Pastor Messages

Messages on this page from September 2002 through July 2015 are from Pastor Jamie Washam.

June Tidings from PK

posted May 25, 2017, 1:48 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Brave and Beautiful Church:

As we enter into June, we enter into a season of graduations — transitions marked in our lives that one season is over and a new one is beginning. Ends are important reflection points, and beginnings are important prayer points. I offer you a portion of the graduation speech that Dean Emilie Townes gave weeks ago to the Vanderbilt Divinity School’s graduating class of 2017.

“now, i don’t have to tell you that the world is messed up—that’s the technical term that we use in ethics for ontological crisis that morphs into evil
but i want to stop by today to tell you that it does not have to stay this way
you can change it
you can change it with everyday acts of humanity and outrageous moments of rebellion
but don’t get it twisted and zoom off into foolishness or a meandering obnoxiousness
in fact, i encourage you to be overactive hell raisers for justice and hope
spiritual warriors for compassion
create, leave, and teach others to have an ethical footprint in a world that seems stuck on multi-tasking inequity….”
“you must not lose your heart
you must not lose your soul
you must not lose your intellect
for being theological fabulous means that in this postmodern, post-election, post-truth, alternative facts world, you stand as that pesky reminder
that faith, hope, and love mean something when they are lived with gusto and bodacious orneriness
and you, now my colleagues…yes, now my colleagues, join the ranks of the cloud of witnesses and the contemporary faithful to change the world
not by tolerating it
or reforming it
or revising it
you are called to transform it
by doing your first works over from time to time
by refusing to live in silos of the heart, mind, and soul and then building superstructure walls to keep others out; without realizing that you are also trapping yourself within
by falling in love with creation and living that love in your everyday
by learning from those who suffer differently from you or who are different from you
by leaning into humor and laughter and recognizing that there are times that we humans are often absolutely absurd
you must not lose your heart
you must not lose your soul
you must not lose your intellect
you must not lose your spirit
 do these things and more and make the world around you a welcoming home
 God’s blessings and God’s good speed as you go”[1]

 [1] Emilie Townes, “2017 Charge to the Graduates”, Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt Divinity School, 12 May 2017, <>.

May Tidings from PK

posted May 1, 2017, 2:51 PM by Kate Fields

Brave and Beautiful Underwood,

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is the freedom to be who they are. Many folks understand that to be love, and that is the kind of love I understand Underwood to embody. We are a church who creates space for folks to be who they are and a place that they may bring their joys, concerns, worship, questions, doubts, anxieties, fears, laugher, and elations. We are a place where folks can heal from prior negative faith community experiences. And we are a place where we ask God to be our Vision and our Foundation, and trust God to do just that.

That fact of the matter is that Underwood is a cool place, and I believe in us. As the new life of spring emerges while we celebrate Eastertide and our resurrected Lord, I hope we will keep an ear tuned to how Underwood is growing. May we grow in God, may we grow in the way of love, may we grow in number, may we grow in how we create spaces of peace and justice, may we grow in listening, may we grow in abundance and joy, and may we grow in being a community that continues to celebrate everyone here. Underwood grows by the work of each of our hands.

As creation around us grows, so too may we.

Thanks for all you do to make Underwood what it is. Oh the places we will grow!

Extend the invitation to folks you know and love who may be looking for a cool Baptist church to grow with.

Gardening together,


April 2017 Tidings

posted Apr 1, 2017, 2:19 PM by Kate Fields

Dear brave and beautiful Underwood,

We are now in the midst of our Lenten season together. Lent is a time of resisting that which takes our focus away from God so that we may see God; thus, Lent is a sort of protest. For this reason, we have been singing songs of protest originating from civil rights movements of the past, and we have been exploring together what it means to be Baptist. It is good to get to know our identity as Baptists, and as members who make up Underwood Memorial Baptist Church. Dissent is a deep and abiding piece of our identity. We have a rich heritage both in our local congregation and in the larger Baptist Church from which we should draw, as we seek to be a prophetic voice in our city.

This is a good trajectory to guide us into the solemness of Holy Week, which is one of the most important weeks in the life of our community. We will have a number of services during Holy Week as we prepare our bodies, hearts, and minds for the most central part of the Gospel, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. One of these services will be at Underwood, but the other two will be in conjunction with other congregations as we seek to nurture our ecumenical partnerships in one of the most powerful ways: worshiping the Lord together.

The ways that we’ll gather for Holy Week are:
On Palm Sunday, we’ll gather at 10am with palms, psalms, and songs as we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, we’ll gather at 7pm along with two other congregations at Metropolitan Community Church for a replica meal of what would have been eaten at the Last Supper of Christ. Communion will be served as we gather around tables to eat foods of the 1st Century, potluck style.
On Thursday, we’ll gather at Underwood for a Foot-washing Service in conjunction with Metropolitan Community Church. Foot-washing is a very Baptist tradition and we will revive it at Underwood this Holy Week; it was first modeled for us by Christ prior to the Last Supper. Foot-washing is an act of humility, a gift, and an act of service; it models well how we seek to love and serve each other in humility here at Underwood. This will be a worship service that will include prayers, singing, and a time where those who would like gather in a line and wash someone's feet (or hands if you'd prefer) and have your feet washed as well.
On Friday, we’ll continue our Good Friday tradition and gather from 12-1pm, at Wauwatosa Presbyterian along with Bethany-Calvary United Methodist for a joint worship service. This will be a somber service commemorating the death by crucifixion of Christ.
And finally, on Easter Sunday, Underwood will celebrate Christ's resurrection by continuing the tradition of having a short early morning service at 8:00am in the Fireside Room, then breakfast at 9:00am, and the full service at 10:00am in the sanctuary.

Please make plans to come to these services as we observe this sacred week together,


March 2017 Tidings from PK

posted Mar 14, 2017, 8:08 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Brave and Beautiful Church,

We have already arrived to the month of March! The coming of March means that we will have celebrated the last day of February, Fat Tuesday, with a Pancake Dinner with good food and good fellowship! Then we will begin Lent with a joint Ash Wednesday service. The service will be held in Underwood’s sanctuary on Wednesday, March 1st at 7pm, and will be in collaboration with Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church. We will not only be administering ashes, but we will also be serving Communion. Please make plans to come that evening as a way to center yourself for the Lenten season. If you cannot make the service, you may see me on the corner of Tosa Village with the Tosa Clergy Group participating in Ashes-To-Go!

Ash Wednesday is one of the best liturgical days to remember that you are a part of the earth… that you came from the dust and that you will return to dust. Death does not have to be a frightening entity; rather, it is the part of life that helps us live fully, and it marks a transition into another realm of God.

I am so excited about this Lenten season. The theme in worship and Sunday School will be What It Means to Be Baptist. We should be so, so, so proud that we are Baptists! As Baptists, we have a cool and intense history of dissent. So we will focus quite a lot on dissent and how it helps us understand our identity as a Baptist Church today. We will sing songs of protest from various civil rights movements in worship; we will talk about the four freedoms that Baptists ascribe to; we will learn about the history of the Anabaptist movement and how we came to be; we will explore our Baptist affiliations that we are members of; and we will hear from Underwooders about what it means to them to be Baptist.

This is a season in our church life that you do not want to miss. Make plans to join us for Lent to prepare yourself for Easter. I hope at the end, we will be busting our buttons with Baptist pride!

Pastor Kate (PK)

January 2017 Pastor Tidings Message...

posted Jan 23, 2017, 7:48 PM by Chad Kafka

Dear Church,

In a month that hosts the holiday of Valentines Day, February tends to have a love culturally embedded in its conversations, expenses, and activities. Lets face it, in February, love is in the limelight!

And the sentiment of a dedicated holiday to gather those you love and tell them so is not a negative thing. In the rush of life, we can often lose sight of the deep and meaningful ways that our loved ones matter to us and indeed change us by their love. Love is never a bad thing to celebrate, though if it is shown only once a year through chocolate and roses, then we may have some problems.

One of my favorite understandings of love comes from Catholic theologian, Herbert McCabe. McCabe writes,But the essential gift you give to the one you love is the gift of space to exist, the gift of liberation. For McCabe, this love is what is needed in selfhood because it allows one the space to be oneself, which is liberative. He writes, Love is rather rare and comes with maturity when we can get away from the need to be dominant or to find another who is not dominant. McCabe here shows that domination is the opposite of love because love is creating space for the other to be their fullest selves. This kind of love is liberative.

Ecofeminist theologian, Sallie McFague, affirms this understanding of love as creating space.

Love here is not a mere sentimental emotion or an act of charity; rather, it is the objective recognition that others exist, have intrinsic worth, and have rights to the basics of existence.

Church, in this month that love gets consumed, subsumed, and thrown around so much in rhetoric, may we dedicate ourselves to actively do the work of love by creating space for one another to be our fullest selves.

For it is the love of Christ that compels us.

Pastor Kate

An Epistle of Metanoia, from the 2015 Mission Summit to the ABC-USA family:

posted Jul 1, 2015, 10:14 AM by Jamie Washam

June 25-28, 2015, American Baptists from across the United States and Puerto Rico gathered for our Biennial Mission Summit in Kansas City. We were graced with prophetic preaching, and encouraged by the work and presence of other Baptist brothers and sisters. Coming on the heels of the murders of nine Christians as they gathered for a prayer meeting at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, many hearts returned to the original sin of our nation, racism. The following statement emerged from the gathering:


An Epistle of Metanoia

from the 2015 Mission Summit to the ABC-USA family:


In light of the sin of racism that has infected each and every part of our nation we, the gathered delegates and participants of the 2015 Mission Summit of the American Baptist Churches, USA, the most diverse Protestant body in our nation, grieve racism’s effects on our people. Therefore, we collectively speak against and repent of our participation in the sin of racism wherever it is found. The presence of white supremacy for too long has gone unacknowledged and prevented us from living as the body of Christ.

Between now and the 2017 Mission Summit we urge each ABC, USA congregation to covenant in order to seek justice & reconciliation, hold one another accountable in this endeavor, and pursue local incarnated manifestations of the Beloved Community.

Many of us signed on to the statement in person. You can also sign the online version here The President of ABCUSA, Rev. Dr. Don Ng, read this letter before preaching the closing sermon of the event. 

Underwood Church, you’ve long esteemed and lived as the Beloved Community. Opposing the pernicious effects of racism is a part of our church’s foundational narrative. How will you take this challenge further, to deepen your pursuit of racial justice? How will you covenant together to work towards reconciliation within and beyond the bounds of our community? Where is God calling each of you, individually, and all of us, collectively, to own our own shortcomings, to repent of our complicity in systemic racism, and to work to dismantle prejudice and other barriers to the full manifestation of the Beloved Community? I urge you to accept the challenge to go beyond your comfort zones, to peer into the hidden corners of your own heart, and to speak out, even if your voice quavers and your knees knock. We are in need of deep healing; may the church be the balm for the wounded and the conscience for the complicit. Amen.

May Tidings

posted Apr 22, 2015, 12:16 PM by Jamie Washam

The months of May and June will be the final sabbatical time for both pastor and church.  These months have been rich and meaningful for all of us. As your pastor, I’ve been able to rest and gain perspective on my ministry; as a church, you’ve been blessed by the presence and preaching of one another. Each of us has been reminded of what we already possess, and of the ways God blesses and works through each of us. The church worked with related themes during the sabbatical time: What brings us to our faith and to this place in particular? What keeps us in our faith and in this community? Where do we go from here? What are you hungry for and what feeds your spirit? As in the earlier sabbatical times, we will hear voices from the pews leading Sunday worship through prayer, presence, and proclamation. My deepest appreciation to each of you for taking this time seriously and with such generosity of spirit. Your efforts are already bearing good fruit. A determined contingent picked up the gauntlet that Garrett threw down during his time as our missionary-in-residence. He challenged us to become involved locally to work against human trafficking. (Read on in this issue of the Tidings to learn more about how our church is Walking Against Traffic.)  Regular community meals are planned for the warmer months to continue the conversation and work. Much good has been accomplished; we trust that as we are faithful, God will continue to work through each of us in the world.

Report from Pastor Jamie’s Sabbatical, first portion

posted Dec 17, 2014, 10:05 AM by Jamie Washam

Report from Pastor Jamie’s Sabbatical, first portion


Greetings, Church! It is good to be back, for a little while, from the first part of our sabbatical time.  The first portion flew by quickly, but I was able to do much of what I hoped. It took some time to readjust to a different pace both coming in and out; I see now why sabbaticals often happen all at one time.  

During this time, I was able to:

 finish a Halloween costume for a little boy;

spend some quiet time in Green Lake during the first cold snap, writing and working on my dissertation;

experience some days in Boston with former classmates for our annual clergy accountability time;

 travel slowly down the East Coast, visiting long-time friends and family;

ride the train back to Milwaukee after Thanksgiving in Texas;

 and jump into December on our return.


Thank you, again, for this time. After Christmas, Jideobi and I will join NJ in Nigeria for my father-in-law’s funeral service. We return in the new year, and to the middle portion of this sabbatical time. Garrett Zambrows, our missionary-in-residence arrives at the start of the new year. I will travel to the Netherlands for a month to meet with my academic advisors, and to continue working on my research and dissertation.  The days are full and good.

It is exciting to hear about your congregational sabbatical dinners and conversations. I know you will continue to use this time well, and will be blessed and challenged by having Garrett here with you. 

As always, you stay in my prayers and thoughts.




Pastor Jamie



Sabbatical, cont.

posted Sep 24, 2014, 9:02 AM by Jamie Washam   [ updated Dec 17, 2014, 10:05 AM ]

As the first portion of the pastoral and church sabbatical approaches, many of you are wondering how things will work during that time. The Pastoral Relations and Worship committees have been collaborating to ensure that this time works well for everyone. Pastoral care will be covered by ordained clergy known to the community and by church members, depending on the circumstance. Robin, our church administrator, and Chad, our moderator, will keep me apprised regarding the church family.

For the month of November, we will hear from fellow church members and from favorite guest preachers. Members will lead us in prayer and will offer our children’s message. We plan another hymn sing for November 9 (so get your requests in now!). This time is an opportunity for the church to flex and strengthen its ministerial muscles.

During this time, I will be making my annual trip to Cambridge, MA, where I meet with a group of fellow clergy people to pray, challenge, and hold one another to healthy accountability in ministry. I will spend another week at a writer’s retreat in Green Lake, working on my dissertation. Other time will be spent at rest and with family. Know that each day I will hold our church, and each of you, in prayer. 


posted Sep 24, 2014, 9:01 AM by Jamie Washam

Dear Church,


Some of you already know I will be on sabbatical for 5 weeks this autumn (4 weeks leave plus a week of vacation) from October 27-November 30.


Protestant church ministers (if their congregation is as wise and healthy as you are) are offered a sabbatical of 12-16 weeks every 5-7 years.[1] It's a chance to rest from the work of church ministry, and to renew their own spirits and calling. I'll be taking this cycle of sabbatical in three portions: the first this autumn, the second in January/February, and the final third following Easter in 2015.


A good definition of a minister’s sabbatical is to “discern your vocation apart from the input stream.” That is, to hear God’s call apart from the phone calls, the emails, the worship planning and creation, the committee meetings, and many other details that come up in the course of church ministry. It is also a time to explore other gifts, skills, disciplines and areas of knowledge that I don’t have time to in the midst of the ordinary demands of church life, and visit other churches. It’s a chance to remember that being a minister is not what I do, it’s who I am.


Some things I plan on doing with my time: researching and writing, sewing, gardening, reading. And: I will spend joyful time every day with my family—preacher’s kids are always at risk of seeing the Church as a sibling to be jealous of, and sabbatical is an opportunity to remember that family comes first.


The first thing I will do, though, every morning when I wake up is:  stretch, read scripture, and pray. One of the people I will be praying for is you. 


I'm hoping this time will be a chance for you, as well, to rest: on the positive flow we have created at Underwood Church and God has created for us.


If you're interested in all the fine print, read on! And feel free to email or talk to me with any questions.



Pastor Jamie




Our Pastor, Rev. Jamie Washam, begins her sabbatical this autumn! This FAQ can help you understand what this will mean for the life of our church.


What is a pastor’s sabbatical? How is it different from a vacation?


The root word of “sabbatical” is Sabbath, as in, the seventh day that God the Creator ordained for rest from work. It is a commandment, one of the Ten Bigs. In Jewish agrarian theology, when most people farmed the land, sabbath developed into a rhythmic cycle of rest not just for people, but for animals, and for the land itself: every seven years, fields were to lie fallow, every seven-times-seven years, slaves were granted their freedom.


Sabbatical for professors and others is often understood as a time to do research, travel, and publish, lest they perish. But ministers preserve and recuperate this ancient, holy sense of sabbatical:  not as vacation, but as a time of holy rest, attention to God, and dedicated spiritual renewal. The American Baptist Churches recommend that ministers take a sabbatical of at least 12 weeks paid leave every 5-7 years. This practice of ministry has support across denominational lines and within the American Baptist Church family.  The Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches calls upon churches who work in partnership with ministerial leaders to provide sabbatical study leaves.

Pastors are called to a servant ministry. Officially prepared for this service with four years of college, three years of seminary, and often beyond, and practically schooled by knowing and loving and learning from the church and people they serve. However, this preparation is only the beginning of a need for lifetime learning, renewal, and upgrading of a pastor’s understanding of faith and its application to life.  

Due to the nature of servant ministry, adequate time and space for in-depth study and reflection is rarely available during or on the field of service. The pressure of time and of responsibility depletes a pastor's resources over a period of years.

The purpose of the Sabbatical Study Leave is to provide respite from the intense practice of ministry with its multifaceted demands. Such periods of renewal, learning, and reflection serve to inspire pastors and churches so they might, in turn, serve more ably and fully.

In 2001, Underwood Church affirmed a policy providing for Pastoral Sabbath time after seven years of Pastoral service. As of September 2014, Pastor Jamie will have served Underwood for 11 years. In October, Pastor Jamie concludes her term as President of ABC of WI. It has been a meaningful and full year, one where she chaired the search committee for our new Executive Minister of the ABC of WI, continued as the Vice Chair of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, in addition to other ministerial responsibilities.  Our balcony construction project is set to conclude prior to the sabbatical, and the Pastor’s last scheduled wedding is October 25, 2014. October is also clergy appreciation month, so it is a fitting time to kick this off!

The Pastor will take the sabbatical in 3 shares: first in October/November 2014, second as an extension of her academic time in the Netherlands in January/February 2015, and third after Easter 2015.


Oct 27 – Nov 30 2014 (5 weeks, 4 sabbatical + 1 vacation)

Jan/Feb 2015 (6 weeks, 4 sabbatical + standard 2 week study time)

Post Easter 2014 (8 weeks)


 The sabbatical shares will be apportioned into times for rest, reading and study, reflection, and re-emergence. Pastor Jamie will use this time to rest, exercise, focus on her doctoral studies, travel, pray, and restore her spirit. This is also a time for the church to do likewise. This time is a Sabbatical for both pastor and church. The church will rest and hear new voices in worship, read scripture individually and together, reflect on who and what God is calling them to do and to be, and re-emerge with new purpose and passion into the ministry of the church in the world.




When are you actually away, Pastor?


I am away from working at Underwood Baptist for 5 weeks, from October 27-November 30. Wauwatosa and Milwaukee are small big towns, so when I’m home you will probably see me around! Don’t cross the street and ignore me if you see me coming! Stop and say hi! Give me some hugs!


In the meantime, I will be available by phone, email or appointment until October 24th, if there’s anything you want to talk to me about before sabbatical begins.



Who will oversee things while she is away?

During the pastoral sabbatical the pastor’s duties will be maintained by a cross section of people, both within and from outside the church.  The pulpit will be filled by both lay and guest preachers. We may have a hymn sing Sunday. Pastoral care will be assumed by the members of the church and by area clergy. Sabbatical time is an opportunity for the church to live into its professed theology of being a priesthood of all believers.


The members of the church council are available to you if you are in crisis, sick, need someone to pray with you, are lonely for a visit. A list of council members is found at the bottom of this FAQ. Their contact info is in the church office. Sabbatical is a good time to practice this art of minister to and with one another. Look for ways to love and support one another, and activate your own spiritual gifts.


Robin, our practiced and proficient administrator, will continue to run the office and the building. If you have a building or scheduling issue, you may contact her at



Pastor Jamie, how will you be unavailable?


I will unavailable by email or by phone from October 27-November 30. I will be on Facebook periodically, but will probably not post or check it consistently, so that is not a reliable way to reach me.


Pastor Jamie, how will you be available?


I will be praying for my church community, and the people within it whom I love and cherish, daily.


If there is an emergency of which I need to be made aware, our moderator, Chad or church administrator, Robin will contact me. I will be kept apprised of critical pastoral care issues:  deaths, serious illnesses, and the like. You can let Chad or Robin know if there is an urgent message you wish to convey to me.


What will this cost?

During the sabbatical the church maintains regular salary, housing, MMBB retirement, and health benefits. The cost of replacement personnel during the leader's absence will be covered by the church.

Although on the face of it, the Sabbatical Leave may seem like yet another financial burden to bear, it is crucial for the congregation to recognize the long-term benefits they as a church will reap from granting Sabbaticals. The primary additional expense to the church during sabbatical time is for pulpit supply and/or a possible short term interim. By spreading this over more than one fiscal year, the church can ease the burden.  

Often, churches require a guarantee of one year of service afterward the conclusion of a sabbatical. The church council approved a no-strings-attached sabbatical in order to keep options open to do what is best for the Washam Unaka family. Since NJ earned his PhD in June, their family is at a natural crossroads, and the church wants to support the pastoral needs in realistic and beneficial ways. Pastor Jamie will have given 11+ years of ministry with Underwood at the time of the leave; it is a sabbatical for service already rendered.


How will this benefit the congregation?

Even Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away.” Congregations report that when their ministers come back from sabbatical, they are more productive. They bring fresh ideas and new spiritual energy back from their time of renewal.


But the benefit to the parish begins right away. Sometimes, even the healthiest churches fall into codependent patterns between pastors and congregation. Sabbatical is an opportunity for new leadership to arise, for laypeople to have the blessing of knowing they can truly depend upon one another, and for you to exercise new muscles for administration and pastoral care in your church, and find it a joy.

 Upon re-entry, the pastor will share with the congregation the details of the leave as well as reflections on its value and benefit. The re-entry process provides a great opportunity to reflect upon the benefits that resulted from the Sabbath Leave. Such expected benefits as:

·         ·  Discovering the strength of lay leadership heretofore fallow

·         ·  New understandings of the concepts of service between clergy and congregation

·         ·  Reaffirmation of calling to ministry on part of clergy and congregation with both being reinvigorated and rededicated to the work of God’s people.

The ideal result would be for the congregation to see this period of time not just as the clergy’s Sabbath Leave but as the congregation’s Sabbath Leave.


During this time Pastor Jamie will be relieved of all church responsibilities and communication. You will be pastored at this time. I'm hoping this time will be a chance for you, as well, to rest: on the positive flow we have created at Underwood Church and God has created for us. We all need Sabbath.

A Sabbatical Leave can be a catalyst for new directions of ministry. If the ministerial leader is renewed only, then the church has missed a creative opportunity for a closer walk in ministry and service with Christ. The results of the Sabbatical Leave must be experienced beyond a few months during and following the leave.

The purpose of the sabbatical is to provide room for the pastor and church to rest and be restored, so that they can in turn be more able and willing to serve God well in the world. If after a sabbatical the Pastor and church are more able to turn interruptions into welcome ministry opportunities, then we will have accomplished a successful sabbatical.


I remind you that Underwood Church has survived maternity leaves for 3 children, and will have capably thrive during a pastoral sabbatical. Our church functions very well in the absence of its minister!

[1] Thanks to Rev. Molly Baskette of First Church Somerville, MA for her sabbatical template letter.

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