News

Retirement of Jim Carlson

Rev. Jim Carlson, Ph.D. has retired from ministry. For the last 6 years, Jim has served as the Hispanic Liaison for ABC of Wisconsin. In this unique role, Jim worked with the leadership of the four Hispanic congregations in the region: Kenosha, Iglesia Bautista El Calvario; Racine, Iglesia Bautista Renacer; Milwaukee, Iglesia Evangelica Bautista and the Hispanic Congregation of First, Waukesha. This past year, he has also been working closely with Milwaukee, Smyrna, one of the Karen congregations. In these and many other ways he has been serving the region as a valuable staff member.

Jim is a longtime friend of the region, having served as pastor of Waukesha, First from 2001 to 2012. We wish Jim all the best and extend heartfelt thanks for his ministry.

The following is a piece composed by the pastor of Iglesia Evangelica Bautista, Rev. José Encarnación. Pastor Encarnación is the director of the Hispanic Lay Institute, where he and Jim taught all of the classes.

 

 

Sobre Jim Carlson

Conocí a Jim Carson hace muchos años en República Dominicana. En ese tiempo Jim iba a mi país como líder de jóvenes en viajes misioneros.

Unos años más tarde, en una reunión annual de nuestra Región, fui sorprendido al ver a Jim allí. Me acerqué a él, nos reconocimos y entonces hicimos una amistad que ha sido duradera. Estuve presente cuando él fue instalado como pastor de la iglesia First Baptist of Waukesha y, a partir de ahi nuestra relación se transformó en compañeros del ministerio.

Puedo decir que Jim Carlson es un fiel amigo y excelente compañero ministerial; es un fiel siervo de Dios, lleno de humildad y sencillez, excelente maestro y expositor de la Palabra de Dios. Juntos formamos el Instituto Hispano Bautista de Wisconsin con el fin de preparar lideres laicos que sirvan en nuestras iglesias hispanas locales y puedan suplir la eventual necesidad de pastores en nuestras congregaciones.

Jim es un maestro teológico y doctrinal excepcional y él hizo possible que nuestros estudiantes sean graduados por el Seminario Central Bautista de Kansas City.

Su retiro me deja un gran vacío. Siento soledad sin él. Oro a Dios que Jim sea bendecido y prosperado en todo lo que haga y sueño con que él pueda seguir enseñando en nuestro Instituto Hispano.

Te extrañaremos, Jim.

Tu pastor y amigo,
Rev. José Encarnación

About Jim Carlson

I met Jim Carson many years ago in the Dominican Republic. At that time Jim was going to my country as a youth leader on mission trips.

A few years later, at an annual meeting of our ABC/WI Region, I was surprised to see Jim there. I approached him, we recognized each other, and then we made a friendship that has been lasting. I was present when he was installed as pastor of First Baptist of Waukesha and from there we became partners in ministry.

I can say that Jim Carlson is a faithful friend and an excellent ministerial partner; he is a faithful servant of God, full of humility and simplicity, an excellent teacher and expositor of the Word of God. Together we formed the Hispanic Lay Institute of Wisconsin in order to prepare lay leaders who serve in our local Hispanic churches and can supply the eventual need for pastors in our congregations.

Jim is an exceptional theological and doctrinal teacher and he made it possible for our students to graduate from Central Baptist Seminary.

His retirement leaves me with a great emptiness. I feel lonely without him. I pray to God that Jim be blessed and prosper in everything he does, and I wish that he could continue teaching in our Hispanic institute.

We will miss you, Jim.

Your pastor and friend,
Rev. Jose Encarnacion.

Getting Settled

Dear friends,

I have spent my first month unpacking, getting settled into a routine, learning how to pronounce certain names like “Waukesha” (but don’t ask me to pronounce “Oconomowoc” yet) and meeting many of you! In my first month I have visited nine churches of our region, and I have scheduled most Sundays through mid-June at this point to either visit or preach.

At our Board of Managers meeting on March 5th, I asked the board two questions. The first was “What are your hopes for the Regional Executive Minister for the first six months?” These were some of the responses:

-Make initial contact with all the churches.

-Built relationships in our region, keeping in mind our geographic distribution.

-Connect with pastors and lay leaders.

-Feel welcomed and inspired.

-Feel affirmed in my gifts and skills.

-Reach out if there is anything I need.

-Connect through our methods of communication, including the Synergy.

The responses to this question are excellent ones (thank you, Board of Mangers!), and I wanted to share that indeed, I feel welcomed and inspired, affirmed in my gifts and skills. I am excited to continue meeting you, and I do encourage pastors and lay leaders to reach out to me at mindi.wm@abcofwi.org While my Sundays may be filling up, I am happy to drive and meet people during the week for coffee or to schedule a Zoom call.

The second question I asked was about our board’s priorities coming out of the Strategic plan, and the first priority is leadership. The board brought up the request of some churches to have more training in financial programs and record-keeping. The result of the Board’s conversation is to have a training day in a few months for treasurers in our region. This will go over best practices, tax reporting, program to use, and more. John Jones and I are also in conversation about having a training for church boards and providing resources on restructuring/reorganizing as well as roles and best practices. We will keep you informed as we put together these trainings.

We are also working on opportunities for continuing education for our clergy. Under Ministerial Resourcing on the website, you will find links to some of those training opportunities along with scholarship resources. There may be some trainings that are open to church leaders, and I will share that information as it comes.

My family and I look forward to meeting many of you at the Executive Minister and Family Meet and Greet on Saturday, May 21st from 11-1:30. This is part of the Spring In To Camp. Please let Carolyn Dugan (carolyn.dugan@abcofwi.org) know if you’d like to attend so lunch will be provided for you.

As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, may we find signs of new life springing up—both physically and spiritually. May we find the seeds God has planted, in our lives and in the world around us, have begun to break forth. May we have the wisdom to know how to cultivate God’s harvest, and I am so glad to be with you on this journey as the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin.

Blessings,

Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Executive Minister

No Innocent Bystanders – a Review

The Commission on Congregational Mission has taken up the issue of Racial Justice and Racism in the church as its focus for the latter part of 2021 and the first part of 2022. Commission members have been tasked with reading a volume and returning to the Commission with a review of the text as part of the study process.

Rev. Terry West of Milwaukee, New Hope has penned this review of No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice by Shannon Craigo-Snell and Christopher Doucot.

No Innocent Bystanders

ABC Commission On Congregational Missions

Continuing a Second Project dealing with the issue of Social Justice.

“Racism in the Church”

Definitions:

Social Justice:  The view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.

Racism: A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement usually involving the idea that one race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

The book that I selected for review was “No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice” by Shannon Craigo-Snell and Christopher Doucot.

A bystander is a person who is present when something happens and who sees it, but does not take part in it.

If churches have a disconnect between the Teaching of God’s word and the Practice of Racial & Gender Justice, the writer’s introductory type book may be a good place to begin the necessary tough conversations, within a congregation. But talking religion and living religion, are two different actions. Conversations are good, but “walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes,” could make all the difference, in the world. As a Viet Nam Veteran, I truly know what “boots on the ground” means! The writers wanted the reader to understand the struggles for LGBTQ Equality and Racial Justice.

First of all, the practical layout of this book is written like a small-group study guide. There are short chapters followed by discussion questions. The writers selected Racism and anti-LGBTQ oppression, as sins that require repentance, reparation, and God’s grace to repair these kind of issues. It is within that framework that the authors covered some of the basics of Racism and Homophobia (a dislike of or prejudice against, the Gay community [LGBTQ]).

       (March 8, 2022) Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (Florida) has signaled he would sign a bill which would ban/prohibit “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender.” The bill has been referred to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Other states are following Florida’s lead.

       Secondarily, getting Ready to Become an Ally in that struggle for Justice laid upon the selected sector of the LGBTQ community for this book.  An Ally is one that is acting on behalf of others, in the pursuit of helping to end whatever type of oppression, might exist. This goal can be accomplished by educating others, being a voice for others, being a sponsor for others or being a mentor for others. Every Christian ought to be an Ally!

       Thirdly, the author sets out several Resources for Being an Ally one would need to carry out this assignment, by considering the words of the Apostle Paul: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)” (1 Corinthians 13:13).  “For God SO loved the world…” (John 3:16).

       Finally, some Concrete Steps are provided in order to carry out the mission. A number of individual leaders share some of their lifetime experiences to shed light on a number of actions they successfully took along their journey in times like these.

Above all, as the body of Christ, as an Ally, let us study, teach and live out God’s word directly and through His prophets of old.

“If my people, which are called by my Name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“The grass witherth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God, shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

If a man say, ‘I love God,’ and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen”? (1 John 4:20)

“For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in;….Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt 25:40)

“For ye have the poor always with you;” (Matthew (26:11a)

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them, who are of the household, of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

 

As a child of God , a true Ally in the struggle for Justice, a favorite songwriter reminds us:

“If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong; Then my living, shall not, be in vain.”

TJW

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rev. West is ending his term of service on the Commission on Congregational Mission. The Commission and the region at large wish to extend their heartfelt thanks for sharing his time and talents in the work of the Commission.

~Your Commission on Congregational Mission

  • Bonnie Sorenson, Wauwatosa, Underwood Memorial
  • Carolyn Parker, Milwaukee, Progressive
  • Terry West, Milwaukee, New Hope
  • Linda Cutler, Milwaukee, Greater Mt. Zion
  • Russ Antos, retired
  • Karen Sundland, West Allis, First

Camp Dates for Programming 2022

Camp Tamarack is pleased to announce the dates for this summer:

Sr. High (just finished 9-12 grade): June 12-18

Jr. High (just finished 7-8 grade): June 19-25

Junior (just finished 5-6 grade): June 26-July 2

Grandily Camp (for families and anyone over 18 that wants to attend): July 3-6

Kayak/Canoe Camp: July 8-10

Middler (just finished 3-4 grade): July 10-16

Primary (just finished 1-2 grade): July 10-13

Reunion Camp: July 29-31

There will also be a project “week” camp where you can come help us work on a project or two – week and projects are TBD and info will be added as we know more.

We are assessing our COVID protocols for the summer, but it appears that we may be close to running camps “normally” while keeping a few of our enhanced processes such as quarantining anyone who has symptoms and sending them home, plus we will be keeping up our current cleaning regimen.

Registration will open in April and we will be encouraging on-line registration and payment again.

If there are any questions, please let Carolyn know: carolyn.dugan@abcofwi.org or 715-281-2269.

Looking forward to a great season!

Ice Fishing at Camp Tamarack – Feb 12th, 2022

You are invited to join us at Camp Tamarack on Saturday, Feb 12th for a day of ice fishing! If you have your own equipment, come on up and set up for a fun day on the ice. If you don’t have equipment and want to try or see what it is all about, come on up and we will get you started.

There will be a campfire on the shore to keep warm, plus we will have a lunch available for $5/person.

All you need to do is email Carolyn at carolyn.dugan@abcofwi.org to let us know you are coming and you can either pay for your meal on line at www.camptamarack.org or bring $5 the day of the event.

Looking forward to spending some time in God’s creation!

(Picture was taken on Jan 22, 2022 at Camp Tamarack during a break from the Winter Youth Retreat – photo of Patrick Lehman and photo credit to Caleb Patrie 🙂 )

Realities of Our New Normal

The Commission on Congregational Mission of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin has chosen as its focus for the first half of 2021 the topic of “stewardship.” The Commission has pursued research on the topic, particularly as it relates to engaging younger generations. Members meet monthly to share their learnings with one another and to develop a strategy for sharing more widely across the Region. The following is a brief reflection on those learnings in light of the effects of the pandemic.

“Realities of Our New Normal”

The COVID 19 era has been a curse and, in some ways, a blessing for so many churches. Several churches have closed while others have flourished. This deadly COVID 19 virus has caused much fear and loss.  It has forced the church to permanently change the overall concept of what church means, is and does. This Commission on Congregational Mission has researched current information on stewardship, today’s churches, and their youth. The following is a brief reflection drawn from our efforts.

Discussions about the “graying” of the traditional church were occurring in the years prior to the pandemic. Adults were living longer, and this generation was not training or making a way for successive generations. Countless numbers of young adults and their families were leaving the traditional church.  Some traditional churches were having more funerals than baptisms and weddings.  Pastors who managed to maintain intergenerational congregations prior to the pandemic have stated that they continue to focus their sermons on universal themes.  They have encouraged their members, seniors, and youth to use their smart phones and new technologies in their ministries. Youth were encouraged to help the older generations increase their knowledge of and comfort level with the new technologies that are available to communicate and to worship.

Today’s young adults have found there is now a need in church for their skills with technology and social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. They have also found church to be a refuge to turn to where they can address the emotional and financial trauma caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.  Church without walls has allowed members to continue to fellowship and “congregate” while respecting the public health requirements for social distancing. The longer the pandemic lasts the more creative our churches are becoming, thanks to our young adults as well as Pastors and Ministry Leaders who are “tech savvy.”

Core memberships in several family churches have remained intact and eager to participate in ways not previously imagined. More people are reaching out to our churches and receiving the Good News than were able to in our brick-and-mortar edifices. Today’s churches are still able to provide human services, such as food, clothing, COVID supplies and financial support, to populations in their local church and in their local community. Today’s church members are praying more, teaching more, and reading God’s word in more unique ways. Let us pray that we continue to develop a “new normal” in today’s churches as COVID 19 becomes less of a threat. Let this “new normal” continue to utilize inclusive thinking, intergenerational ways to worship, and multigenerational leadership in service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Contributors,

Dr. Carolyn Parker, Milwaukee, Progressive

Linda Cutler, Milwaukee, Greater Mt. Zion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The members of the 2021 ABC Wisconsin Commission on Congregational Mission are:
Bonnie Sorenson, Wauwatosa, Underwood Memorial (chair)
Dr. Carolyn Parker, Milwaukee, Progressive
Rev. Terry West, Milwaukee, New Hope
Rev. Walt Hoshaw, Beloit, First
Linda Cutler, Milwaukee, Greater Mt. Zion
Rev. Russ Antos, Ixonia, First

 

Summer 2021 Camp dates

Tentative camp dates have been set for this summer – please note we will finalize all dates two months prior to the camp as we watch CDC data and work with health officials.

Sr High – completed 9-12th grade June 20-23
Jr High – completed 7th/8th grade June 23-26
Primary – completed 1st/2nd grade June 27 – 30
Middler – completed 3rd/4th grade June 27-30
Grandily – All ages June 30-July 3
Junior – completed 5th/6th grade July 4-7

Set aside Thursday, May 13 through Sunday, May 16 NOW for Spring Into Camp 2021 — and get to praying that we will actually have an on-site camping season at Camp Tamarack in 2021!

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:

MMBB
MMDS

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

Singing in a Foreign Land

On Singing During Times of Social Distancing…

Baptist people are a singing people. We join our voices in praise of God, to share our prayers, and to proclaim salvation through Jesus. When we sing together, we are sharing God’s story with those who gather and actualizing the Body of Christ – one voice raised in song. Singing together expresses our love for God and our love for each other, creating community with song. It is hard to imagine worship without singing but here we are facing the prospect of worship without congregational song.

Why are we not singing during in-person worship? The research is clear and comes from many sources – the Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the American Choral Directors Association, the Calvin Institute for Worship, and many others. All have come to the same conclusion – singing expels aerosols which can carry Covid 19. These aerosols can linger in the air much longer than droplets and possibly infect a person. Multiply these aerosols by the number of people in worship and you can understand that singing might be a source of infection. Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must follow the solid advice of the scientific community and refrain from singing in our worship. That is going to be difficult and painful for us.

As Psalm 137 says, “How can we sing the songs of our Lord while in a foreign land?”. It seems like we are living in a foreign land with things we don’t understand and things that make us uncomfortable. We are like the Israelites – removed from our sacred places and sacred spaces. One of our most dearly held worship practices as Baptists and as musicians has come to a screeching halt! I know we all feel very disconnected and maybe even a little fearful. What are we to do in this time of change?

We need to hold tight to what Jesus has directed us to do – love your neighbor as yourself. We need to follow the science and lead our congregations through this time with love. Singing as a gathered community may be on hold for some time, but singing will not stop! Instead, it will move to our homes and be carried in our hearts as we navigate this new land. Our love for our brothers and sisters who gather to worship with us compels us to refrain from singing in order to protect each other. It is an act of love. It is the way of Christ.

Each church has to discern what path they will follow in these uncertain times. The logistics of  in-person worship with social distancing, masks for all, and sanitizing requirements are almost overwhelming. Plans have to be made and people have to commit to carrying out those plans with diligence. Our responsibility as Christians is to love our neighbor. If that means not singing to prevent the spread of Covid-19, then our path in this matter is quite clear.

Remember, the song of salvation through Jesus will never be silenced. Its expression may change but it will never stop. We need to apply our gifts and talents to figuring out and designing other ways to include our beloved song in our worship. Our worship may need to change in significant ways for a time, but Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The call to love each other may require us to make a sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice made in love.

 

Links to explore:

Wisconsin Council of Churches

https://www.wichurches.org/2020/04/23/returning-to-church/

Orthodox Church in America

https://www.oca.org/reflections/misc-authors/what-covid-19-means-for-singing-in-church?fbclid=IwAR0Hq-hLlorBP4eM38lPbYOe1VvLoenGGYIco9X3R_NJmXVlmKAqLNdd_yg

Episcopal Church

https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2020/05/18/clergy-scientists-grapple-with-thoughts-of-worship-without-congregational-singing/

AP News

https://apnews.com/c3bf9767c833b8ae66be22dd4fc996e6

 

New Summer 2020 Camp Director Announced

Early May 2020 we announced that unfortunately we have decided to cancel all the overnight camp programs at Camp Tamarack, our ABC Wisconsin region camp in Waupaca, originally scheduled for June and July 2020 due to the current COVID-19 health crisis. Our decision was made in large part due to our commitment to the health and safety of staff and our campers.

We also remain committed, however, to connecting in creative ways with our campers, camp families and seasonal staff, many of whom had originally planned their summer with Camp Tamarack on the top of their list.

To lead us in this effort, we are excited to announced that we have hired Mrs. Dianna Brophey as our Summer 2020 Camp Director.

A wife and mother of three, Dianna Brophey has spent the better part of her life as an educator. She is a member of First Baptist Church of West Allis and attended Camp Tamarack as a youth. She continued coming back over the years as summer staff, cabin leader, health officer, and Primary Camp director while introducing her own children into the camp family. Her family cherishes the connections made there, and one of her goals is to continue the tradition for new and returning campers.

Dianna shares, “I love Camp Tamarack! This camp season, I look forward to sharing the peace and grace of God I have come to know at Tamarack. The goal this summer will be to make that connection in new and different ways as we embrace transformation.”

As an educator, Dianna has already been pivoting in new ways as she has led her virtual classroom over the past several weeks, and I trust she will bring all her experience, creativity, and skills to the challenge of exploring, designing, and implementing virtual summer camp experiences, and, if safe to do so, alternate in-person activities at Camp Tamarack later in the summer.

She knows it will take a team of leaders and helpers, as has always been needed in all previous camp seasons, and she has many relationships within our Camp Tamarack family with which to draw upon.

This part time summer position is necessarily designed to be flexible, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for ways you can join our “Transformed Summer 2020 Camp Season Team,” learn more about how your youth and families can still experience Christ’s love through “camp” and “outdoor ministry,”  or simply offer your support to Dianna. She can be reached at dianna.brophey@abcofwi.org.

Her focus area will be summer programming, and she will work alongside Kim Drost, Assistant Minister Camping – Facilities and Guest Services, who continues to oversee the stewardship of the grounds and manages the rental opportunities of Camp Tamarack.

Please join me in welcoming Dianna to our region staff team, and please keep her and our Camp Tamarack ministry in your prayers as we still have a lot to discern about how God is seeking to transform this ministry through this season.