August 2005

First in faith, freedom, fellowship, and Wauwatosa

 


 

Table of Contents

Rekindle the Gift

Minister's Musings

Butch Boyd, Vice Moderator

Report from Annual NA Meeting

PF Place


Historic Home Tour

Lectionary Readings

In Brief



Rekindle the Gift


“ For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you”– 2 Timothy 1:6

Two thousand years ago the apostle Paul wrote these words to Timothy, whom he cared for deeply, encouraging him to renew his gift of faith and to “fan his spiritual gift into a flame.” Paul goes on to tell Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and discipline.”

Two millennia later, our lives are different beyond any comprehension from those of the people who walked the earth in the first century. Yet the same gifts that God bestowed upon Paul and Timothy have been bestowed upon us. We are indeed a gifted people, a gifted congregation, blessed with lives of freedom and prosperity, hope and fellowship. As Paul reminds us in his letter, these gifts and, above all others, our most precious gift, the gift of faith, comes from God who has given us, “power and love and discipline.”As Congregationalists we have chosen to live our faith in the fellowship of the collective community we call our church and we have expressed our commitment to this faith in the words of our covenant.

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to share in the worship and service of God, to grow in the knowledge and expression of our faith, to reach out with compassion to those in need, to treat each other with love and understanding, and to return to God a portion of God’s gifts.”

We read these words often, at most every opportunity where we gather, but how many of us have thought about what these words really mean? What do they say about who we are and how we should live our lives?

Webster defines a covenant as “a binding and solemn agreement to do a specified thing; a compact; to defend and maintain a faith.” Our covenant is a binding agreement, a commitment, we have made with each other to “grow” to “reach out” to “treat each other with love” and to “return.” It is a commitment – a commitment we have made with each other.

As we begin our new church year in September, our ministers and lay leaders will be asking all of us to consider anew this commitment we have made with each other. They will be asking us to Rekindle the Gift by making a commitment to understanding and living our covenant. Through a series of sermons and meetings we will learn about the meaning of our covenant and how it defines who we are and how we choose to live together in a life of faith.
Please consider carefully what our church means to you and your family and make the commitment to attend the meetings and participate in the worship services where we will be discussing our covenant and Rekindling the Gift.
Doug Jacobson, Board of Stewardship

 


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Minister’s Musings

“The Church is always reforming.”
I know we’re several months away from Reformation Day, but just coming from the annual meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and now getting ready to head to the quadrennial meeting of the International Congregational Fellowship that thought is on my mind.

That ancient phrase, ecclesia semper reformanda, implies that the church is always in need of reformation. In other words, that it is never a finished product, never static, but always growing, changing and developing. The church reforming is the church dynamic and, I might add, the church truly alive and depending on the presence of the living God. Life here on Church Street, our fellowship together as the First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa (or as our New England forebears would have put it,

“ The First Church of Christ in Wauwatosa”) is always in need of reform, always in need of being better because we’re always growing toward a new and deeper life together in God’s presence.

It is important to remember that when we think of reformation we ought not to think of it as many do – restoration. Our goal is not the restoration of the church to its form or substance of any past halcyon age, not even that of the New Testament. We don’t think to do that because it is an impossible task. We can’t be exactly like first century Christians, or any other century for that matter, because we live in this century. We can be in a continuous line of faith with them, but we can’t replicate their experience of what it meant to be church in the world. Nor should our goal be the other end of the spectrum, revolution. We don’t seek to overthrow what is, because that isn’t authentic either.

Hans Kung, the contemporary German theologian, says it rather nicely in his book The Church: “The word renewal is often better than the word reform, precisely because it emphasizes the positive and creative aspect. Genuine church reform isn’t the same as revolution. It does not aim at violent upheaval, it is not doctrinaire, fanatical or loveless in its quest of what is new. While aiming at what is new and better, it is concerned about the continuity of historical development; it is not innovation, but renewal.” [p. 340]

Renewal, then, is what should occupy our minds and hearts as we face a new church program year (starting with Rally Sunday on Sept. 11). Our church covenant reminds us that we are committed to “the worship and service of God” and “to grow in the knowledge and expression of our faith.” In other words, we show that we value our relationship with God and with one another by assembling for worship and by taking the time to learn what it means to be what we profess to be – “followers of Jesus Christ.”

To that end we will seek to “Rekindle the Gift” of our covenant relationship with a special series of sermons and classes. I would ask folks to make the commitment to genuine renewal by attending the six sessions during the week on the covenant in September and October. We will do our best to make it convenient and readily available and ask that every member make every effort to be a part of this learning, growing and fellowshipping time together.

In our Congregational Way of church life, what happens in the particular church – life here on Church Street – has an effect on the greater church. What we do here, how we undertake the task of renewal and show ourselves to be a growing and dynamic fellowship will – and does – influence not only our regional association, but the national and international as well. Our life together here in this place is a witness to how God is working among God’s people – and in the world in which we live this witness is more important than ever – at least I think so.

As I write this I am preparing to leave for the ICF meeting. This is the 30th anniversary of the founding of this international body and I am excited for the opportunity to meet, pray, study and worship with fellow followers of our Way from around the world. I know from previous experiences that this will be both a time of great spiritual comfort and challenge. We have sisters and brothers in far-off places who have embraced this way of church life and are making a difference, just as Congregationalists in this country made a difference for many years. I go to this meeting hoping that it will serve as a touch-point for renewal in my own life and ministry, and that I can bring it back and share it with all of you. I know this much: when you have encountered people who physically and financially have nearly nothing, but who look you in the eye and with a smile on their face tell you, “I have it all!” you can’t remain as you were. They “have it all” because they have God at the center of their lives. Too often we fit Harry Emerson Fosdick’s great hymn where it asks God, “shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.” It is my prayer that we grow richer each day in soul.

Two other things I should bring to your attention. First, I will be having some oral surgery toward the end of the month of August, so will be out of commission for a week or so, but expect to be up and back at it by Rally Sunday. Second, I noted the gifts the church has received lately and want to remind you of how important it is to remember the church in your estate planning. The work we’ve been doing around here this summer (the elevator renovations, the repair and painting of the nave) has been financed from our Facilities Renewal Fund. That fund exists because of prudent deferred maintenance planning and the generosity of people who remember the church in their wills. This is part of our covenant relationship – returning to God a portion of God’s gifts – and showing that we value our church.

In the weeks ahead we will talk about our covenant relationship and what renewal means in different ways and, I hope, in greater depth. We are doing what the church does, reforming and, I believe, becoming truly the Lord’s free people – free to love, free to serve, free to give in heartfelt and new ways. I look forward to sharing with you about the ICF meeting and walking the Way of covenant life and renewal with you.
As always:
Yours in the Lord’s service,
Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D.
Senior Minister


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Butch Boyd Elected Vice Moderator of Church

Butch Boyd was elected Vice Moderator of First Congregational Church at the June meeting. He brings with him not only a long history with the church, but a strong appreciation for its roots. “My attraction to the church is our covenant and that we don't live by a creed,” said Butch. “I like the fact that the congregation is instrumental in the running of the church and the pride everyone takes in being a member.” Butch will be demonstrating that pride as he takes on this newest leadership position.
Butch has held various leadership roles within the church. Among them, he has been the treasurer as well as a member and chairperson of the Deacon and Stewardship Boards. He also served on the Church Council, and the Budget and Finance Committee.

Butch has been attending First Congregational for the past 25 years, ever since he and wife, Jane Marie, were married at First Church in April 1980. Jane has been a member for 30-plus years! In addition to their marriage, all three of our children were baptized at the church.

Butch works in manufacturing as a supervisor at the Bradley Corp. in Menomonee Falls. While he still enjoys sports, he said his physical involvement is now limited to walking and bowling. “I also enjoy history and most of my family activities,” said Butch.
And what is Butch’s vision for the upcoming years at First Congregational? “I hope our church will continue to grow in the future as a place to worship together and concentrate on our spiritual needs more than our social desires,” said Butch.
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First Church Represented Well at Annual Meeting

The 51st Annual National Association of Congregational Christian Churches meeting (50th anniversary) was held in Kansas City, MO June 26-29.

Of the 433 member churches of the NA, 173 churches were represented at the meeting. Our church was represented by Steve and Julie Peay, Sam Schaal, and Harry and Nancy Holz.

The Congregational Lecture was delivered by the Rev. Shawn Stapleton of the Beloit Congrega-tional Church. The Bible Lecture was delivered in three parts by the Rev. Dan Schowalter of our church. Shawn Stapleton delivered a thought-provoking keynote dealing with the real purpose of the NA; who we are, what we should be doing and why we exist? Dan Schowalter did his usual outstanding job, relating archeology to religion, teaching about archeology and how it should be viewed in a religious context.

A reception honored our own Jim Walsh as the retiring treasurer of the NA and Sherry Glab as a retiring secretary on the NA staff. Jim has been treasurer since he attended his first annual meeting in 1996. Our congregation should be extremely proud of the role that Jim has played in the NA and his contributions.

One of the meeting’s nine seminars was a panel discussion on credentialing ministers serving in NA churches, with the panel consisting of Steve Peay, Sam Schaal and Kathy Rust. Sam presented his paper on credentialing and led the discussion. Of all the clergy in attendance representing various levels of training for the ministry, there was only one adverse comment on the possibility of some sort of credentialing requirements. The subject is an important one; it should stay on the table and not be allowed to die. Sam’s paper and the comments of those in attendance provide an ample basis for going forward with the concept of some form of credentialing requirements for our clergy.

The seminar on the Kansas City Statement of Faith was presented by Steve Peay and John Miller of the First Congregational Church of Royal Oak, Michigan. It dealt with the Statement of Faith adopted by the General Council of Congregational Churches at their 1913 meeting in Kansas City. The presentation provided a good basic grounding in the nature of the Kansas City Statement of Faith, its relevance to today’s Congregational Christians and its relationship to our covenant.

The NA convention and its description of the things that the NA is doing and the way in which it is doing them at the present time brings into focus some important questions for us and for all the members of the NA.

Who are we? What should we be doing? What is the most effective way in which to act collectively? Some form of fellowship (collective action) among independent Congregational Churches is important. A degree of necessary fellowship is implicit in our Congregational tradition. Are we doing it in the most relevant and effective way possible? In considering these questions, it is important to bear in mind the fact that the NA came into being 50 years ago as a holding organization for churches who did not wish to go along with merger that created the United Church of Christ. In essence, the original structure of the NA was temporary and cautionary. It was based on local autonomy; in effect, a place for free churches to remain free churches while preserving and abiding by our Congregational heritage. Is the form of organization that made sense 50 years ago relevant and effective?

In its current form, the NA represents a wide variety of churches with a wide variety of problems. The plain fact is that most of the NA churches are small. Our church and a small number of other churches carry the heavy lifting in the financial support of the NA. The current treasurer’s report shows that over 30 percent of NA churches do not support its general operating fund at all.

Many matters dealt with by the NA are of concern not only to the local church, but to the larger fellowship of its members. They should be handled in some form on a co-operative basis. To name a few of the activities:

Some form of fellowship among Congregational churches and perhaps other unaffiliated free churches is important. The question really is the best form in which to achieve the kind of cooperation that will be most effective in continuing to sponsor these kinds of activities, reflecting a degree of interdependence while allowing the local churches to remain independent. The question is whether or not the NA is currently moving in the right direction to serve its member churches and whether it is making the hard decisions to guarantee its survival in a relevant form over the long run. If not, are there alternatives and if so, what are those alternatives?

Some of this may well depend upon the direction taken by the NA over the next few years, its willingness to confront its real operating problems, both financial and otherwise and to make its activities relevant.I came away from the meeting with the overall impression that the problems faced by our church are small ones and good ones in comparison to the problems faced by our sister churches and the NA. As a church, we are well ahead of the curve in many of the areas that our sister churches are facing. Secondly, a degree of cooperation and the interdependence among Congregational Christian churches, i.e., the free churches, is essential. In our vision to retain the independence of the local church, we have to recognize the fellowship implicit in our Congregational tradition. An important question in this regard is the increasing role of regional congregational associations such as the Wisconsin Congregational Association. Can the regional associations do it better than the bureaucracy inherent in a national association? This is definitely deserving of study and work.

The direction of the NA is a question likely to be answered in the large part over the next few years. At this time our current level of support of the NA is appropriate and should be continued. This does not mean that we should avoid applying a critical view to the NA and its operations. We should consider better ways in which things can be done.
I have materials distributed at the meetings, including papers by Steve Peay and Sam Schaal and will be happy to make copies of these available to anyone who wants them. Thank you for the opportunity to represent the church at the Kansas City meeting.
Harry G. Holz
Moderator

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PF Place

Future 6th graders!
Meet the future 7th and 8th graders before school starts. Join us for putt-putt and games. (See calendar on right.) Friends are ALWAYS WELCOME!

Camp was GREAT! Ask Katie, Maggie, Molly, and Shannon Rowbottom, Parker Hoerz, Rachel Halvorson, or Bryn Callen for all the details. You might also want to ask Bryn why she got six stitches in her leg, Katie, Parker, and Rachel about their senior speeches, or, Molly and Shannon about the junior program on "Stuff.” Put next year’s camp on your calendar today: July 9–15, 2006.

PF Fall calendars will be in your mailbox shortly. Don’t forget to write all the dates on your calendar. You will not want to miss the friends, the fellowship and the PF fun this Fall.

 

Youth Calendar
August
5 Putt-Putt with youth VBS volunteers (we will go after the VBS party and clean up) Bring $5 for golf.
9 Games! @ the church. Bring your running shoes! (2 p.m.)
22 Senior PF goes out to Dinner (6:00 p.m. – Vote for your favorite restaurant with CKW)
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Historic Tour a Great Opportunity

With First Church serving as headquarters for the 2005 annual tour of historic homes by the Historical Society of Wauwatosa we have a great opportunity to demonstrate our warm Congregational hospitality. Several people have already volunteered to serve as guides and docents. If you love the church, have an interest in history, or are looking for a one-day project to serve, this is your occasion. We will work in two-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 1.

We will also need volunteers to bring out those favorite recipes and provide baked goods and treats to sell for refreshments to the many expected visitors.

An organizational meeting will be held sometime in August or early September. If you are interested in participating in this historic project please contact Julie Peay at home 414-258-2986 or juliepeay@aol.com.

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Lectionary Readings


August 7, Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Old Testament Genesis 37:1–4, 12–28
Psalmody Psalm 105: 1–6, 16–22, 45b
New Testament Romans 10:5–15
Gospel Matthew 14:22–33

August 14, Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Old Testament Genesis 45:1–15
Psalmody Psalm 133
New Testament Romans 11:1–2a, 29–32
Gospel Matthew 15:(10–20) 21–28

August 21, Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Old Testament Exodus 1:8–2:10
Psalmody Psalm 124
New Testament Romans 12:1–8
Gospel Matthew 16:13–20

August 28, Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Old Testament Exodus 3:1–15
Psalmody Psalm 105:1–6, 23–26, 45c
New Testament Romans 12:9–21
Gospel Matthew 16:21–28
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In Brief


August Picnic
The church sports teams are sponsoring a sausage picnic on Wednesday, August 3 at
6 p.m. The picnic will be held on Ridge Court, weather permitting. Enjoy brats and hot dogs along with delicious sides provided by members of the church basketball and softball teams. The cost is $5/adults; $3/children under 12; free for children under 3. Please sign up at the church office no later than Sunday, July 31 at noon.

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

Monday, August 15, noon.
Please email to Beth Linscott at ddinc@wi.rr.com or Sam Schaal at schaals@firstchurchtosa.org.
Hard copy may be brought to the church office and left in the Columns mailbox.

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Congregational Columns

www.FirstChurchTosa.org
Editor, Beth Linscott
Communications Committee
Arlette Lindbergh, Marilyn Auer, Tammy Bokern, Sally Wells
Lisa Mauer
*

Rev. Steven Peay, Ph.D., Minister

Rev. Samuel Schaal, Associate Minister

Rev. Carrie Kreps Wegenast, Associate Minister

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

Cindy Payette, Administrator

Lee Jacobi, Director of Music

Betty Dethmers, Organist

Anne Callen, Office Manager

Sharon Cook-Bahr, Secretary

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. 20, Issue 7