May 31, 1998

Table of Contents

Facilities Renewal Committee Established

Isabel Skinner Profile

Restore Our Musical Heritage

Youth Conferences

Let Us Pray

Vacation Bible School

Show Off Your Green Thumb

Wisconsin Congregational Association Meets at FCC

PF Dinner and Auction

Health Thermometer

A Word From Lonnie

In Brief

Facilities Renewal Committee Established

One of the goals Senior Minister, Lonnie Richardson established for 1998 was to form a committee which would analyze the uses and needs of the groups within and outside of our church who use the facilities. "The current configuration of our class rooms, music rehearsal spaces and youth and infant rooms reflect a 1959 model," said Lonnie. "Few of us live in a home frozen in a 50's motif. Family rooms are greater, kitchens are larger, and entertainment areas include new technology. It is time for us to consider how our ministry spaces can look to better serve our mission today."

The Facilities Renewal Committee has now been established. Comprised of Doug Jacobson - chairperson, Carla Cummings, Lee Jacobi, Chris Rygh, Nick Sgarlata, Tom Stacey and Merrill York, the committee has met a couple of times to begin preliminary work. They're gathering information about all of the groups who use the facilities and what the needs are. The next step will be to determine if and what changes or modifications are needed to better serve these needs. Their goal is to present recommendations at the 1999 Annual Meeting.

While the scope of the work has not been completely defined, they will be looking basically at the basement areas, nursery and part of the third floor (music, youth, nursery and archive areas). The committee members encompass representatives from these different areas with the addition of other expertise. Tom Stacey, for example, is also on the Board of Trustees and is an architect, experienced in the design of churches and similar facilities.

As this group furthers its research, more details will be published. Watch the Fall issues for more information.

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Grand Piano, Grand Lady, Grand Legacy

Isabel Elder Skinner was born October 5, 1880 in Oxford, England. She received her music education at London College of Music. At 23 years of age she immigrated to the United States and settled in Wauwatosa. Her membership was transferred from Amerly Church in London, England to the First Congregational Church, September 30, 1903. Her home in the village was also her studio where she conducted piano lessons as her source of income.

Over the years Miss Skinner became an institution as THE music teacher in Wauwatosa. Not only gracious and talented, this lovely lady with an English accent nourished relationships with her students and their families, lasting for generations. She stood straight and confident, commanding respect by her demeanor. It is well documented that she taught more than piano playing to her students. Those who had been under her guidance said she taught the four M's: Music, Manners, Morals and Manicures.

Miss Skinner taught piano lessons on a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano with ornately carved thick wooden legs. This piano was undoubtedly her most prized possession. In an article written by Mrs. S. Lawrence Wheeler, the story is told of how children often said to the music teacher, "You don't have a car," or "You don't have a davenport." Her values are partially revealed by her answer: "Yes, my child, but I have a Steinway."

Miss Skinner augmented her dedication to her music and her students, by her faithfulness to the church. She was a lively member, always interested in the concerns of the youth. She extended her love of music by singing in the church choir. Those who remember said she sang with a distinctive Alto voice. Charles Borgwardt recalls directing this delightful lady in the choir. He also remembers his wife Kay attending circle meetings with Miss Skinner and his daughter Doris taking lessons on the beautiful grand piano.

FCC accommodated several recitals for the students of Miss Skinner. There were so many students with parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors that a large facility was needed to house these concerts. An interesting program note illustrates the multi-generation nature of this teacher and FCC. A recital program dated May 28, 1915, indicates that Loring Hammond, father of Sally Wells, grandfather of Merrick Wells, and great-grandfather of brand new Noah Jacobus Wells was joined by fellow student Harriet Godfrey, mother of Dick Jacobus, grandmother of Barbara Wells and great-grandmother of Noah!

Several long-time members at First Church shared their recollections of this highly regarded musician and teacher. Ellis Brouwer remembers that at times Miss Skinner picked him up during the lunch break from school in her Chevy Coupe. He would have his piano lesson and then walk back to school. Nancy Smart writes "I was a pupil of her for 12 years: in my teen years, she would occasionally take me with her on the Wells Street streetcar to the Pabst Theater for piano concerts. We sat up in the peanut gallery, thrilled with the music we heard."

Other members of FCC have similar stories about the special music teacher and her relationship with them and their families.

Miss Skinner taught piano to students in Wauwatosa for over 50 years! Three generations of some families, most of whom were members of FCC, took advantage of her musical teaching. She never married and it has been stated repeatedly that her life was her music and her students.

March 1, 1967, just months before moving to the Protestant Home for the Aged, Miss Skinner was a special guest at the banquet celebrating the 125th Anniversary of FCC in which Loring Hammond served as master of ceremonies. Along with Miss Skinner, Miss Carol Clapp and Mrs. Marion Godfrey Hathaway were recognized as members of FCC for more than 60 years.

Prior to leaving her home in Wauwatosa, Miss Skinner was adamant that her most prized possession, her Steinway piano, be given to the youth group at FCC. In a letter dated October 9, 1967 Clarabelle Jacobs Pryor, Chair of the Memorials and Special Gifts Committee acknowledges the receipt of the piano. "Your most thoughtful and generous gift to our Church of your most treasured possession will long be remembered by those friends who have known you so many years. However, the real appreciation will come in the future by the young people who will be privileged to use your Steinway Grand Piano." An excerpt from the reply by Miss Skinner reads: "I am very happy knowing my piano is in our Church and I hope it will be useful."

The piano first resided in the youth room on the lower level of the church. It subsequently was moved to the gym, now the Social Hall on the second floor. It stood diligently in one corner or another, being used on some occasions, but mostly waiting for yet another generation to appreciate the special instrument.

As the Restoring our Musical Heritage project was formed, the Steinway received some long awaited attention. Plates on the inside denote patents for various components of the piano, granted from 1852 to 1875. Believed to be manufactured around 1900, the Steinway piano as standing has an estimated worth of $10,000. A comparable instrument in today's dollars would cost $75,000. The restoration project, estimated at $23,000, is not only more economical than a new instrument, it restores the Grand Piano left for our use by a grand lady.

Isabelle Elder Skinner lived for 90 years and at the time of her death, was the oldest member of FCC. Miss Skinner rests now in the Wauwatosa Cemetery, marked by a simple flat stone. There under the shade of a mature Maple tree, overlooking the Longfellow School playground, can be heard the happy voices of children. Among those children, no doubt, can be counted the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who were taught valuable lessons of music and life by Miss Skinner.

Not far away, stands a monument to Luther Clapp the first settled minister of FCC. The inscription states: "For half a century Rev. and Mrs. Clapp labored in this vicinity." The same words would apply to Isabel Elder Skinner. The restoration efforts for the Grand Piano will be a fitting tribute to her and to sustaining her Grand Legacy. *

Appreciation is expressed to the many members of FCC who shared their recollections of Miss Skinner and to the Wauwatosa Historical Society

by Julie Peay

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Restore Our Musical Heritage

Thank you to all for your quick response to our "Restore Our Musical Heritage" campaign. Clearly, this congregation has great pride in the music program which greatly enhances our worship throughout the year.

The campaign, which lasted only a few weeks, raised approximately $56,000 (to date) of the targeted $60,000. We are hopeful, yet confident that some additional contributions will still come in to reach the total goal.

An order has already been placed for the new chapel organ and the piano restoration company recently took the Steinway to begin work. The goal is to have both in place for the holiday season. *


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Nine to Travel to Youth Conferences

With nearly twenty others from across Wisconsin, nine of our students will depart on Wednesday, June 17 to spend an entire week in San Diego, California. San Diego State University is the site for this year's Heritage of Pilgrim Endeavor (HOPE) and the National Association of Pilgrim Fellowship (NAPF) meetings. These two youth conventions are sponsored each year by the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Our church, which is a member of the NACCC, has a long history with these youth conferences.

Amanda and Drew Collis will attend the Heritage for Pilgrim Endeavor (HOPE) meeting, a gathering designed for young men and women ages 18-27. Each year this conference draws about 50 students from Congregational churches across the United States. Those attending the HOPE meeting usually spend one day involved in some sort of community outreach, for example, working on a Habitat for Humanity project. They also spend large portions of each day attending seminars which focus on the way Christian faith impacts everyday life.

Leah Sawnor, Jamie Schultz, Katie Skell, Jenny Pozayt, Nastassia Richardson, Jonathan Sgarlata and Kim Arthur will attend the National Association of Pilgrim Fellowship (NAPF) meeting. This "pep rally for Christianity" is designed for maximum impact on the high school attendees. Powerful presentations--this year by Laurie Polich--and lots of high energy music provide the backdrop for this exciting conference. *

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Let Us Pray

Whether it is a first response or a last resort, we have all been in need of prayer at some time. The Care Board Prayer Project has pray-ers who pray for the needs of our congregation each week. Every Sunday the prayer request book is placed in the narthex during both services. Requests written in the book are prayed for weekly by the Care Board prayer team. In the last year we have had a variety of requests on many topics and age groups. We have prayed for healing, comfort, and guidance. We have had requests for practical matters of finance and even help with a spelling test. Nothing is too big or too small to lift up to the Lord. Our God wants to hear our concerns in prayer. Philippians 4:6 tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Our prayer book has also become a praise book from time to time. There have been notes of thanks and encouragement from those who have seen the results of answered prayer in their lives. Some answers have been immediate and obvious, some take time, and some are answered in unexpected ways. You will be amazed at how God works and perhaps surprised at some answers. You may even be changed by the power of prayer.

The Care Board invites you to present your concerns to God and to let us pray for you. We also invite anyone who is interested in becoming part of our prayer group to call Claudia Rouggly at 479-9019 for more information. *

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Vacation Bible School July 27­31

Noah? Wasn't he the guy with the big boat full of animals?

Yes, but there's a lot more to this incredible story than a big boat and some animals. This summer our children will have a chance to go below the surface of this popular story and to look at some of the amazing history supporting this remarkable tale.

The Mystery of Noah's Ark, our VBS program, will be directed by Tom Rondeau and it will utilize a similar format to last year's successful Madame Q and the Case of Joseph, the Dream Master. Each morning gumshoes will search for clues that will, by week's end, enable the team of detectives to solve a mystery. In addition to clue seeking, children will enjoy singing, crafting, reading, eating and playing.

Children ages 3 years by February 1, 1998 through children entering 5th grade are invited to participate. Cost is $10.00 for the first child and $5.00 for each additional child. If you have specific questions or wish to contribute your time and talents, contact Tom Rondeau, 879-0687. *


Child's Name:_________________________________________________________________________

Birthdate:_________________________ 1997-98 grade in school _____________________________

Parents' Names:_______________________________________________________________________


Home Phone__________________________________ Work Phone:_____________________________

Known allergies or other concerns:_________________________________________________________

Yes, I want to help on the following days: * Mon * Tues * Wed * Thu * Fri

* Teacher * Helper * Snacks * Crafts * Music

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Show Off Your Green Thumb and Enhance Worship

Each year, a member of the Deacons ­ this year Marilyn Vitek ­ is in charge of the flowers for worship services. She maintains the sign-up sheet and helps make the necessary arrangements if requested. On Sundays when no one has signed up to donate flowers, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous often steps in, arranging silk flowers. Cathy and Rod Schmidt also donated a Fall/Spring silk arrangement which is sometimes used.

Throughout the summer months there are many dates available to provide flowers for our worship service - and you can determine your own budget. "I'd love to see people bring in flowers from their own gardens," said Marilyn. "I think that would be lovely." As there is only one service in summer, you could bring the arrangement in and take it back home in your own vase. Or, just provide the flowers and Marilyn would find someone to arrange them. If you don't want to take donated flowers home, many people also leave directions for them to be sent to Congregational Home where the residents always appreciate the added beauty.

Whether you grow your own or purchase them, honor a special occasion or simply add to the service, your floral gifts are appreciated. Contact Marilyn Vitek at 797-8083 for more information. *

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Wisconsin Congregational Association Meets at FCC

On May 1 and 2, First Congregational Church was the site for the thirty-eighth annual meeting of the Wisconsin Congregational Association. The theme for this year's meeting was: "Fanning the Flames to Rekindle the Gift." Representatives were present from eighteen of the thirty-two member congregations. First Church was officially represented at the meeting by delegates John and Eunice Erdahl.

The meeting began on Friday evening with a lovely dinner in the social hall which was followed by the business meeting. Reports from the various state organizations, like the Wisconsin Congregational Ministerial Association and the state Pilgrim Fellowship camp committee, were heard and acted upon by the delegates. It was noted that barely half of our member congregations had delegates in attendance and that attendance at a recent installation vicinage council in Kewaunee had been small. The foregoing observation led to a lively discussion on the need to renew our larger sense of fellowship and involvement at a state/regional level. Even though we're Congregationalists, we know that the church is present on a broader plane. Our fellowship is what makes it real.

Saturday morning began with a rousing hymn-sing in memorial chapel. The delegates then heard presentations on the gifts of congregationalism from state moderator, Rev. Karl Schimpf (North Shore Church, Fox Point) and Rev. Carol DiBiasio-Snyder (First Church, Oshkosh). Rev. Schimpf's presentation gave a stimulating presentation on the covenant. Rev. DiBiasio-Snyder's examined community and took the delegates on a tour of the work of reorganization undertaken by her congregation. The final presentation on the transition from voluntary to missional church was given by Rev. Dr. Steven Peay of First Church. Those in attendance then broke into small discussion groups to apply what they had learned.

The morning concluded with worship in the nave led by Rev. Lonnie Richardson and Rev. Dr. Steven Peay. Rev. Richardson preached on "The Confident Witness." Wonderful music was provided by Betty Dethmers and an octet from our choirs. During the course of the service, the incoming officers were installed, including Moderator Rob Fredrickson and Moderator-elect Rev. Leslie Schultz. Communion was then served to the delegates by members of the Board of Deacons.

Following the service, all repaired to the social hall for yet another delicious meal prepared by Beej Wakefield and company. During the luncheon the following resolution was offered by the state association to First Church (represented by its pastor and teacher) and read by Don Reichard (Second Church, Beloit):

"Whereas the 38th Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Congregational Association was held in the Meeting House of the First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, and

Whereas the Welcoming Members of the church explained and pointed out the history of the grand edifice, and

Whereas sumptuous meals of ample proportions were prepared and served with loving care to all in attendance, and

Whereas, everyone in attendance was made to feel more than welcome and

Whereas the success of the Annual Meetings is in large part dependent upon the host church, we then, by acclamation declare our 38th Annual Meeting a resounding success and thereby

give a resounding hip, hip, HURRAH to the Members and Staff of the First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa."

The body gave three cheers and was declared adjourned by outgoing moderator Karl Schimpf. *


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Ecumenical News

Rev. Dr. Steven Peay was recently elected President of the Wauwatosa Clergy Association for the 1998-99 program year. The group is made up of clergy members of churches in Wauwatosa. All churches are welcome to participate and currently there are 30 active congregations represented. The purpose of the group is to provide fellowship for clergy, come to an understanding of all churches, and to share a vision for the future. As a collective voice the Association shares concerns with the community, as in the recent discussion of soccer games during regular worship hours. Other officers elected were: Secretary, Dr. James Rand of Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church; Treasurer, Rev. Gary Erickson, St. Matthew Lutheran Church; additional program committee members, Rev. Alan Newton, Underwood Baptist Church, and Rev. John Zumwaldt, Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church.

Dr. Peay, members of First Church and representatives from the clergy and the laity also serve on the Mayfair Interfaith Board. The board oversees the activities which emphasize aiding the elderly to remain in their homes for longer than would be possible without this much appreciated assistance. *

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PF Dinner and Auction

The 82 guests at the PF dinner/auction, held on March 28, anticipated a mouth watering Italian meal prepared by John Sgarlata, and knew they would have an opportunity to bid on a variety of donated items and services. But the lively post dinner entertainment provided by auctioneers Keith Harmon and Chris Rygh surpassed all expectations.

More than 50 items were donated for auction, including sports memorabilia, game tickets, gourmet food items, restaurant certificates, personal care services ranging from tanning to teeth whitening, weekend getaway accommodations, a computer, and the ever popular Beanie Babies. The auctioneers encouraged some light hearted bidding wars to maximize the funds raised for the PF meeting in San Diego June 17 ­24.

As a result of the auction and dinner, $2500 was raised to bring the students closer to their goal of $4,000.

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A Word From Lonnie

Dog Food Marketing or Meeting a Need

The story is told about a major corporation that launched a new brand of dog food. Through research, they developed the most sophisticated, most nutritious dog food to date and poured millions into marketing it. But it didn't sell.

Out of frustration, the corporation gathered in a Chicago hotel. The national sales manager got up and said, "What's the problem? We have this nutritious product that is cheaper and better marketed than our competitor's product. Why is nobody buying it?" There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Then, from the back of the room, a salesman from Iowa drawled, "The dogs don't like it."

The company learned they needed to relate to dogs more than rely on marketing. This is also true for the church. When leadership is handed over to marketers at the expense of meeting the needs and desires of those who make up our core we will all be hungry.

Jesus said he was the bread of life that satisfies. Whenever a church moves from that core truth, a disservice is done and a hungering person looks elsewhere. As we remain committed to this core truth, which is evident in our purpose and covenant, our church will continue to grow strong. *

In Him,


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Health Thermometer

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings! I hope the beautiful month of June finds you and your loved ones experiencing God's peace and wholeness. This month, I would like to take some time to consider the role of guilt and forgiveness in our lives.

Guilt can be a gift from God

These words may not seem to make sense when we first think of them. On a spiritual level though, guilt is useful if it helps us to change our behavior and directs us back to the Lord. We may feel the need to say with the psalmist, "my guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear." (Ps. 38:4) We know that we cannot 'fix' the circumstances ourselves, and so we turn to the arms of our loving God.

As we confess our sins to those we have hurt, and to the Lord, we are comforted with these words, "... as far as the east is from us... and...I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." (Ps. 103:12; Is. 43:25).

Some guilt can be healing;
too much can hurt us

What I mean by these words is that as long as our guilt directs us back to God, then it is healing. Sometimes, the hard part is not confessing our sins, but leaving our remorse and guilt with God. When we hear God's word of forgiveness, it can be very difficult to put our guilt away and live our lives in God's healing grace. It seems that at times, God can forget our sins much easier than we can. If we cannot let go of our guilt, it can become a barrier in our relationship with God, rather than a bridge.

How can we really experience God's healing grace?

There are several things we can do to experience God's forgiveness in a more complete way.

* First, we can study God's word and learn more about His love and forgiveness for us.

* Second, when we sin, we can confess our sins to one another and the Lord and experience God's healing word of forgiveness. So often in our relationships, when we sin we apologize rather than repent. As a result, we are more likely to be told, "That's problem," rather than a healing word of forgiveness.

* Third, after we have been forgiven, we may need to develop some positive self-talk. We can remind ourselves that God remembers our sin no more, and we should do likewise!

May God's healing word of forgiveness richly dwell in our hearts and relationships.


your nurse, Michelle

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In Brief

New Note Cards Available

with a picture of the church. Cost for a pack of 10 is $4.00 or 2 packs for $7.00.

Family Camp

Mark your calendars - Family Camp is August 14­17. This great family getaway has been gaining popularity each year and space is limited. Set at Camp Lucerne with a beautiful private lake, life guard-staffed swimming beach, cabins with private rooms, and meals provided - it's the best of camping and luxury combined. Cost is $79/adult, $73/ages 12-18, $54/ages 5­11, $43/ages 1­4, free/under 1 with a maximum immediate family cost of $299. Contact the church office now!

The Editor Thanks:

Julie Peay and Claudia Rouggly, for articles, Doug Jacobson and Marilyn Vitek for article information and the office staff for their assistance.


Congratulations to Adam Anthony Consiglio and Elizabeth Jane Menzel, married on May 16!

Memorial Services

Memorial Services were held on May 15 for Ernst A. Longenecker and May 18 for Martha H. Patten.

New Members

We're very excited to have a large group of new members joining us on May 31. Covenant Class Students and New Members will join together. Watch the next issue of the Columns for write-ups on our newest members and don't be afraid to introduce yourselves!

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Congregational Columns

Editor, Beth Linscott

Communications Committee

René Klumb - Chairperson,

Julie Peay, Bruce Smith, Dave Swanson, Jennifer Wakefield,

Win Williams


Rev. Lonnie Richardson, Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Steven A. Peay, Associate Minister/Teacher

Chris Rygh, Director of Student Ministries

Rani Gusho, Financial Administrator

Roy Brouwer, Building Superintendent

Lee Jacobi, Director of Music

Betty Dethmers, Organist

Betsy Isenberg, Secretary

Nancy Gross, Secretary

Charles Nelson, Administrator, Congregational Home, Inc.

Rev. Norman S. Ream, Minister Emeritus


Vol. 7, Issue 5