Report on Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting

What a lovely setting for the 2017 Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting-the Green Lake Conference Center!  My room at the Roger Williams Inn overlooked the lake, and I took full advantage of the site by strolling, sitting and birdwatching by the lakeshore in the early morning hours and during breaks. Other First Congregational UCC members who were there were Rev. Eldonna Hazen, Rev. Ann Beaty, fellow delegate Casey Newman, Janet Pugh (who was in charge of the overall planning for the event), Tom Pugh, Paul Karch, Rev. Susan Shands and Julie Kramer (who co-led a Faith Formation Gathering with Ann). Rev. Jerry Hancock was there to lead a workshop on Saturday, and Don DeBruin, who staffed the Association of Church Musicians table.
 
Rev. John Dorhauer, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, explained that "denominations exist in order to perpetuate an aspect of the gospel that but for them would be in danger of diminishment or extinction."  For the UCC this is (1) the unity that was essential to Jesus ("That they may all be one"; John 17:20); and (2) extravagant welcome ("No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here").
 
The inspiring highlight of the event, probably for many of us, was an address by Rev. Everett Mitchell, pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison and Dane County Circuit Court Judge.  His talk was titled, "A Theology of Race: Empowering Churches to Use the Radical Inclusiveness of Jesus' Ministry to Dismantle Spiritual and Social Racial Segregation."  In his passionate and spell-binding way, he made a compelling case for following the example of Jesus by engaging in "courageous conversation" and developing relationships with persons of color. "Have you had that person into your home?" is a question he frequently asks white people who want to address racism.
 
The Share Fair was a wonderful addition to this year's annual meeting.  I heard about the Human Trafficking Initiative of the Merton UCC and its timeliness with the U.S. Open golf tournament at nearby Erin Hills; the Wacky Wednesday After School Program of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Dodgeville; and ten other exhibits.  Our own White Privilege meetings and Prison Ministry were among the 24 represented. Other highlights for me were a workshop on "Healing the Heart of Democracy," on a book by Parker Palmer that I have found most important; and an After Hours event by the Historical Commission (a PBS film on Reinhold Neibuhr).
 
In a main item of business, the delegates overwhelmingly adopted the Resolution to Become an Immigrant Welcoming Conference.  Of course, there were interesting presentations on the work of the conference by our conference staff and routine business.  I am grateful to the congregation for allowing me to be one of its delegates to this marvelous meeting!
~ Roger Brooks

Posted on June 20, 2017 at 10:41 am in Featured Content.

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