degrees in theology and organizational communication.  She also holds a doctorate in leadership.  She is married to retired UCC pastor, Rev. Dr. Jim Klein.  She sings, plays guitar and piano, participates in Summer Theatre in Manitowoc, and knits.


Aging in Trying Times: Isolation and the Mental Health Challenges of Older Adults
Jan Aerie

We know we all do better together, yet the pandemic has caused all of us to experience some isolation and loneliness. What new and unexpected ways might we practice the blessings of presence with older adults – and all who long to belong? Through dialogue, discussion, and sharing experiences about changing realities, we will find new ways to reflect, reconnect, and restore healthy connections with each other.

Jan Aerie is a gerontologist and family counselor with a life-long career in the church and community. She has worked with local and national organizations, authored curricula, initiated advocacy and service programs and led many seminars on aging. For twelve years she served on the UCC national staff in Global Ministries. She has most recently developed older adult ministries in UCC and Disciples of Christ congregations in Missouri, Illinois and Ohio, and now Wisconsin.


Best Practices for Pastor Parish Relations Committees
Rev. Tara Barber

Pastoral Relations Committees provide essential leadership in the life of a congregation. Come to this workshop to explore what the purpose of a PPR Committee is and is not. We’ll be talking through and naming the priorities and commitments of a well-functioning PPRC. Rev. Tara Barber will share best practices from around the church and be prepared to answer your questions. Open to pastors and lay leaders. Join Rev. Tara Barber for a conversation on developing and implementing behavioral covenants with congregations.

Rev. Tara Barber was born into the UCC and grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a large and diverse family. She has a deep love of the church and great hope about how God is calling us into the future. Her ministry has engaged with folks across the age spectrum – as a youth minister, an advocate and companion to older adults, and as a minister. Her ministry then shifted to the conference and denomination, working as a consultant before being called to the Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization team in the National Setting. Here she continues her work with Committees on Ministry and Pastoral Relations Committees, teaching Boundary Awareness, supporting Communities of Practice, and the Antoinette Brown Society.


Clear and Common Vision for a Healthy Congregation – Appreciative Inquiry
Bonnie Andrews & Rev. Art Wille

Appreciative Inquiry is an effective planning process that invites congregations to look deeply into what most “gives life” and build upon that positive foundation. The workshop will outline the broad-based interview process which identifies themes and the positive core of the church. Inspired by writing a dream statement, official boards design “provocative propositions” (goals) which guide the congregation with an accountable way to live into the future. This may be especially useful to focus a congregation’s mission and ministry coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Appreciative Inquiry is one of the programs offered by the Wisconsin Conference.

Bonnie Andrews‘ retirement avocation is volunteering, after a vocation of supporting nonprofit volunteerism in Milwaukee and around the state.  She is active in her local church, Bethel Bethany in Milwaukee, in the Wisconsin Conference as a facilitator for Five Practices, Appreciative Inquiry and Community of Practice.  She serves on the Supportive Ministries team, co-chaired the Local Arrangements Committee for General Synod 32 in Milwaukee and is a Master Gardener volunteer.

Rev. Art Wille has served several churches and was an Associate Conference Minister in the Wisconsin Conference UCC.  He and his wife Cathy live in retirement in Neenah and attend First Congregational Church, Oshkosh.  They have led numerous Appreciative Inquiry processes in Conference churches and para-church organizations.  He was trained in AI by the Corporation for Positive Change in 2010.


Financial Wellness for Congregations
Rev. Andrew Warner

Learn how to measure the financial well-being of your congregation through this workshop. The presentation will cover trends to watch, best-practices to implement, and how to lead through trouble-spots as you build a sustainable financial plan for your congregation.

Rev. Andrew Warner serves as Director of Development for the Wisconsin Conference UCC, where he leads the fundraising efforts of the conference and supports the planned giving and effective philanthropy of congregations. He also serves as a Generosity Outreach Officer of the national setting of the UCC.  In that role he trains, coaches, and mentors conference and congregational leaders across the country to strengthen the culture of generosity in the UCC. Before joining the conference staff in 2019, he served for twenty-two years as pastor of Plymouth Church UCC of Milwaukee


Light in the Roots: Faith, Trauma, and Resilience in Our Congregations and Communities
Rev. Kirsten Peachey

This workshop offers an overview of how we can draw on the strength of our faith and spirituality to understand and help each other navigate through experiences of adversity and suffering. We will define trauma and resilience, look at the science that helps us understand how these experiences impact us, and talk about some simple practices that can help us support each other in our congregations and communities.

Rev. Kirsten Peachey is a UCC minister serving Advocate Aurora Health (AAH) as the Vice President of Faith Outreach. She has a background in social work and pastoral care and was one of the founders of the Chicagoland Trauma Informed Congregations Movement.  She leads AAH’s faith and health partnership programs to work side by side with faith communities to promote health equity in our most under-resourced communities in Illinois and Wisconsin. Kirsten loves to cook, camp, and read, and eats chocolate every day.


Resilience In The Midst Of Conflict (presented at 10:45 am AND 1:30 pm)
Rev. Mike Southcombe & Cathy Wille

In this workshop the facilitators will provide a brief introduction to the idea of “healthy conflict,” the types of conflict and ways to address them, leadership’s role in healthy communication and transforming conflict into opportunity, how to have difficult conversations and how to deal with “bullies” who try to sabotage attempts to resolve conflicts.

Rev. Mike Southcombe has been a church pastor and hospital trauma and ICU chaplain for 27 years.  For the past 20 years he has chaired and been the primary facilitator and mediator for the Illinois South Conference UCC Conflict Transformation Team. He has served as an Intentional Interim Minister after completing training through the IIM Network and at the Center for Congregational Health. He is currently the Senior Pastor at St. Stephens UCC in Merrill.

Cathy Wille has served in her work life as a high school biology teacher for 18 years and served as a licensed professional counselor in the Samaritan network of counseling centers for 24 years. She has studied with The Mennonite Peace Center and with Peter Steinke’s program, Healthy Congregations.  While at the counseling center she developed a Clergy and Congregation Care Program. She is a life-long member of the United Church of Christ and has served on local church, conference and national committees and is a member of First Congregational Church, Oshkosh.


WISE: A Deep Dive into Mental Health (presented at 10:45 am AND 1:30 pm)
Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund

Join the growing mental health ministry movement in the UCC and learn how your church and Conference can become WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged) for mental health. Become empowered with practical tools you can use to help bring mental health awareness and education to your church as we work together to reduce the stigma of mental illness. This workshop will inspire you as we seek to partner to share God’s hope for healing and love.

The Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund’s mission is to partner with others to share hope and healing. She is an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Sarah currently serves as Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice on the national staff of the UCC and as senior pastor of First Congregational UCC of Indianapolis, IN. Sarah is the author of several books about mental health: Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church (2014), Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness and Marriage (2021), and Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness with Children and Teens (2022), and a pocket-sized book for youth: Blessed Youth Survival Guide (2022).


1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

“Are we listening?” Trauma, Youth and Mental Well-Being
Amy McNicholas

This presentation will discuss:
• How trauma, ACE’s, and Toxic Stress effect the Brain and Brain Development.
• How trauma shows up in youth
• How faith leaders and volunteers that work with youth can respond effectively and with compassion.
• Resources and opportunities for continued trainings/education

Amy McNicholas, LCPC, serves as Faith and  Mental Health Specialist for Advocate Aurora Health Systems and the manager for Faith and Health Partnerships programs in Illinois. In her role she  partners with and supports faith-based communities around issues of mental health and emotional well- being.  For the past 8 years, she has specialized in working with children, adults, and families coping with trauma and grief. Amy has provided clinical consultation, training, advocacy and education to medical teams, schools, and community agencies throughout the Chicagoland area


Becoming the Beloved: Loving Ourselves as God Loves Us
Rev. Holly Whitcomb

“You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” — Mark 1:11

We know that God invites each of us to be the Beloved. What does this mean? How do we live each day being faithful to this core spiritual identity? We all possess at times a capacity to wallow in self-rejection and unworthiness. What if we began to live out of our belovedness rather than our fear? Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable.”  Let’s love and empower ourselves as we explore the graces and expectations of living as God’s Beloved.

Rev. Holly Whitcomb, a graduate of Yale Divinity School and the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, is the Director of Kettlewood Retreats. A widely traveled retreat leader and spiritual director, she is the author of five books including the very popular Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting. Her recent book, The Practice of Finding: How Gratitude Leads the Way to Enough was chosen as a “Best Spiritual Book” by Spirituality and Practice.


Behavioral Covenants for Congregations
Rev. Tara Barber

All congregations have norms for how people treat one another, especially in times of conflict. Many of those norms are implicit, vague, or even unhealthy. However, there is another way! Behavioral Covenants can provide an excellent framework for supporting communication practices, conflict resolution, and community norms. Developing such covenants within communities can help members and staff alike name best community practices and express their hopes for how congregations function as a Christian community.

Rev. Tara Barber was born into the UCC and grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a large and diverse family. She has a deep love of the church and great hope about how God is calling us into the future. Her ministry has engaged with folks across the age spectrum – as a youth minister, an advocate and companion to older adults, and as a minister. Her ministry then shifted to the conference and denomination, working as a consultant before being called to the Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization team in the National Setting. Here she continues her work with Committees on Ministry and Pastoral Relations Committees, teaching Boundary Awareness, supporting Communities of Practice, and the Antoinette Brown Society.


Let’s Talk About Payroll & Taxes
Philip S. Klemme

This workshop will give attendees the opportunity to learn more about church employee and Clergy payroll reporting, and Clergy Compensation Structure. This workshop will be PowerPoint based. Questions and conversation are encouraged

Philip S. Klemme, CPA is a Tax Principal at CLA with more than twenty years of experience providing tax planning and compliance for individuals and businesses. A lifelong member of the United Church of Christ, Philip shares tax and financial experience with local churches and clergy hoping to better equip them for year-end payroll reporting and tax savings strategies.


Living Well with Dementia: The Role of Congregations
Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D

This workshop will describe how congregations around the country have educated themselves to become “dementia friendly.” The international dementia-friendly community movement offers many examples of the important roles congregations play in enabling people with dementia to live as well as possible. In addition, the workshop will engage participants in a discussion of how religious faith and spiritual practices support the resilience of people living with dementia.

Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Psychology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses on adult development and aging, led seminars on dementia, and supervised students doing service learning in care communities. With her students, she maintained an active program of research and scholarship focused on attitudes about dementia, arts and cultural programs for persons living with dementia, and expressions of religiousness and spirituality among older adults. Susan retired from the University in June, 2012, and now volunteers in many capacities for Fox Valley Memory Project (FVMP), a nonprofit she co-founded in 2012. FVMP’s programs and services aim to create a “dementia-friendly community” in northeast Wisconsin. Her most recent book is Dementia-Friendly Communities: Why We Need Them and How We Can Create Them (2021, Jessica Kingsley Publishers).


Panel Discussion on Mental Wellness

Facilitator: Lisa Hart
Veterans: Uriah Williams
Farmers: Chris Frakes
Medical Professionals: Dr. James Wishau
LGBTQ+: Carly Gaeth

This workshop will be a facilitated panel discussion that highlights key principals of working with and supporting the mental wellness of a variety of population groups.  Come learn about the specific challenges faced by each of these groups, as well as suggestions for providing support.

Lisa Hart is a Commissioned Minister in the United Church of Christ and has served on the Conference staff since 2006.  Lisa serves in two different positions for the Wisconsin Conference: as Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation and Justice Ministries and as Executive Associate to the Conference Minister. As an ACM, she provides guidance and support around curriculum and program planning, plans Conference-wide and wider church youth events, and resources and supports the adults working with youth in our congregations. She also works with and supports the CE/FF Commission, the Supportive Ministries Team, and the Justice Working Groups of the Conference.   Lisa received a Master of Arts in Counseling from Lakeland University in 2021.   Lisa lives in Fitchburg with her husband, Chuck.

Uriah Williams is currently serving as the settled pastor at Peace UCC in Shawano and is attending seminary at United Theological of the Twin Cities. On March 5th this year he married the love of his life, Emma Magee, who he had met shortly after transitioning out of the Army in 2020. He served for three years as a combat engineer in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment based out of Fort Irwin, CA where he held many roles from Team Leader to Command Driver to Suicide Intervention and Reconnaissance NCO. In his free time, Uriah enjoys hiking with his wife and dog, reading and writing poetry, and is starting to learn more about carpentry with his grandfather.

Chris Frakes’ concern about the plight of family farms began in her home state of Iowa during the farm crisis of the 1980s as she watched neighbors and relatives struggle with seemingly insurmountable farm stressors. She earned a Masters of Divinity in 1994 with the intention of serving rural communities, aware of both the stigma associated with seeking mental and behavioral health services and the scarcity of mental and behavioral health resources available in smaller, rural communities. Chris went on to complete a PhD in 2004, focusing her work in ethics and sustainable farming and food production. Since 2018 Chris has worked with SWCAP on a number of initiatives designed to improve behavioral health outcomes for farmers, farmworkers, and their families.

Dr. James P. Wishau grew up on a farm in Racine County. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1978 and traveled to Dayton Ohio for his Internal Medicine Residency. In 1981 he returned to Wisconsin to begin his medical practice in Lake Mills. He has enjoyed the past 41 years of providing primary adult medicine and gastroenterology specialty care to the Jefferson County community. He was instrumental in leading the Covid testing protocol for the Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital and was active in caring for Covid patients.  He observed the stress Covid placed on the nursing and medical staff and provided counseling and support. He recently retired from active practice and enjoys the opportunity to share his experiences and expertise.

Carly Gaeth is an enthusiastic, redheaded, millennial who originally hails from Milwaukee, WI. Carly earned her Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music in 2015, and received her Master’s of Divinity with concentrations in Theology and the Arts and UCC Studies from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in 2021. She is currently a licensed minister in the UCC, seeking ordination and serving at New Hope UCC in Jackson and Faith UCC in Slinger. In her spare time, Carly enjoys spending time with her wife, Elizabeth, and rescue dog, Phoebe, at their home in Waukesha. She also enjoys singing and playing her ukulele, cooking, and long walks down the aisles of Trader Joe’s, Target, and TJMaxx.


You’re WISE: Now What?
Sue Kaiser and Darlene Ott

Join members of Ebenezer UCC’s WISE Team for a discussion on:

  • Some of the challenges they faced in becoming WISE and what being WISE is like now
  • Examples of what other WISE churches are doing after becoming WISE
  • How being WISE has changed Ebenezer UCC

Sue Kaiser and Darlene Ott will present the session, which will be prepared along with Barb Shircel and Rev. Lorri Steward

Ebenezer UCC’s WISE Team is a group of people brought together by their own personal experiences with mental health and a desire to make mental wellness a focus of everyday conversation at their church.

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