News

Introducing: New Wineskins -Grant Program

“NO ONE PUTS NEW WINE INTO OLD WINESKINS; OTHERWISE, THE WINE WILL BURST THE SKINS, AND THE WINE IS LOST, AND SO ARE THE SKINS; BUT ONE PUTS NEW WINE INTO FRESH WINESKINS.” MARK 2:22

 

The New Wineskins Grant Program seeks to nurture the birthing of new ministry initiatives within ABC/WI by planting seeds thru training, coaching, and financial support.

 

Description: 

The pursuit of our Christ-centered mission calls for new paradigms, new sets of expectations, and new “containers.”

No one knows what new thing or new change will result in exactly the kingdom-results we hope for in all contexts, but through this program we hope to create a culture that is intentional, nimble, and dynamic. Ready for the unknown future, we seek to foster ideas that heed the Holy Spirit’s movement in places where Christian community is ready to be birthed.

Guidelines:

  • New means new. This initiative is about supporting new ministries (new faith communities or missional efforts).
  • “With and among” not “to and for.” We are most excited about ministry that happens with and among people rather than to and for them.
  • New relationships. We encourage ideas that seek to reach and minister among populations currently not connected with, or who are underserved within, ABC/WI.

Stay tuned for a Day of Innovation coming early in 2019.

Click here for the official flier on the program.

Want to learn more about how you can help support or be supported by the New Wineskins initiative?

Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, Marie.o@abcofwi.org

Rev. Jason Mack, Jason@firstbaptistmadison.org

Rev. Carolyn Dugan, Carolyn.Dugan@abcofwi.org

ABC/WI Milwaukee Bucks Fellowship Event

The 4th Annual ABC/WI Fellowship event is happening on
Friday, January 4, 2019.

Friends and family of ABC/Wisconsin are invited to come out and enjoy Wisconsin’s NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks, play the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 PM at the new Fiserv Forum.

There are a limited number of tickets available on a first come first serve basis.  Tickets for the event are $25 and are in section 224, rows 8-9.

Get all the information and download the order form HERE

Tamarack Tales: The Water Tells A Story

Camp Tamarack hosted its first-ever Tamarack Tales nature camp in July of 2018. With three lakes and a little over 180 acres, there is a lot of nature to be had at Camp Tamarack.

With our mission of providing a safe environment for all individuals to experience Christ; to test and strengthen their faith commitment; and to sharing in community this was a great opportunity to be a part of the natural environment in the larger community.

Most campers know about Orlando Lake, which is where our swimming beach is. Some know that Orlando is connected to Knight Lake, which is what the Vespers area overlooks. A few know about Youngs Lake, which has its own Tamarack water access and a dock just down the trail across from the Basile Retreat Center.

During Tamarack Tales, campers had the opportunity to do citizen science by examining the water quality of Orlando and Youngs lakes using Digital Observation Technology Skills kits borrowed from the UW-Extension at Upham Woods. Campers used the eight instruments in the kits to record salinity, dissolved solids, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, turbidity, take pictures and other readings to get a baseline picture of Camp Tamarack’s lake water quality. All of the data was shared with the Environmental Protection Agency and the WI Department of Natural Resources. We were doing real science!

Among the more interesting discoveries of the camp was the realization that the lake is teeming with macro-invertebrates – bugs of all shapes and sizes that actually are among the indicators of lake water quality. Some bugs simply will not tolerate pollution, so the fact that we found some of those picky buggers tells us that our lakes are not suffering from pollution. We have algae, so we have more phosphorus than we should have, but overall our lake water quality is very good.

We saw things under the microscope that blew us away. The shell that is pictured on this page was so small, we almost didn’t even notice it was a shell – we thought it was a speck of sand! The little dot in the upper left is what we saw with just our phone camera. But when we put it under the microscope, we saw it was a really pretty shell with stuff growing on it! Who knew?!

                                  

In addition to water quality, we were led on a nature walk by Dr. Shannon Davis-Foust of UW-Oshkosh, who told us about prairie pollinators (bees) and plants. WI Master Naturalists Bob and Christine Faulks led us on a tour of the restored prairie next door to Camp and of Tails & Trails, a nearby leash-free dog park in which they have restored a wetland and prairie. Jeff Huelsbeck, another WI Master Naturalist, helped with the DOTS surveys and talked to the campers about what you should bring with you to be safe in the woods.

If you have questions about what was shared or want to attend next year please contact Carolyn at carolyn.dugan@abcofwi.org or Kim and kim.drost@abcofwi.org.

Camp Embarks on New Partnership

Collaboration and Rootedness: Camp Tamarack and Rawhide Partnership

This spring, Camp Tamarack and Rawhide have begun a new partnership with the re-roofing of the Basile Retreat Center.

This particular partnership started back in 1988 when Carolyn Scott (now Dugan) and Jeff Steffen attended Sr. High camp together and became lifelong friends. Fast forward 30 years when Carolyn becomes the Associate Regional Minister: Camping and Jeff is now a Case Manager working at Rawhide. They both saw the opportunity to help one another.

Rawhide works with troubled boys between the ages of 13-17 as well as their families in a faith-based environment. One of the goals of the community service program implemented throughout the state is for the youth to learn real world skills, such as roofing, in order to help them transition into the work force when the time comes. At Camp, we have had several different youth come along with their foremen to learn the process of taking off a roof and all the steps to put on tar paper, flashing, and shingles. Kim Drost has been overseeing the on-site work and said that it has been fun to watch the boys grow in confidence– even learning to get up on the roof from the ladder, plus using the tools and techniques involved with the project.

If the project of the Basile roof progresses well, there could be more in the future for this collaboration as there is always work to do at Camp.

This type of partnership and collaboration has been rooted in previous generations of camp leaders looking to live in to the value of this space being a safe place for people to grow in their life and faith. In the 1960’s there was a program called Juvenile Camp where youth came to camp for 2 weeks at a time. Carmen Porco, the Executive Director/CEO of Housing Ministries of American Baptists in WI wrote “This set the pathway for continued ministering to youth that have encountered trauma and as a result find themselves in trouble, alone and dependent on the street as their educational institution. The camp experience provides a relief from the streets and entrance into a structured programmatic development.Their is great merit in Nature being the place to solidify ones soul development with a structured program.”

If you, or your organization, is interested in partnering with or supporting Rawhide, please take a look at their website: http://www.rawhide.org/about-rawhide/  You can also let Carolyn know your interest and she can get you contact information.

ACT: Unite to End Racism

From April 3-6, 2018 people of faith from across the state joined together on a bus trip to Washington D.C. to participate in ACT Now! Unite to End Racism, which included worship, silent prayer walk, a rally at the National Mall, and an advocacy day. The three buses departing from different Wisconsin cities were organized by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and included several from ABC Wisconsin including Regional Executive Minister, Marie Onwubuariri, her daughter, Rev. Sudie Jones, and Rev. Jason Mack with a group from First Baptist Madison. Participants from across the US gathered to launch a movement to:

  • AWAKEN ourselves to the truth that racism is ever-present, deeply rooted in American culture, and profoundly damaging to our communities.

  • CONFRONT racism, speak truth to ourselves, our communities and institutions, and stand against injustice.

  • TRANSFORM the hearts, minds, and behaviors of people and structures that shape society.

(From http://www.rally2endracism.org/)

This movement was initiated by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and is joined and endorsed by many other ministry partners, including the American Baptist Churches USA, a member communion of the the NCC.

Rev. Marie attended the Rally on April 4th, in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Baptist forefather, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in part because of her own commitment to working toward racial justice in the region and in other areas of engagement of her life. In reflection upon the event, Rev. Marie shared,

“When I was called to serve this region, part of the charge was to envision how we can better serve and engage all member churches of the region, even across our diverse cultural realities, and especially those who historically have been less engaged for a  variety of reasons. We will not even begin to experience the gifts and power of our racially and ethnically diverse organization unless we explicitly explore and address how racism — in all its forms — has impacted and shaped our existence. Where those in our region have taken strong stances to fight against the tides of racism, we must re-visit, re-learn, and continue in that legacy. Where those of our region have been complicit or even participatory in the sin of racism, we must awaken, confront, and transform. I have said often, ABC/WI is positioned to witness to the unifying power of Jesus Christ because of who we are collectively. Working toward eradicating the impact of racism among us is a necessary imperative in our gospel work, and we will continue to keep this before us in various settings and through a variety of efforts.”

Further reflections from Rev. Marie and her daughter can be found HERE.

Delegation from First Baptist Church of Madison: You can read more details about the events across the three days and the reflections from Pastor Jason Mack and church members in attendance by visiting their website HERE.

Wisconsin Council of Churches recap can be found HERE.

American Baptist press release can be found HERE.

To learn more about the Act to End Racism Movement and view speeches from the April 4 Rally Day, visit their website HERE.

To read a previous pastoral letter from ABC/WI Regional Executive Minister, which includes a call to action regarding dismantling racism, click HERE.

First Baptist Janesville sent team to assist with Puerto Rico Rebuild.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, six volunteers from First Baptist Church, Janesville arrived in Puerto Rico to help with the Hurricane Maria relief efforts.  Volunteers flew into San Juan,  then traveled 30 miles South to the town of Cidra.  After seeing much destruction and devastation along the way, the 6 church members concentrated their rebuilding efforts in Cidra by repairing a church sanctuary roof that had been badly damaged by the hurricane.

The volunteers divided their duties between cleaning the debris from the church, restoring the front of the building, and repairing the damaged roof.  While clearing away broken pieces of floor, ceiling, and walls from inside the church, volunteers needed to wear hazmat suits to protect themselves from harmful mold that had set in from the wind and water damage.  Although they only had approximately a week to complete the job, they managed to repair the roof in time for the Sunday morning service.   Attending the service themselves, they could feel the gratitude from the church members, many who had not been able to use the sanctuary for 5 months.

A future trip is in the works.  Even though the volunteers think of themselves as a small group, together, many small groups can create big change. This mission trip opportunity was made available to them through their partnership with ABMen (American Baptist Men USA).

As a region we continue to raise matching funds for Puerto Rico relief – you can read a prior article about this on the website: First Baptist Church of Eau Claire takes lead in pledging support for long-term “Rebuilding, Restoring, and Renewing Puerto Rico”

 

View the photo and video gallery: 2018 Puerto Rico Mission Team

You can read about the journey here: Janesville WKOW and Janesville GazetteXtra

Job Posting: Office Administrator, ABC/WI

ABC Wisconsin is developing a team that is called and committed to our collective mission and vision, who additionally affirm and strive for the values of integrity, diligence, accountability, and humility before God, and who are fulfilled with joy from the service to our constituency.

We are excited to announce a job posting for a part-time Office Administrator, who will join our diverse and developing regional staff team as our hospitality specialist and central administrative support, implementing the vision and strategic plan for the region office by fostering a collaborative and relational environment among all users and visitors.

Click HERE for the job posting. Position open until filled.

First Baptist Church of Eau Claire Celebrates Its Final Worship Service

The First Baptist Church of Eau Claire gathered for the last time as a formal church on Sunday, March 11, 2018.  The celebratory closing of the church started with a “singspiration” worship service in the morning and culminated with a combined 157th birthday/goodbye dinner in the evening.

Like many churches across the USA, Eau Claire, First reached a point in their ministry and congregational life when many questions were raised and discussions had about what God was calling them to, even in the midst of declining and aging church membership and steady, if not increasing, maintenance expenses. For the past several years the church was on a discernment journey seeking to be faithful. As to be expected, the journey was not easy, and at times hopeful, and other times quite painful. This discernment journey led them to a decision to sell their historic downtown church to a newer church plant in 2017, Renew Church. Some members expressed that while this was a difficult decision, what was most important to them was a continuing Christian witness in the community.

Over the past year, they continued to meet for worship in the building and began to incorporate members of the Renew Church into their community ministries. At the celebration dinner, Renew Church Pastor shared gratefulness for the ways that First Baptist members took the younger church under their wing and gracefully released the ministries into their care.

ABC/WI Regional Executive Minister Marie Onwubuariri reflected upon the celebration dinner:
“It was a very special experience to be with this congregation on this culminating event. I had the privilege to see this congregation go through the difficult process of discernment, and I truly commend them for their diligence, care, and faithfulness. The memories shared at the dinner were not unlike many of the memories I have from my own upbringing in my home church, so it was easy for me to resonate with the myriad of emotions that night. It truly was an evening of joy and pain, hope and peace, gratefulness for and trusting in God.”

As part of their decision to finally close their doors as an official church, the congregation blessed several ministries and mission efforts from the building sale and their foundation funds. ABC Wisconsin was one of the recipients, and their gifts were used to establish the “New Wineskins Endowment Fund” with the American Baptist Foundation, which will be used to help with new ministries in the region. Information on how to add support to this fund and how to request support from this fund will be shared in the coming months as it becomes available.

Onwubuariri adds, “All ministries and faith communities began because of God’s provision, often manifested in the generosity of individuals and organizations. While this congregation has decided to close as an institution, their missional impact will continue as the seeds they have planted will bear fruit through new models of faith communities and different forms of ministry. Their approach and decisions around blessing others with their resources–without restriction–speaks to their desire to simply bless and trust in what God is doing and will do in the future through others. We are grateful for their many years of faithfulness as a covenanting church of ABC Wisconsin and ABCUSA.”

May God continue to guide Pastor Loyed Arnold and his family, and all the members of First Eau Claire in the next phase of their journey of faith, as individuals, and as a community of believers who will forever be united — to one another and with their larger ABC family.

You can read about the events in local news coverage at the Leader-Telegram and see a video at WEAU 13 News.

 

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 www.billkondrath.com.

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 www.urbanministry.org. 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.