“Remember, there is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word.” Pastor Robinson sent the pilgrims off on their journey to North America with these words. The pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620.
Many of our congregations trace their roots back to that moment, as the numerous Pilgrim and Plymouth congregation names testify. Yet these same congregations and more now see the damage and destruction caused by colonialism.
Our congregations now find light and truth in scripture that our spiritual ancestors didn’t see. We read the same Holy Word but gain different insights about women, justice, cultural diversity, and LGBT+ people. In just the last few years, the call to work for racial equity, serve immigrant people, and face the legacy of the doctrine of discovery led congregations across the Wisconsin Conference to read and appreciate new lessons from scripture. As Pastor Robinson promised, we found yet more light.
The 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth Colony challenges us to honor the way this history shaped us and repair the harm caused by colonialism. This coming year, the Wisconsin Conference UCC will partner with congregations to launch “Forward” Campaigns.
A unique opportunity
The anniversary of Plymouth Colony presents a unique opportunity for Wisconsin congregations to inspire members and friends to make financial gifts. The Wisconsin Conference designed the Forward Campaign to assist congregations seeking to raise $10,000 to $100,000 for critical projects or new initiatives. At the same time, congregations can address injustices of colonialism by contributing to a Native American ministry fund. Whether a congregation came from the Evangelical & Reformed side of our history or the Congregational Christian, the Forward Campaign provides a way to engage the imagination of our community in looking towards the future for the congregation and our conference.
Support from the Conference
The Conference will provide support throughout the campaign process. This will include campaign training and support webinars for congregational leaders, and relevant materials that can be adapted to the story and goals of each congregation (such as letters and logos). Additionally, if needed, the Wisconsin Foundation UCC can process donations and track gifts in relationship to pledges during the campaign.
Tailored to each congregation
Through the campaigns, local congregations will raise money for three projects or endowment funds: a fund for new initiatives in the local congregation (or an immediate need in the congregation such as a building project), a new initiatives fund in the conference, and a Native American ministry fund. The new initiatives funds of the congregation and the conference will support projects reflective of the commitment to find yet more light: new programs, new missions, and other innovative opportunities. The goal of the Native American ministry fund is to broaden insight and sensitivity to the treatment of First Nations peoples and will support creative projects of importance to the indigenous communities in Wisconsin.
Each congregation participating in the campaign will make its own determination of how to allocate dollars raised between the three funds (but the recommended sharing will be 80% to the congregation’s new initiatives fund, 10% to the conference’s new initiatives fund, and 10% to the Native American ministry fund). The congregation will set its own goal for the campaign. Some may choose to combine the campaign with education on planned giving. Churches running a capital campaign may also find the Forward Campaign framework helpful.
Please contact Andrew Warner if you would be interested in organizing a Forward Campaign in your own congregation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414-758-6233.