January 2005

First in faith, freedom, fellowship, and Wauwatosa

Table of Contents

Special January Sermon Series

New Office Technology


Renowned Scholar Wootton to Address 'Divine Feminine' in Theology

Dan Brown made a fortune and created a furor with his book The DaVinci Code. Brown clothed a murder mystery in a cloak woven from threads of Christian theology, Free Masonry, Roman Catholicism, and a plethora of theories on the “divine feminine” and the true identity of Jesus Christ. Most folks recognized Brown’s cloak as threadbare and others as whole cloth. Regardless, he has made us think and look at how we approach not only Christian origins, but the place of the feminine in our conception of God and of self. Following last year’s successful series on “The DaVinci Code Decoded” by Reverend Steven A. Peay, Ph.D., First Congregational Church, North Shore Congregational Church and the Wisconsin Congregational Association are co-sponsoring a series of lectures by the Reverend Janet Wootton, a distinguished Cngregational theologian and preacher who is an expert on feminist perspectives in theology.

The Rev Dr. Janet Wootton is currently Director of Studies for the British Congregational Federation. She holds degrees (B.A., M.A.) from Oxford University and the University of London (Ph.D.). She has had twenty-five years of serving churches as minister. She edits the International Congregational Journal, Feminist Theology Journal and Worship Live. In addition to being the author of numerous articles she is also the uthor of several books dealing with feminist theology and with worship. She was founder co-chair of the International Congregational Theological Commission, and still serves in that capacity. She is currently also Moderator of the International Congregational Fellowship. She chairs the Mission and Liturgy Group of the Council for World Mission (Europe Region), and is a published hymn-writer.

Dr. Wootton will do a two-part presentation examining first the Bible and then the Christ event. On Friday, January 28 Dr. Wootton will speak in the meeting house of North Shore Congregational Church (733 N. Santa Monica Road) at 7 PM. Her lecture is entitled, What does the Bible say to women and men? This lecture will ask whether the Bible is irredeemably patriarchal, or whether there are more inclusive messages in its pages - and what is the practicing Christian's practical response in either case? There will be time following the talk for questions and discussion.

At 10 AM on Saturday, January 29 Dr. Wootton will continue with the second part of her presentation here at First Church. After addressing the role of the Bible she turns to the Christ even in What does Jesus say to women and men? Dr. Wootton comments: “Jesus was born and lived his life as a man, not a woman. There are some experiences, therefore, that he does not share - encapsulated in the question: 'Where are his stretch marks?' How, then, does the incarnation and the death and resurrection of Jesus represent women? Does the life and teaching of Jesus reflect on this?” There will again be time for questions and discussion following her presentation.

Dr. Wootton will preach on Sunday, January 30 at both services (8:45 and 11). She will spend time with our Pilgrim Fellowship group on Sunday afternoon. The topic she has chosen is: What kind of world do you want? What kind of God do you serve? Janet describes this presentation in this way, “God's purposes for the world are stated in many different ways - is it salvation out of a wicked world, or justice within it? I put all my heart and life into serving God, and this in itself forces me to make real choices, not only about actions, but also about how I relate to God and what I long for in the world. I will look at these issues from my own experience, and specifically in relation to inclusivity.”

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Dr. Wootton will be addressing the Wauwatosa Ministers’ Association here at First Church. She will then give a presentation that evening at Lake Country Congregational Church in Hartland (400 W. Capitol Dr.) at 7 PM. Her lecture is entitled, Gendering God: do we need goddess? Dr. Wootton observes, “While many people argue that God is genderless, the Bible uses overwhelmingly masculine language and imagery. This is exacerbated by translation and tradition, which further obscure feminine language and imagery. This being so, should we try to regain and re-emphasize feminine or genderless language about God, or turn to goddess?”

On Wednesday evening she will be at Heritage Congregational Church in Madison. There she will take up the topic, Wholeness in humanity. She will ask the question, are we living in a post-feminist age, when most of the battles of the 1970s have been won, and women and men are now afforded equal status? Dr. Wootton says, “I will explore a diversity of theologies which approach issues of equality between women and men, and ask how 'whole' the human race really is.” She will repeat this lecture at an event sponsored jointly by First and Second Congregational Churches in Beloit on Thursday evening.

Put the dates on your calendar and make a special effort to hear and interact with this articulate, dynamic and committed preacher and teacher. You will not be disappointed, and you’ll come away with a great deal more than Dan Brown offered in his code book.


Sermon Series Seeks Heart

What are the essential elements of Faith, Christianity, Congregationalism? Join us for a special series of sermons in January. Bring a friend!

Sundays 8:45 and 11:00 a.m.

Jan. 9            “Getting at the Heart of Faith”                      Dr. Peay

Jan. 16          “Getting at the Heart of Christianity”           Rev. Kreps Wegenast

Jan. 23          “Getting at the Heart of Congregationalism”   Rev. Schaal

Continue the conversation with each preacher at the Sunday Symposium, 10 a.m. in the Friendship Lounge.


Minister’s Musings for January 2004

            In the midst of the Christmas holidays I have had some time to reflect on the year that is past. The words of Quoheleth come to mind, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh…a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3) The last months of 2004 brought several of the times that ‘the Preacher’ talked about. We’ve experienced some internal divisions as a nation thanks to the recent election and the sad situation in Iraq and the Middle East continues to be worrisome. There is, indeed, a time for everything, and there is also a time to move on and to grow.

            Events can shape us and assist us, but they can also hold us hostage and stunt our growth. The events of the year that is past should provide a springboard for the one that opens before us. The way that opens before us is the one of healing, of building up, and of peace. We can forge that way together, so long as we keep ourselves focused on God’s presence in our midst. If we learn anything from the whole ‘red state – blue state’ thing it should be that what ultimately matters is caring for one another, relationships, and ordering our priorities to build and celebrate them. We’re far more than our politics. Blaise Pascal wrote something in his Pensees that has now made me think, I hope it will do the same for you. He wrote:

Let each of us examine his thoughts. He will find them entirely occupied with the past and the future. The present is never our purpose. The past and the present are our means; only the future is our purpose. And so we never live, but rather hope to live and, since we are always getting ready to be happy, it is inevitable that we never actually are.

In the year to come, let’s seek to live and to know the happiness that God intended for us. Look to the present moment and realize that the time and purpose for everything is to bring us to the now and the joy that is in it.

            Here’s a prayer for the New Year:

            Everliving God, by whose mercy we have come to the gateway of another
Year: Grant that we may enter it with humble and grateful hearts; and confirm our resolution; we beseech thee, to walk more closely in thy way, and labor more faithfully in thy service, according to the teaching and example of thy Son our Lord. Let not the errors and offenses of the past cling to us, but pardon and set us free, that with purer purpose and a better hope we may renew our vows in thy presence, and set forth under the guidance of thy Spirit, to travel in the path which shineth more and more unto the perfect day of thy heavenly kingdom. Amen.

            Julie and I wish you a happy and a blessed New Year! I remain:
            Yours in the Lord’s service,
            Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D.

PS: Julie and I want to express our most sincere thanks to all of you who remembered us at Christmas with cards and gifts. We are grateful and thank God for you and for your kindness to us! May the Lord continue to bless each of you richly!


FCC Moving Forward with Technology!!

One of the charges from the Long Range Planning Committee is for the Moderator to appoint a Technical Task Force whose members would be responsible for the design and implementation of a central Church database.  Presently Gary Kebbekus and Jim VerDuin, along with our Moderator, Bill Edens, are serving in that capacity.  They recently have installed a central server that will allow all of the computers in the office to have access to a network of information.

Our database has needed an upgrade for quite sometime, and we are in the process of planning for a changeover with a new and improved software package in early February.   All of the staff will be involved in this MAJOR change, and the level of excitement is high!  The software package includes components for accounting, payroll, membership, and contributions.   It will also allow the ministers to keep records of their pastoral visits and the staff will be able to track information better about visitors who may be potential new members.

You, the members of the church, will have a vital role in making the implementation of this software successful.  In early January we will be asking every member to fill out a family information sheet, as well as a sheet of information for each member of your family.  We know this is a big request, but we want the new database to have the most current information on all of our membership.  You need to know that the office staff will only be able to serve you better if we have the data records updated accurately.  As soon as you are able to return the forms to the office, we will be able to update your family church records.

In an effort to save mailing costs, the family packets will be available for pickup in the atrium for several Sundays in January.  Those who are unable to attend church will receive the questionnaires in the mail.

Many of you have been asking why we haven't had a 'modern' 21st century database for quite some time.   We are finally ready and able to invest our time and resources in answering your request, as well as the charge from the Long Range Planning Committee.  It can only happen if YOU work with us and supply the information we need to get the system up and running. 

The entire staff asks for your cooperation and patience with us as the First Congregational Church moves forward in the information age in 2005. 

The PF Place

January 2005

December was just stuffed with PF activity.  Thank you to all who opened their homes for the Senior PF Advent Meetings.  The foods and fellowship were wonderful. 

You may have happened upon several PFers ringing the Salvation Army Bell at Mayfair on December 6th.  Bryn Callen and Lindsay Wittig and parent, Anne Callen, should receive an extra Christmas cookie this season for their door opening while ringing and smiling abilities.  Thank you for the Christmas cheer. 

 The Christmas Play promises to be full of the true meaning of Christmas.  Please join us at the 4pm Christmas Eve service as the PF presents “The Polar Express.”  

The Nehemiah House’s basement has lost its yellow coloring and now looks fresh and clean thanks to the hard work of several youth and adults.  On January 15, we will return with hopes of finishing the drywall and painting.  The next big thing is carpeting.  Keep your ears open as the PF seeks help to raise $3000 to carpet the whole basement.

Janet Wootton is coming to town!  Dr. Janet Wooton is an international feminist theology scholar from Great Britain.  She is a wonderful speaker and will be presenting a special program for the PF.  Junior and Senior PFers will meet together (4-6pm!) for pizza and to hear her speak on “What kind of world do you want?  What kind of God do you serve?” 


2            No Meeting (Happy New Year’s!)
8            Second Saturday Movie Night! (7-10pm)
9            Regular Meeting (Jr and Sr)
15            Nehemiah House Service Project (10am-2:30pm – Bring a sandwich – Chips, dessert and drinks provided) 
16            Regular Meeting (Jr and Sr)
23            Regular meeting (Jr and Sr)
30            Joint Junior and Senior PF Meeting (4-6pm with Dr. Janet Wootton.  Pizza will be served!)

Looking Ahead…

February 16 – Senior PF Weekly Wednesday Bible Study Starts
February 25-26 – 30 Hour Famine Overnight with North Shore Congregational Church


Lectionary Readings

January 2 … Epiphany
Old Testament … Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalmody …  Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
New Testament … Ephesians 3:1-12
Gospel … Matthew 2:1-12

January 9 … Baptism of the Lord
Old Testament … Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalmody …  Psalm 29
New Testament … Acts 10:34-43
Gospel … Matthew 3:13-17

January 16 … Second Sunday after Epiphany
Old Testament … Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalmody …  Psalm 40:1-11
New Testament … I Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel … John 1:29-42

January 23 … Third Sunday after Epiphany
Old Testament … Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalmody …  Psalm 27:1, 4-9
New Testament … I Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel … Matthew 4:12-23

January 30 … Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Old Testament … Micah 6:1-8
Psalmody …  Psalm 15
New Testament … I Corinthians 1:18-31
Gospel … Matthew 5:1-12

Sunday Symposium

Sunday 10 a.m.            Friendship Lounge

Jan. 2                        No symposium

Sermon discussions with the ministers on the “Heart” sermon series:

Jan. 9                        Rev. Steven Peay, Ph.D.
                        “Getting at the Heart of Faith”

Jan. 16                        Rev. Carrie Kreps Wegenast
                        “Getting at the Heart of Christianity”

Jan. 23                        Rev. Samuel Schaal
                        “Getting at the Heart of Congregationalism”

Jan. 30                        Dr. Janet Wootton
                        Feminist theology.

Our prayers are with Editor Beth Linscott who is ill. Beth is a professional designer hired to help us produce the Columns. Church staff produced this edition, so that it looks a bit different. Thanks for understanding.


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

Monday, Jan. 17, noon
Please e-mail to
Beth Linscott at ddinc@wi.rr.com
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

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. Samuel Schaal, Associate Minister

Rev. Charles Goldsmith, Ph.D., Congregational Home Chaplain
Cindy Payette, Administrator

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. 14, Issue 1