Mission Moment: Racial Equity Task Force to Focus Next on Partnerships & Programs

South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Racial Equity Task Force to Focus Next on Partnerships & Programs
By Mary Nervig, Chair, Racial Equity Task Force & Deacon Vicki Hanrahan

The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Racial Equity Task Force was formed in 2017 in response to the synod assembly resolution mandating the provision of educational events related to promoting racial justice and the ELCA churchwide memorial mandating that each synod provide anti-racism training for all rostered individuals.   The mission statement of this synod’s Task Force has been to educate, with an understanding that “the way out is back through.” As a people who have been reconciled to Godself through Christ, our mission is to seek reconciliation with all our brothers and sisters.

The task force has been presenting in person programs since 2017, recordings of which are archived on the website available for congregations to use as a resource for learning.  Video links:  https://scsw-elca.org/ministries-and-partners/racial-equity/

Our team is very pleased that in the past year, many synod congregations have borne fruit in this ministry area by beginning book discussion groups and hosting events addressing issues of racism for the larger community.  In addition, there are educational possibilities in the wider community sponsored by other entities that address racism and racial equity.

As this good work in our congregations continues and grows, the Racial Equity Task Force will refocus its efforts on partnerships and programs.  We will no longer be hosting monthly educational events and will instead support and lift up congregational events and the occasional Racial Equity Ministry Task Force educational event.  All will be featured under the Racial Equity banner in What Matters. Look here for events at locations throughout the synod!

It has been a wonderful year and a half of programs and many good relationships have been built. Those who have attended have commented on the growth in awareness that has happened as a result of the presentations by so many gifted and knowledgeable presenters. Seeds have been sown and growth is on-going throughout our synod!  Blessings as you begin this new program year in your congregation. May you be finding times and spaces to do the important work of racial justice as part of your ministries.

The next event in which you are invited will be hosted by Madison Christian Community.  Madison Christian Community has created their own Racial Justice Task Force.  This faithful group is a beautiful example of how we are always being made new!  What started out as an initiative for personal enrichment (which by the way included a Big Read for the synod that then was part of a statewide push) has now moved into a task force whose primary interest is in presenting opportunities for learning offerings to others wishing to know more.

This faithful group is moving more deeply into their work for racial justice, from the what of racial inequity to the “what now” of racial justice work.  As they believed, “The more one engages at a personal level, the more the journey requires from us. Yet, it is exactly this engagement that signals a movement from being merely an observer or information-gatherer to becoming an active participant in the anti-racism movement.”  Hosting and organizing these movie viewings and conversations is a mission moment we wanted to recognize as it continues the good work of the movement in the synod toward a better, more loving and inclusive beloved community.  Let’s continue to walk together!

Documentaries & Dialogue: Continue the Conversations About Racial Justice

All Congregations Are Invited!
A racial equity learning opportunity recommended by the SCSW Racial Equity Ministry Task Force 

Wednesday evenings Beginning September 25 – 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Hosted by: Madison Christian Community
7118 Old Sauk Road, Madison

Madison Christian Community is hosting a six-Wednesday series beginning September 25 and concluding October 30. We’ll meet from 6:30-8:30 pm. The films we’re using have been specifically crafted to enhance understanding and spark conversation about whiteness, racism, and racial justice. They build from uncovering whiteness to listening in on conversations among and between various ethnic groups about their experiences of racism to revealing the systemic nature of racism to examining our current justice system and the potential for change through restorative healing practices. We hope folks can commit to the full series, but if you can only attend a handful of the movies you are welcome.

Equipping the Saints: Above All, Trust in the Slow Work of God

This week’s recommendation is from Rev. Walter Baires, Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission. Received during a Congregational Vitality training and used today for our staff meeting, it is an inspiring message for any congregations going through transitions. We offer it here for consideration for your use in your settings. It reads:

Above All, Trust in the Slow Work of God
By Pierre Tellhard de Chardin, S.J.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.

Yet, it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability,
And that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
– that is to say, grace –
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that God’s hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

Apply Now for the 2020 Contemplative Renewal Cohort

Are you looking for ways to be renewed in your pastoral work and sense of call? As you encounter the demands of ministry in a changing and challenging time, would you benefit from time away to deepen your spirit?

The Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal (ECCSR) hosts a two-year “Contemplative Renewal” for early and mid-career clergy. The cohort of 19 men and women will discover renewal through the rhythms of prayer, Benedictine spirituality and community at Holy Wisdom Monastery, an ecumenical monastery outside of Madison, WI.

Early and mid-career ordained pastors, currently serving half-time or more in a congregational setting, are invited to apply starting October 1, 2019 for the next cohort, to begin in July of 2020. Funded by a Thriving in Ministry Grant from the Lilly Endowment, this unique experience is available at no cost.

For more information:

Co-Director Rev. Jerry Buss (608) 836-1631 ext. 163 or Co-Director Rev. Nancy Enderle (608) 836-1631 ext. 114 or visit: www.holywisdommonastery.org/eccsr.

Mission Moment: God’s work. Our hands. 2019

Many of our congregations are participating in the ELCA day of service, “God’s work. Our Hands.” Some have participated on September 8, which is the day set aside by the ELCA if you wanted to participate when most other congregations were joining in. God’s work. Our hands. reminds us that We are Church, We are Church Together, We are Lutheran and We are Church for the Sake of the World! And our work is for all generations!

Equipping the Saints: 2019 Military Caregiver Resource Directory

Several of our rostered with hearts for the care of Veterans and active duty service members in their communities have participated in Community Clergy Training Programs for caring for our veterans. They continue to gather to learn more about their special needs and ways to serve and support them. We all have service members that we know, so it helpful to stay abreast of the resources that are available to them so that we can be better caregivers and friends. A new resource has been released to do just that and we offer it here for your consideration. A special thank you to Retired Naval Captain, Connie Walker, who continues to support our synod with connections to valuable resources to help us serve this beloved community.

About the Resource:

Service members, families and caregivers, the Department of Defense Military Caregiver Support 2019 Caregiver Resource Directory (CRD) has officially been released and is ready for download. The annual update includes 114 pages of resources, organizations, agencies, and programs that assist and support families and caregivers of wounded, ill and injured Service Members and Veterans. The CRD is an enriched source of information from childcare, education and training, healthcare needs, legal assistance, rest and relaxation, to peer support, mentoring, and so much more. The Directory is essentially a one-stop-shop for questions and concerns about support, assistance, and awareness for those who are new to the change or experienced caregivers.

The resources provided in the CRD have gone through a rigorous review and vetting process to ensure that Service Members, Veterans, and their caregivers are receiving accurate, timely, and pertinent information. The easy-to-use guide uses icons to assist with accessing certain information quicker, such as, DoD programs, non-profit organizations, 24/7 availability, smartphone apps, and resources that are available in Spanish. The CRD is also a good source of self-care programs and awareness for caregivers. With the assistance of Personalized Experiences, Engagement and Resources (PEER) Support Coordinators, it is in their daily routine to provide additional support and navigation to workshops, networks, seminars, education and training that will ease and help understand the challenges of being a caregiver.
In certain situations, caregivers may be given respite assistance or compensation. To get more information on respite assistance or compensation, contact a regional PEER Support Coordinator in your area.

To download a digital copy of the CRD or to request a hard copy, please go to: https://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/caregiver-resources/

If you would like more information, connect with two of the synod’s Veteran’s Support Ministry Team members:

Rev. Todd Iverson – Immanuel Evangelical (Watertown)
Rev. Joe Brosius – Good Shepherd (Madison/Verona)

Clergy Leadership Group

The Samaritan Center of Southern Wisconsin, announces a Pastor Leadership Seminar for all area clergy. The Seminar’s goal is to improve leadership skills for today’s ministry. Clergy present case studies of challenging situations in their churches, which require their leadership. Participants then receive peer feedback for fresh perspectives. Some readings, specifically focused on pastoral leadership will be discussed.

A Family Systems Theory Model will also be utilized. The agenda for the group includes case leadership presentation and book discussion along with other topics determined by the participants.

The leadership seminar will be led by Dan Feaster, executive director, and pastoral counselor and ASSIST provider of the Samaritan Counseling Center. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays once a month, from 11 AM -2 PM (working lunch) for a total of eight sessions. Leadership group will start October 22. Fee for the leadership group is $300.

Some possible topics might include:

  • How do I deal with difficult members?
  • What are some effective ways of resolving conflict without being victimized?
  • How do I continue to pastor when I am running out of energy or becoming discouraged?
  • How can I better accept my limitations as a person?
  • How do I deal with my emotions when ministering in tragic situations?
  • How do I develop cooperative leadership strategies with my co-pastor?
  • What do I do when I am leading but few are following?
  • How do I survive in a system, which is consuming me?
  • How do I retire from a vocation?

For more information or to register contact:
Dan Feaster
Phone: 608-663-0763 ext. 200
E-mail: dfeaster@samaritancounselingcenterwi.org
Samaritan Counseling Center

Equipping the Saints: “GATHER” Magazine

Gather, the magazine of Women of the ELCA, offers a mix of articles, theological reflections, bible studies, devotions and stories of comfort and challenge that help readers grow in faith and engage in ministry and action. I don’t know why, but it had fallen off my radar until recently wherein I decided to reintroduce myself to what it had to offer. Last week, I received the September issue and couldn’t put it down! Each story spoke to me. There was an article on Grief and the many forms of loss that can cause grief. Practical advice from those who have lost loved ones on what is helpful to say to someone at a funeral and what is not helpful to say was creatively penned in poetic form. I, for one, still want to improve on that myself, so I read this helpful article with great interest. There was a story on emotions, and even how our negative ones like anger, can be a gift, as they provide a window into ourselves that can help us transform into more loving and compassionate servants to our neighbor.
The magazine also includes bible studies. This month’s, “No Hard Feelings?” written by Anna Madsen is chockful of provocative ideas about the value of emotions. She writes about the poetry of the Old Testament, and how the writers of Scripture used language to share a range of emotions—including anger—with God and each other. “Within these old, old texts we will discover that anger was hardly taboo to the Hebrew people, that they recognized both anger’s righteousness and its risk, and that they realized that by venting anger in prayer and communal liturgy, they staved off toxic and dangerous manifestations of it in their personal lives.”

Top all this off with fun stories about the blessings of our furry or feathered companions in our lives and Gather was a true joy to read. I highly recommend!

Gather is published 10 times a year with combined issues in January/February and July/August. A print subscription is $19.95 a year, but right now they are offering a special rate of $9.95 for new subscribers! Digital access (computer, iPad, Android) is free to print subscribers. To subscribe, call 1-844-409-0576 or order on line: https://www.cambeywest.com/GAT/?f=intro995WB

Youth-led Global Climate Strike

Join an interfaith gathering supporting the local event as part of worldwide events on Friday, September 20th. To kick off this historic day, there will be four simultaneous interfaith gatherings near the Capitol, at 10:30 am:

Bethel Lutheran, 312 Wisconsin Ave, Madison
Grace Episcopal, 116 W. Washington Ave., Madison
First United Methodist, 203 Wisconsin Ave, Madison
St. John’s Lutheran, 322 E. Washington Ave., Madison

After an hour of fellowship and sharing at these four gatherings, we will all come together at 12:00 noon, for the Concert for the Climate at the State St. corner of the Capitol Square. From there we will Parade to the Youth who will be at MGE – asking for a commitment to a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Learning from our Loved Ones: Cognitive Changes and Challenges

“Learning from our Loved Ones: Cognitive Changes and Challenges”
by Pastor Mary Kay Baum
Wednesday, September 18, 6:30 to 7:30 pm – Refreshments Follow

Christ Lutheran Church Invites You!
250 S. Grant Street, Lancaster, WI
(located in Memorial Park)

In 2006 Pastor Baum retired early from her urban ministry work at age 57 due to Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and moved to live fulltime in rural Iowa County. In this July of 2019 the Iowa County Land Conservation Committee and Department recognized Mary Kay as “Friend of Conservation” for her commitment to preserving the land, water and wildlife of Iowa County. Mary Kay is the Chair of FORMEMORY, a network of persons affected directly or indirectly by cognitive or neurological challenges. She helped develop “Time for Us”, a five-day camp each summer – now at Bethel Horizons – for youth who have a loved one with cognitive or trauma related challenges. She helped write the book Pathways of Hope: Living Well with Cognitive Changes. Mary Kay, now at 72, trains all ages at congregations to welcome and friend the many of us who experience cognitive challenges. ~A Thrivent Action Team Education Event