Author Archives: Todd Schneider

Evangelism and Money!

Pornography and the World Wide Web are almost synonymous so to add to it I thought I might offer some thoughts on what are pornographic ideas for most of us mainline Protestants! We really don’t want people to know that we are Christians and that we are called to “proclaim the gospel to all the world”[1] or that congregations are like all other institutions, organizations, or clubs – we need money donated by our members in order to continue! MONEY AND EVANGELISM – we mainline Protestants do not talk about these things in polite company!! Well, I will try not to be cynical and open myself to the possibilities of the Holy Spirit moving amongst us!!

Peace UCC in Brillion missed its budgeted income amount by about $12,100 or 13% in 2017. If we simply looked at the amount pledged for 2018 we would be about 50% below our budgeted need! The good news is this congregation gives more than it pledges!! We had about the same amount of pledges in 2017 as we have for 22018 and yet took in/received almost twice the pledged amount BUT (as above) missed meeting our needs by 13%.

What if in 2018, we agreed to increase our giving by 13%? What if we all dug deeper and greeted our incoming settled minister with a balanced budget? 13% of the largest amount pledged through electronic giving would be an extra $11 per week! And that’s the top end of our giving “scale”! Think about it, pray about it, please consider it!

Secondly, what about EVANGELISM? Evangelism is the act of inviting non-churched folk to join us in worship and witness. It is the act of being a bit snoopy, I know, as first one needs to discern/figure out/ask if a friend/acquaintance/former member/former attendee is participating in another worshiping community. And then comes “the ask”. Something like “hey, want to join us at Peace UCC for our monthly potluck dinner” might be appropriate. Or it could be “Peace UCC is a place I go to for comfort, joy, a chance to think about my life, maybe you’d like it too. Want to go with me some Sunday morning?” While it may sound dangerous, I don’t think anyone has ever been attacked for one of the above and who knows, maybe it’ll be a way to get to know and deepen a relationship.

Lastly, a word of warning – do not,..err excuse me…DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR FANTASY think, believe, or hope a new settled minister will “solve” or “fix” the budget or membership problems/challenges of a congregation. Congregations grow because members decide to invite non-members/participants to join them. They take seriously the statement of faith and say (as Phillip does in John’s Gospel) “come and see” or they invite people to “come fisher for people” (as Jesus does in Mark’s Gospel AS for the budget, stewardship happens when a congregation finds worth and meaning in its life together. Now a new minister can help with that but it is each member who gives what they can afford.

Evangelism and money – two challenges we face but they are challenges and not barriers. Peace UCC will continue as a viable congregation because we, the congregation decide it can and it will. Let us pray and believe we shall continue to be a faith community welcoming the stranger, lifting up the brokenhearted, and feeding the hungry whether it is one’s stomach or faith which need be fed.

See you in church or sometime soon I hope!!
Pastor Tom

… final two Advent Candles …

Merry Christmas and we light the final two Advent Candles or the last Advent Candle and the Christ or Christmas Candle! Whichever way you wish to look at it, it is a time of celebration but also reverence – a celebration of God’s presence in and with the world and reverence that the symbol of that presence is the birth of a baby.

We use this time as a moment to gather in worship but also in the community. Families, friends, colleagues join to share fellowship; perhaps exchange gifts, and (this being Wisconsin) share food and drink! As we share in the feasts and festivities, let us accept the vulnerabilities and nurture which faith exhibits and requires. It is vulnerable in so many ways when we seek to make it concrete, tie it to some historical event. It gains meaning and hope when embraced as a living, growing, changing presence that enables us to find in life meaning, hope, joy, pleasure, work for justice, and peace. And it requires nurture for to discover those things means it must remain relevant, related to us in our time, our place and lived out in the moment. As a baby whose growth each day is celebrated and embraced, whose nurture is accepted and assured, may we find in this season the courage and the hope to live out a faith in a God whose presence continues to call us and embrace us.

May this be a season to make merry and revel in the joy, hope, pleasure, justice, and peace found when we truly keep Christ in Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE PEOPLE OF PEACE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, BRILLION, WISCONSIN!”

Love Baskets 2017


A very special thank you to everyone making this project a vessel of God’s steadfast caring and love. A true teamwork of members.

We collected $87.50 for the Baskets in The Mini Missions. This was used to purchase the bags and special items used to make them beautiful works of love.

And the third Advent candle symbolizes joy! 

We light it to remind ourselves that this is not simply a season of hope for that special gift or dreams that wars and hatred will cease.   It is a season in which we ought find joy but joy requires some things and not necessarily “stuff”

Joy is the sheer pleasure of love found in the arms of a beloved.   It is the celebration of dreams and hope fulfilled.   To achieve it people require safety, security, and a willingness to embrace pleasure.   The media is filled with stories of women whose safety and security is violated by men who seek to use their power to dominate and take advantage.   We often forget the insecurity of those who live in insecure and unsafe neighborhoods filled with gangs or poverty or both.   And then there is the insecurity of empty tables when children are hungry, mouths need to be fed.   Joy seems too often overwhelmed by life lived with eyes and ears wide open.

However, as we light this candle of Joy, let us embrace the notion of the here but not yet – the here as the presence of God, the not yet is the hope, peace, and joy that presence ought engender through security and safety for all in every aspect of life.   Let us embrace the joy, the pleasure of this season and use it as a foundation to make the not yet real.

From Beneath the Pulpit,
Tom Williams, The Interim

And the second candle of Advent is the candle of Peace.

In a world of terrorism, hatred, violence, and nations spending trillions to assure they can destroy each other, how can we even think about peace?   In a similar manner, if anyone consulted an economist or banker, no children would be born because the cost of raising even one is way beyond the means of any couple. !   Clothes, food, toys, etc., etc., etc.!   And in a similar manner, should no one contemplate peace in a world filled with the above?   But we light a candle of peace!

Like a baby born to poverty or riches, peace is a concept born to be nurtured and cared for.   It’s only possible if some dare speak and pray and work to make it grow.   This season let us spend some time considering peace not just as a concept but as a possibility.  May we enter the realm of the light shed by this candle of peace and dare to consider the foundations of hatred and courageously confront our role in them, dare to talk about terror and what its roots might be, dare to wonder if peace might be more likely if we didn’t build so many weapons of war.  As we light the second candle, let us think and pray and commit ourselves to working for peace in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our world.

From Beneath the Pulpit,
Tom Williams, The Interim

ADVENT – a season of expectation and preparation!

And so it begins but too often what gets lost in the stress of entertaining and gifting is meaning – what the season means to each of us and not just some preachy, sophomoric pablum but an answer to why we spend so much time in preparation, in shopping, in doing whatever it is we do.   My suggestion is to grab a glass or cup of a favorite beverage and, as Garrison Keillor would say, sit awhile.   Be open, be honest, and be hopeful.   And then consider that what makes this season so special is not just the cookies or the gifts or the parties.   What makes this season special is that we can share with our families, our communities, our world the joy of simple acts of kindness, the excitement of ridiculous acts of generosity,  and the welcoming arms of relatives, of family, of friends, of community.   And we do so as a response to the presence of a power, a presence greater than “me”.  And it’s a power which has inspired believers to confront violence with love, hatred with kindness, injustice with courage.   It’s a power we call God and this is the season we embrace that presence as symbolized by the birth of a child.   And so spend some time sipping and sitting and daring to laugh, love, and live a little bit this season of expectation and preparation!

Peace,
Tom Williams, The Interim

Volunteers needed!

WE ARE IN NEED OF A FEW VOLUNTEERS to help Pastor Tom as he visits with our shut-ins. If you are interested in accompanying Pastor as he makes his monthly visits, your help would be greatly appreciated.

Please contact Pastor Tom, Carla Zander or call the church office at 756-3334.

STEWARDSHIP!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE and/or head up the Stewardship Committee? We are in need of volunteers to come forward to help serve on this committee. Please speak with Pastor Tom or Carla Zander if you are interested.

Thank you!

“To the People of Peace Church, On behalf of our ministry, Furlough Ministries would like to thank you for your generous donation. You are helping us to make the lives of missionaries a little brighter. May God richly bless you all. – Furlough Ministries”