Messages on this page from September 2002 through July 2015 are from Pastor Jamie Washam.
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)
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 http://www.abc-usa.org/2015/07/01/an-epistle-of-metanoia-from-the-2015-mission-summit-to-the-abcusa-family/ 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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
 Thanks to Rev. Molly Baskette of First Church Somerville, MA for her sabbatical template letter.
Two years ago, in the summer of 2012, our church began a process of examining where we had come from, who we were, and what we hoped to be and become together. We determined our priorities, and set short and long term goals. Some of the early fruits of our labors were fixing the outside signboard light, creating a place in the sanctuary for children and families to feel more at ease in the service, and fixing the stage curtain downstairs. Long range plans were set in motion; schedules and rides were set up to make sure our seniors were able to get to and from services. Weekly after-church refreshments / coffee hour became a priority, and several cycles of dinner groups have met. (Have you signed up to sit down and to meet and eat together?) We enjoyed a Harvest Fest with cakewalks, blood pressure screening, chair massage, hula hooping and more. A little free library was built (replete with solar cells and an illuminated diorama dais), installed, and remains stocked and patronized. Online and automatic donation options have been set up, making it easier for people to contribute to our ministries. In 2013, edible gardens were plotted and planted; they are already showing yields, again, in 2014.
Our longer range projects are beginning to manifest. In order to reduce our heating costs, the church agreed to close off the area above the balcony. In order to be good stewards of both heat and money, we determined to raise the required funds in advance, and set June 1, 2014 as our goal. We fully met that aim through a bequest given to maintain our site and funds raised by church members. Thanks to all who made all of this possible through your contributions of prayer, time, imagination, and resources.
Construction is set to begin on the balcony project August 11 and projected to be complete by August 28. We plan to worship outside (weather permitting) the two Sundays there will be scaffolding in the sanctuary. Volunteers will be needed in advance to stain the panels that will complete the façade of the project. We will be staining the wood in the basement before the August 11 start time. Stay tuned for more information on this aspect of the project.
All of these endeavors, short and long range, and those still yet to come, have been possible because of your willingness to serve, dream, pray, and contribute. It is a joy to work together to live into our common mission as the church, where we, as Christians from different racial, ethnic, cultural and denominational backgrounds worship in the Baptist traditions, and are united as brothers and sisters by accepting Jesus. God calls us all to be ministers to the liberation, forgiveness, healing, and new life available through Jesus Christ, and we are living proof that Jesus Christ is our peace, who makes strangers into friends, breaks down dividing walls and builds up real persons.
July 26-Aug 2, members of our church will travel to Haiti for our mission trip. The entire church will not be making the journey, but the entire church is needed to make the mission trip a success. Firstly, we need your prayers, for those who will take the journey, and particularly for those we will encounter there. We plan to spend our time at several childrens’ homes. Most of or time will be spent at Wings of Hope, a home in the mountains that serves physically and developmentally disabled children and adults. If you would like to send anything with our mission team, we welcome the items listed below. Please speak with me, if you’ve other questions about the mission. You can find out more about the homes we will be visiting at http://www.sjfamilyhaiti.org/ and http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/. Again, thank you for your prayers and support.
Health & Hygiene Supplies:
Latex gloves, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Hand sanitizer, Soap (bar), Shampoo (please pack in ziplock bags to avoid messes), Lotion (please pack in ziplock bags to avoid messes), Baby powder, Children's cough/cold syrup (please pack in ziplock bags to avoid messes), Pain relievers (child and adult)
School & Program Supplies:
Ballpoint pens (more blue than black), Pencils, Notebook paper, Permanent markers (i.e. Sharpies, all colors), Dry erase markers, Staplers and staples, White-out, Children’s computer games for Macs (educational and fun), White cardstock (letter and 11x17), Photo paper — 4x6, Science experiment supplies: slides, slide covers, eye droppers, skeletons, magnets, elementary science kits, Basic ten cubes, Sticky tack, Musical instruments (kids play instruments), Sewing kits, Pla-Doh, Various grades of sandpaper, Wood glue, Laminating sheets/carrier sheet, Hot glue gun and glue sticks, Fishing wire, Play costumes, Wood blocks of various sizes, Acrylic paints, Glitter, Tissue paper, Stamps and stamp pads
Various grades of therapy putty, Party blowers, Sensory brushes, Upholstery vinyl, Various nuts, bolts, straps, belting, etc. for wheelchair repairs, Duct tape (various colors)
Toy telephones, Small flashlights, Cars (large and Matchbox-size), Small radios (with batteries and headphones), Sunglasses, Necklaces, Ball caps, Small Happy Meal-like toys (no weapons), Backpacks
Epson 127 (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow)
Canon CLI226 (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) and PGI225
HP Laser cartridge CE285A
US Forever stamps, Peel-and-seal business-size envelopes, 8.5 x 11 white printer paper, Packing tape, Cable ties
Silverware (extra teaspoons and tablespoons), Bath towels, Wash cloths
Watercolor paints, Watercolor paper, Acrylic paints, Artist brushes, Sketch books, Drawing pencils, Gum erasers
Batteries — AA, AAA, C, D, 9 volt
Personal CD players and transistor radios, and extra headphones
Clothes — child small, medium, large and adult small and medium (NEW OR GENTLY USED)
Tennis shoes/Croc-like sandals — youth 1 to men's 10 (NEW OR GENTLY USED)
Last year we built and filled 6 raised beds in the northwest corner of our property. This year, our tasks are to plan, sow, tend, and harvest! If you are interested in being a part of this, there is room for you! Last year’s model of signing up online to take responsibility for the garden in week long increments worked well. Thanks to our collective efforts, we enjoyed a harvest of tomatoes, onions, basil, chili peppers, carrots, ground cherries, and more. What would you like to help sow, grow, and harvest this summer? If so, then stay after church briefly on Sunday, May 4th to plan and plot what we will plant in our plots this year.