Ministerial Resourcing

For clergy, seminarians, and lay leaders.

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.”

To contact the leaders of the WI Ministers Council, Click HERE.
To read more about the national organization, Click HERE.

Trainings for Clergy & Lay Leaders

Scholarships from the Blumer Fund can be used for these courses and more. More information on the Blumer fund can be found further down the page.

Lombard Mennonite Peace Center

Lombard Mennonite Peace Center has a variety of webinars and single-day Zoom classes on conflict transformation, pastor-church relations, leadership skills, and more.

More information can be found here.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies Center for Continuous Learning

ABHMS with MinistrElife hosts a variety of courses on Hybrid Church, Financial Literacy, and Strategic Planning, and more.

More information can be found here.

Central Seminary ReShaping Church series from Thriving Congregations

ReShaping Church is a guided process for capturing and integrating the innovation and adaptation resulting from disruptive life experiences, transforming churches into greater expressions of the body of Christ.

More information can be found here. Registration for the next series begins June 2022.

Clergy and Seminarian Grants/Scholarships

2022 Clergy and Seminarian Grants/Scholarship – Information Page – Click HERE

2022 Clergy and Seminarian Grants/Scholarship – Application – Click HERE


Other Sources:

Louisville Institute Research/Study Grants
Four grant programs support religious and theological scholarship among three strategic constituencies: pastors, academics, and researchers for the broader church.

Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program:
“…open to Christian congregations whose pastors are serious about parish ministry and who can envision this program as a means of renewing the pastor’s commitment to the congregation and to ordained ministry. The program is designed for those congregations and pastors who have a strong relationship with one another, a high degree of mutual trust and support, and are eager to see their relationship strengthened, renewed and continued.”


ABHMS Grants for Ministerial Leaders

ABHMS offers additional grants for individuals serving in American Baptist Churches. Clergy, lay leaders, and individuals are encouraged to apply for our grants to enhance their skills for ministry through related conferences and events. More information can be found here. These grants can be used for any of the above continuing education opportunities.

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.


Church Stories – gathered for the 175th Annual Gathering in 2019


In celebration of our 175th year as the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, churches and key partners were asked to “tell of God’s work in your midst from 1995 to present, and even articulating your vision for 2020 and beyond, thus the title of the project ‘9520.’”

Here are their stories, presented in poster format, in alphabetical order:


Beloit – First Baptist

Delavan – First Baptist

Community – Honey Creek

Madison – First Baptist

Racine – First Baptist

West Allis – First Baptist

Waukesha – First Baptist

Wyocena – Wyocena Community Church


And here are the stories of various mission partners who also contributed:




Green Lake Conference Center

Milwaukee Christian Center

Project Focal Point

University Christian Ministries (@ UWM)

Wisconsin Council of Churches



Preparing for Retirement….Planning is Essential

by Rev. Dr. Arlo R. Reichter, Former ABC/WI Executive Minister

Several years before my retirement in 2014 my wife and I took advantage of two important resources available to American Baptist clergy. The Midwest Ministry Development services (MMD) and the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB). The professional attention by these two ministry agencies helped us prepare meaningfully for retirement.

The MMD staff aided us in facing the reality of how our lives would change in retirement, it explored our hopes and desires for retirement. This provided us with an opportunity to intentionally consider how our relationship would change, where we wanted to retire and what our priorities would be during those years. While we had discussed “retirement” in general the MMD staff led us in a comprehensive consideration of the new phase of life we would be entering.

The MMBB provided a Certified Financial Planner from their staff to analyze financial resources and needs in our retirement years. Prior to our consultation we were asked to provide information about our financial resources and our estimates of anticipated expenses in retirement. Working with this information the planner generated a multi-page analysis of our finances which included projections well into our retirement years. The planner reviewed the analysis with us and asked probing questions with sensitivity that enabled us to clarify our situation financially. As we came to the threshold of retirement we provided updated financial information and the planner provided us with an updated financial analysis.

No matter what a person’s financial situation may be, I highly recommend this process. While I had a reasonable understanding of our financial situation, these comprehensive analyses revealed factors which were new to me and allowed us to enter retirement more confident of the resources we had.

I encourage anyone within ten years of when they plan to retire to participate in these experiences. You will not regret taking the time to plan for your retirement years.

To learn more about upcoming opportunities:


or to learn more about specific ABC/WI partnership with these organizations, contact John Jones or Marie Onwubuariri.

Taking Inventory: Preparing for the Next Phase in Ministry

Clergy Well-being & Self-Care


You are invited to a Zoom gathering, co-hosted by ABC of Wisconsin and CENTRAL Wisconsin.

THURSDAY, May 21, 2020 @ 12:00 PM Central Time

As our society cautiously enters a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, this Zoom meeting will be an opportunity for those providing Pastoral leadership and care in this unprecedented situation to:

  • pause
  • take inventory of their own spiritual, emotional, and intellectual well-being
  • and gain tools to help them process through their own experiences before fulling immersing into a new set of decisions and ministry shifts

     Dr. Kristina Ricketts Gutiérrez of Midwest Ministry Development will have a presentation on clergy mental health and self-care during a crisis, to be followed by the opportunity for small group discussion and reflection. Mental health advocate, Rev. Walter Lanier, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Milwaukee, will also be participating in the conversation and sharing his observations. We will also share some resources for ongoing clergy care.


Prior to the gathering, click HERE to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Dr. Kristina Ricketts Gutiérrez brings a rich array of ministry, counseling, and teaching experiences to her teaching and ministry. She has ministered in churches, led ministry organizations, taught in seminaries and other professional settings in the mainland U.S., Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Chile, and Nicaragua, and served as a counselor to individuals and families. Since 2007, she has been a pastoral counselor at the Columbus office of Midwest Ministry Development Service and has counseled and taught hundreds of pastors and others in ministry since that time. Her professional memberships and certifications include ordination by the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., endorsement as a pastoral counselor and chaplain by the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., professional affiliate with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and membership in the Chaplains’ Association of Ohio.

Much of the material for this presentation is derived from the work that went into Health, Holiness & Wholeness for Ministry Leaders, a volume co-authored with John R. Matthews and (CENTRAL Wisconsin faculty) Dr. Ross Peterson. The book was published by Judson Press on May 15, 2020.
Walter J. Lanier is the Director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). He is also pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Milwaukee. Progressive is very active in the Milwaukee community and is particularly recognized for its work in the areas of mental health, anti-violence, and HIV/AIDS prevention.  In 2012, he formed “MIRACLE” (Mental Illness – Raising Awareness with Church and Community Leaders Everywhere) which is a collaboration of faith-based leaders, community leaders and people with lived experience.

Progressive Baptist Church, along with MIRACLE, Inc. is a 2019 New Wineskins grant recipient for BLESSS–(Building Love Equipping shepherds around shame, stigma, suicide, and self-care). BLESSS aims to meet the challenges of clergy mental health and suicide by dispatching a faith-based, pastor-centric curriculum and developing a community of practice during the process.


Strengthening the Existing Network for Ministerial Support and Resourcing

Tuesday, November 6th 2018
12:00-1:30 PM

ABC-WI Regional Office
15330 Watertown Plank Rd., Elm Grove

(Video-conference and phone options available for those who cannot join in person. Please see below for information on how to join via video conference.)

This collegial luncheon will focus on naming and exploring sources and supporters that assist in fostering healthy and effective ministers – both those within and beyond the ABC-WI constituency.

Some of the questions & issues we will be examining are:

  • In what areas do ministers in our region feel they need support?
  • What sources/supports are currently meeting these needs?
  • What needs are currently not being met, and what resources are available to meet those needs?

Our goal will be to clarify network strategies moving forward as we seek to resource and support ABC/WI ministers.

RSVP to by Monday, Nov. 5 at 10:00 AM to help with lunch count. Please mention any food restrictions.

To join via video conference:

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or join via telephone: Dial 1 646 876 9923 Meeting ID: 899 885 984
(To see a quick user guide for Zoom, click HERE)  (but use the link above, not the link on this guide)

To prepare for our conversations, consider these “Network Principles” that will guide us as collaboratively work to strengthen our common network around for the mission of “fostering healthy and effective ministers.

Four Network Principles
(provided by American Baptist Home Mission Societies)

1. Mission, not organization: Advancing the mission takes priority over advancing the organization. Leaders adopt strategies and tactics to achieve the mission, not solely to stimulate organizational growth.
2. Trust, not control. Trust and shared values are far more important than formal control mechanisms such as contracts or accountability systems.
3. Humility, not brand. Organizations work alongside their peers as equals and willingly take a backseat when their partners are in a better position to lead.
4. Node, not hub. Those who embrace the network mindset see their organizations as one part of a larger web of activity directed toward a cause, not as the hub of the action.


ABC/WI – Ministry of Conversation

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)

“National Week of Conversation” Minister Meet-Up (Apr 2018)
Click HERE to read about the American Baptist Churches USA partnership with NWOC and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

Mission/Ministry conversations: Annual Gathering (Oct 2017)

Staff Articles

“In this Together” | More Than Lip Service” (Marie Onwubuariri, Apr 2020)


Mutual Invitation – a conversation tool to foster equal opportunity for each person to participate in conversations.

Respecful Communication Guidelines – “ground rules” for meetings and conversations.


Conflict As A Catalyst for Growth – (Apr 2018)

Resetting the Table – (Aug 2017)


Minister Meet-Ups : Spring/Summer Series 2018

…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…


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 (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

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 dawn.armstrong@abcofwi.orgat least five days prior with any food restrictions.

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.

The Circuit Project: Small Churches & Circuit Ministers

Updated 3.25.18

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.

Topics included:

  • 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.”


Guest Trainers:

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

Heidi Unruh

Heidi Unruh supports churches in living out their calling to love their neighbors. As director of the Congregations, Community Outreach and Leadership Development Project, her mission is to help leaders in the Body of Christ put big ideas into practice, so that ministry can thrive. She offers missional training, consulting and coaching, and has helped develop a variety of practical resources for churches, many available on Books she has coauthored include Churches That Make a Difference; Hope for Children in Poverty; and The Salt & Light Guidebook. She has team-taught courses on community ministry at Central Baptist Seminary and Palmer Seminary. In her home community of Hutchinson, KS, she and her husband work with Circles of Hope, supporting families on a path out of poverty. Heidi is an alumna of Wheaton College and has a degree in Theology and Public Policy from Palmer Seminary.


New Baptist Covenant…A.R.T.

Videos now available

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.



Soul Friends

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.