The Clintonville United Methodist Church has turned 150 years old in 2017. Pastor Keith Wolf, who has served in this appointment for more than three years, said the church has been a big part of Clintonville’s history. “It’s been such an integral part of the community for so long, and we continue to try to be that presence in the community where everyone is welcome,” Wolf said. Click here to read the full story from the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette.

A hearing loop was installed in the sanctuary and John Wesley rooms at Rhinelander's First United Methodist Church Feb. 9 to help the hearing-impaired participate in church services. The induction loop system magnetically transmits sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants with telecoils (T-coils), according to hearingloop.org. The idea to install the hearing loops began after Rev. Ellen Rasmussen arrived in July 2015 and discovered that hearing was an issue in the church. Rasmussen had a positive experience with the hearing loop system at her previous church so, within three to four months of her arrival in Rhinelander, she mentioned the coils to her trustees. The trustees, in turn, reached out to Haines for more information, which led to a formal proposal for funding to improve hearing accessability in the church, she said. Rasmussen is hoping her church can be made available to the community for meetings and other gatherings. "It's a good place for the community to come and for people with hearing issues to be able to hear clearly what people are saying," she said. "We hope that if there are groups, public forums, things that the city or the county are dealing with and they need a place where people can hear better, we hope they'll come and check it out." Her church is one of two facilities in Rhinelander that has hearing loops. The other is the Rhinelander District Library. Rasmussen hopes they have set the pace for the community and others will follow suit. "I think what we need to do is promote the benefits of the hearing loop system and educate people," she said. Click here to read the full story from the Rhinelander River News.

On January 25, 2017, the Mens' Club of the Sturgeon Bay United Methodist Church served its 82nd annual Lumberjack Supper to 625 diners. The Lumberjack Supper began in 1935 when many of the church men were employed on great lakes ships, and home during the winter month with not much to do. Their wives told them to serve a meal at the church, which they did successfully (some of the men were cooks on the ships), and, except for one year during WWII, has gone on annually. The meal consists of corned beef, roasted pork, cabbage, rutabaga, potatoes and gravy, apple sauce, baked beans and pie. The apple sauce is made by the men from five bushels of apples donated by a church apple grower. The menu has remained the same over the years; currently including approximately 650 pounds of corned beef, 350 pounds of pork roast, and 1,000 pounds of vegetables. The original dinner cost 35 cents; this year, $15. As many as 825 people were served one year. The money earned has paid for the weekly church radio broadcast on a local station, church advertising in local newspapers, the church Boy Scout troop, Society of St. Andrew, and a variety of church projects. As many as 100 church and community men participate in cooking and serving the meal.

Wesley UMC of Oshkosh recently completed a “Process for Assessment of Local Church Potential” according to Paragraph 213 in the Book of Discipline under the leadership of Don Greer. “Wesley found itself at a crossroads in our church and truly benefitted from this study,” Lay Leader Gloria Smith said. “Our church team looked at our mission outreach, our facilities, and the greater community, and asked ourselves how our church can work more effectively with an aging membership, fewer younger families, and with our financial concerns. This process was challenging, but very important to our future. We found a new spirit ready to revitalize our faith community. We were affirmed in our past, and look to continuing in these changing times. A special thank you to Don Greer as he helped open our minds and hearts to new possibilities in service.”

“God continues to bless the relationship building that Emmanuel Church is doing in its surrounding neighborhood,” Appleton:Emmanuel UMC Pastor Ben Morris said. In the past year, Emmanuel has been in mission to its neighbor at Edison Elementary in several ways, by collecting books and volunteering as reading partners with students. “Recently, God has guided Emmanuel into a mission opportunity with our neighbors at Edison,” Morris said. Madeline Herrmann, the art teacher at Edison Elementary, believes that art can be an integral part of the healing process. She recognized a need through a personal relationship of a young person undergoing chemotherapy and spending long days at the hospital. Mrs. Herrmann also desired to instill the importance of service in her students. She had a vision of her art students making coloring books that could be utilized at by patients and family members at Children’s Hospital in Neenah. But a partner was needed to help gather art supplies and create something to store the coloring books. The United Methodist Women from Emmanuel Church gathered materials and invited all of the congregation’s sewers to participate. “Fifty beautiful handmade tote bags were produced that will hold donated art supplies from Emmanuel Church members and the coloring books made by Edison Students,” Morris said. ”Thanks be to God for the building of relationships and the sharing of gifts!”

This year was Midland UMC’s 2nd Annual Mardi Gras Dinner, which featured a free dinner to the public and food provided by the members of Midland. The meal included gumbo, red beans and rice, Creole coleslaw and desserts. “This year, 30 people attended, and we hope to serve more next year,” Missions and Outreach Committee co-chair Cheryl Schmidt said.

Madison: First UMC held an Interfaith Brunch on January 7. “A wonderful time was had by all participants,” Marjorie Matthews said. “We had a very good turnout of women of various faiths (Muslim, Christian and other), enjoyed food, fellowship, and an enlightening panel of Muslim women who gave a short presentation and answered audience questions. The Raging Grannies of Madison also sang, providing some entertainment. This was our first joint meal and time of sharing on a large scale, but will not be our last!”

On February 26, the congregation at Wauwatosa Avenue UMC celebrated their 17th Annual Jazz Sunday Service. This special service, featuring a variety of jazz styles, has been a highlight on the worship calendar since 2000, and kicks off the church’s journey through Lent. Choir Director Tim Karth has organized this service from its inception. Youth, congregational and guest musicians, together with the adult and youth choirs, and pastor Tim Berlew led a unique, uplifting and exciting morning of liturgy and praise! Pastor Tim Berlew's sermon "Mountaintop Experiences" spoke to the challenges and successes we face every day. He encouraged the congregation, as often as possible, to take time to enjoy the view, as well as embrace the journey. The church’s two youth groups, C.I.A. (Christians In Action) and G.A.N.G. (God's Amazing & Never-ending Grace), hosted the fellowship hour and served up homemade traditional New Orleans-style beignets. Click here to view photos.

On Saturday, February 25, Holcombe UMC hosted its “Oh-Soul-O’-Me-O” Italian Dinner. Over $600 was generated by the event, with all proceeds designated for the Cornell Area Ambulance and EMT Units. Eleven EMT’s attended and received several rounds of appreciative applause. Bill Stimeling said, “Over 100 folks from the area turned out, and the four-course meal was much appreciated and adjudged as delicious! Live piano music was provided throughout the evening, and attendees danced whenever songs of the 40s and 50s were played.”

Appleton: Emmanuel United Methodist Church held its first ever “Trunk or Treat” on the afternoon of October 30, 2016. Church members decorated their vehicles to hand out candy, as well as many non-candy items such as crayons and pencils. The youth group led Halloween themed games, including "Toss the Witches Hat” and “Pumpkin Golf.” UMW members were active making plenty of hot coffee and treats for all ages. Emmanuel Church welcomed community leaders, and were joined by the Appleton Police and Fire Departments for the event. Several hundred people from the surrounding neighborhood drove or walked to the Emmanuel parking lot, and enjoyed an afternoon of Halloween fun.

The Harvest of Hope Fund (Conference Advance #7020) was created to provide financial assistance and hope to Wisconsin farm families in difficult financial situations. In 2016, the organization passed the $1 million landmark. Since the fund was started in 1986, Harvest of Hope has granted more than 1,600 gifts totaling over $1,010,000 to Wisconsin farm families in crisis situations. Click here to read the full press release.

AHyun Lee, Mayville UMC Pastor, recently took a trip to Haiti. Her trip is a story of connection between Mayville UMC's mission and Haiti; between pastors and seminarians; and of God's ministry. Click here to read her trip report and see pictures from the trip.

Yorkville UMC is celebrating its 175th Anniversary year in 2017. The first event of the 175th Anniversary (1842–2017) Celebration at Yorkville United Methodist Church was Marriage Sunday. At the event, Pastor Sue Leih led a brief Marriage Vow Renewal and Blessing during morning worship. The 23 couples who chose to participate represented a total of 819 years of marriage. They stood across the front and down the side aisles of the sanctuary, facing each other and holding hands. The organist played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Canon in D”. Soloists sang “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” and “Remember When”. Everyone enjoyed a guessing game of identifying the couples in the wedding pictures displayed in Fellowship Hall. Cake and punch was served. “It was a lovely day of love,” Carol Knight, Chair of 175th Task Force, said. Additionally, the drama rotation presented by the combined classes during Sunday School was a puppet show of Jesus’ first miracle, when he turned the water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

Children at Kenosha: First UMC raised just under $1000 for Kenosha's Shalom Center Soup Kitchen in their yearly fundraiser. In addition to selling ceramic bowls the Sunday School children had made, they collected donations after each service. They also organized a soup luncheon that day to collect more donations. Congratulations kids!

On an overcast day in January, forty grandparents gathered at Christ UMC in Watertown to learn how to help their grandchildren grow in their faith. Circuit SE-06, including the Concord, Johnson Creek, Oconomowoc: Good Shepherd, Sullivan, and Watertown: Christ UMCs, sponsored a Conference on Christian Grandparenting. The featured speaker was Rev. Tanya Campen Ph.D., an ordained Deacon serving the Rio Texas Annual Conference. Dr. Campen’s keynote address, which is available online as an mp3 recording along with her notes, describes six gifts grandparents can give to their grandchildren. These include: Presence & Time, Respect & Value, Story, Liturgy & Ritual, Wonder, and Blessing. Additional breakout sessions on using the internet, developmentally appropriate faith building activities, and ritual and worship, along with a panel discussion of grandparents active in the lives of their children’s children filled out the rest of the day. “Of all the positive comments on the evaluations, one which stood out was, ‘I didn’t know our job as grandparents was so important.’ Everyone went home understanding that fact,” Christ UMC pastor Ron Kral said. “Thank you to the United Methodist Foundation for awarding us a grant that allowed this training to happen.”