COVID-19 | Faith Leaders | Response and Responsibility

The emergence and spread of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as designated by the World Health Organization, has faith leaders considering appropriate response and responsibility. This developing situation reminds us of the interconnectedness of the world in which we live. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all connected as part of God’s good creation. People of faith respond to such developing situations with compassion and care first, rather than fear and panic, because of the courage that faith inspires.


As with any developing situation, some media reports can be more harmful than helpful, inspiring fear and anxiety, even outright panic. As people of faith, we are called to remember two important tasks in such situations:

1. We are called to respond first as Christians, as the church, the body of Christ. The first response is compassion and concern, undergirded by prayer and service. Our first impulse is courage, compassion, and faithfulness. Those principles, rather than fear and panic, guide our decisions and actions moving forward. Bias and racial profiling often accompany public crises, as they have in this case. Resist and renounce these temptations in your response to this crisis.

2. Because of our first response, we are also called to inform ourselves about the reality of the developing situation and about known best practices for dealing with the situation in a coherent and faithful way. We must draw on reliable resources for guidance in both preparing for and dealing with this developing situation.

We hope this information can support our faith communities as you discern faithfulness and wise actions in the weeks ahead; we will try out best to update this page as frequently as we deem helpful.




Other Congregational Resources:

CARES Act information for churches:

Other Helpful General Guidelines:

  • A Multi-Faith Clergy group on Facebook produced this document, giving suggestions and guidance for worship, technology, giving, and pastoral care.
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) provides a comprehensive guide for congregations
  • CDC checklist for faith-based communities to prepare for a pandemic
  • Also check your county website for information that impacts outreach activities

Empty Church Building Considerations:

Regarding Employers/Employees:


1. "Eager for Easter?" - Wisconsin Baptist Lead Article by Marie Onwubuariri

2. Hymn Medley: Pianist: Marie Onwubuariri
Holy, Holy, Holy; Great is Thy Faithfulness; It is Well With My Soul

3. Blest Be The Tie That Binds (Instrumental): Pianist: Marie Onwubuariri
To listen to the audio file you do need to log into Dropbox; you can listen from any browser window.
Lyrics can be found HERE if you would like to sing along (Note: Time Signature is 4/4)

4. A sermon and word of encouragement from Marie Onwubuariri Regional Exec. Minister, to the churches of ABC Wisconsin based on Ephesian 4:11-16.  Click HERE.

5. Sample video devotion from Camp Tamarack - from Rev. Kim Drost




“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”  Matthew 25:35-36 NRSV

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?’ James 2:15-16 NRSV

Listen to the scriptures and the tradition that speak our identity into existence.  The scriptures remind us of who we are in times of crisis: those who respond. However and whatever the response, may we remember first and foremost who (and whose) we are.

Pray for those infected by the coronavirus in China and around the world.
Pray with gratitude for those who care for them.
Pray with gratitude for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.
Pray for government officials and leaders to have the wisdom necessary to make necessary and informed decisions out of care for the public good, particularly those most vulnerable.
Pray for all who at this time are feeling anxious.



This guidance for all individuals of basic protective measures is drawn from the World Health Organization, and other widely available communications.

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene.
  • Bleach, alcohol, Lysol and other basic disinfectants are good to use to clean doorknobs, handles, faucets and counter tops.
  • Have a good supply of fluids, healthy food, decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen for fevers.
  • Have a first aid kit, flashlight, space blanket in your car.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Click HERE for a brief video from the CDC that provides a basic explanation for how the virus spreads as well as 6 steps you can take to lower your risk of getting sick.

2020 Summer Programming – Save the Dates!

June 5-7  AB Men’s Retreat

June 12-14 AB Women’s Retreat

June 14-20 Sr. High (Campers that just finished 9th-12th grade)

June 21-24 Primary (Campers that just finished 1st-2nd grade)

June 21-27 Middler (Campers that just finished 3rd-4th grade)

June 28- July 4 Junior (Campers that just finished 5th-6th grade)

June 28-July 4 Jr High (campers that just finisher (7th-8th grade)

July 5-8 Grandily – Grandparents and Family Camp (All ages!)

July 5-11 All Inclusive – no programming

July 12-18 Hispanic Camp

Registration will be open in the spring!

20-20 Pray ABC Wisconsin

An Invitation to Pray for your Family

For our regional family – American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin – a simple invitation:

On the 20th of each month in the year 2020, set aside 20 minutes to pray for ABC Wisconsin.
“20-20 Pray ABC Wisconsin”

That’s only 20 minutes on a designated day for the whole month. Of course, we welcome and are in need of daily prayers, but the hope is that we can be assured that at least on one day a month our American Baptist brothers and sisters across the state are united in prayer for common or connected things and listening together to God for guidance.

You can check back to this web page for a list of items to pray about, which may be updated from time to time throughout the year. Many of these items will be consistent throughout the year though I trust in the Holy Spirit’s movement in each of our lives to direct on how or what specifically to pray about during any given month.

Here are some things to keep in your prayers (no priority assumed):

  1. For the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of all our brothers and sisters as we navigate the changing landscape of church in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. For safety and health for those in our congregations who continue to report to work and missions in industries of essential services
  3. For provision for those in our congregations who have had their work suspended and are subsequently facing financial strains
  4. For protection for those in our congregations with sustained compromised immune systems who are dealing with risks of getting the treatments they need
  5. For wisdom and centeredness for all our pastors and church leaders who are trying their best to encourage the faith and witness of their congregations
  6. For special comfort for those who have and may experience loss of loved ones and are entering into the process of grief with a new limited social landscape
  7. For connection across our denomination as we engage in a 21-day Call to Prayer for healing (information forthcoming)
  8. The search for region staff job openings: Associate Regional Minister – Administration and Temporary Summer Camp Director
  9. For all our brothers and sisters journeying through the Lenten season–for deepening faith and clarity of God-given purpose and service
  10. Our local churches who are in the midst of pastoral search and candidacy processes.
  11. For our churches who are particularly impacted by tragic and senseless deaths throughout our state due to violence, drug overdose, etc.; for their light, compassion, and loving corrective influence
  12. For continued synergy for our Committees, Commissions, and Collaboratives as they still pursue their work on our behalf
  13. Direction and excitement within our affiliated bodies: AB Women’s Ministries, AB Men, and Ministers Council
  14. Mission advancement of our Wisconsin-based ministry partners
  15. The POST – our online faith community – for our direction and discernment for our third year
  16. All of our extended ABC family — sister regions, national program boards, supporting ministries, etc.
  17. The global communities that our Wisconsin communities connect with, support, and learn from


With appreciation,

Marie Onwubuariri
Regional Executive Minister

2019 New Wineskins Grant Recipients Announced

ABC/WI News Release

MARK 2:22

The New Wineskins Grant Program is up and running!! 

Throughout April and May the New Wineskins administrative team, made up of both regional staff and representatives of the Commission on Finance, reviewed the applications from churches and individuals seeking to build new faith communities. It was difficult to know that we were not able to fund all applications as each had promising elements for Christian mission work; we hope that all will continue to pursue their vision. However, there were three applicants that most clearly exemplified the New Wineskins ideals of: New means new, new relationships, “with and among” not “to and for,” alignment with ABC/WI mission, collaboration with others, and innovative approaches.

We are so excited to announce the three inaugural projects receiving a 2019 New Wineskins Grant:

Miracle, Inc. (birthed by Milwaukee, Progressive Baptist Church): 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.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Madison: Mt. Zion Campus Ministry—Campus Ministry holds a monthly worship service entitled Relevant Worship and events in reflection of the needs of the campus. Our mission is to inspire college students to grow personally and spiritually by inviting them to deepen their values and their relationships with themselves, others, and God. Lastly, our vision is to be an Acts 2 church – expanding our support to college students through obedience to God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit through worship, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, and ministry.

Underwood Memorial Baptist Church, Wauwatosa: Bricks—In response to the absence of safe spaces for liberation/healing for trans people, Bricks has been organized by intersectional trans people for intersectional trans people. The group utilizes liberative pedagogies to view trans history – past, present, and future – through a critical counter-narrative lens to found a group identity built upon the tenets of solidarity, liberation, and the power of trans people. Through learning this identity, we seek to create a space/dialogue where trans people can know God’s love and have space to heal, grow, and thrive in their bodies, families, and communities.

This program is made possible through the partnership of the American Baptist Foundation, where the New Wineskins Endowment is managed.

To read the full news announcement, click HERE.

To learn more about the New Wineskins program, click HERE.

Call for Nominations – the Region is You!

The ABC Wisconsin Nominating Committee works toward strengthening ministry and synergy among the ABC Wisconsin constituency by continually looking for visionary, passionate, and available people interested in growing in Christian discipleship while serving within and behalf of the region.

The 2019 Nomination Process is now closed, and will reopen after the 2019 Annual Meeting for any 2019 vacancies, 2020 nominations, and opportunities to serve on ministry partner boards.

2019 Nominee Documents:

  1. Prospective Nominee to the Board of Managers Packet:
  2. Prospective Nominee to the Nominating Committee Packet:

The 2019 Nominating Committee Members

  • Archie Ivy, Chair
    • Phone: (414) 871-0350
    • E-Mail:
  • Marie Onwubuariri, Ex-Officio
    • Phone: (262) 782-3140
    • E-Mail:
  • Jim Carlson
  • Bonnie Sorenson
  • Mark Brandel, Madison Association
  • Betty Hayes, Milwaukee Association
  • Walt Hoshaw, Southeast Association
  • Carol Lewis, MCUM Association
  • Mark Weisser, ACTS Association

2019 CENTRAL Wisconsin Commissioning Service



Following Commencement ceremonies at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas on Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2 local CENTRAL Wisconsin Site graduates were Commissioned by the faculty and alumni of this learning community on Sunday, May 19 at New Covenant Baptist Church in Milwaukee.



Hattie Mitchell and Darlene Turner-Harper both received their Master of Divinity degrees from the seminary after having fulfilled all of the requirements for the degree.  As members of the graduating class of 2019, they mark the 10th graduating class from the CENTRAL Wisconsin seminary site.



The worship service marking the occasion was a celebration, an affirmation, and a proclamation of God’s complete gifts for ministry.  Key founding partners, faculty and even the visionary whose work helped instigate the creation of the seminary site all participated in the worship service.


Rev. Dr. Carmen Porco is CEO of Housing Ministries, key ministry partner of CENTRAL Wisconsin.  Rev. Dr. Arlo Reichter is retired Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin and founding Site Administrator (retired).  Rev. Dr. Timothy Ashley is recently retired pastor of First Baptist Church of La Crosse, Wisconsin and founding Site Coordinator (retired). Rev. Dr. Roy B. Nabors is currently pastor of New Paradise Missionary Baptist Church in the St. Louis area, and founding pastor of Community Baptist Church of Greater Milwaukee.  As a longtime advocate for accredited theological education in Milwaukee in a Baptist voice, Pastor Nabors was integral in articulating the originating vision for the seminary site, one that has grown and changed – and continues to change to this day.


Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray offered a message appropriate to the day, for both the graduates and the wider learning community of the site.  She illustrated the ways in which “God Gives Completely,” drawing on multiple examples throughout the Biblical narrative in which God was at work through “two women” to change the world.


The worship service was followed by a reception, hosted by New Covenant Baptist Church, pastor – Rev. Dr. Fred Crouthers.  The congregation of New Covenant served as models of the gift of hospitality.  The entire day was a testament to the faithfulness of God who calls people to participate in God’s creative action in the world.



FORUM #2 – May 9, 2019 @ New Hope Missionary Baptist Church

On Thursday, May 9 at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, several Baptist Pastors from around the Milwaukee area gathered to hear Rev. Dr. Demetrius Williams – pastor of Community Baptist Church of Greater Milwaukee and professor at UWM and CENTRAL Wisconsin – share some of his recent work.

The gathering was for the second of four planned “Teaching Pastors Forums” for 2019, hosted by CENTRAL Wisconsin in cooperation with ABC/WI pastors and congregations.

Dr. Williams shared some research and reflection on utilizing a close read of Pauline literature for guidance in pastoral cares and concerns: “Paul, Mission, Ministry and Money.” The focus of this particular offering was to examine carefully Paul’s interaction and relationship with congregations in his ministry, particularly on the issue of finance. Dr. Williams’ presentation helped everyone understand Paul as a living, breathing Christian leader with real challenges and aspirations in the church – rather than some sort of “oracle” or abstract constructor of doctrine, producing scripture and church policy for all eternity. The guidance suggested by this close reading can inspire pastoral leaders to take seriously both their unique understanding of the call to gospel ministry and the profound challenges of human relationships found in all churches. Whereas laws or guidelines written in stone for all times and places may be in short supply, subtle encouragement in the struggle can be found throughout the Pauline corpus.



FORUM #1 – March 9, 2019 at ABC/WI Region Offices


On Wednesday, March 9, Ministers and Pastors from across the region gathered in the larger classroom of CENTRAL Wisconsin, located in the lower level of the ABC/Wisconsin region offices.   The gathering was for the first of four planned “Teaching Pastors Forums” for 2019, hosted by CENTRAL Wisconsin in cooperation with pastors and congregations in the area.

The desire for honest, challenging theological reflection in a safe setting drew more than 15 pastors and ministers together for lunch and an introduction to the Teaching Pastors Forum.

The background and motivation of the offerings were presented, along with future plans for forums to be facilitated by CENTRAL Wisconsin faculty and other leaders.

Participants responded to a question about their greatest teacher, prompting stories and memories from Seminary training all the way back to elementary school. All Teaching Pastors are first students, encouraged and challenged by good teachers.

An open discussion of potential future topics provided the opportunity to begin honest conversations about race and racism in the U.S., in Wisconsin, and particularly in Milwaukee. The courage and honesty of these servant-leaders created the possibility of very small steps in a positive direction to face difficult truths and work toward education and conviction in service of repentance and reconciliation.

CENTRAL Wisconsin seeks to cultivate, create, and care for safe spaces for theological reflection in service of equipping the saints. The Teaching Pastors Forum is another element of that mission.

Day of Missional Innovation


Keynote speaker: 

We had a great launch event on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at ministry partner, the Milwaukee Christian Center.

Guest speaker, Rebecca Anderson,  pastor of Gilead Church and Bethany United Church of Christ, both in Chicago, opened our morning, in proper story-teller style, about her experiences as a pastor of an established church and a church planter — at the same time! She spoke about “translations” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — not different Bible translations, but rather different understandings and expression of the gospel in the context of different communities.

Also Featured:

Morning Panelists & Small Group Discussion Facilitators:

Local Visionary Pastors Sharing  on their Experiences from Visioning to Implementing to Assessing…
Walter Lanier, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee and founder of MIRACLE Network
Max Ramsey, Pastor of Immanuel Church, Brookfield and catalyst/networker for various ministry starts locally and across the nation
Johnny White, Jr., Pastor of Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, Milwaukee and visionary of the Greater Galilee Community Development Corporation

Afternoon Workshop Leaders:

Rebecca Anderson, Storyteller and Church Planter  – Getting to the Heart of Your Missional Story…and Telling About It!
Angie Mason, Resource Development Director of the Milwaukee Christian Center – Relational Resourcing
Lauren Ng, Director of Leadership Empowerment for the American Baptist Home Mission Societies – “21st Century Church – trends and opportunities”