March 25, 2001

Table of Contents

History's Oldest Continuous Feast

Church Street Singers Spread Joy

Make a Joyful Noise Workshops

From Rev. Chris Rygh

March 7th All-Church Meeting Summary

Search Committee Spreads Efforts

Nominating Committee Moving Forward

Lenten Offering to Congregational Fund

PF Auction Approaches $7500 Goal

Youth Movement

Honduran Mission Update

Breakfast with the Girls

In Brief/ Our Church Family

Do You Know History's
Oldest Continuous Feast?

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci's great masterpiece "The Last Supper" is great art but bad history?

Did you know that Jesus actually was a Rabbi at the time of the Passover and he journeyed to Jerusalem with all his Rabbinical Association (Disciples, wives, children and various other people connected with the Association.) There were considerably more than twelve people gathered in that upper room.

Did you know that women and children took leadership roles at this feast?

Yes, the Passover was an ancient feast by the time Jesus was born. The roots of Passover can be traced back to a prehistoric shepherds' festival. These ancient banquets were and continue to be a symbol of fellowship, well being, and family unity. The lamb as a sacrifice came from the Patriarchs. Then the Israelites came upon the Cana'an farmers and through these people the Israelites learned about the Festival of New Leaven which took place in early spring. This was barely harvest time and the mystery of fermented yeast or lack of yeast in the bread became a part of the the Passover tradition. It is thought that the Children of Israel under Moses' leadership settled in the land of Egypt and combined these two festivals. As the history of Passover developed the introduction of the Covenant with God and God's chosen people and the Exodus were combined. The story needed to be remembered and the oral tradition was carried through the storytellers as sagas and epic poems. As history unfolded Passover became a feast of equality as well as a celebration of unity. Each culture brought bits and pieces of what is today the Passover of the Last Supper. Christians know it from the stories that have been told to us in the gospels and through the celebration of the Lord's Supper or Eucharist.

Did you know that the feast was eight hours in length? (Our passover will be considerably shorter.)

Did you know that ONLY four glasses of wine were allowed? (Other feasts were known for
excessive drunkenness.)


You as members and friends of First Congregational Church ­ the "Wauwatosa Association," are invited to Journey to Jerusalem and participate in the Passover meal on Wednesday, April 4, 2001, at 6pm. Come with the spirit of fun and in anticipation of joining together in a family spirited event to remember for years
to come. *

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Church Street Singers Spreading Joy

In 1982, Rev. Norm Ream, PhD was retiring as Senior Minister of First Congregational Church. The activity director at Congregational Home asked David Dethmers if he would provide the musical entertainment for a retirement dinner. Not wanting to perform alone, Dave put together a group of 12 singers with wife Betty to accompany and direct. That's how it started. Today, the group is 30 singers strong, still led by Betty and is called "Church Street Singers."

Well known to many in our church, Betty Dethmers has been the organist here since 1974, volunteers at Congregational Home, teaches piano, and accompanies various music groups throughout the area.

Church Street Singers performs approximately 12 times per year at various area retirement homes and this very polished performance is recognized as "the best entertainment of the year" at each Home they visit.

Approximately half of the group is comprised of FCC church members, while the balance is made up of area musicians ­ friends of Dave and Betty's. Membership in the choir is by invitation only as they are professional or very advanced musicians and learn the programs very quickly. With only 6­8 rehearsals under their belts, they are ready to perform an hour-long program of varied music including secular, sacred and commissioned pieces.

Singing in mixed formations including quartets and featured soloists, the group covers a wide age range with many couples and even a father/daughter combination.

In 1995, following the death of her husband, Betty established the David Dethmers Memorial which she uses to help fund the expenses of the group. At that time, she decided it would be a fitting tribute to her husband to commission an anthem each year which the group would incorporate in the program. She contacted Ray Haan, who composed a piece for FCC's 150th anniversary celebration. Each year, Betty selects and supplies some texts from which Ray works. Church Street Singers then has sole rights to the song for that year and Betty has received copies of each piece that has gone on to be published. This year's anthem, "Let Us Greet the Dawn with Singing," was inspired after Betty's brother suffered a biking accident in Europe in which he lost a leg. Each piece also ties into the year's concert theme. This year is a continuation of last year's "America" theme.

A great deal of time and work is devoted to this group each year by Betty as well as the singers. And while she notes that they feel very good about what they do and take a lot away from each performance, certainly the recipients of the programs are greatly enriched and blessed to enjoy the music of the Church Street Singers. *

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Make a Joyful Noise Workshops

The 41st Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Congregational Association (WCA) will be held at Community Congregational Church of Kewaunee, April 27­28. This year several workshops will emphasize positive programs that have found success in several churches. Each workshop will be offered twice, at 8:30 and 9:45 on April 28. All members are welcome to attend and take advantage of the information provided in addition to enjoying the fellowship of other Congregationalists from around the region. Following are the four workshops:

Summer Worship and Children ­ Making Sundays Come Alive This Summer - suggestions on jump-starting your summer services by keeping kids engaged and parents attending

Zero Based Programming ­ The Blank Calendar - Identifying ministries important to your church and helping members take ownership

So, Now You Are Moderator ­ Now What? - Issues for past, present and future moderators

Christian Education Ideas That Work ­ Rotation Curriculum - Learning to teach in a variety of different ways to reach the many different styles in which kids learn *

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From Rev. Chris Rygh -

Highest Common Purpose

First day of high school. First class. Biology. A very intimidating, mean-looking Mrs. Anabelle Dahlston standing at the back of the room watching us file in.

I'd heard about her from my four older siblings. According to the reports, she was tough but fair, "the kind" my brother Jeff told me, "you'll grow to appreciate over time." Those are not the kind of words that help on the first day of school. And as I glanced at the barren walls and sterile décor, it was clear to me there'd be none of the happy hand-holding I'd received as an eight grader from teachers who still put up colorful monthly bulletin boards and gave away dinosaur pencils on Fridays.

The bell rang, and still Mrs. Dahlston waited. Five minutes passed, and still she waited. Silence. (Apparently, other siblings had offered similar cautions over the summer, because no one moved a muscle.)

Finally, in a voice we all perceived as a quiet roar, Mrs. Dahlston began her introduction. "Young women and young men, two of the most important scientific skills you can master are observation and categorization. For the next week, you will practice both."

"Huh?" I turned to my neighbor, Tony Proctor, and asked with my eyebrows, "Did you catch that? What is she talking about?"

"Young women and young men, I've just spent the last five minutes observing you from the back of the room, and you appear to be a very diverse group of students. There are not two of you who are dressed the same. No two of you have the same hair color. Some of you are wearing glasses; some are not. I'm not sure you really have all that much in common, but I think it would be fascinating to investigate the question. Your assignment for the rest of the hour is to observe, identify and list any traits or characteristics you believe we all share in common. Take out a piece of notebook paper and begin."

"Ahhhhh. Okay. We all have skin," I thought to myself. "And we all have ears and noses, I think. Umm, what else . . .?"

For the next two days, Mrs. Dahlston drew out our responses to her question. The list began to flow into the hundreds! After we'd run out of physical traits, she began to allow other things, for example, the fact that all of us in the class lived in the state of Iowa, we'd all visited the Dairy Queen

over the summer, we shared an affinity for certain kinds of music. And we all loathed exams. Finally, on the fourth day, she cracked a smile. "What is the most important thing we all share here? I mean right now, here in this class. We've identified nearly 400 things we have in common. But what is our highest commonality?"

We were stunned and sat in silence. No one had any idea where to start on that one. "Let me help you out," offered Mrs. Dahlston generously, "I believe we have a common purpose here and that is to grow in our understanding of Biology, to mature as biologists. Wouldn't you agree?"

We were speechless. "Now then," she said, "let's get down to work helping each other reach toward our highest
common purpose."

As covenanted members of First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, our highest common purpose is maturing as Christ followers. That is the end toward which we encourage one another. I pray that in the months ahead, we can--with a liberated spirit and renewed enthusiasm--get down to work helping each other reach our highest common purpose! *

Blessings, Chris

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March 7th All-Church Meeting Summary

At the beginning of the March 7th Special Meeting of the Congregation there were 393 members in attendance. The issues of the petition signed by 50 members were discussed and voted upon. The first issue being, "Whether it is the will of the Congregation as a whole to retain the services of Reverend Richardson." The result was that the majority of those attending, 255 to 84 with 4 abstaining, supported the Council in its decision to accept Lonnie Richardson's resignation. This was a secret written ballot.

The second issue, "Whether it is the will of the Congregation to initiate a review of the structure of the governing process to ascertain whether or not the current mode of Church governance can be improved so the decision processes better reflect the views of the Congregation as a whole" passed with a show of hands. Rev. Richardson will continue to preach through Easter Sunday, except for a pre-arranged schedule which has Rev. Rygh in the pulpit on Sun. April 1.

The complete minutes of this meeting will be posted on the various bulletin boards around the church. *

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Search Committee Spreads Efforts

Council Approves
Interim Minister Search

The Church Council, unanimously voted after a short discussion on February 27, 2001, to recommend that First Congregational Church (FCC) secure the services of a Senior Minister (Interim) to succeed Rev. Lonnie Richardson.

The concept of Interim Ministry was created to temporarily assist churches which are in search of a full-time, permanent minister. It is widely used within all Protestant denominations. An extreme shortage of clergy exists in virtually every Protestant denomination and in the Roman Catholic Church.

Rev. Phil Jackson, a member of FCC and a staff member of the NACC said, "We have 56 vacant pulpits in the National Association at this very moment; some have been vacant for a long time."

"We're working on the Interim Minister search, facilitating the focus groups, the tabulation of all the data from the groups, and the search for a Senior Minister, all at the same time," said Dave Swanson, Search Committee chairperson. "All of these consume a huge amount of time for everyone on the Search Committee."

Search Committee
Focus Groups Continuing

The Search Committee has held more than a dozen "focus groups" so far with great success. Each session has been attended by 8 - 12 people and everyone is actively participating and sharing ideas.

The Search Committee would like to thank everyone who has attended a focus group. Your ideas and your help have been invaluable. The church office has the schedule of focus groups coming up. If you cannot attend a session, we urge you to complete a survey form. These are available by calling the church office.

When the focus group data have been weighted and tabulated, the results will be published in a future edition of the Columns, so members will know the factors which are considered to be "most important,' moderately important" and "least important" in selecting candidates for the permanent Senior Minister position. *

by Doug Jacobson

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Nominating Committee Moving Forward

The Nominating Committee thanks all those who have come forward and volunteered to serve on boards and committees for the next three years.

We are busy trying to match people to the open positions. You will not necessarily be asked to serve on the board of your choice. Certain boards are always chosen by the majority of volunteers.

People volunteering for open board positions will soon be contacted or may have already received a call. After the May 6th Election meeting, you will officially assume your responsibilities on Sunday, June 3. You may attend any meeting of your board before June as a guest, but can not vote.

After May 6, the newly elected Moderator will begin his job of filling the open positions on the various committees. These appointments will be ratified at the May Council Meeting. *

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Lenten Offering Designated to Congregational Fund

The Board of Benevolences is pleased to announce that the Lenten offering will be distributed to The Congregational Home. Specifically, it is designated to The Congregational Fund which serves to aid our church members residing in The Home and finding that their personal funds may have been depleted.

Traditionally, each year the church gives money, through the Board of Benevolences, to this fund to assure that The Home will be affordable to our church members. Last year, during our budget shortfall, some of the benevolence dollars allocated were unable to be distributed. The Congregational Home allocation was one of these. It is our hope during this Lenten time, you will search your heart and find a way to give of yourselves to enhance the Congregational Home Congregational Fund. The Home is a major benevolence outreach created, funded and sustained by our own church. The Congregational Fund was instigated by a challenge grant from two of our church members and has been a vital source of help to many of our own church members. Congregational Home is a tribute to this church and the power of its Christian spirit.

Please reach out and share your blessings during this Lenten period. *

by Mary York

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PF Auction Approaches Goal of $7500

Held the first Saturday night of March, the PF dinner auction raised nearly $7500 to fund scholarships, camperships and special ministry events. Event coordinator Terri Bilhoff said afterwards, "Wow, this is exhausting work but tremendously gratifying. I'm so proud of the way it all came together."

It is no accident that this year's auction profits jumped almost 20% over last year's. "Terri challenged everyone, especially the students, to really step up their efforts," said Chris Rygh. "As a result, we offered many more items, displayed them more attractively and sold them more efficiently. Thanks to the efforts of Carol Wittig, we were able to serve the meal more smoothly and incorporate a silent auction during the dinner hour."

One first timer was impressed by the number of items donated by our students. One young man offered to present a juggling show in a home. Others contributed baby sitting services. One young man sold the most incredible photograph collages of old County Stadium. Close to $1000 was raised just by the contributions of the students.

The meal, prepared by John Sgarlata and his sons, Jonathan and Christopher received many compliments. In fact, Chef Sgarlata was able to sell two gourmet dinners at the auction which netted nearly $200 a piece.

One of the more impressive parts of the evening was listening to first time auctioneer Jeremy Schowalter. Jeremy, a junior at the Prairie School in Racine, spent about an hour behind the microphone, gavel in hand, taking bids on the many gift packages. "Chris [Rygh] gave me a few tips, but mostly I just figured it out as I went along. Since I'm one of the students going to Honduras, I had an extra incentive to run the bids as high as they'd go!" said Jeremy. *

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Youth Movement

State Rally for Middle Schoolers

On Friday, March 23, a number of our middle school students traveled to Ozaukee Congregational Church near Grafton for an overnight rally. Associate Minister Chris Rygh and his wife, Mary Beth, delivered a two-part program in which they encouraged the students in their faith walks.

Sunday School Mission Campaign

Through the Lenten season, many of our Sunday School classes have been working in the atrium between worship services in order to raise money for missions. Earlier in the year, students collected nearly $1000 worth of diapers for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. The goal for the spring campaign is to raise a similar amount for the building of a playground at our Honduran mission. (See article on page 7.) The seventh grade class, led by Keith Harmon and Tim Anheuser, shined shoes one Sunday and raised over $100! The fifth and sixth grade class, led by Carolyn Simpson and Julie Anheuser, sold the prayer books they had created in class and raised over $150. A bake sale raised another $120. "Obviously, we can't do this all the time," said Chris Rygh, "but the strategy has sure been successful. Not all classes have chosen to participate, but the ones that are jumping in seem to be having a great deal of fun while offering products and services that our members are willing to buy."

Church Family Talent Show

The Jr. and Sr. PF groups are planning a talent show on Sunday, May 6th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Mark your calendars now, and, please let us know if you have a talent to share. If the spirit doesn't move you to go on stage, please join us for a night of fun and fellowship as our lively, and multi-talented youth share their gifts. (If you want to sign up to participate, or to help coordinate this event, please e-mail Pam Parker at, or call
414-475-0044.) *

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Honduran Mission Update

The Honduran Mission Team has now been finalized and consists of five adults and ten students. The team will be leaving on April 16 and returning April 22. The primary goals of the mission are to assist with medical and dental education, build a children's activity center, investigate clean water options, visit completed houses that were started by past mission teams, participate in church services, and help with minor building repairs.

Phil Callen is coordinating the design and materials acquisition for the children's activity center with the mission. The materials are being purchased in San Pedro Sula to save shipping costs.

The mission team has been meeting regularly and has already completed nearly all necessary medical requirements and foreign travel arrangements.

Students have been extremely busy with fund raising activities. The dinner auction on March 3rd was a huge success raising nearly $7500. Although funds raised will be used to support many of the year-round youth activities, a significant portion of the profit will be used to offset the costs of individual student missionaries. "The students going to Honduras really pulled their weight when it came to soliciting auction items and serving the meal," said Associate Minister Chris Rygh, "It is just fair that they be able to use their portion for this trip." Despite aggressive fund raising efforts and appeals for sponsorship, several students are still without sponsors and struggling to fully fund their trips. Should you have in interest in sponsoring one of our student missionaries, you may call Doug Hoerz or Chris Rygh at 414-258-7375.

A commissioning and blessing of the mission team will take place on Easter Sunday followed by the annual Easter breakfast in the Social Hall. Please keep these team members and the mission in your prayers.

Leaders: Phil Callen, Douglas Hoerz, Judith Pieper, Diane Schowalter, Thomas Smith


Parker Hoerz, Dianna Kelling, Caitlin O'Meara, Leslie O'Meara, Christy Pozayt, Nastassia Richardson, Jeremy Schowalter, Ryan Schowalter, Johnathan Sgarlata, Paul Syvock *

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Breakfast with the Girls

On Saturday, March 3 Breakfast With the Girls celebrated its 1st anniversary! The morning was a clear example of "how time flies when you're having fun" as organizers were reminded of crossed fingers and humble hopes one year ago. Those hopes have been realized thanks to the strength and goodwill of the women of this fellowship -- three cheers for everyone involved!

More than 60 women gathered in the Friendship Lounge with coffee and wonderful "goodies" thanks once again to the volunteer bakers who helped us out. Mia Toska was the speaker in March and she shared her most remarkable life starting in war-torn Belgium, continuing in America, then rediscovering her faith in a time of life crisis. It was a moving story and we thank Mia for sharing it.

In April our program will feature Sister Karlyn Cauley who will explore what gardens and growth offer us in our busy lives and how this recreation of nature's handiwork helps us

recover our spirit and enter a quiet spot. This will be a wonderful "spring thing" and we look forward to seeing all of you (and then some) again. Remember, if you can help with a "goodie" let us know. Sign up at the church office if you're coming and-see you on the 7th of April! *

by Char Schweitzer

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In Brief/Our Church Family

Tuesday Night Softball League

is now signing up players for our adult league (18 & over). For more information, contact Jeff Saeger, 414-771-5127.


will meet on Tuesday, April 3 at 1:00 p.m. at Congregational Home. Bring a sandwich. After the meeting, we will play BUNCO with the residents.

Circle 12

will meet on Wednesday, March 28 at 11am. Marge Shirer will present, "Watercolor ­ You Can Do It!" Guests welcome. Call Evelyn, 774-3733 or Margaret 453-7762 for reservations.

Order Your Easter Plants

Plants will decorate the Nave for Easter services on April 15 and may be taken home after the 11:00 service. You can choose from tulips, daffodils, lilies and hyacinths. Plants are $12.50 each. Order forms are available in the office and need to be completed by April 8.

Strawberry Luncheon Coming

The Friends of Congregational Home have announced that the 2001 Strawberry Luncheon, will be held on Wednesday, May 2 beginning at noon. This year's luncheon will feature a Florentine Opera performance of "The Sounds of Spring." Ticket price is $14.00. Please call the receptionist at Congregational Home during business hours, M-F, 8:30AM -4:30PM, at 262/781-0550 if you have questions or to make reservations.

All-Church Work Day

Church members of every age are encouraged to attend our Spring Cleaning day. There is plenty of work both inside and out necessary to keep our maintenance up and costs down. It's from 9am ­ 3pm with doughnuts in the morning and lunch provided. Information and sign up in the church office.

The deadline for submitting articles for the next issue of the Columns is

Monday, April 16




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Congregational Columns

Editor, Beth Linscott

Communications Committee

Char Schweitzer - Chairperson,

De McDermott, John O'Meara, Mary York


Rev. Lonnie Richardson, Senior Minister

Rev. Kathryn Rust, Associate Minister

Rev. Chris Rygh, Associate Minister

Rev. Dr. Charles Goldsmith, Minister of Pastoral Care

Rani Gusho, Administrator

Lee Jacobi, Director of Music

Betty Dethmers, Organist

Michelle Jackson, Parish Nurse

Sally Boyle, Secretary

Nancy Grundle, Secretary

Anne Callen, Secretary

Charles Nelson, Administrator, Congregational Home, Inc.

Rev. Norman S. Ream, Minister Emeritus


Vol. 10, Issue 3