Wisconsin Ministers Council
ABC Wisconsin is grateful to be strong partners with the Wisconsin American Baptist Ministers Council. While the region staff seeks to support our ministers in various ways, the Ministers Council is an organization for the ministers, led by the ministers. Furthermore, the Wisconsin chapter is connected to chapters throughout our denomination. When ministers encourage one another toward collegiality, competence, and centeredness, the individual ministers are strengthened, as is the collective Body of Christ. The region office commends to all ministers to learn more about the Ministers Council and consider how you would be involved — and then act! Churches would do well to also support their professional ministerial staff by encouraging them to be connected to a life-giving and accountable circle of colleagues like the Ministers Council by allotting work time for them to attend such gatherings and for paying for their membership dues through an “Accountable Reimbursement Plan.”
Salzmann Library, St. Francis, WI
Through CENTRAL Wisconsin’s seminary site partnership with Salzmann Library, we strongly encourage seminarians, faculty members, and ABC ministers and church leaders to utilize the excellent resources available at Salzmann Library, located on the campus of St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis, WI. Not only can you benefit from the collections at Salzmann for theological studies, sermon preparation, christian education, and ministry resourcing, you can also benefit from the resources available throughout the SWITCH consortium of eight academic libraries throughout greater Milwaukee area.
To learn more about Salzmann Library, including becoming a patron, click HERE.
In 2017, the region's Executive Committee recommended a "ministry of conversation" priority to our current strategic endeavors. In essense, the committee articulated a priority to equip our region to engage in difficult conversations across human differences. This commitment was later affirmed by the Board at a subsequent meeting.
Given that our mission statement highlights the affirmation of our diversities, and the experiences of such diversities vary greatly among individuals and communities, we have a unique opportunity to live out the unifying power of Jesus Christ among us in very real ways among ourselves and within our respective communities and spaces of engagement.
The hope is that as we engage in difficult conversations across our human differences in respectful and constructive ways, we would:
- grow deeper in our own understanding and pursuit of our joint mission
- exemplify an alternate way of being together that is clearly different and attractive as compared to the models of divisiveness, dismissiveness, and violence that we too often see around us
- through our conversations find ways to act alongside one another to impact common concerns of our faith and discipleship
Following are ways we as a region are engaging in this ministry of conversation:
“Brave Conversations About Race” (July 2018 – Ministers Meetup Series)
“Living Room Conversation” on Immigration: The POST (Apr/May 2018)
Mission/Ministry conversations: Annual Gathering (Oct 2017)
…A time for American Baptist ministers to come together for mutual support, networking, mental and physical nourishment, and Holy Spirit stirring around topics that matter to our vocational health and missional purpose…
2018 SPRING/SUMMER SERIES
Below is a list of the events this year. Please let the region office know if you are interested in information from these gathering. Thank you to everyone for participating in the 2018 Spring/Summer Series. We look forward to gathering again next year.
Open House Fellowship for Women in Ministry
→ Friday, April 6, 2018 →11 AM-3 PM ⌂Home of Marie Onwubuariri – Brookfield, WI
→ Hosted by Marie Onwubuariri; Co-Sponsored by American Baptist Women in Ministry (ABWIM)
The women of the American Baptist National Leadership Council (NLC*) and the women ministers of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin are invited to a time of food and fellowship at the home of Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, ABC/WI Regional Executive Minister.
*The NLC meets annually at the Green Lake Conference Center and includes American Baptist executive leadership of our national boards, regions, and affiliated ministry partners. More can be learned at http://www.abc-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/abcByLaws03.08.2018.pdf (page 37-38.)
National Week of Conversation: helping to bridge the divides in our country
→ Wednesday, April 25, 2018 →12-1:30 PM ⌂ABC/WI Region Office
→ Facilitated by Marie Onwubuariri
National Week of Conversation is a unique opportunity for Americans of different views to talk with each other and, more importantly, really listen to each other. To learn more about this national initiative, visit https://www.revivecivility.org/national-week-conversation
Tending our Roots: In Faith and Work
→ Friday, May 18, 2018 →2-3:30 PM ⌂Camp Tamarack – E879 Golke Road, Waupaca, WI
→ Facilitated by Carolyn Dugan, Associate Regional Minister – Camping
This will be a time to reconnect with God’s creation as we explore how we stay rooted in our faith and discuss the challenges as ministers being pulled in many directions.
In nature there is a rhythm of growth, a time when roots are growing deeper or reaching out and a time of maintenance or even dormancy.
* What is your initial faith story and how does it affect your current story of “be”ing with God?
* How do you respond to the rhythm in your own faith journey?
* What are reasons our roots would need to grow deeper, outwards and sometimes be uprooted?
* What does this mean in our current ministry or faith context?
You are also invited to participate in tending the physical space of Camp during “Spring in to Camp” or tend to your own physical needs by being a part of creation: hiking, canoeing, “being”, before or
after the structured time.
Sabbath and Sabbaticals
→ Tuesday, May 29, 2018 →12 – 1:30 PM ⌂Location: Underwood Memorial Baptist Church (Stable House) = 1916 N Wauwatosa Ave, Milwaukee
→ Facilitated by John Jones, Associate Regional Minister – Education, with contributions from Rev. Karen Gygax-Rodriguez of Federated Church, Green Lake and Rev. Jason Mack, Minister of Community at First Baptist, Madison, and guest Rabbi Michal Woll of Congregation Shir Hadash
What is a “Sabbatical”? Join us for a practical discussion of the meaning and value of ‘Sabbatical,” grounded in a textual study of “Sabbath” facilitated by Rabbi Michal Woll of Congregation Shir Hadash.
Why does God command something as basic as rest? How might we understand both Sabbath and Sabbatical as forms of faithfulness? Is a Sabbatical just a vacation? How can a specific and structured time away in the form of Sabbatical be something that enlivens and sustains ministry? On a practical level, how does one go about requesting, organizing, financing, planning, and executing a Sabbatical?
We may not answer all of these questions, but we will do our best to ask them and many more in a wide ranging discussion of Sabbath and Sabbatical. Bring your concerns theological and practical.
A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP to email@example.com
Pastor, Minister, Shepherd: What does authority look like in the church?
→ Monday, July 23, 2018 →12 – 1:30 PM ⌂ Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, 3456 N. 38th St, Milwaukee, WI
→ Roundtable discussion facilitated by John Jones, Associate Regional Minister – Education
What’s in a title? Come together to examine your own and other different notions of what Pastoral Authority means in the church.
We’ll be using a reflection tool to think through our notions of what a “Pastor” is, has been, and should be. We’ll also be looking at different models of pastoral leadership based in different cultural and cross-cultural perspectives. Bring your reflections and contributions as well as an openness to those of others.
Diversity in ABC life is a gift – a challenging gift, but a gift nonetheless. Let’s learn together how God accomplishes ministry in our different ABC congregations.
Brave Conversations About Race
→ Sunday, July 29, 2018 →5-6:30 PM ⌂Location: 3117 Lathrop Ave, Racine, WI 53405
→ Facilitated by Marie Onwubuariri, Regional Executive Minister and guest, Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque
At the direct request from the participants of this table topic at the 2017 Annual Gathering, we will continue to explore obstacles to, helpful approaches for, and hopeful impact of brave conversations about race and its effects upon humanity and the church.
In this session, we will explore ways to incorporate deeper discussions about race in the context of our church ministry and personal relationships, particularly as it pertains to identity, meaning-making, and faith, and the impact upon fostering beloved community within and beyond the local church. Guest Pastor, Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque, will share from her cross-cultural experiences, especially as a Pastor who has been a “minority in her own ministry context,” and will highlight the role of modeling brave conversations in our congregations through sermons and Christian Education. Read more about our guest pastor here.
PURSUING FAITHFUL FUTURES: Small Church Training Event
A training for pastors and lay leaders of small churches on the journey of faithful community, purpose, and mission.
Guest Trainers: Heidi Unruh and William M. Kondrath
On March 9-11, 2018, representatives from four churches plus an additional five potential circuit ministers met at Camp Tamarack for an intense experiential and communal training focused on leading congregations through a “Pursuing Faithful Futures” process.
This training was designed to address topics that are often “underneath the waterline” of church interactions–operating underneath the surface and revealing what is at the root of many challenges that congregations struggle with when discerning, articulating, and living out their mission and God-ordained purpose. It was also designed to equip church leaders — pastors,, layleaders, and circuit ministers alike — with tools and skills to help surface these unconscious or subconscious factors and to address them–and one another–with truth and respect.
- Guidelines for dialogue/interaction;
- adaptive vs. technical approaches and changes;
- unpacking mental models of church and church leadership;
- identifying, decoding, and responding appropriately to the breadth of emotions expressed in a congregation;
- God in the midst of church story and leadership story – past and future;
- change theory and dynamics and the role of the transformational leader(s)
- implementation and experimentation
This training event kicked off what will be a 12-24 month project [“The Circuit Project”] during which the participants will be encouraged and equipped to take the material learned and build upon the relationships, knowledge base, and ministry tools. Churches that attended will receive support by the circuit ministers, as needed, as they take and apply the learning back to others in the congregation. Circuit ministers will, in addition, work with a small select group of additional churches who are in the midst of a pastoral transition and will incorporate the “Pursuing Faithful Futures” approach during their interim ministry period. Churches not formally part of this project can benefit from some of the resources shared by visiting the websites of Trainer Kondrath and Unruh, noted in their biographies below.
More updates will be shared as this project develops.
This project is made possible by a Palmer Grant received from the Virginia and Gordon Palmer Jr. Trust of the American Baptist Foundation Trust Grant, under the theme “Alternative Models for Developing Leadership in Mission and Ministry.”
Rev. Bill Kondrath, M.Ed., D.Min.
After working for nearly two decades as a congregational pastor in three different settings, Bill taught graduate courses on leading change, collaborative leadership, multiculturalism, and affective competence, and coordinated the internship program for Episcopal Divinity School. For two years he served as editor of the Journal of Religious Leadership. Bill has been a consultant for Visions, Inc., a multicultural consulting and training collective for 18 years. Skilled in institutional analysis and change as well as executive coaching, Bill has written extensively on leadership, creativity, and change; understanding and celebrating differences; and the role of feelings in leadership and community building. He is author of God’s Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences (Alban, 2008) and Facing Feelings in Faith Communities (Alban, 2013), as well as a chapter in Trouble the Water (Nurturing Faith, 2017), edited by Marie Clare P. Onwubuariri, Michael-Ray Matthews, and Cody J. Sanders. Several of his articles are available for free download at www.billkondrath.com.
In September 2017, I had the humbling privilege to participate in my first New Baptist Covenant Summit and to preach at the Tuesday morning worship gathering (9/19).
“The New Baptist Covenant creates vibrant, inclusive Baptist communities, building bridges in places previously marked by division. We are called by God to champion the weak and oppressed, honor the diverse workings of the Holy Spirit and to share the love of Christ.” Read more…
The Summit Event theme was “A.R.T. Action. Reconciliation. Transformation.” Baptists from around the country gathered to learn about relevant concerns that are affecting communities and how churches can bridge divides to make an impact regarding these concerns, and by doing so ushering in the Reign of God.
While American Baptists have been part of the NBC movement since its beginnings in 2007, I am eager to share more about the model this movement offers here in Wisconsin, particularly to facilitate partnerships between interested churches who are positioned and ready to activate and display the unifying and transformative power of Christ.
Videos of the sermons and keynote presenters from this year’s summit is available on their website HERE. I hope you will also spend some time getting familiar with NBC and discern if this effort connects with you.
Submitted by Marie Onwubuariri
In the March 2017 issue of the Wisconsin Baptist, I wrote a brief article focused on the
Lent season and referenced “Soul Friends.” Yes, Lent is far behind us, but the importance of
having soul friends still ring true and clear in the height of this summer. Author Debra K.
Farrington defines soul friends as those who “listen more deeply for God’s call to us, who are
comfortable waiting for God’s wisdom to be revealed rather than jumping in with their own
opinion…[people] who see with the eyes and ears of the heart, with compassion, concern, and clarity.
They are the ones who, when we think our only choices are to go forward or backward on the wheel,
can help us discover that perhaps God is calling us to step off the wheel and go in a whole new
direction.” (Hearing With The Heart ©2003 pg. 121-2).
Recently I had the privilege of walking with a soul friend during an important
discernment season. This privilege reminded me that as ministers we go through periods of
big-decision- making, risk-taking, questioning, dreaming, struggling, and many other delicate
moments that just cannot be shared with a wide group of people. Experiences we face are
often uniquely complicated by our ministry call, role, and responsibilities, and thus we find that
perhaps only others who have sensitivities to these unique considerations can truly empathize
and provide a clear listening ear and/or wise counsel.
Yet I have also been recently reminded through several encounters that ministers also
suffer silently, without a soul friend to share their burden. You need not look far to find an
article, study, or even personal testimony about pastoral/ministerial isolation, depression, and
Only you can discern and nurture soul-friend relationships, but your regional ministry
staff and Ministers Council Wisconsin chapter are also here to facilitate connectedness and
fellowship. Let us know how we can be of support.