The 2017 Annual Conference was blessed this year with a “pick up” worship ensemble, staffed by volunteers from various congregations from around the state. Working alongside guest worship leader Dr. Marcia McFee, this group provided musical inspiration and leadership for the four worship services. Tim Karth said, “It is a joy to share the names of these musicians and celebrate their commitment, accomplishment, service and gifts to this year’s Annual Conference. This creative collaboration is definitely a representation of the theme “One In Christ”.

2017 Worship Ensemble

  • Pastor Justin Lowe-Piano/Vocals--First UMC, Kenosha
  • Matt Starika-Jolivet-Vocals--Director of Creative Ministries, Sun Prairie UMC
  • Denise Utter-Vocals--Logos H.S. Leader, Sun Prairie UMC
  • John Haas-Bass Guitar--Ministry Council Chair/Lay Member, Still Waters Community UMC, Jackson
  • Holly Taylor-Flute--Lay Member, Parfreville UMC
  • Mary Keuhn-Guitar/Vocals--Choir Director/Song Leader, First UMC, Tomah
  • Pastor Norman Bude-Guitars--Evansville UMC
  • Tim Karth-Drums, Horns, Vocals, Piano (Laity Session)--Choir Director/Lay Leader, Wauwatosa Ave UMC

An Africa University alumnus told the 718 graduates from 23 African countries that it was time for them to give back to Africa. Washington Madziwadondo told graduates to remember that “Africa University built you to stand tall and lead.” Andra Stevens has the story. Read story.

On Sunday, June 4th, Sun Prairie United Methodist Church celebrated a milestone anniversary for Pamela Girard. Pam has been the organist at SPUMC for 50 years, having started 50 years prior (to the day) on Sunday, June 4th 1967. The day’s worship service concluded with a small celebration of music provided by two of SPUMC’s choirs, Sweet Assurance, which Pam accompanies, and The Singing Churchmen, which she directs. The celebration was concluded with the world premiere of a newly-commissioned song by Joseph M. Martin called “Somewhere In The Silence,” which was written in honor of Pam’s 50 years and counting as organist at Sun Prairie United Methodist Church. Click here to see a video of the performance. Following worship, Pam celebrated with friends, family, and over 200 guests for brunch, and memories were shared by present and former clergy members who served at SPUMC, including Pastor Jenny Arneson, Scott Carlson, Bert Lohr, Frank Gaylord, Ross Oestreich, and Jane Daniels.

The children and youth of Tomah: First United Methodist Church led "Fill the Tanks to Fill the Tummies" to raise money for Feed My Starving Children. Each week, a gas can was passed to collect donations to support the competing race teams: "Penzoil Pulpit," "Mobile 1 Lectern," and "Goodyear Sunday School." The total collected was $1,528 to support the Tomah Area MobilePack for Feed My Starving Children on July 14 and 15 at Recreation Park, 1625 Butts Ave, Tomah.

Registration to assist with the MobilePack is open and anyone is welcome to participate. To sign up or make a donation, click here. For more information, contact Pastor Krysta Deede at 608-372-4543.

On Wednesday, May 31, Albright UMC and Milwaukee Police Department's District 7 Faith Based Initiative hosted Rocky Marcoux, Milwaukee's Commissioner of City Development, to discuss plans for use of foreclosed properties throughout Milwaukee. The nearly three dozen attendees were the first to learn about the plans and projects that will be and are bringing jobs and revenue into downtown, into the church’s neighborhood, and into other neighborhoods around the city. “We learned about the rebuilding of property [near the church] that will house a train company to build and maintain high-tech rail cars and employ roughly 700 people,” Lynne Hines-Levy said. “We learned what is being looked for in manufacturers and merchants, what permits are simply not being approved, and what designated loans and grants are available to qualifying businesses wanting to become a part of the plan.” Mr. Marcoux ended his presentation with a plea to the faith community for support and encouragement for local current and potential entrepreneurs willing to create a sustainable, community-enhancing environment. “What an honor to be allowed to house the unveiling of such a positive presentation,” Hines-Levy said.

A team of Volunteers In Mission (VIM) recently visited Pine Lake Camp, and completed a variety of projects despite heavy rains that week. Projects included painting, installing piers and docks, and other general cleaning and preparations for the summer season. Click here and here to see pictures from the week.

Recently, a house next to Superior: Faith UMC was acquired for a future expansion project for the church. That house was taken down last Wednesday, and the new addition for Faith UMC is anticipated for Spring 2018. “Today is a milestone for the future building project,” Pastor Joel Certa-Werner said.

In 1767, Captain Thomas Webb and Joseph Pilmore led the push to establish the first Methodist classes in Philadelphia, and along the East Coast of the new colonies. At the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference June 15-17, United Methodists will celebrate 250 years of Methodism with special commemorative performances, publications and displays. Conference members wearing colonial-era garb will portray several early ancestors of The United Methodist denomination. John W. Coleman reports. Read conference story.

Crossroads UMC in Waunakee recently held its second annual week of service project. Rev. Kristen Lowe, along with her ministry team and leadership board, leads up to the week with messages on “being the church” and “making your mark,” and then asks the church family to take the hours they would have been in worship that week, and donate them in service to the projects chosen that year.

This year, Crossroads hosted a local non-profit Waunakee Neighborhood Connection’s annual garage sale, by not only providing space, but volunteers as well. The church also held a bake sale during the garage sale to raise funds for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Refugee Relief. Finally, the church members made 100 homemade cards and meals for Porchlight’s Men’s Drop-In Shelter in Madison.

The church raised $500 for UMCOR, provided 266 volunteers hours to all of the projects, and nearly $10,000 was raised at the garage sale. “It was a busy few weeks preparing, hosting, baking, selling, delivering, and cleaning, but we are so pleased at the impact we were able to make on our local community and the world”, says Rev. Kristen Lowe.

The 175th Anniversary (1842-2017) Celebration at Yorkville United Methodist Church continued with the presentation of a new commemorative quilt banner hanging in a place of honor in the narthex. The dedication patch on the back tells the story, “In celebration of our 175th Anniversary, this quilt and a coordinating altar cloth were designed and sewn with love by Laurel Geschke, Sherry Gruhn, and Barb Geschke. Special help and artistic touch by Jodi Klug, with long-arm machine quilting by Kitty Friend. Completed in March, 2017.”

The special 175th event also brought back the Church Birthday Dinner which was an annual potluck gathering held for many years. Tables were decorated for the four seasons – Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Fall (September, October, November), Winter (December, January, February), each with a seasonal birthday cake. Attendees sat at the table of their birth month, and shared a list of reasons why THEIR season is the best! They also chose and sang a song to represent their season. Historically, an offering was taken for the Sunshine Fund – in the amount of one cent for each year of your age! This time the 82 people in attendance contributed $192.87. There are more 175th Anniversary events to follow.

Sun Prairie United Methodist Church just finished their 31st Church Garage Sale. They raised almost $15,000, which goes to missions in the church, community, the country and the world. Deb Mulhern, Director of Connecting Ministries for the church, said, "We estimated we had over 850 'people hours' of work that week by over 100 volunteers and a lot of treasures! In the past, we have been able to give donations to our local food pantry, supporting mission trips, Shelter from the Storm (a local women and children’s shelter opening this month), Heifer International, domestic abuse services, Sun Prairie Police Shop-with-a-Cop, camp scholarships, college scholarships, Sun Prairie Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, UMCOR, and the VA Hospital. It’s a lot of work, but we all feel good that we were able to make a difference in our community and the world!"

Youth and several leaders from Wisconsin Hispanic congregations recently participated in a retreat in Peoria, Illinois. “It was a great blessing,” Imelda Roman said. Click here for more information on the event.

April 4, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic speech at Riverside Church, where he spoke out against the Vietnam War. A public reading of the speech took place at various churches, synagogues and mosques throughout the U.S as part of a national day of commemoration. At St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee, The United Methodist Church was well-represented by planning committee member Lisa Jones (United Methodist Women & Brown Deer UMC) and readers Amy & Chris Yang (New Hope Hmong UMC), Aqil Joseph (Solomon Community Temple UMC), Pastor Andy Oren (Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee & Bayview UMC), Cathryn Luse, (United Methodist Women & Brown Deer UMC) and Pastor Afi Dobbins (Solomon Community Temple UMC). Lynn Hines Levy said, “The reading was followed by an open and honest sharing of thoughts, observations and concerns that this heartfelt speech and the changes it has brought about have invoked over the years. It has also left us with much to contemplate over the next year as we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's tragic assassination. How much have we really learned in this time?” 

The Wisconsin Hmong Caucus hosted a lay servant training at Greenfield: Christ UMC on April 22 and April 29. The training was designed for lay servants who have completed the “Introduction to Lay Servant Ministries” and focused on sermon preparations and delivery. This is a much-needed skill for lay servants in the local church. Pastor Mao Her facilitated the training with 6 lay servants from Christ UMC, New Berlin: Agape UMC, and Madison: Sherman Avenue UMC. Training was engaging and full of practical hands-on activities with lively discussions and actual sermon delivery by each participant. The lay servants received instructions, trainings, and resources to take with them to make an impact in their local church.

The Commission on Central Conference Theological Education awarded 67 grants totaling more than $1 million to the seven Central Conferences of The United Methodist Church. The grants fund theological education advances at theological institutions, boards of ordained ministry and agencies integrally related to training United Methodist pastors. Read press release. See full list of recipients.