Opening and closing prayer, led by members of our Unity & Relationships Commission, included If We Just Talk of Thoughts and Prayers, a hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, free for congregations to use in worship.
If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don’t live out a faith that dares,
And don’t take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.
More verses on Carolyn’s website
Our business meeting included the approval of a $388,343 budget for 2018.
We installed the following leaders as our officers for 2018: Bishop Gerald Mansholt, President; Rev. Walter Bauldrick, Vice President; Barbara Dick, Secretary; Dave Groenewold, Treasurer; Rev. Sarah Moore-Nokes, Immediate Past President.
We recognized outgoing volunteers Ron Alexander, Rev. Deb Bergeson-Graham, Rev. Dr. D. Jonathan Grieser, and Rev. Nick Utphall, who are finishing terms on committees and commissions. In gratitude for their service, we presented them with framed versions of this artwork. The original image was created by LEAD (Living Every Day As Disciples). Black and white versions are available for download on their website for your own devotional practice or for use in congregations.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Katherine Cramer of UW-Madison, spoke about people’s deep struggle with identity, the pressure to take sides, and the common good. She suggested that we may be more filled with fear and anger in this era because of the tools that have been made available for us to understand our world. In her closing, in response to questions about conversations on race and racism, she reminded us, “It’s not that we have all this new junk to suddenly deal with, but that we have all this stuff we’ve never dealt with.” (If you are interested in purchasing the book on which this talk was based, you can buy the Politics of Resentment on Amazon. By using this link, a portion of your purchase will benefit the Council).
Our Executive Director, Rev. Kerri Parker, shared some reflections on the future of the Council, and the Church’s call to the edges. You can read an adapted version here.
The Peace with Justice Commission led a workshop on responses to gun violence. Their resource list (including worship and prayer resources, TV/film, safer church resources, topical reflections on theology, domestic abuse, hunting, and other articles of interest) is now available. Based on the discussion, the WCC will be developing a new study guide and exploring the feasibility of offering safer church workshops for congregations. If you are interested in this project, please let us know by registering on the ‘Addressing Gun Violence’ page of our website.
Participants in the Becoming Welcoming Congregations workshop learned of one congregation’s story, and had a chance to explore their own personal stories around immigration. The WCC will be offering regional workshops in 2018 to help congregations explore their options on the spectrum of responses their communities might undertake.
We closed the gathering with a call to confession around the topics of the day, praying and singing together before departing:
God, may our prayers and dreams and songs lead to a faith that takes on wrongs –
That works for peace and justice, too. Then will our prayers bring joy to you.