The Rev. Rebecca Rutter was finishing seminary, pastoring a church, and parenting three children. She needed something to help her relax, so she built a tiny house. Along the way, the United Methodist pastor learned about going green, living simply and making room for Jesus in her busy life. Joe Iovino has the story and podcast. Read story.

The Avoca UMC United Methodist Women have been doing a project for a local abused women's shelter. They made 42 pillow cases and bought pillows to go with them. Each person coming into the shelter will be given their own pillow to keep.

Merrill: Christ United Methodist Church held a sewing day on March 25th for “Little Dresses for Africa.” There were fifteen people helping with this mission including members of Christ UMC, Gleason: Wildwood Chapel, plus various churches around the Merrill area. In addition, there were materials donated to help make the dresses. Approximately 50 dresses were made and were shipped to those in need. Christ UMC normally hosts a sewing day in the spring and sometimes in the fall.

Waukesha: Salem's Ad Council recently voted to go 100% renewable energy for their church building. Member Becky Henderson said the increase in WE Engergies bill will be less than $40/month. "Interim pastor Bill Church started with a pledge of two months... but several others chimed in with an additional two months, and now we have a year. During that time, we intend to spread it around the congregation." She said they plan to add the initiative into the 2018 budget and begin a campaign with highway signs, brochures, and articles in local press. "We needed a little enthusiasm and I think we caught it," Henderson said.

Hayward UMC Pastor Cathy Hamblin said, “During the year, we make visits to our neighbors at the St. Francis K-12 Mission School located on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation with school supplies and hats, scarves and mittens collected from our members, to give to the students.This year we have also been able, through our Music Endowment, to have two of their pianos tuned and, through loose change offerings, to help them purchase updated computer software. In return, we receive many colorful thank you pictures and notes created by the students.”

A total of 355 patients with various ailments from rural districts in Harare, Zimbabwe benefited from a free medical outreach program conducted by The United Methodist Church. The outreach targeted people from disadvantaged communities who needed routine treatment. Kudzai Chingwe reports. Read story.

Seventy-nine people joined in a Palm Sunday parade led by Faith United Methodist Church, Superior, throughout the downtown area of Superior, waving palms, singing songs accompanied by a banjo player, and all led by a live donkey appropriately named “Donkey!” The parade began one-half hour before worship services. The parade then went right into the sanctuary of Faith United Methodist Church – including Donkey, who led the procession of waving palm branches. Witnesses to the special parade honked their horns in support; and some joined the parade along the way. Those people then joined in with the worship service! Worship attendance grew 26% for that Sunday, with many coming as first-time guests.

A record 52 women attended a women’s retreat at Lake Lucerne Camp on March 31 – April 2. Retreat organizer Bonnie Clement said, “We learned to Delight in His Word as we read it during devotions and Bible Study. We trusted it as we learned from Beekeeper Julie what is happening to the bees, and how we can help. We took notice of it as Kelly told what a bee’s presence can mean. We rejoiced in it as Linda showed us how to make simple flower arrangements from God’s Garden. We longed for it as Melody shared delicious recipes. We were mindful of it through our movement. We praised it as Shelly showed us how to make sweet chime music. We found joy in it as we stamped cards with Joan. And we shared it as we spent time with old friends and made new ones.” One attendee said what she liked best was “the fellowship, massages, the amount of free time to just enjoy the camp and bond with new friends.” Next year’s retreat will be held April 27-29, 2018. Bonnie Clement can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Hope UMC in De Pere, WI hosted their third annual Electronics Recycling Drive on Saturday, April 8. Hundreds of vehicles and trailers brought old TVs, computers, printers, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and many other old or broken items with cords or batteries. Items were free to recycle, with the exception of computer monitors and TV's ($10-30, depending on size). After giving our recycling partner, Norsec Computer Recyclers, half of the TV donations, New Hope raised nearly $2,500. More importantly, five full moving truckloads of electronics were recycled instead of contaminating landfills. “Praise God for this opportunity to reach out and help our community, care for God's creation, and raise funds to continue our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Pastor Rebecca Rutter said.

The sewing project might seem like a small effort. But the women who measure, cut and stitch know their work means the difference between a girl attending school and staying home. Milton United Methodist Women and others are making 50 personal hygiene kits. They will give the kits to an international organization called Days for Girls, which distributes kits to girls worldwide. “The idea is that girls in many countries do not have access to feminine hygiene products,” said Marilyn Eyster of the group, “so when they have their menstrual periods, they stay home from school.” Click here to read the full story from the Janesville Gazette.

Seven teams, including the Youth Fellowship of Rhinelander UMC, strategically stacked nonperishable goods during the seventh annual CANtastic build day last month, which benefits the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry. The youth group won the top honor for their creation entitled Rapunzel’s Tower in the “most cans used” category, with 1,065 cans. Bart Kotarba participated in the building of Rapunzel's Tower, and he was surprised they used the most cans. "We didn't know we had the most, but we worked really hard to collect a lot of cans," he said. "We were really motivated." It was the team's first win in its three years of participation, and Kotarba said that they will build again next year. As much fun as the build is, he knows it is very important. "I think (this event is) essential because it brings awareness to the food pantry," he said. "It's a great way to collect canned goods for (the pantry), and to have people see what we have done, and that there are ways that they can help," Kotarba said. Click here to see pictures of the group’s tower and read the full story from the Northwoods River News.

Methodism can be fun and exciting, as 50 highly energetic youth and 21 adults discovered at the Wesleyan Heritage Retreat held March 10-11 at Lake Lucerne Camp. Sixteen churches from across Wisconsin attended this year’s event. While it is designed with confirmation students in mind, the Wesleyan Heritage retreat has also become popular for adults who want to explore their faith tradition.

Participants rotated between sessions. In between, they enjoyed fun activities, good hot camp meals, and time to explore camp. Prizes were awarded, including a camp sweatshirt and a Bishop Jung bobblehead. The weekend concluded with a communion service featuring an impromptu praise band.

This was the sixth year for the retreat. Rev. Park Hunter worked with other area pastors in the Wausau circuit to develop the event. Hunter, now serving at Onalaska UMC, said, “We wanted to focus on the things that make our United Methodist Church distinctive… but not be boring about it.”

On Wednesday, March 22, Milwaukee's Albright UMC had the opportunity to not only live out directives laid down for us in our Book of Resolutions, but also stand at the forefront of churches throughout Milwaukee by working with the Milwaukee Police Department to offer a presentation on firearms safety to those in our community. Albright sits in one of the districts of Milwaukee that has faced some of the highest numbers of gunshot injuries and deaths. With a large percentage of these victims being innocent children, education has become a critical need. Police Officer J.D. Belongia, an instructor from the Milwaukee Police Department, kept the information flowing with an inspiring mix of humor, anecdotes and statistics. The event ended with those attending being given cable gun locks to secure any weapons they have at home. "If classes like this can save the life of only one child, they are worth every minute of the work that goes into offering them," Albright UMC member Lynne-Hines Levey said.

Albright will continue to lead the way for joint programming with the Milwaukee Police Dept. as the officers will be offering a class called "Educate 2 Empower" on Saturday March 8. This is the adult version of the old STOP program that had been offered at high schools in the past. It's an interactive, 2-hour class during which the 20-25 registrants will learn how, when, and why the police do what they do, and what one needs to do when interacting with the officers of the law to avoid unfortunate (or even dangerous) misunderstandings. The group will be limited to 20-25 to allow for greater interaction. This will, like the Firearms Safety class, be the first offered anywhere in Milwaukee. There are still other community class offerings under development, so the future looks like Albright may be a very active place as time goes on.

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 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.