Notes and Ruminations - Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting 2018

June 13, 2018

Theme: Why are We Afraid? The Winds and Waves of Race and Privilege 


An honor: We (The Wisconsin Conference) are hosting General Synod (the UCC national gathering) in 2019.  The meeting will take place June 21-25, 2019 in Milwaukee.  Because of this, the Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting will be earlier and shorter. 

2019 WI Conference Annual Meeting

April 5-6, 2019

Wilderness Resort - Glacier Canyon Lodge

Wisconsin Dells


A quick summary of the Annual Meeting topic: It is time for white America to “get in the boat”; to join the conversation about what inherent privileges we have as “white folks” and to begin to listen to people of color when they tell us that their reality is different.  We are called by the Gospel to love one another.  If we are to love “the other” the first step is to try to understand their reality. In other words “Walk a mile in my shoes.”


(And Traci Blackmon is a phenomenal preacher!!) Her sermon and presentation will soon be available on video.  Passwords can be obtained from the Conference Office.  (




The Circle of Peace Sculpture: The Circle of Peace sculpture was created by Gary Lee Price after hearing the story of how a white supremacist was changed by the relationships he formed with inmates of other races while he was in prison.  Today, this reformed man speaks out in public forums against the thought processes and violence of hate groups. 


A witness resolution:  We are urged as congregations to study the “Doctrine of Discovery” with the intent of bringing to our next annual meeting a resolution to renounce the doctrine.  (Resources on the Wisconsin Conference Web-site.)


What is this about?


Most Americans grow up learning that this continent was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus. The concept of discovery, as if the land was empty prior to arrival and its indigenous inhabitants were somehow “less than” the explorers is, at its heart, racism and cultural superiority. 


The doctrine of discovery, a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, originated from various church documents in Christian Europe in the mid-1400s to justify the pattern of domination and oppression by European monarchies as they invasively arrived in the Western hemisphere.  It theologically asserted the right to claim the indigenous lands, territories, and resources on behalf of Christendom, and to subjugate native peoples around the world.


The U.S. Supreme Court used the doctrine to assert that the United States, as the successor of Great Britain, had inherited authority over all lands within our claimed boundaries. This decision allowed our government to legally ignore or invalidate any native claims to property and resources. To this day courts continue to cite this legal precedent. It is still being used by courts to decide property rights cases brought by Native Americans against the U.S. and against non-Natives.


A Sunday Morning “Discipleship Walk” and thoughts about moving on:

 As I made my way along this path under the grape arbor, I couldn’t help thinking about our journeys as disciples of Jesus and as the church.  We walk gently for a while over a somewhat flat and even path. Things are settled and they are good.  But then there is a climb; a change; something that makes us work a little harder.  But once we have made the climb the journey settles down for a bit.  Yet not for long.  There comes a new challenge; a new climb.  That is not only the reality of discipleship but the reality of life. 

And yet in the midst of it all – whether we are in a settled place or climbing again - we have Jesus who names himself as the vine; the one who connects us to God; the source of our life and our being. 


As I say good-bye to you, Peace UCC is starting a new climb; the climb to re-discover who you are without me as your Pastor and the climb to search for new leadership; a person who will accompany you as you continue along the path of discipleship.  And so I leave you to that climb as you find a new settled place knowing that Jesus is with you; that God has something in mind for your future, and that God’s Spirit will energize you for the journey.


Grace and Peace and Blessings, Pastor Marty

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