September 28, 2003
First in faith, freedom, fellowship, and Wauwatosa
Table of Contents
Covenant Community for Common Good
The Story of Annabell Whitcomb
Smile, It's Kevin Miyazaki
Breakfast with the Girls
Intern Begins at FCC
Argentina Children Supported
NACCC Faces Tough Questions
Fall Work Day
In Brief/Our Church Family
Over the next three months a sequence of events will take place that will culminate in a budget which reflects that the leadership of FCC has listened to its members. This process actually started a number of months ago during the Lenten visioning sessions. Ideas generated out of the Lenten sessions will guide FCC boards and committees as they develop their vision and preliminary budget requests. These budget requests will be further fine-tuned after the upcoming Congregational Visioning Session on September 28.
FCC members will set the direction that will enable the boards and committees to set the monetary target that the stewardship campaign will shoot for. By the end of November, we'll know if the stewardship campaign hit the mark or came up short. An early December meeting may be held that will serve one of two purposes: If the pledge campaign comes up short, FCC members may be asked to give further direction as to what programs/expenditures need to be cut or scaled back. If the campaign hits the target, this meeting will be a collective pat on the back celebration! In either case, budgets will be finalized in January, 2004.
Back in July, an Alban Institute article was sent out regarding "holistic stewardship". As holistic stewards, supporting the monetary needs of the church becomes as natural as breathing. However, as the article points out, "A conversion of the heart is needed before a conversion of the checkbook can take place." This year's visioning sessions, and the budget and stewardship process, are all about understanding what is in the collective heart of our congregation. By doing so, the financial aspect should take care of itself.
Thanks in advance for your heartfelt participation and support.
The Board of Christian Stewardship
As we look at the "holistic stewardship" approach, it seemed an appropriate time to mention a few of the models we have here in our church.
The first are Emma and Sarah Stodola. At last year's National Night Out, the sisters won the coloring contest and were given a monetary prize. At Vacation Bible School, they had heard about the NCA mission project. The girls, at ages 6 and 10, approached their mom and said they would like to give half of their winnings to the Appalachian Mission project supported by church.
Another church family, who wishes to remain anonymous, regularly encourages their children to give "their own" money for Sunday School offerings whatever the children feel is the right amount. While it has become part of their regular practice, their seventh-grader recently decided to give $60 from his own savings.
We are thankful to these children and their parents not only for providing our missions with proportionately large gifts, but more importantly, giving each of us a model to ponder.
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One early Congregationalist talked about the meeting house that was placed on land the people had selected, "set in the convenientest place for us all," framed by timbers they had cut and built with their own hammers. It may have been "the Lord's barn," because of its homely simplicity, but it was there that the Lord's free people gathered and became the church. As I read accounts of the early days of First Congregational Church I recognize the same sense of accomplishment.
Mr. Charles Hart's blackberry patch, which wasn't a gift it cost $50 became the "convenientest place" and it was there the meeting house rose and was dedicated on October 27, 1853. It had been built with timbers brought by the members (contributed lumber counted toward their subscription) and by the time it was finished cost, including furnishings, $3,347.80. Its spire, "nearly one hundred feet high," rose above the village and three years later was graced by a bell to call the people to worship. That building is still serving this congregation not as the meeting house, but as the social hall. The bell still rings from the new steeple.
I know that we've been emphasizing our church's history these last few months, but there's a reason. This covenant community has been a part of life in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, and far beyond, for 161 years. To be on the same spot for 150 years is no small thing in a day and age when "planned obsolescence" is just part of doing business.
Day in and day out the doors of this meeting house welcome people, for worship certainly, but for many other things as well. First Church provides a true meeting house for 25 or more different community groups from Alcoholics Anonymous to the Wauwatosa Quilters' Guild and everything in between. And I'm not mentioning all the various church groups that meet during any given week. From what I can read in various histories and archived church bulletins, what we're doing now has been 'business as usual' for a lot of years that is a good reason to celebrate. We've been "the convenientest place" for this community for a lot of years.
As we enter into our annual stewardship campaign I'd like us to take a moment to reflect on what the physical building, the meeting house and here I would include all the parts, not just where we worship has meant to our church and to our community. Then I want us to pray and think about how we place a value on that meaning, on that service. For that matter, how do we place a value on what this church provides in terms of spiritual consolation, instruction, formation in morality, lasting friendships, and an endless list of services and benefits? Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" [Matthew 6:21]. We should consider well and see that our treasure does reflect our heart.
The folks who set about building that first meeting house and they did a fine job to have it still with us extended themselves because they believed in what they were doing. To have a meeting house and to be a church was important to them consider what $3,400 in 1853 would translate as in today's dollars no small amount for a relatively small, frontier congregation. Let's celebrate their far-sightedness and match it by continuing to value what really matters people to share with in worship and a place to meet them, all "set in the convenientest place for us all."
As ever: Yours for the Way,
Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D. , Minister
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This month we take another look at the rich heritage and influence that the Congregational Church has had on the lives of many in our community. We thank Jeff Snell for his contribution and wish him the best of luck in his efforts to continue this worthwhile mission.
How It All Began
One autumn afternoon in 1887, Annabell Cook Whitcomb, a quiet, refined Congregational woman, walked slowly toward the old Plymouth Congregational Church at what is now East Wells and North Van Buren Streets. She plotted a ball-of-fire campaign that outlived her, thrives today, and promises to bring returns for generations to come.
She was saddened by the almost certain failing and troubled futures of those knee-pants hoodlums, those scruffy "pavement boys" who plagued the Third Ward and its surrounding communities. Mrs. Whitcomb, who was already teaching Sunday School to a few less-privileged families, decided that these boys needed something more than spiritual help. She won some skeptical assistance from her pastor, Reverend Judson Titsworth, overcame the stubborn objections of the church deacons, and finally received permission to convert two basement rooms of the Plymouth Church into clubrooms for boys. With the aid of trained teachers, vocational, recreational, and nature courses were offered. The Plymouth Church Boys' Club was born.
There were only 12 boys at Mrs. Whitcomb's first meeting on September 30, 1887. By 1889, the membership of 200 had far outgrown the church's rooms. Civic-minded friends contributed so that a building could be rented exclusively for the boys. For the first time with a home of its own, the organization changed its name to the Boys' Busy Life Club.
At about that same time, Mrs. Whitcomb decided that it was not enough to get the boys off city streets, but that it was also necessary to get them out to country fields and fresh air. She established the very first Boys' Club camp in the country. Camp programs would continue to expand and improve over the next 100 years.
Under Mrs. Whitcomb's direction, the mission of the Boys' Busy Life Club was expanding and becoming an active agency in civic affairs. In 1900, the Club initiated some of the first child labor and compulsory education legislation, and began working for a juvenile court system. A few years later, it helped organize the first united drive for funds by Milwaukee social agencies, known today as United Way.
By carrying out her vision to address a social ill a vision born out of her Congregational experience and a shared commitment to ministry that met immediate needs she shaped what continues to be the fastest growing youth development movement in the country.
The Mission Continues Today
One hundred fifteen years after opening two rooms in her church's basement, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee now serve over 22,000 members on a budget of $11 million annually. With over 35 national program and marketing awards, the Milwaukee organization is widely regarded as the finest Boys & Girls Club of over 3,100 nationally. The national movement now reaches more than 3.3 million youth annually. The current membership of more than 22,000 is 43 percent girls.
Jeff Snell, a First Church member and the Clubs' President & CEO, notes, "We can all be proud that Annabell's original mission for the Clubs has not changed. We know from a recent outside research team that, compared to non-Club kids, the children that come to the Clubs go to school more often, have higher GPAs, lead overall healthier lives, and stay out of trouble." From the basement of her Congregational church downtown, Annabell provided Milwaukee and the nation with a model for successful social ministry one that still positively changes many young lives."
Would you like to learn more about the seed that Annabell planted 115 years ago and the ongoing mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee? A tour of the Clubs can be arranged by calling the Clubs at (414) 267-8100. *
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If you go to the 2-year old room, you'll find a toy chest filled with red cardboard "bricks." It's probably a little-known fact that the chest was built for this church approximately 20 years ago by Kevin Miyazaki for a Boy Scout project. (He was recently surprised to find it still in use!)
Kevin was raised in Tosa in a family of active FCC members. The product of a very strong PF program, Kevin still keeps in touch with a number of his PF friends. In fact, in recent years they've enjoyed a few reunions which have attracted about seven from their group.
A graduate of Tosa East, Kevin moved on to Drake University in Des Moines. He knew he wanted to pursue a career in photography after hearing a presentation by Hans Klutmeier, a schoolmate's father and Sports Illustrated photographer, at a Longfellow High Interest Day. Kevin began cutting grass and helping to watch over the house while Klutmeier was out of town and learned more about the profession as a relationship developed.
Starting with an internship at the Kansas City Star, Kevin landed his first regular position at the Cincinnati Inquirer where he worked for eight years. He then moved on to Cincinnati Magazine where he was the sole staff photographer. It was while Kevin was at that position that his dad became ill and Kevin decided he wanted to move back home. His father's passing came more quickly than expected and Kevin had not yet been able to relocate. However, he decided to move back, nonetheless, to be near his mom.
For the past three and one-half years, Kevin has held the position as the only staff photographer for Milwaukee Magazine. Covering most of the pictures for the publication, he enjoys the variety of work along with a bit of travel. Additionally, Kevin freelances for national magazines including Travel and Leisure, Fast Company, and other business publications. Of course, we at the church are often fortunate enough to have him donate his services for pictures of our new members and Covenant Classes.
When not busy behind the lens, Kevin has been working hard renovating a building on 68th Street (right next to Puhl's). He, with the help of a carpenter friend, has gutted the building and added a residence. "I was living in the Third Ward and wanted to own. This is great because I'm close to my mom again." And Kevin, we're definitely happy to have you back! *
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Each summer since we began Breakfast With the Girls we have gathered to "brainstorm" our next year's program schedule. All the elements of program planning come into play and the only thing about which we are ever sure is that you will come and the goodies will be GOOD. Our first meeting in September, which gets us off to a strong start, is always a special focus.
Judging by the number of folks who have spoken to me since our first meeting this year, we most definitely had a winner in Patricia Lorenz. This gracious and delightful lady shared her "Humor for the Health of It" with approximately 50 of us. We now know, if we didn't before, that our shared laughter makes us a healthier group and it is in our best interests to keep on laughing and to spread the laughter to all whom we touch!
Looking forward to October 4th, we are pleased to have an opportunity to spend time with Lallene Rector, an Associate Professor of The Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Psychotherapy at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Thanks to the contacts and efforts of our own Sandy Rose, Lallene, assisted by a Garret student, will discuss Women's Spirituality with us. We believe it will be a very rewarding morning together. Please join us and bring a friend or neighbor along, too. Please sign up in the office and also let us know if you are able to help!
See you then, Char Schweitzer
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Carrie Kreps began her ministerial internship at First Congregational Church/Congregational Home on September 5, and she'll be with us through April.
Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Carrie is currently a full-time student at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is completing her third and final year in the Masters of Divinity program. She earned her Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Religion and English Literature, at Ohio Northern University.
During the next 7 months, Carrie will be with us (staying at the home of Betty Davis) Friday afternoons through Monday mornings. Fridays, Carrie will be working as the assistant chaplain at Congregational Home. Her duties there will include leading a Bible Study, having lunch with the residents, visitation and basic pastoral care. "I'm sure I'll be having fun in the process," said Carrie. Saturday mornings, Carrie will be joining the Women's Bible Study/Service Group. Sundays will include worship with us. While here, Carrie will establish a new "20-something" group. She will also begin to explore the possibility of First Congregational Church offering an alternative, contemporary worship service.
Carrie is engaged to a man from Germany, whom she met while he was attending Garrett. She'll be heading to Germany to see Markus at Thanksgiving. It's a good thing she likes to travel since this will be her third trip this year! Markus will be traveling here in February.
Following her M.Div., Carrie plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Christian Theology and Islamic Studies. She would eventually like to work to promote inter-religious dialog for the church. Markus will be moving to the U.S. while Carrie finishes school, but the couple will likely settle in Germany.
Carrie also has another unique aspect to her ministry. For approximately 14 years, she has been "clowning." As a Christian Clown, Carrie enjoys spreading the message that we are all "fools for Christ." "Sometimes," said Carrie, "the best way to be true is to be a fool." Her clowning ministry has included work with middle-school youth, acting out Noah's Ark with balloon animals and distributing communion. She likes to use this ministry wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. So, don't be shocked if you see a clown in the pulpit one day.
In the meantime, be sure to welcome Carrie. She can be reached at
847-722-8383, email@example.com or Betty Davis' on weekends,
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This year, the Christian Education program has decided to sponsor three children in Argentina: Christina Isabel Melo - 3 yrs., Gabriela Noemi Ortigoza - 2 yrs., and Gustavo Britez - 7 yrs. Donations from children and Vacation Bible School, as well as Sunday School offerings throughout the year, will go toward supporting these children. Now, additionally, Andrew Quinn, a student at First Congregational Church plans to further assist this mission.
Andrew is a Boy Scout, working on his Eagle Project. To aid the church's sponsorship, he has decided to coordinate the efforts to gather supplies for these children.
He is asking the church for clothes (summer clothing, little girls' size 410, small or medium boys', new or gently used), school supplies (paper, erasers, pencils etc.), non-perishable food items (light weight due to weight restrictions on packages), and health care items (band-aids, gauze etc., no medicines). It is Andrew's hope that everyone donate at least one item.
There will be boxes outside of the Sunday School office in which to place the items beginning Sunday, September 28. The collections will continue every Sunday in October and the first two Sundays in November, ending November 9.
Thank you for your cooperation. Questions regarding this project may
be directed to Andrew at
(262) 786-9882. *
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The 49th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (the "NA") was held in Milwaukee from June 28 to July 3. Almost 450 people attended. First Church played a prominent role in providing ushers and marshals to keep things running smoothly, with Bill Edens and Rich Raymond serving key leadership roles. Mary York was a co-chair of the host committee. The Sunday worship service was packed and the music (which included our choirs) was spectacular. Throughout the meetings fellowship was interspersed with lectures and business meetings, followed by more fellowship.
The NA faces two major challenges today: a lack of financial support from its member churches and a lack of a clear sense of mission.
The NA has historically received most of its operating income from its endowment, and the NA endowment, like most investments, has suffered losses over the past three years. The NA has not been able to increase contributed support from member churches nearly enough to offset the decline in endowment income. In fact, a significant number of member churches do not support the NA financially. The strong sentiment at the convention, however, continued to be against mandatory "dues" for member churches. The NA will be surveying member churches to see why they do not give. Is it a financial hardship? Are they even using NA services?
Last year, the NA convention approved the formation of a new entity,
the Congregational Foundation. The Foundation will permit individuals to
make gifts for the benefit of NA programs without the funds going directly
to the NA itself. This may force the NA leadership to become more responsible
for "stewardship" / "development" to fund its day-to-day
operations and less dependent on endowment income since new endowment gifts
will be going to the Foundation and not to the NA. This change may impose
needed fiscal discipline on the NA and would force NA leadership to either
raise additional funds for operations or reduce programs. This would enable
the NA's present endowment funds and the new Foundation to provide greater
support for the NA's missions, church development and
The second challenge is a crisis of identity: Is the NA still relevant today to its member churches? Is it providing the services and support that churches need or want today? The NA's survey of churches mentioned above may provide some answers. Personally, I found it very strange that there were no small group sessions at the meeting to discuss numerous common challenges that many NA churches face today. The NA leadership needs to appreciate that for it to succeed, it needs to provide valuable services to its member churches so that they will want to provide financial support for the NA. This is a theme we have discussed at First Church as we have planned our own stewardship campaign.
Challenge and controversy are nothing new to Congregationalism; it has always been trying to balance the ideas of the autonomy of the local church and the fellowship of churches. The NA may be going through a crisis -- just like every other church group today -- but it is a crisis that we hope will challenge it to expand its services, to become more fiscally responsible, and to continue to do what it has always done best: serve as an important forum for sharing and shaping the ideas and values of Congregationalism.
Reported by Steve Fisher, Moderator
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Wednesday, October 1, 6:00 p.m.
Join us for dinner, fun, fellowship, and games. A family-style Italian dinner including Chicken Marsala, Spaghetti Pie, Tossed Salad, Minestrone Soup, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Lemon Green Beans will be served. A dessert buffet will follow the meal. Spaghetti Pie Kids' meals available. We will round out the night with a variety of board and table games. What's your favorite - Outburst, Taboo, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Sheepshead, Rummikub? Bring your favorite game to share!
The cost is $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12. Sign up for dinner and/or childcare is required no later than Sunday, September 28.
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Fall is upon us. Summer is slipping away! It is time to join in the Fall clean-up and fix-up day at First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa. This is a day (or more) of work and fellowship with volunteers from across the congregation's age and skill levels. Children are welcome. They can work with their parents, other adults, other older youth or on independent tasks as age and skills permit.
Child care will be provided for young children. You must register for the workday event with the number of children requiring child care. Register by e-mail or by signing up at the office.
The fun will start at 9:00 am.
Lunch will be served about noon.
Please place this date on your calendar and join us for a day of fellowship and the great First Church tradition... food. If other commitments are scheduled, give us a morning or an afternoon.
Summer has provided beautiful flowers around the church. Annuals need to be removed along with the accumulation of leaves, twigs and other debris. The parking lot perennial beds are in need of some tender trimming and shaping and the lawns need trimming, edging and some repairs. Bring your tools, carts and energy.
The inside of the church needs cleaning after a summer of heavy use. A sample of these are as follows:
* Wash the pews, choir seats, radiator covers and the window sills.
* Wash the handrails and the wall caps in the balcony.
* Wash the windows, trim, doors and furniture in the balcony, lounge and second floor hall.
* Clean furniture and toys in the classrooms and nurseries. (Some of them may need repair.)
* Clean cupboards and appliances in the first and second floor kitchens.
* Fill salt and pepper shakers.
* Clean storage room under the front stairs off the music room.
* Clean windows inside in all of the rooms, window wells and doors.
* Clean windows outside (weather permitting) for all of the first floor windows.
* Paint classrooms and stairwells.
For those who have special skills and would be willing to take on a larger project, these are a few of the possible projects:
* Prime and paint the flash and trim on the roof.
* The custodial closets (basement, first and second floor) cleaned, painted and restocked.
* Trace and identify electrical circuitry.
* Construct walkways and crossovers in the Nave attic.
* Construct walkways to the exhaust fans in the Social Hall attic.
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Pioneer Club will be starting Wednesday, October 8th, and will be held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. The club meetings will be held from 6:00 until 7:30 p.m. with an optional pizza dinner at 5:30 available for a nominal fee and a 72-hour advance sign up. We are hoping this will make it easier for leaders and parent(s) alike, and we know the kids will have a great time.
Pioneer Club is a faith-based program similar to scouting. It provides many activities such as music, games and crafts and all of these activities are tied into learning Bible passages and basic faith concepts. The Pioneers receive pins and awards for special achievements and have a great time while enforcing valuable life-long skills that are faith-centered. Pioneer Clubs are open to members and non-members alike. We have 4 openings in the already established 3rd & 4th grade group. The 2nd & 3rd grade group is currently filled but we are looking for leaders to possibly start a new 1st & 2nd grade group. The leader handbooks are easy to follow and you may co-lead with another adult. If your child is interested in joining or you are interested in starting a new group, please contact Carla Cummings at 258-7375. *
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New Member Class will be held Sunday, September 28, October 5 and October 12. New Members will join on Sunday, October 26. Meet in the Parlor at 10:00 a.m. Please contact the church office at 414-258-7375 if you wish to attend.
Men's Basketball Sign-up
The church basketball league registration takes place in September. The official season starts in November. Games are played at Whitman on Thursday evenings. We welcome new players. It's great exercise and wonderful fellowship. Call the church office, 258-7375 or Nick Sgarlata (414) 302-1143 for more information.
Sunday, October 5 - Dan Schowalter
"Paul The Apostle: a First-century Job Description"
Sunday, October 12 - Joseph Becker, Becker Ritter Funeral Home
Sunday, October 19 - Susan Fisher, Congregational Home
Sunday, October 26 - Julie Peay
"Founding Mothers and Fathers: Our Historic First Church Family"
Circle 8 will meet at Congregational Home on Tuesday, October 7, 2003 at 1:30 p.m. for dessert and to play Bunco with the residents.
author and quilt expert presents
"It's All About Quilts"
Please come and share with Maggie:
* her extensive collection of quilts
* her expertise about the
history of quilts
* information about the
"Quilts of Gee's Bend"
which will be on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum
from September 27, 2003
to January 4, 2004
Social Hall at First Congregational Church, Tea Reception to follow presentation
For more information please call the office.
The Friday morning Study Group at Congregational Home will begin a new Great Courses series on October 3, 2003 at 10:15 a.m. in the Chapel. We have just finished "The Foundations of Western Civilization." We will begin "The Joy of Science." This course is introduced by Professor Robert Hazen of Carnegie Institution of Washington. Understanding the world around us is a source of endless wonder and intellectual joy. The course is designed to challenge our thinking, but stays clear of the jargon and mathematical abstractions that may put us off. We will walk beside great minds in the history of science to keep our own thinking alert. Come join us.
The deadline for submitting articles for the next issue of the Columns is
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Editor, Beth Linscott
Mary York - Chairperson, Nancy Fisher,
Barb Dunham, Rod Schmidt, Bill Edens,
Arlette Lindbergh, Bill Edens
Rev. Steven Peay, Ph.D., Minister
Rev. Steve Godfrey, Associate Minister (Interim)
Rev. Charles Goldsmith, Ph.D., Congregational Home Chaplain
Cindy Payette, Administrator
Rani Gusho, Bookkeeper
Lee Jacobi, Director of Music
Betty Dethmers, Organist
Sally Boyle, Secretary
Anne Callen, Office Manager
Charles Nelson, Pres./CEO, Congregational Home, Inc.
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 8