Pastor Messages

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

June 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:24 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Underwood,

Spring has finally arrived in all of her glory! The Bleeding Hearts, violets, irises, and milkweed are all coming up around Underwood, and from them, we realize our connectedness to those Underwooders who planted these beautiful, glorious blooms for us to enjoy each spring! Soon the raised beds will be readied for new vegetation and we will be able to plant and eat the fruit of Underwood’s soil. How could we be more connected to the land upon which Underwood resides than that?!

Soon our students will be dismissed from the 2017-2018 school year and a long-awaited summertime break will commence! Music and cultural festivals down at the lake will take up our weekends as we enjoy every second of warmth! The fast pace of life will hopefully slow a bit as the heat comes.

Here at Underwood, our Sunday School also takes a break for the summer… so too does our Choir and Handbells. It is a good chance to breathe in the breath of sabbath.

Unfortunately, however, Underwood’s attendance in the summer historically takes a plummet. This is hard on us as a community in both our spirits, bodies, and finances. I want to encourage us as congregation to continue to commit to doing community together in attending events and worship, visioning together about Underwood’s future, praying & caring for one another, giving financially, giving through service, and just hanging out with each other for fun summertime activities!

The work continues in the summer, and I ask us to stay committed to it. Something beautiful comes out of continually showing up,

In faithfulness and love,

PK

May 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:22 PM by Kate Fields

Beloved Underwood,

    A few weeks ago, an ordinance came before the Milwaukee Common Council. The ordinance was a controversial one that many of the aldermen and alderwomen received a great deal of feedback on from their constituents. Multitudes of folks who supported it and opposed it showed up at Milwaukee City Hall to express their views. The ordinance in question proposed a ban on reparative/ conversion therapy practiced by therapists within the city of Milwaukee.

    Conversion therapy is practiced with the intention of changing an individual’s sexual orientation from gay, bisexual, lesbian, or queer to straight or one’s gender identity from transgender to cis-gender by using psychological, spiritual, or physical manipulation. It has been proven ineffective and so harmful, and has been denounced by every major medical and psychological association in the United States. The ban only applied to children ages 18 and under who could receive this type of therapy within the city limits; it did nothing to limit the power of clergy members who wished to perform reparative therapy within their faith communities, and yet it was the faith communities and people of faith who showed up with the loudest voices.

    One side of city hall was filled with folks who opposed the ban and held between them banners opposing on religious grounds. The opposite side of the room had a smaller crowd of folks with rainbow flags and signs supporting the ban. As the ordinance came to the floor, various aldermen and alderwomen spoke for it or against it. One alderwoman started her comments noting that she is a minister and is a strong believer in God and the power of the church to make its own decisions about faith. In not so many words, she alluded to her beliefs about sexuality tended to fall on the more theologically conservative camp. However, she could not in good conscience abide reparative therapy, given the statistics of how much harm it causes to LGBTQI teens — both significantly increasing the likelihood of addiction to illicit substances and the likelihood of depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and suicidality. As she explained her position, opposing crowd-members began to shout “wolf, wolf, wolf in sheep’s clothing” at her. The Chairman of the Council had to call order to the hall to allow her to continue and finish her statement of support of the ban. Several things ran through my head during that moment - first, I thought of the dehumanization that this elected official and minister was undergoing by being called a wolf. Then secondly, I thought of Jesus’ words as recorded in this Johannine passage:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If there is not love, there is not life, and the life Jesus lived is in vain.

Pastor Kate


April 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:21 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Church of the People,
Underwood is a community who creates liturgy together both in our worship service and in the life of our community.
In our Sunday worship, we speak together a Call to Worship, call out joys and concerns in Prayers of the People, asking God for mercy in pain and joy; we sing hymns, and join our voices collectively to breathe the Lord’s Prayer into being in our worship.
In other words, week in and week out, we create liturgy.

Liturgy means “the work of the people” — as Baptists we are particularly inclined to lean into the work of liturgy– the work of public worship in rituals of faith. Liturgy is so full of grace because we take the work of our hands and see that it becomes infused with the mystery of the grace of God. We do this every week, over and over, because in doing it, we develop faithfulness like calluses on our hands. The hands become strong and they remember, especially in the most difficult of times, who God is and what God has done.
The work of liturgy does not belong to the pastor. It belongs to the Church.
So too is our visioning work.

Like liturgy, the work of Underwood’s visioning is the work of the people. In tandem with the spring season, we see emergent new life in the form of new faces in our sanctuary, more diverse and frequent social media, reconfiguring the way we do the work of justice and peace in the world, a soon-to-come new website, partnering with other faith communities in our city to worship and serve, and continued intentional conversation of how Underwood’s building can be a place of sanctuary and Underwood church can continue to be people who put feet to their faith.

So much is on the horizon. But the work of visioning is ours to hold. The power to change and grow is in the people who create liturgy together.

Come, be an active part of this. It will change you. It will change us.

It is the work of the people,

PK

March 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:20 PM by Kate Fields

Dear brave and beautiful Underwood,

Greetings to you as we journey through this Lenten season together! Lent is a time of resisting that which takes our focus away from God so that we may see God, see ourselves, and see our neighbor. In our Sunday worship, we have considered what “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” from Mark 8 means. We have considered the denial, not of our truest and best selves, but of those things which keep us away from God, from our best selves, and from our neighbors. Perhaps, we’ve said, the taking up of one’s cross (which was an instrument of death for political insurrectionists) means that we must die to the things that keep us separated— die to anything that denies the humanity in the other— racism, sexism, agism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ecological devastation, and so on, and also die to things which create our personal darknesses like greed, selfishness, shame, perfectionism, blaming, and so on. Continue to join us for the remainder of the Lenten season.

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 two 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. The services will be in conjunction with other local congregations as we seek to nurture our ecumenical partnerships in one of the most powerful ways: worshiping the Lord together.

On Holy week we’ll gather:

On Palm Sunday, we’ll gather at 10am with palms, psalms, and songs with the Praise Team as we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
On Thursday, we’ll gather at Metropolitan Community Church (1239 W Mineral St.) for a Foot-washing Service at 7PM. 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 multi-year partnership with Wauwatosa Presbyterian, and gather from 12-1pm, at Wauwatosa Cemetery for a Stations of the Cross experience. This will be a somber cemetery walk commemorating the death by crucifixion of Christ.

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

Pax Christi,

PK

February 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:19 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Underwood Church Family,

As we progress through the winter season, I hope this greeting finds each of you well and having had a good, meaningful holiday. I look forward to the many ways that we will fellowship together in February! We’ll gather around tables for a Game Night and then not long after that, a Pancake Dinner on the Tuesday preceding Lent. We’ll do a service of ashes on Sunday morning, February 18th as we begin the Lenten season. And we’ll say goodbye to our beloved church mother, Carolyn Sanders in a Memorial Service tribute to her.

An important happening in the life of our congregation will be o, February 4th, 2018, during our 10:00am Sunday morning worship. We’ll have an important congregational meeting within the worship service. We are asking everyone in the Underwood family, even if you haven’t made it lately, to try to attend.

This will be a chance to do worship a little differently! We’ll line the front of the sanctuary with chairs, and pray and sing in a circle. We will bless the cup and bread, and take Communion together as an act of worship. Then, instead of the sermon, we’ll gather around to listen and share.

The Strategic Visioning Taskforce will be presenting the information that they have collected in the last year about the status of Underwood, as well as recommendations for the future. Then, the floor will be opened up to everyone to contribute ideas, ask questions, and vision together.

This is not a business meeting! We will not be calling any kind of vote, but rather inviting folks into conversation about where you would like to see Underwood go and grow. We make the way by walking. So please, make plans to attend and be invested in this process.

May God be our Vision,

PK

December 17/ January 18 Tidings

posted Nov 30, 2017, 10:22 AM by Kate Fields

Grateful to Creighton University’s “Beginning Advent” for the following:

“Many of us are in an ideal place to begin Advent, but we don’t know it. It can be tempting to think that, because we are struggling these days, we can’t enter into Advent without a big change in our mood or without distancing ourselves from our real experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Advent is about letting God come to us. We do the letting and God does the coming. And, the whole mystery of our faith is that God is not reluctant to come into an unusual relationship (like Mary and Joseph’s) or to be born in the poverty of a makeshift stable.

How can we have hope and expect God will come to us? The [scripture] readings of Advent open up a whole series of promises, full of powerful images, that keep reminding us that our God will come to save us. They free our imaginations to see and experience that coming with drama and joy… They invite us to imagine when “a time will come for singing.” They give us the opportunity to hope beyond our wildest hopes in the past – “the lion will lie down with the lamb” and “they will prepare for war no more.” They open our hearts to imagine the love of our God embracing us in the coming of one like us, who knows our life and its struggles and offers us the hope of the Spirits presence with us every day, in every moment.
What are the key first steps to enter into Advent? We can all slow down. We can all breathe more deeply. We can all begin to trust that this will be a blessed time. Then, when we let ourselves be who we are, and hear the Scriptures, we can begin to quietly pray, “Come, Lord, Jesus.” We might expand that prayer, in quiet moments of our days ahead, “Come into my life. I trust You don’t mind if it is still messy. I believe You love me, because I need Your love. I don’t fear You can’t find the way to my heart. Come and fill me with peace and the love only You can give.”1

As Advent begins, join us at Underwood for each Sunday worship. Music from the Taize tradition, prayer, and scripture meditations will be guiding us through each worship. Come so that we may wait and long together for the Christ child to be born.

PK

 1 Creighton University Online Ministry of Jesuits, “What Am I Experiencing in My Life As Advent Begins,” December 2017, Retrieved from <http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/beginning-Advent.html>.

November Tidings

posted Nov 30, 2017, 10:20 AM by Kate Fields

Dear Beloved Church,

The Monday Night Bible Study recently gathered around the Stablehouse table to celebrate a Eucharistic Dinner! We brought food to share in addition to the Communion bread, and joined our prayers and blessings together as we created liturgy. As we were creating our liturgy, we spoke to the following prompts:

How have you experienced and known Christ?

In a world where you could believe many other stories or practice many other religious practices, what is it about Jesus that compels you?

And, how is the Gospel actually good news?

The liturgy we created around the gospel was rich, honest, and so meaningful. In mid-November on the 11th, we will again gather in the Stablehouse, and center ourselves around the table again as we explore different practices that have been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. We gather to explore these practices, questions, and doubts in tandem with our Monday night and Tuesday morning bible studies, Sunday worship service, and Sunday School which explore scripture and its practical manifestations in daily life.

We also look outward to ask how we can join the work that God is already doing in our city. We continue to maintain a strong partnership with the Milwaukee Christian Center who journeys with folks through the multiple challenges of poverty. We continue to serve meals with St. Ben’s Community Meal program. We have joined with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies as American Baptists nationwide have committed to being present in every way that we can for our siblings affected by the ocean making its way into Puerto Rico. We have begun to welcome other nonprofits into our building to share our large space. And, we continue to partner with Tosa Together, a group dedicated to celebrating Tosa’s diversity through strategic antiracism work. What next? Will this mean that we join together with other faith communities in the Milwaukee area to pool our resources to declare Sanctuary?

Let us continue to dedicate ourselves to the Way of Love, down all of its turns of struggle, solidarity, joy-making, and resistance.

The good news is that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not,

Pastor Kate

August Tidings

posted Oct 24, 2017, 1:17 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Beloved Underwood:

Hear the words of the prophet, poet, and farmer, Wendell Berry, in his poem, The Peace of Wild Things from, “The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry:”

When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Let us be wild and let us be free,

PK

July Tidings

posted Oct 24, 2017, 1:15 PM by Kate Fields

Dear Mighty and Faithful Church,

As the weather warms, I hope that this summer brings some space of sabbath for you. Sabbath is so critical to remembering who you are and what you are about.

Historically, summertime has been a sort of sabbath in the church year. Our Sunday School does not meet, and we also reduce programmatically. It is a time to kick the heels up and rest, but also along the same lines, a time to have space to remember who we are.

An Underwood Strategic Visioning Taskforce was convened this winter to do the work of visioning on the church financial front. The Strategic Visioning Taskforce is also partnering with the Ministry Council to begin conversation about Underwood’s mission. In other words, what are Underwood’s justice priorities?

    •    What is at the heart of our congregation? What is it we are here for? What compels us?

    •    How can we better centralize our mission? Why do we have a unique voice?

    •    How can we bring change about in the world?

These are questions for each member of Underwood to consider. I hope Underwood will take this time of summer Sabbath to begin the work of consolidating our mission and justice priorities for 2017.

Grateful to be on this journey with you all.

Peace like a river,

PK

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, <https://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/alumni/2017-charge-to-the-graduates.php>.

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