Year in Review 1994

Report of the Moderator

Report of the Minister

Church Clerk's Report

Digest of 151st Annual Meeting of January 19, 1994

Proposed Budget for 1995

Report of the Moderator

It has been a rewarding year to be Moderator of The First Congregational Church. Rewarding, because we are beginning to see some positive results of the extensive groundwork that you, our members, have done and have had the patience to pursue over the past several years.

Certainly the highlight of the Church year was the call to Reverend Robert Wilch as our Interim Senior Minister, made last Spring. Bob's strong spiritual leadership, as well as his outstanding administrative tutelage not only stimulated much healing in our church but has also helped in other ways. Attendance at services has not only begun to rebound, but for the first time in several years, our Stewardship Campaign was a complete success. Moreover, under bob's leadership, more of us are participating in the services and activity of the Church than ever before--witness the Advent services, when whole families lit the candles; and Christmas Eve, when several members of the Church presented passages of the Bible. And, with the staff reorganization promoted by Bob, we have now created greater efficiencies which has led to balancing our expenses and income in 1994, something not even contemplated in our 1994 Budget.

The staff has responded admirably to Bob's leadership; Rob Fredrickson agreeing to assume the major additional responsibility as Christian Education Director, and Debbie Wakefield moving in to the new, very important position of Director of Lay Ministries. I fully expect that through these efforts many of us will become more involved with our church, and that will make us an even stronger Church.

No group has been more diligent, worked harder, or been more patient than our Search Committee, led by Jim Walsh and Merrill York. They put in countless hours in locating our Interim Senior Minister, and are now in the midst of the more difficult process of choosing a permanent minister for our Church. They need our continued patience and support which, in the main, the membership has given to them so far. We can't thank them enough.

I cannot fail to mention our music program, under the most capable leadership of Lee Jacobi. I have no doubt we have on the finest musical programs of any church, including the vocal choirs, the handbell choir, and our fine organist, Betty Dethmers.

It is not always easy to see how important to our Church Rani Gusho, who not only watches our financial situation very closely but also keeps a strong pulse on the Church and is an invaluable advisor to the Moderator, the Council, and other Boards and Committees. An the loyalty and thoughtfulness of John Strassburger has been a bulwark to the Church as we move ahead.

Our Church is about God, Jesus Christ, and people dedicated to God and First Congregational Church. But it behooves us to not ignore our outstanding church facility. As you probably are aware, our steeple needs major attention, and perhaps, replacement. I am please to report Doug Jacobson has agreed to chair our Steeple Committee, which will explore what should be done and how we should finance it. They will report their findings and recommendations to the Council later this year.

But most of all, thanks and appreciation go to you readers, who are members of this church. It is your church, and you have responded admirably to the changing times as well as the changes in our Church. I believe we are beginning to see a more open, vital, and spiritual congregation that can only mean a greater First Congregational Church in the coming years.

Thomas Godfrey, Moderator

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Report of the Minister for 1994

Rev. Robert S. Wilch

January 15, 1995

By tradition the reports of the Senior Minister and of the Moderator alternate annually in The Congregationalist from the front page to a lesser place on an inside page or on a smaller flap. Since my report covers something less than eight months of 1994, it is a good thing that the Moderator has the advantage this year.

My main recollection of these months is the ease with which our denominational differences have dissolved. This surprised me a bit and I am grateful to you for your part in that. I suppose some of that came through Sandra who returned to the congregation after 20 years in the 'far country'. Surely a significant number of you however would like to get on with it and call a minister whose Congregational roots more nearly match your own. I understand that.

Other recollections: The Rev. Rick Koch accepted a call to First Congregational Church in Anchorage, Alaska. That congregation is fortunate to have him as their pastor. Rani Gusho has picked up a large part of Rick's responsibilities, helping us to make a decent transition. Deborah Wakefield (Ddg) has been named to a new position, Director of Lay Ministries. A great start has been made but surely the best is yet to come. Rob Fredrickson added the Christian Education ministry to the Youth Ministry position. This combination uses both sides of his experience and education. Pastor Strassburger and I share the ministry in the congregation which customarily belongs to one who is ordained.

Stewardship, when separated from fund-raising is always a delight. This year that was proven by the response and the acceptance of the Consecration Sunday emphasis. Pledged increases now total 16.8% but we must receive Estimates of Giving from a small segment of the congregation to confidently make financial decisions during 1995.

Music? What a delight for one who has really never had the experience before of two choirs, each singing two anthems Sunday after Sunday. They and your expectant attention makes preaching easier and maybe better here.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Apostle Paul wrote, "So then we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us". The United States depends on its ambassadors around the world to put our best foot forward. If God depends on us to do that in the world we live in, how are we doing? Somehow we are led to believe that God's plan, his mission and his hope for the people of the world depends in large part on what we, the believers, say and do. That's a heavy responsibility but it is also an expectation that can inspire us to be faithful and obedient.

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Church Clerk's Report

Membership as of December 31, 1993

Members deceased

Members deceased (service not by our ministers)


Members transferred or removed by request or no response

Membership Committee adjustment

Total removed
- 520

New Members
Spring Class 10
Fall Class 6
Covenant Class 15
Total New Members + 31

Total Membership as of December 31, 1994

Ministerial Services

Baptisms, 28
Marriages, 16
Funerals and Memorial Services
Members, 17
Non-members, 1

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Digest of 151st Annual Meeting of January 19, 1994

Moderator Doug Jacobson opened the meeting; Church Covenant was read; minutes of the 150th Annual Meeting were discussed and approved. Bill Edens gave "1993, the Year in Perspective", including staff changes and building and grounds repairs. Joe Berte presented the Treasurer's Report. Dr. Muth’s retirement benefits will be paid out of Growth and Development Fund. Ministerial reports were given by Rick Koch and John Strassburger, who referred to transitions in jobs due to the retirements of Dr. Muth and Les Grube.

Burleigh Jacobs gave the Congregational Home Report; occupancy rate is at 97%;Mobile Meals program is a great success thanks to volunteer drivers. Jim Walsh, Search Committee chair, reported the congregation voted at the Dec. 1 Congregational Meeting to hire and Interim Minister who must energize, motivate and listen. In Doug's Moderator's Report, he said this 151st meeting represents the inheritance of a wonderful church; but we need the full support of all our members. Pledge cards are available at this meeting.

Tom Godfrey presented the Budget; 1994 pledges showed an increase; Growth and Development should only be used as a one-time use. Although there is a deficit of $21,337, we are challenged to improve. Budget approved. The question of publishing staff salaries arose. A motion that "all salaries be published annually to the congregation" was seconded, approved. Published salaries, including insurance, will be made available at this meeting and in the office.

The Nominating Committee read the slate of nominees for Council, Boards. Motion made, seconded, approved. Wendy Sue Earl and John Moore have been approved for "In-Care status as seminary students. Wisconsin Association will meet here in April. Doug Jacobson, as Moderator, and the Search Committee members were commended for fine jobs. With church at a crossroads, we hope to involve more members in increased church and community activities.

A motion made by Lorna Schmidt and seconded, that changes be made to the By-laws was not approved.

Jon Hanson moved for approval of his Vision of the Future of The First Congregational Church. The proposed statement was read. Discussion was held with the decision that the Long Range Planning Committee rather than the Search Committee should assume responsibility of this project. Motion was made, seconded and approved.

In closing, a Covenant Class student expressed concern that so much time had been spent on discussion of money matters rather than the importance of God in the healing process of the church. Explanation was that this is the business part of the church. Another said that every person who volunteers in the church is doing God's work. Discussion of financial matters is important in order to carry out the church's mission.

We closed the meeting by holding hands and singing a hymn (a symbol of unity), followed by the benediction. Meeting adjourned at 10:30.

Respectfully submitted, Elizabeth A. Aspinwall, Church Clerk

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Trustees $85,420 $68,989
Deacons 3,680 2,906
Congregational Care 1,000 137
Christian Fellowship 3,100 2,809
Christian Education 5,500 5,488
Stewardship, regular 2,040 1,674
canvass 3,000 1,500
Communications 22,800 18,551
Music 4,660 3,630
Personnel 381,162 374,139
Council Sub-Committees 4,000 316
Benevolences 90,000 70,050
Funded Project from:    
Growth and Development   137,780
Expected Pledge Payments $545,062  
Other Receipts 45,205  
Interest from G&D 15,000  




Budget and Finance Committee: Mary York, Chairman; Marion Petersen, Mark Lemke, Charlie Wakefield, Sandy Davis, Rick Buckley, Joe Berte.

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