Workshops

Where God is still speaking: Listening in New Ways


Friday Afternoon Workshops!

Catalyst Grants- Sparking Church Innovation and Mission
Mike Whiteley

Catalyst grants are all about sparking creativity and innovation in the Wisconsin Conference. Churches can apply to the Catalyst Team for grants of up to $5,000. Come learn about the Mission and Vision of the Catalyst Team and see some examples of previous grant recipients. We will help you understand what makes a great grant application and how to submit a grant for consideration.

Michael Whiteley is the Licensed Part-Time Pastor at First Congregational Church of East Troy, UCC.  He also served as the Moderator of his home church, the First Congregational Church of Genesee, UCC for 16 years.  He is the Chair of the UCC Catalyst Team.  He is Member in Discernment studying in the Damascus Project Faith Foundation and Christian Ministry curriculum.  He is a retired businessman with 30 years of sales and marketing experience in international foodservice equipment manufacturing and distribution.  He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Ripon College and a Masters in International Business from Thunderbird in Phoenix, AZ.

The Singular THEY…
An INTRODUCTION to Understanding Gender/ Gender Identity in Today’s World
Jeff Rabe

A workshop designed to help adults better understand the rapidly evolving spectrum of GENDER, this workshop uses the UCC-commissioned Our Whole Lives (OWL) Sexuality Education Curriculum for Sr Adults to explore biological sex, orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and pronouns. The program explains terms such as cis / trans / non-binary; introduces participants to the history of the fluidity of sexuality; explores identity and Pride Flags; and so much more! The workshop offers a casual, safe space for adults to ask tough questions, and provides tools and information to better understand, and advocate, for all of God’s people.

A Lakeland College grad, Jeff has served in Children and Youth ministries for more than thirty years in both small town, and large city congregations.  Jeff’s advocacy for inclusion lead to the formation of the First Cong Accessibility Committee which strives to educate the congregation to better understand differing abilities and struggles.  Jeff also uses his two decades as an OWL Facilitator, to share the Mission of OWL, and how it is used for all ages as a comprehensive curriculum to better understand the broad spectrum of sexuality.

It’s A Small World After All
Rev. Shari Prestemon

Join Rev. Shari Prestemon, Co-Executive for Global Ministries, to learn about the history of the UCC’s work around the globe and the ways our global witness makes a difference today. Gain an understanding of our emphasis on partnerships & mutuality, and a model of mission that might surprise you!

Shari received her Bachelor’s Degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and her Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary. She has served on multiple Boards of Directors in the wider UCC, including on the United Church of Christ Board, as Chair of the Board of Trustees of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Co-Chair of the Common Global Ministries Board of the UCC & Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Vice Chair of the Cornerstone Fund Board. She also served as Chair of the Council of Conference Ministers of the UCC, on the Steering Committee of the UCC Palestine-Israel Network, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Leadership Forward Campaign
Rev. Andrew Warner

Recognizing the importance of good leaders for our congregations and the opportunity to equip our leaders for creative ministry, the Wisconsin Conference launched the Leadership Forward Campaign.  The campaign will strengthen leaders through the Damascus Project, expand the Catalyst grants available to congregations, and care for clergy in every stage of their pastoral career.  Join Andrew Warner and members of the campaign steering committee to learn how your congregation can help strengthen leadership in local congregations.

Andrew B. Warner, CFRE, serves as Director of Development. He leads the fundraising efforts of the conference, supports the planned giving and effective philanthropy of congregations, and works to organize a foundation based on a community foundation model for the endowments of the conference and congregations. Andrew 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.  Working collaboratively with staff of the national setting, conferences and congregations, Andrew will design workshops, presentations, and resources on philanthropy and development of best practices.

Where God Is Still Speaking on the Border and Back Home Panel
Moderator: Mary Jane Huber
Panel: Ginny Close, Ruthanne Landsness, Judy and Mark Emmrich

This Immigrant Welcoming workshop will be a panel presentation by members of McFarland UCC, Orchard Ridge UCC – Madison, and First Congregational UCC – Eau Claire.  All panelists have had individual life changing border experiences as well as immigrant welcoming activities within their home churches and communities.  When you leave this workshop you will take with you many ideas for your individual involvement and ways to engage your home church membership.

Ginny Close – Ginny is an active member of First Congregational UCC – Eau Claire. She has served on the Church Council, Mission Ed/Social Concerns as well Personnel, Youth, and Stewardship. Ginny has volunteered on the border in several immigration related capacities gaining valuable experience and information to replicate back home. She participated in First Congregational UCC -Eau Claire’s formation of Chippewa Valley Bridge Builders, supporting a Honduran Asylum family. When Welcoming New Neighbors (WNN), a grassroots interfaith organization sprung up to welcome Afghans, First Congregational UCC joined the effort for which Ginny served as Coordinator for the fledgling WNN.   She continues with WNN as it discerns a broader immigrant welcoming mission.  After the January 2024 attendance of 20+ youth and adults at Common Ground on the Border (hosted by Good Shepherd UCC, Sahuarita, AZ), First Congregational UCC – Eau Claire has formed an immigration task force to assess interest, and to provide education and actionable activities for its members.

Ruthanne Landsness is a member of Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ in Madison, Wisconsin. She is a former church Moderator and Chair of an active and committed Immigration Justice Team. Ruthanne is a former Spanish teacher, tutor and well-traveled Spanish interpreter. During the last decade, she has been a regular volunteer at Casa Alitas, the immigrant welcome center in Tucson, AZ. Orchard Ridge UCC supports Casa Alitas through compassion offerings and annual clothing drives. Orchard Ridge UCC is a member of the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, a coalition of 20 churches and organizations that supports and engages in local, state, and national immigration justice efforts. Orchard Ridge UCC is a sanctuary church.

Judy Emmrich recently retired after teaching middle and elementary school in Madison for 26 years and spent the last 15 years of her career specializing in English Language Learning as the lead instructor for the beginning level at Madison College. Mark worked for the majority of his career in Human Resources and ended his career at WHEDA which supports low to moderate income families in the state secure affordable housing. Mark and Judy are fairly new members of McFarland UCC. They have always been active in their community helping immigrant families and individuals they met through Judy’s contacts with students at the college. When the opportunity to join NION, (Now In Our Name – A Church Committee that focused on Immigration Justice), they jumped at the chance to get involved. Judy helped start a new FIRST STEP Scholarship Program, (seed money was provided by McFarland UCC), at Madison College that provides the first 6 credits to ELL students who have completed the Advanced Level and are ready to enter a certificate or associate program. Together they attended The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ Common Ground Conference and through that experience have become even more involved in helping immigrants in their local community and beyond.  Judy teaches English Classes online to the leaders of the shelter in Nogales Mexico. They hosted a Haitian family in their home for 3 months who were supported by the church. They are hoping to get a NION sub-committee: Aliados off the ground to help local immigrant families with their needs, for example, finding apartments, getting their children enrolled in schools, getting enrolled in English classes, etc. They have 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren who keep them very busy! 

Palestinian Christians: Their stories and call to us
Beth Moore

Through the stories of Palestinian Christians Daoud Nassar (Tent of Nations Farm) and Father Elias Chacour (Melkite priest) we will learn of the realities Palestinians face as they work for a just peace in the Holy Land.  We will also introduce the “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel” which was adopted by the UCC at its General Synod in 2021 and recommended to local synods and congregations for study. As an educator, Beth Moore’s experiences have encompassed teaching in public schools, running a day care center, serving as a general manager in a worker-owned cooperative, working in health education in a village in India, and most recently completing twenty years as director of the Office of Global Education at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI.

Beth’s involvement in Palestinian Human Rights was awakened by a long-time friend who’d travelled to Palestine in 2006 and returned to found Friends of Tent of Nations North America( FOTONNA). She first travelled to Palestine/Israel in 2013, and after that visit joined the steering committee of FOTONNA. She serves as the tour coordinator for FOTONNA whose mission is to support the work of Tent of Nations, an international peace center located on the family farm of Daoud Nassar outside of Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Coaching Workshop
Tim Perkins

Wondering what the future holds? Interested in exploring positive change?  Looking for help as you seek to become a more effective leader; develop habits to sustain transformational ministry; chart a course that guides your ministry; engage your congregation in change and transformation; and live out your strengths, passions, and intentions so that you can focus on doing what really matters in ministry?

Rev. Dr. Tim Perkins is the Coordinator of the Conference Coaching Initiative. Tim received his initial coaching training along with the original cohort of Conference coaches (clergy and lay) through Pinnacle Leadership Associates. In addition to that basic training, Tim has received 60 hours of advanced coaching training through Summit Coaching. Over the last few years in partnership with 8 of our colleagues who are also trained coaches, the Conference has offered the first five sessions of coaching at no cost to UCC clergy in the state. 
 
Tim is a retired UCC Pastor who served for close to 34 years at Bethel-Bethany UCC in urban Milwaukee. He is also a member of the Conference’s Supportive Ministry Team, History Committee, and Creation Care Team, and the S.E. Association’s Church and Ministry Team. Tim is married to Bonnie Andrews and is an active father and grandfather, who has a passion for music, history, baseball, environmental justice… and coaching.

Wisconsin Gospeller’s Open Rehearsal

Waiting for an invitation to sing with our state-wide music ministry? This is it! We’re learning new music—and recruiting new members—as we start planning to host German singers in Summer 2025.

Saturday Morning Workshops!

Together for Tomorrow: Planned Giving in the Local Congregation
Rev. Andrew Warner

While a significant wealth transfer occurs as each generation passes, many congregations and ministries remain unprepared to promote planned giving options.  Only 5% of people leave a charitable bequest even though nearly a third of people would if asked or invited to consider one.  This workshop will share key concepts and new tools provided by the Wisconsin Foundation UCC (including a manual). Learn how you can create an action plan for your congregation or ministry to promote planned giving.

Andrew B. Warner, CFRE, serves as Director of Development. He leads the fundraising efforts of the conference, supports the planned giving and effective philanthropy of congregations, and works to organize a foundation based on a community foundation model for the endowments of the conference and congregations. Andrew 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.  Working collaboratively with staff of the national setting, conferences and congregations, Andrew will design workshops, presentations, and resources on philanthropy and development of best practices.

The New Culture of Congregational Care
Susan McFadden Ph.D and Rev. John McFadden

How can congregations encourage and support sustained friendships over the course of a friend’s dementia? How can we offer support to our friends in the church who are caring for loved ones in their homes or whose loved one has moved to memory care? We will learn some of the basics about dementia, and then explore ways congregations can focus on sustaining relationships with people living with dementia and those who care for them. Program examples will be shared – from ways to remain in friendship, to starting a memory café or respite program run by volunteers. Come to be inspired and to share your ideas!

Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Psychology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Susan retired from the University in 2012, and now volunteers in many capacities for Fox Valley Memory Project (FVMP: www.foxvalleymemoryproject.org), a nonprofit she co-founded in 2012. FVMP’s programs and services aim to create a “dementia-friendly community” in northeast Wisconsin.

Rev. John T. McFadden is a retired UCC pastor, who most recently served First Congregational UCC in Appleton, and as a Memory Care chaplain. He and his spouse, Susan, have written and presented extensively about dementia, community, and friendship, and helped found the Fox Valley Memory Project.

You’re ONA, now what?
Steve Jones

Your church voted to become ONA, now what and how do you live into it?  Becoming ONA is just the first step.  Yes, you can proudly wave your rainbow flag out front, but how to you connect to the LGBTQIA+ community?  How do you understand the differences in lifestyles and the struggles beyond the church doors?

Steve Jones will explore these issues of living into the ONA church in and beyond the safety of the church.  He will give suggestions every church can use to make the LGBTQAI+ community feel welcome and a part of the community.

Steve Jones is a long time member of the Wisconsin Conference ONA Team.  He is an active member of Union Congregational UCC in Green Bay.

From Conflicting to Complementary: How the Medical and Peer Support Models Can Work Together in Mental Health
Kathleen Gloff and Sue Kaiser

According to data from 2023, the ratio of licensed mental health providers to citizens in the state of Wisconsin is 1 to 420, which is even more severe than the national average of 1 to 340. In Governor Tony Evers’ State of the State of Address for 2023 he declared that mental and behavioral health in our state are a “burgeoning crisis” affecting Wisconsin’s kids, families, and workforce. The traditional model of mental health and substance use treatment has been the medical model. But in the face of decreasing numbers of clinicians providing services, a trauma-informed, peer-based model is gaining notice and traction. Join us to learn about the differences between the Medical Model and the Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), but—more importantly–learn about how both approaches can complement each other for better mental health.

Rev. Kathleen Gloff has been an ordained local church pastor in the United Church of Christ for 30 years. She currently serves Somers United Church of Christ. Kathleen is originally from Wisconsin and came home to the Badger State in 1999. Kathleen likes to read, bake, swim laps at the YMCA, and play piano. She volunteers for a community organizing group called Congregations United to Serve Humanity (CUSH). CUSH is a part of the statewide network WISDOM, which is a part of the national network Gamaliel. Kathleen is a Bi-Vocational minister, and her second vocation is Certified Peer Specialist.

Sue Kaiser, a Certified Substance Use Disorder Recovery Coach and Peer Support Specialist at Lighthouse Recovery Community Center located in Sheboygan, WI credits Wisconsin and its tenacity in clinging to a drinking and drugging social culture as one of the reasons that in 2023 Wisconsin ranks as the #1 state in the U.S. where adults regularly drink excessively (over 26%). This type of culture is directly linked to the abuse of alcohol and drugs in Wisconsin. As a person with 20+ years of lived experience in substance use disorder recovery, Sue recognizes the need for dual based recovery systems (substance use disorder and mental health) to be utilized and advocates for shifting from a purely medical model to one that emphasizes recovery and holistic well-being. This shift has been driven by a recognition of the importance of empowering individuals with mental health challenges to regain control of their lives and lead fulfilling, self-directed lives. Recovery-oriented values in mental health approaches have played a crucial role in this transformation, guiding professionals and policymakers towards a more person-centered and hopeful approach to mental health care.

Creation Care- Witnessing Global Climate Action at COP28
Heather Phelps

Heather Phelps visited Dubai last fall with the Christian Climate Observer Program for COP28, representing a Christian presence advocating for environmental stewardship. She’ll share insights into Dubai’s culture, her role as a climate observer, and emphasize the importance of global leaders making responsible decisions. Beyond the summit, she’ll highlight grassroots efforts in areas like youth activism, clean energy, and faith-based perspectives on climate change. Lastly, she’ll discuss the summit’s outcomes and how individuals can contribute to ongoing global climate initiatives.

Heather joined WCEE as a KEEP team Project Assistant in October 2022 and took the role of WCEE Resource Specialist in June 2023. She manages the WCEE kit collection, lending kits with hands-on materials to educators around the state. She also engages high school green teams around the state through KEEP’s Mini-Grant program and supports sustainability efforts in their schools. Before joining the WCEE, Heather worked with the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change and as a youth librarian, as well as teaching English in the Philippines and China.

Heather has a Master’s in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Heather enjoys reading, playing handbells, painting, baking, and playing with her cat in her free time.

Finding Common Ground in Divided Times
Tia Renier and Marianne Radley Welhouse

When it comes to issues we’re passionate about it can be hard to not get caught in a debate when you don’t see eye-to-eye with others. In debates we often lose sight of the person across the table, we stop seeing them as a whole person and instead make them an opponent. Rooted in applied psychology, this workshop gives us the tools to have meaningful conversations, build connections, and listen for common ground.

Tia Renier (she/her) is the Advocacy and Outreach Program Manager at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). Her path started with a degree in Social Work, focusing on child welfare and youth mental health. She now leads the psychological advocacy training program for PPWI; training staff, volunteers, and partner organizations to build stronger advocates for reproductive freedom, one conversation at a time. Outside of work, you can find her hiking a national park or testing her limits by rock climbing. She also volunteers as a court-appointed advocate for children impacted by the child welfare system.

Marianne Radley Welhouse is the Public Affairs Regional Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin in the Northeast Region. Prior to joining PPWI, she worked as the Advocacy Director for a local sexual assault center. Marianne is passionate about building relationships and engaging community members around a common cause. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their 4-year-old daughter, hiking, traveling, reading, and baking.

Becoming ACCESSIBILE TO ALL (A2A)
Jeff Rabe

A walk through the steps of becoming an A2A Congregation in the United Church of Christ. More than ramps and large print bulletins. An exploration of how the A2A process helps churches evaluate their physical structure and programming to respond to Christ’s call to welcome all. Members of First Cong, Madison Accessibility Committee share their process to obtain the A2A moniker.

A Lakeland College grad, Jeff has served in Children and Youth ministries for more than thirty years in both small town, and large city congregations.  Jeff’s advocacy for inclusion lead to the formation of the First Cong Accessibility Committee which strives to educate the congregation to better understand differing abilities and struggles.  Jeff also uses his two decades as an OWL Facilitator, to share the Mission of OWL, and how it is used for all ages as a comprehensive curriculum to better understand the broad spectrum of sexuality.

Sunday Wellness Workshops at Daycholah!

Brief closing Worship by Daycholah Center Managing Director, Amanda Edwards
In The Meandering Flow: A Labyrinth Walk
Martha Brunell

The labyrinth is a single pathway that twists and turns, changing direction again and again, meandering on its journey into the center. After we arrive at the center, we retrace our steps back out again. The labyrinth’s flow mimics our lives with all their back-and-forth motion over varied seasons. It offers to embrace the whole of our experience. The labyrinth’s spiraling pattern in and out of the center reflects the most frequent shape found in nature, the shape of the spiral, the shape of change. It is a reminder of the great web of life in which we are held and is a source of deepening connections. In its various forms, the labyrinth has been used in reflective, meditative, wellness practice around the globe for 4,000-5,000 years. While walking, we are invited to slow down, to be present now, and to bring our whole selves to experience this embodied, mindful practice with other walkers today and with those who have walked before us.

Opening to Compassion: A Guided Meditation
Rev. Rachel Bauman

This meditation guides us in relaxing the body, opening the imagination and connecting with our compassionate heart.

Bible Journaling
Malena Koplin

One of our most popular workshops is back!

Do you like to journal, color, draw, stamp, or craft? Would journaling help you understand scripture better? Learn how to use your journaling or crafting skills right in your bible to clarify your understanding of bible passages or the  Sunday sermon. Bible Journaling is a great way to connect with scripture and creativity. You can journal & highlight OR use fun art supplies! I’ll bring some art supplies and examples and some pages to practice on! Bring your favorite pens or craft supplies if you want – or just use mine!
“Nice to Meet You, Terra!”
Creation Care Team

Our worship time around the campfire will include a presentation of Jim Martin’s eco chancel drama, “Nice to Meet You, Terra!” Martin’s 2023 chancel drama has been presented in several congregations since last summer, including in Milwaukee, Hales Corners, Fitchburg, Muskego, East Troy, Erin and Merton.

A Weaving Connection to Prayer
Sheila and Steven Shaw

Join us to create a small weaving of your own which can be used to hang around your neck when you are centered in prayer, or can be created into a pin that you can wear. The texture and color that you choose to include can be a tactile connection to your personal prayer time or a visual focal point. No prior specific artist skills are needed. Assistance will be given to help you design and realize and image for your small weaving. Both of the workshop leaders find weaving to be a soothing, creative process that they hope to share with participants.

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