January 26, 2003

First in faith, freedom, fellowship, and Wauwatosa


Table of Contents

Norman S. Ream Remembered

Minister's Musings

Grab Your Paddle, It's Auction Time

NACCC to Meet in Milwaukee

Holidays at First Church

See the Signs?

Benevolences Beats Goal

'Lenten Spring' at First Church

Adult Ed Opportunities

In Brief


Norman S. Ream, Minister Emeritus

December 27, 1918 ­­ January 12, 2003

Norman S. Ream, much-beloved and admired Minister Emeritus and longtime Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, passed away early in the afternoon of Sunday, January 12, 2003, at The Congregational Home, Brookfield. Dr. Ream's ministry at the church spanned 25 years; he was one of the best-known and most-admired Protestant ministers in Wisconsin.

Following his retirement from First Congregational Church in 1983, he and his wife, Muriel, moved to Estes Park, Colorado. In November, 2002, they returned to live at The Congregational Home, which he had envisioned and founded.

Dr. Ream is survived by his wife, Muriel Howe Ream, and by their four adult children: Claudia Browne of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and her son Nathan and daughter Ashlea; Norman H. (Cynthia) of Delafield, Wisconsin, and their daughters, Lauren, Erin and Rebecca; Roger (Mary Kay) of Oakhill, Virginia, and their daughters, Alanna, Kelly and Brooke; and Sarah (Richard) Wille, of Estes Park, Colorado, and their daughters Kathryn, Carolyn and Robin Wise. Other survivors include his brother, Richard Ream, of Wilson, Wyoming, and a sister-in-law, Barbara Willy, of Sandpoint, Idaho. Preceding Dr. Ream in death was his granddaughter Megan Browne.

Dr. Ream, graduated from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, in 1944 and received a Doctor of Laws Degree (Juris Doctor) from the University of Utah in 1941.

He began his ministry at First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa in 1958, having been called to this church from a position as Senior Pastor at First Methodist Church, Neenah, Wisconsin. He served three Methodist churches in Milwaukee prior to serving in Neenah. His service extended beyond First Congregational Church to the work of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. He served as a member of the Executive Committee and later as the Moderator of the NACCC. He also authored numerous articles for The Congregationalist, its award-winning magazine and served for a time as the
magazine's editor.

Dr. Ream was the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions from both religious and civic organizations. In 1966, Dr. Ream was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia. In 1968, he received the City of Wauwatosa's "Outstanding Citizen Award." Junior Achievement of Milwaukee presented him with its Award for Leadership "in strengthening understanding and appreciation for American Principles of Freedom" in 1961. He received two awards, in 1962 and 1964, from The Freedoms Foundation, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for his devotion to the cause of patriotism and freedom. In 1967, Dr. Ream was given the coveted George Washington Medal of Honor by The Freedoms Foundation at a special ceremony. One of these awards was for a speech he gave to Milwaukee area service clubs, entitled "The Best Kind of Government," which was reprinted in The Congressional Record in 1967. In 1972, Dr. Ream received The Good Citizenship Silver Medal from the Sons of the American Revolution. The Boy Scouts of Greater Milwaukee honored him by making him an Honorary Eagle Scout for his support and sponsorship of Scout troops and activities.

Among his greatest professional satisfactions was having organized the Retired Men's Club of Wauwatosa, which continues to meet at First Church. Providing a common meeting place and social outlet for men over 65, membership in the club reached its capacity of 400 shortly after its founding and quickly developed a waiting list of more than 100.

Additionally, Dr. Ream was active and prominent in the events and seminars, research and publications of The Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.

During his career in Wisconsin, Dr. Ream served on the boards of The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Wisconsin, The Children's Services Society, the Downtown YMCA, and the national "Right to Work Committee."

It was in 1966 that Dr. Ream saw the need for a superior-quality residence-for-the-elderly facility in the community. Dr. Ream proposed to members of the FCC Council that exploration and planning begin for the possibility of this ambitious project. Eight years later, in 1974, The Congregational Home was completed in its initial phase; several additions and major improvements have since been added. The Congregational Home, from the day of its opening, has been considered and rated among Wisconsin's finest retirement residence-and-healthcare institutions.

Dr. Ream's sermons were widely praised as "outstanding;" it was not unusual for church members to plan their vacations so that they would miss none, or fewer, of them. In addition to focusing on positive-ways-for-better-living, Norm was known for "teaching the congregation a few words they may not have known," using Greek and Latin/Roman history to explain the exact meaning of contemporary English and then relating the words to passages from The Bible.

He was author of the 1966 book, Reflections on Man and Nature; in 1969, he wrote Further Reflections on Man and Nature. He authored numerous articles in The Christian Century, Faith and Freedom, The Freeman, Christian Economics, The Congregationalist, and other publications.

After moving to Estes Park, Dr. Ream joined Trailmasters, a mountain-hiking group organized by former Wisconsin resident Norm O'Neill. Ream also became a volunteer in Rocky Mountain National Park, working at the Wild Basin Ranger Station.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of The Estes Park Hospital Foundation and served as its President. He was also a volunteer for the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce and was on the Board of the Friends of the Estes Park Library.

During his retirement years, he and Muriel continued to maintain contacts with many members and friends of First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, both in Wisconsin and in Colorado.

Despite his illness, Norm maintained a cheerful attitude and even toward the end of his life, his sense of humor continued. He conversed cheerfully with visitors well into December. After the Christmas holiday, his illness became more pronounced, and he passed peacefully away with members of his family present on Sunday afternoon, January 12, 2003.

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers or other tributes, those desiring to make Memorial Gifts may do so to The Congregational Home (3150 Lilly Road, Brookfield WI 53005), or First Congregational Church. *

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The Minister's Musings

Walking through the mall the other day I noted that 'Valentine's Day' is already being promoted. Hearts and flowers aside for a moment, let me ask the burning questions: "Who was Valentine?" and "Why do we celebrate love on his feast day?"

Valentine, so the legends go, was a priest in third century Rome. He saw to the needs of those who were facing martyrdom during the persecution by the Emperor Claudius II. At some point Valentine's work was discovered and he was put on trial. When even torture and beatings did not weaken his resolve to be faithful to Christ, he was beheaded. His martyrdom took place, it is said, on February 14, 269, just outside Rome on the Flaminian Way. After Christianity was legalized, a church was built on the spot and dedicated to him in 350.

So, Valentine was a martyr for the faith and February 14 was the day of his death. Why celebrate romantic love on this day? There are all sorts of explanations given for this practice, but one of the oldest is that the birds began to pair on this day. Valentine the martyr became one of the 'patron saints' for lovers just because his birthday into eternity fit this thought. There is evidence of this custom in a letter sent in 1477 which said, ". . .St. Valentine's Day, and every bird chooseth him a mate. . ." Thus the sending of little messages ­ Valentines ­ grew out of this belief about the birds mating on February 14.

Valentine's Day is a charming custom and one of long-standing popularity. I think it more important, however, to consider love at a different level on this day ­ the love of God and the love for God's people that this good man possessed. This year perhaps we should also think of sending a Valentine to someone who has demonstrated God's love to us in a special way? Valentine encouraged people in their faith and that's not a bad idea for us, either.

Last month we said goodbye to two 'Valentines.' We wished Chris Rygh and his family 'Godspeed' on January 12 as they begin a new ministry in Cedar Falls, Iowa. On that same day the Reverend Dr. Norman Ream, our minister emeritus, slipped into eternity and we celebrated his memorial on January 18th. We are blessed to have 'Valentines' come into our lives and show us a new side of God's love ­ just as Chris and Norm did, each in his own inimitable way. We really shouldn't wait until a 'goodbye' to let the 'Valentines' in our life know that we have been touched by God through them ­ this year make it a little different.

Have a blessed Valentine's Day and be an instrument and sign of God's love in the world around you. It will be the best 'card' you'll ever send! Oh ­ and will you be my Valentine?

As ever,

Yours in God's love,


Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D.


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Grab Your Paddle, It's Auction Time!

The Christmas trees have all been taken down, the presents have been washed and worn several times over, now it's time to start thinking about the Italian Dinner/Auction on Saturday, March 15, 2003.

That's right, it is that time of year again where we dust off the auction paddles, indulge in Gourmet Italian cuisine and partake in friendly bid wars with fellow church members. We are privileged to have Keith Harmon as the emcee of the auction again. He wowed us last year with his enthusiasm and of course the tuxedo!

The evening will start with the opening of the silent auction tables at 5:00 p.m. with final bids coming in by 6:00 p.m. Dinner will be prepared by our beloved Italian chef, John Sgarlata, and served by PF students at about 5:30 p.m. The voice auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end around 8:30 p.m.

The music provided last year was a nice touch and many people commented on how well it fit into the fine dining experience. We are currently in the planning stages for musicians. If you or someone you know are available and willing to provide live music during dinner, please contact me.

Last year we raised more than $15,000 at this event which helped send students on mission trips to Mexico and Alaska, supported summer camp, the NAPF conference and of course pizza parties. We had the biggest attendance to date last year, and we were able to keep the auction to a reasonable time of 8:30 p.m. which helped the weary bidders whose paddles were just a bit worn.


Last year we unveiled a new concept by presenting a pre-auction event the Sunday before the auction for those who wanted to be involved in the auction experience, but were unable to attend. This concept was well received and set the wheels in motion for a very successful fundraiser.

The pre-auction will consist of food baskets, tools, hospitality packages and much more. These items will only be bid on as part of the pre-auction, with the winning bidder being notified by phone.

During the pre-auction, we will be accepting monetary contributions and, with your direction, we will either use the contribution to purchase items in your name to be auctioned, or designate it to the youth fund. Contact Carol Wittig if you wish to donate or participate in the pre-auction to be held on Sunday, March 9, 2003 from 9:45 till 11:00 a.m.

Donations & Corporate sponsorships

We recognize the economy may be somewhat unstable, but we feel the experiences gained (by students) from helping those less fortunate through mission trips will build character, compassion and teach tolerance to students being raised in a world of social pressure and political unrest.

Corporate sponsorships are being sought to help support our efforts to continue providing students with these very valuable experiences. Sponsorships can range from $100 to $1,000. All donors will be recognized in the auction program distributed at the auction. If you work for a corporation that supports local youth programs, or you own a business, won't you please consider a sponsorship?

Junior PF much more involved

This is my second year working with Junior PF students and I really enjoy it. The students are fun to be around and are eager to help. I have very high expectations of the Junior PF students, in terms of participation and involvement in youth activities and fundraising events. They have proven they can and will be able to step up to the plate as they become Senior PF students in a few short years.

Having said that, we are currently in the initial planning stages of organizing local mission experiences for the Junior PF students.

Sign up Soon

With limited space in the Social Hall, we ask that you sign up well in advance to hold your spot for the dinner/auction. The cost of the dinner for adults is $11.50, for children under 16 $6.50. All proceeds benefit our youth programs and allow our kids an opportunity to continue spiritual growth with fellow Christians.

Please drop off any items you are contributing to the auction at the church office by 3/6/03. Please include your name, phone number and opening bid (if not a gift certificate).

by Terri Biloff

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NACCC to Meet in Milwaukee

The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches will hold the 2003 Annnual Meeting in Milwaukee from June 28­July 1.

While more information will be published as this event draws near, it's time to get the many needed volunteers in place. Volunteers are needed for hospitality, greeting, marshalling meetings, ushering the worship service, singing in the choir, and acting as tour guides for children's programs.

Our own Bill Edens is in charge of marshalling volunteers. Marshalls check credentials, run messages, tally votes and more. If intersted, contact Bill, 262-786-6196.

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A Look Back on the Holidays at First Church

Cherub Choir

In November, a new choir was started under the direction of the very talented Michelle Russ for children age 3 through 1st grade. The Cherub Choir made its debut on Sunday, December 15, 2002 at the 8:45 am service, singing "Light One Candle" with the joy and enthusiasm unique to our youngest voices. Thank you to Michelle Russ and everyone who helped make this performance possible. Special thanks to the children who delivered such a beautiful message to our congregation.

Christmas Workshop

On Sunday , December 8th, the annual Christmas Workshop was held in the basement of the church. Families came and children as well as adults made crafts that were given as gifts or saved as keepsakes. A sign of a growing church, our attendance was larger than in years past, but everything ran smoothly thanks to the very talented and capable volunteer staff. After making crafts, families went upstairs to the Social Hall and enjoyed pizza and some robust Christmas caroling. Finally, adults and children were entertained by Alan Atwood, co-founder of the Acacia Theatre. Alan presented a one-man play that told the Christmas story through the eyes of a modern day Joseph, Gabriel, innkeeper and little boy who finally understands that he has already received the greatest gift of all, God's Son Jesus. Thanks to the many volunteers who helped with this fun day of Christmas fellowship.


This Thanksgiving, students were treated to a special program in the Social Hall. Blue tape was placed on the floor to outline the Mayflower. Teachers and students sat inside to see what it would be like to spend a long time together in such close quarters. Husband and wife professional storytellers Dr. Deborah Harding and Daniel Johnson told of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday. This duo made the story come to life with their entertaining style. Students and teachers alike hope they'll delight us again with more storytelling in the future. The program concluded with the children writing what they were thankful for on turkey feathers and a prayer of thanks. *

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See the Signs?

The mark of a friendly church often can be found in its signage! Studies show that often visitors are reluctant to ask questions as to where rooms or activities are located.

In an effort to alleviate this concern, the Communication Committee spent the last year researching and studying signage needs for the church. It was important to the committee for the sign to be in keeping with our colonial architecture and style and to be easy to read. Eventually, with the help of Geitl Sign Co., the colorful blue signs were finally completed and hung early in December. Specific rooms were identified with overhanging signs, strategically placed directional signs were hung, ornamental signs were hung over special rooms, and movable welcome signs telling of the week's activities were developed.

Although we can never identify every area of the building for which people are searching, hopefully these signs will be helpful to all and serve to help make our church warm and welcoming to visitors. *

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Benevolences Beats Goal!

The Christmas special offering raised a total of $14,356; beneficiaries are the Argentine Congregational Mission and the NA Ministerial Assistance Fund. The amount raised in the Christmas offering brought the total figure raised for the five special offerings to $49,517. Beneficiaries for the other special offerings were Mayfair Interfaith, Tosa Community Food Pantry, Tosa for Kids, FCC Youth Mission Trip to Alaska, Joy House Books, HeartLove Place, CFTS Scholarships, the Waukesha Food Pantry and the Beloit Caritas Food Pantry (with food items going to the Tosa Food Pantry). Our target for the five special offerings was $45,000.00. As a result of the willingness of the congregation of First Church to respond to the offerings in a difficult financial year, we were able to conduct a benevolence program that truly 'reached out' to those in need. On behalf of the Board of Benevolence, our sincere thanks to the congregation for its willingness to step forward and reach out meaningfully.

Our commitment to benevolence is an important part of all our lives at First Church. That commitment has to be ongoing and formalized to enable us to continue to reach out as our Covenant dictates. *

For the Board of Benevolence,

Harry G. Holz, chairperson


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The 'Lenten Spring' at First Church

The word 'Lent' comes from the Old English word for 'spring' ­ 'lencten.' It refers to the lengthening of the days during spring. In the Christian tradition the forty days of Lent originated as a period of preparation for those who would be baptized on Easter. Over time it became an opportunity for the renewal of one's faith and a bit stricter observance of one's religious duties ­ such as fasting and abstinence from certain foods. Lent also was seen as a sharing of the Lord's forty days in the wilderness before he entered into his earthly ministry. Traditionally, then, Lent is a time for renewal and retreat ­ a 'coming apart' to rest in the Lord's presence.

This year our Lenten observance at First Church is going to reflect the 'retreat and renewal' in a new way. We're going to go 'on retreat' as a gathered people and ask ourselves some hard questions. Some of the questions will be: "Who are we as a church?" "How do we make a difference in our community?" "What is our future direction as a community of faith?" "What do we want to be doing in a year, three years, five years?" These are just some of the questions we'll ask ourselves and then begin, together, to chart the course of our future at First Congregational Church.

2003 marks the beginning of our one hundred and sixty-first year as a gathered church and one hundred and fifty years on Church Street. If we are to continue to thrive, to grow, we need to ask questions, seek answers, and find new ways to work together for the common good. Lent 2003 is our time for this ­ our renewal and retreat. Please mark your calendars and leave the Lenten Wednesdays open ­ we need everyone to take an active part.

We will begin our retreat with the celebration of the Lord's Supper and an 'offering of ashes' on March 5, Ash Wednesday. The next five Wednesdays (March 12, 19, 26, and April 2 and 9) we will gather at 6:00 PM for a light supper and social time and then begin our discussions ­ both as small groups and as a 'town meeting.' We'll conclude each evening with a time of devotion and have everyone on the way home by 8:30 PM. Childcare will be provided.

Lent is a month away and First Congregational Church enters a new springtime of life and service in Wauwatosa. Come, and be part of it!


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Adult Ed Opportunities

Sundays at 10:00

Breakfast with the Girls got off to a great New Year start with a time well spent with our own Pat Schwai. For those not well acquainted with Pat, her warmth, humor and courage were an inspiration that will last.

On Saturday, February 1, we'll spend our time together in the wonderful world of dolls with Louise Hedrick. Please sign up in the office and let us know if you could share a morning goody. * Char Schweitzer

February 2 - Dudley Riggle

Professor Emeritus, Carthage College

"Death and Dying: Why Think About It?"

Professor Riggle is an extremely popular lecturer and has taught courses on Issues in Living and Dying for many years. He will provide a general introduction to the theological, ethical and philosophical ideas associated with death and dying.

February 9 - Carrie Laubenheimer

"Preparing for the future in hope: preparing for mortality without morbidity"

Carrie Laubenheimer will present a program on some of the practical issues related to the end of life, including legal considerations; will and advanced directives (living will/power of attorney for health care); family considerations; funeral arrangements.

February 16 - Steve Peay

"How does the doctrine of the Trinity come to take a central place in Christian thought? How has the doctrine developed over time, and what does it mean in the context of modern Christianity?"

February 23 - Christian von Dehsen Carthage College

"Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theology and Ethics for our Age"

German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis in April of 1945. Prior to his death he had been an outspoken critic of Hitler and a prolific Christian author. His writings provide a unique insight into Christian faith in a time of crisis. Professor von Dehsen will discuss how that insight influences Christian thinking and living today. *

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In Brief/ Our Church Family

Please Support These Youth Fundraisers

March 9 Pre-Auction

March 15 Italian Dinner/Auction


Tosa Quilters Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary

One of the many community organizations which meets here at the church each month, Tosa Quilters, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Several of the charter members as well as current members are ladies from First Congregational Church. This industrious group produces beautiful quilts, has educational programs, and a fund raising auction in November. We congratulate them on 10 years together and are glad that we can offer our Meeting House to them.


Suburban Retired Men's Club

meets January 27, 9:00 a.m. at the Congregational Home. Charles Nelson, President of Congregational Home will present, "Services in a Modern Retirement Home: Our Vision."


Chili Cook-Off

Compete for the Jalapeño Trophy or just come and eat. Either way, heat up your February at the all-church chili dinner with great fellowship and wonderful food.

First Church will hold its first-annual Chili Cook-Off Wednesday, February 5th, 2003. The Fellowship Board will provide hot, medium, chicken and vegetable chili options plus a salad. Kid's meals are also available. If you want to become the First Church Chili Master, bring YOUR best crock pot of chili to compete for the Jalapeño Trophy and a reserved parking space for one month! Taste them all and vote for your favorite! Adults $5.00, Kids $2.00. (Nursery is also available.) Please sign-up with the church office by Sunday February 2 or add an additional $2.00 to the price of each admission.


Breakfast with the Girls

Breakfast with the Girls got off to a great New Year start with a time well spent with our own Pat Schwai. For those not well acquainted with Pat, her warmth, humor and courage were an inspiration that will last.

On Saturday, February 1, we'll spend our time together in the wonderful world of dolls with Louise Hedrick. Please sign up in the office and let us know if you could share a morning goody. * Char Schweitzer



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

Monday, February 10, noon


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Congregational Columns

Editor, Beth Linscott

Communications Committee

Mary York - Chairperson, Nancy Fisher,
Barb Dunham, Rod Schmidt, Bill Edens,
Arlette Lindbergh, Bill Edens


Rev. Steven Peay, Ph.D., Minister

Rev. Charles Goldsmith, Ph.D.
Congregational Home Chaplain

Rani Gusho, Administrator

Lee Jacobi, Director of Music

Betty Dethmers, Organist

Sally Boyle, Secretary

Anne Callen, Office Manager

Charles Nelson, Pres./CEO, Congregational Home, Inc.

Rev. Dr. Norman S. Ream, Minister Emeritus


Congregational Columns (USPS 010-493) is published monthly by The First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, 1511 Church St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213-2593, 414/258-7375. Periodical Postage Paid at Milwaukee, WI 53203-9998. Postmaster: Send address changes to Congregational Columns, 1511 Church St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213-2593.

Vol. 12, Issue 1