“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing… Be at peace among yourselves… See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:11, 13b, 15-18
I had a wonderful time visiting all five of our districts for my Bishop’s Day Apart with Clergy, followed by a very special time at the Bishop’s Convocation with Laity. I cherish opportunities that I have to teach my brothers and sisters, as teaching is both a gift and a passion. This year, First Thessalonians chapter 5 has been much in my thoughts and in my heart, and it was this passage of scripture that framed my teaching.
It speaks to us who are fortunate to be leaders in the Church of God’s will for us as the people of God. In Paul’s vision for the Church, there is simply no place for “us and them” thinking. We are in this together. There is no possibility of split or division for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ – we are family, and you can’t choose your family. It is yours whether you like it or not. Siblings may bicker; siblings may fight; siblings may see things completely differently; but at the end of the day, family is still family.
Laity Convocation began with a dinner served by Christ UMC, followed by a conversation between Lay Leader Deanna Shimko and Bishop Jung about Imagine Wisconsin Anew. During the conversation, Bishop Jung and Deanna spoke about what it means to Imagine Wisconsin Anew, and about Bishop Jung's recent travels and pilgrimages. Bishop Jung explained that it's not necessary to take a trip to a different country to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage; there are many opportunities available closer to home, including the 5-Day Academy for Spiritual for Spiritual Formation being held in Racine this October.
On Monday morning, the day began with opening worship led by South East district Lay Leader Steve Mayeshiba, and a Bible study led by Bishop Jung. He talked about Paul in I Thessalonians 5:1-28, and explained that we are all called and equipped by God. "You are the light," he said. "That means you have a power and a calling do do something holy. When you wake up with that reality, you are passionate and energized. That's why Paul invites you and me to understand clearly who we are. When you know who you are and whose you are, you know you are not in darkness, in manipulation, or in fear."
The Board of the General Council on Finance and Administration met March 4-8 in Cambodia. During the trip, board members, including North West District Superintendent Kate Croskery Jones, visited with staff and missionaries working with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Read press release. See photos on GCFA's Flickr page.
United Methodist Children’s Services (UMCS) is excited to announce the appointment of Rev. Tina Itson as its new Director of Fund Development. Rev. Itson comes to UMCS with experience in fundraising, volunteer management, grant writing, and event planning, as well as a deep passion for the ministry of UMCS. As a member of the Board of Directors, she has been vital to the agency through the support of a number of key development projects and initiatives. Rev. Itson will be starting on May 1st, 2017, and will be available to connect with and speak at congregations across Wisconsin about the mission and ministry that UMCS is doing in Milwaukee.
Promoting the amazing faith-building, fun, and life-changing experiences of summer camps can only be done with the help and support of the Conference congregations. Thanks are given to those congregations that already have, or are, continuing to fulfill their commitment to promoting camp for at least one month. Many churches choose to do this important promotion with displays, special sermons, even making s'mores in the fellowship hall after the service! Camps are currently collecting examples of displays and events that congregations are using to promote summer camp. Once examples are collected, they will be shared with the rest of the Conference at the WIUMCamps Resources Page to help spark ideas for congregations that haven't yet set up a display, or those looking to add an extra element to help encourage youth and families to sign up for summer camp. If you have a picture of a bulletin board, special Camp Sunday event, or other way camp is being promoted in your congregation, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for sending in Rainbow Covenant Reports is March 31. Be sure to complete the form, which was distributed at the 2016 Annual Conference, and is available on our website under Board of Global Ministries - Resources, and then send it in as soon as possible! In order to qualify as a Rainbow Covenant Church, you must support missions of the Church in a variety of ways. First, all Rainbow Covenant churches must pay 100% of their apportionments. Next, they must support a "rainbow" of missions that include 1) Local Projects (e.g. a Food Bank or warming shelter), 2) at least one of the seven Special Sundays, 3) a Conference Advance, 4) a National Advance, 5) an International Advance (Information on these can be found in A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY: 2016-2010 Guide for Mission Giving in Wisconsin, which was sent to all local churches in the summer of 2016 and is also available on the website under Board of Global Ministries - Resources), 6) UMCOR, 7) In Mission Together, and 8) Missionary Support. In 2015, only three churches were recognized as Rainbow Covenant churches, and in 2016, we nearly tripled the number when 8 churches were recognized. It would be great to again triple the number! Take a close look at your mission giving and see if you qualify. If you do, fill out the report and send it in before March 31. And if you don't, use the report as a guide for planning your 2017 Mission Giving!
Registration for 2017 Annual Conference is now open! Visit https://tinyurl.com/WAC2017 to register and learn about highlights at this year's event, book your hotel room, reserve a display table, sign up for child care, and much more. This year’s Conference will be held June 16-19 at the Madison Marriott West, with Monday, June 19 as a Learning Day. The theme will be “One with Christ.” Please join us as we rejoice in our unity with the Lord. Click here to see this year's Ingathering list. With any further questions, contact Registrar Kellye Walker-Pontius at email@example.com or (608) 837-7328.
Changes to Registration in 2017: This year, we will be taking advantage of technology already in place with two changes to make registration more efficient for both attendees and Conference staff! First, payment will only be accepted by credit card along with your online registration. This will save many staff hours and physical resources that would otherwise be spent processing registrations by hand. Second, instead of handing out physical meal tickets, we will be printing a scannable (QR) code on your name tag. This will streamline the meal check-in process, and you won’t have to worry about keeping track of your tickets!
Submit Award Nominations by May 1: Nominations for our annual clergy, laity, and youth awards are now being accepted. These awards will be presented during Annual Conference. Click here for information on the Harry Denman, Love in Action, Perry Saito, Thelma Gregg, and Francis Asbury Awards and nominate yourself or someone you think deserves the recognition by May 1, 2017.
Adam Hamilton to be Featured Speaker: One of our many highlights at Annual Conference will be presentations by Adam Hamilton entitled “Leading Beyond the Walls.” He is well known for launching The Church of the Resurrection in 1990, which today is the largest United Methodist Church in the United States with an average weekend attendance of 8,600.
Register for Blueprint for Wellness Screening: Registration is open for the Blueprint for Wellness screenings being offered to active HealthFlex participants during Wisconsin Annual Conference. Deadline to register is June 3. The screenings will be in the mornings on Saturday, June 17, and Sunday, June 18. The screenings are not available in 2017 for retired participants enrolled in the Conference group Medicare supplement plan, which is not part of HealthFlex. There is no charge for the Annual Conference screening and appointments are strongly recommended. Very limited walk-in appointments will be available at the Madison Marriott West, and those who are not pre-registered may not be served. Active plan participants and spouses who complete the Blueprint for Wellness screening and who are enrolled in the VirginPulse walking program at the time of their screening will be awarded $100 Pulse Cash if they complete the screening between April 1 and July 31. To schedule an appointment, active participants should click here and log in via Single Sign On, then use the Quest Diagnostics link. Alternatively, call Quest Diagnostics at 855-623-9355. Note that the Unique ID for enrolled participants is the Insurance ID for Employees; add an S at the end for spouses.
Register for Pension Consultations: Clergy may meet at the 2017 Annual Conference with Bob Christophel from Wespath (formerly the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits). He will review and interpret your pension projections with you. Bob will be at Annual Conference on Friday June 16 and Saturday, June 17. To schedule an appointment, contact Rev. Steve Zekoff, Conference Benefits Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-478-2554. Please request your appointment before May 24. Ask early for a time slot. The number of available consultations are limited and fill quickly each year. Clergy, laity and surviving spouses with pension fund balances at Wespath may also take advantage of the financial planning services available at no charge from EY Financial Planning Services. Click here for more information.
United Methodists are called to love our neighbors by welcoming all people, including refugees and immigrants, into our congregations and communities. Immigration policies recently developed and implemented in our nation are antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the gospel of radical hospitality. On Saturday, February 25, 2017, Director of Connectional Ministries Sam Royappa met with a number of ethnic clergy and laypersons to discuss immigration issues that are causing stress within our congregations and ethnic populations. The group decided to plan a Rally-Prayer Vigil on April 1st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Waukesha: First United Methodist Church, 121 Wisconsin Avenue, Waukesha, WI 53186. This event is sponsored by The Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee, the Hispanic/Latino Caucus, and the Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries, Board of Church and Society, and coordinated by The Director of Connectional Ministries. All are invited to actively participate. More details will be communicated soon. Read Resolutions #3281 and #3284, and Social Principles #162H and #163F to educate yourself on this subject. Let us renew our commitment to love and care for all people in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who has called us to be faithful witnesses of the gospel of love, justice and mercy.
More than 400 members of The United Methodist Church’s African-American membership caucus celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first meeting, even as many speakers addressed work that still needs to be done in fighting racism. John W. Coleman has the story. Read story.
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.
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