THE WISCONSIN CONFERENCE
Fellowship of Licensed Local Pastors and Associate Members
Order of Deacons
Order of Elders

Dear Wisconsin clergy colleagues,

As prayers come in from around the world for our church, we write you today so you may know we are holding you in prayer, as well.

While the Special General Conference convenes this weekend in St. Louis, we pray to be mindful that all of us share a deep spiritual hunger to live out our vocation for the sake of the life and mission of the church.

We call to mind our pledge of mutual encouragement for one another as colleagues. We exist as a Fellowship and Orders to offer support among peers in stressful times such as these.

As Paul wrote to the Romans, may we have faith that the Spirit will help us in our weakness. Even when we do not know what to pray for, the Spirit will intercede for us.  Let us search our hearts to know the mind of the Spirit.

Through it all, may we deepen our relationship with God.

Grace and peace,

Susan Haller
Chair, Order of Deacons

Steve Scott
Chair, Order of Elders

Mike Weaver
Chair, Fellowship of Licensed Local Pastors and Associate Members

Childcare will be available March 26-28 for clergy attending Bishop’s Clergy Days Apart. There is no cost for childcare, however parents are responsible for providing any items their child may need, such as snacks, diapers, toys/activities and any other essential items. To sign up for childcare, contact Angela Ullrich at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 11, 2019 at 4 p.m. Include in your email: the number of children, their names, ages, and if they will be attending all three days. Please note that signing up for childcare is separate from the registration process. If you have not registered yet, visit https://www.etouches.com/bishopsdayapart2019.

The Wisconsin Conference is pleased to announce that Ben Brancel has accepted the position of Associate Conference Lay Leader. We welcome Ben to the Conference Board of Laity and to ministry in the Wisconsin Annual Conference! Ben has experience as a Wisconsin politician and former legislator who served as the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture until his retirement in 2017. He also managed a dairy operation for 22 years, and now runs a 290-acre beef farm with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. Ben has been actively involved at Briggsville UMC and with the Conference. Read Ben Brancel's full biography.

All in the Wisconsin Annual Conference are invited to the Bishop’s Leadership Convocation of the Laity April 5 – 6, 2019 at Steven’s Point: St. Paul’s UMC in Stevens Point. There is no charge for attending but you must register in advance. The meals are sponsored by the Wisconsin Annual Conference’s budget for the Board of Laity.

For over 30 years the Foundation has been offering grants to help creative projects and ministries get off the ground. If you have a creative and innovative program, ministry, project or activity which is new to your group, you may qualify for a grant from the Foundation! Please read what MAY be and will NOT be funded detailed in our Grant Guidelines. Grants awarded are to be considered seed money rather than continuing support and typically phase out after three years.

Communication is a varied and vital part of any General Conference, and that’s emphatically true for the special called session of General Conference set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. Everything from print to podcasts will be used to share the story. United Methodist Communications is at the center of it all, including helping put on the legislative event. Sam Hodges from UM News reports. Read story.

United Methodist bishops are preparing to preside over the special General Conference set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. In a letter released Feb. 12, Council of Bishops President Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr. noted that the bishops will be bound by a covenant of presiding. The letter was written in collaboration with the Commission on the General Conference. Read press release. Read letter. Read covenant.

Too often, the accomplishments of African Americans have not received adequate notice in U.S. history books and classrooms. That is why historian Carter Woodson first proposed a week-long focus on black history in 1926. The first U.S. celebration of Black History Month happened decades later. UMCOM has created this quiz to help you learn more about African American History in the U.S. and in The United Methodist Church. Take quiz.

The United Methodist Church is a big tent theologically, and people with conservative or traditional religious beliefs make up the largest group under that spreading canvas. Those are two key findings from a new United Methodist Communications survey of United Methodists in the U.S. Sam Hodges from UM News reports. Read story.

The United Methodist Church budget for new programs that address unanticipated needs will be increased to $8.9 million while the overall budget for the 2021-2024 quadrennial is being cut by 23 percent. The World Service Contingency Fund was used in the past for ministries including the Immigration Task Force and the Do No Harm initiative to promote the prevention and response to sexual misconduct. Read press release. Read UMNS story on budget. 2021-2024 Quadrennial Report released.

The Wisconsin Conference is pleased to announce that Ben Brancel has accepted the position of Associate Conference Lay Leader.  We welcome Ben to the Conference Board of Laity and to ministry in the Wisconsin Annual Conference! 

Ben has experience as a Wisconsin politician and former legislator who served as the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture until his retirement in 2017. He also managed a dairy operation for 22 years, and now runs a 290-acre beef farm with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law. Ben has been actively involved at Briggsville UMC and with the Conference. Read Ben Brancel's full biography.

“Ben is a spiritually centered disciple of Christ, a member of a faithful multi-generational family who are life-long active members of Briggsville UMC.  Ben loves God and loves God’s people,” says Deanna Shimko, Conference Lay Leader and Chair of the Conference Board of Laity. “Ben’s professional experience in the Wisconsin Legislature and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture; service on the Board of Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation and Wisconsin Conference Episcopacy Committee; long-time operation of large family farm with livestock; leadership in the professional agri-business community; and active membership and leadership at Briggsville UMC have given Ben the opportunity to develop deep and wide skills that equip him well to serve a diverse lay constituency and function successfully within the Wisconsin Annual Conference UMC organizational structure.”

Please extend a warm welcome to Ben. Together we dream and Imagine Wisconsin Anew!  Together we open ourselves to God’s leading and join to boldly advance God’s plan to reconcile all life to Him.

There are several Basic and Advanced Lay Servant Ministry courses scheduled throughout the state. All laity are invited to participate in these courses. The full list of upcoming classes can now be found on the Lay Ministry Training & Events page. If you would like to learn more about the lay servant program and the three certifications for laity in The United Methodist Church, you can download the Discipleship Ministries Lay Servant Ministries Catalog.

Bishop Jung would like to remind clergy of the special Bishop’s Clergy Days Apart this March, sponsored by our United Methodist Foundation. All clergy are expected to attend this vitally important training event from Monday, March 25 – Thursday, March 28, 2019. This Conference-wide learning time is being planned in partnership with the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation. It will provide valuable, practical training in all areas of financial stewardship, including training for both your personal finances and for your church. There will also be an opportunity for clergy and Bishop Jung to discuss the results of the Special Session of the General Conference and the Launch Out! fundraising campaign.

All in the Wisconsin Annual Conference are invited to the Bishop’s Leadership Convocation of the Laity April 5 – 6, 2019 at Steven’s Point: St. Paul’s UMC in Stevens Point. There is no charge for attending but you must register in advance. The meals are sponsored by the Wisconsin Annual Conference’s budget for the Board of Laity.

The Episcopal Office and Program and Arrangements Committee have an important announcement regarding the venue for the Wisconsin Annual Conference 2019. The following letter is from Rev. Claudia Deede, P&A Chair; Rev. Sam Royappa, Director of Connectional Ministries; and  Bishop Hee-Soo Jung.