The geographic region served by this Associate Conference Minister includes all of the Southwest Association of the Wisconsin Conference as well as the western side of the Southeast Association (see map). The area stretches from just west of the Milwaukee metro area through small cities and rural areas, then through the Madison area, down to the Illinois border where there are some larger cities, and west to the Mississippi River.
The portion of the Southeast Association reaches down into the corner of the state where a huge technology company known as Foxconn is developing a manufacturing plant that likely will change the demographics of this area. There is a high-end resort area around Lake Geneva. But most of the geography is rural and small town, with a few cities like Oconomowoc and Watertown in the corridor between Milwaukee and Madison.
The University of Wisconsin is a dominant presence in Madison and also has significant campuses in Whitewater to the east and Platteville to the west. There are UCC congregations in all of those communities. Madison is also the seat of state government and has a rapidly growing technology sector, especially in the health care area. There are several vibrant UCC congregations, ranging in membership size from 75 to 550, in the greater Madison area.
To the southwest of Madison, Green County has the highest per capita number of UCC members in the nation. It has Swiss heritage and has one of the largest congregations in the state – St. John’s in Monroe with 728 members.
This is a predominantly white region of the country. With three exceptions, all of the counties in this region are over 90 per cent white. Even the exceptions are predominantly white – 88% in Kenosha County, 85% percent in Dane County (Madison) and 83% in Racine County.
The Southwest Association as a whole has 48 congregations. There are 19 Open and Affirming congregations. There are 26 congregations with more than 100 members, the others are smaller. There are 64 ordained ministers with their status in the Southwest and another 53 retired clergy. There are seven licensed ministers, two commissioned ministers and 3 members in discernment. While Madison is a dominant presence in this association, the communities served throughout the Southwest range widely in culture, theology and church practice.
The portion of the Southeast Association that will be served by this ACM includes 27 congregations. Among them are 8 open and affirming congregations. There are 18 congregations with more than 100 members, and the others are smaller. There are 21 ordained ministers serving in that portion of the Southeast Association and another 15 retired clergy.
There are vibrant and strong congregations all across the region, but there are also congregations that face the struggles common in an era of change. There is potential for the reshaping of some congregations. And there are networks throughout the region that cross congregational and denomination lines, offering opportunities for a wider field of ministry.