December 2019 Trinity Tidings

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Dear Trinity,

Pastor Amy Waelchli
Pastor Amy Waelchli

As we end the year together, I’m looking back to our beginning of 2019 and the spiritual practice of Star Words. Remember? I introduced this church wide endeavor in Epiphany as the Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem, to Jesus our Lord. We agreed to be on the lookout for the various ways God blesses the church with bright, everyday gifts. Stars were the theme of VBS and have been on the cover of our bulletins for months.

Many members spoke to me of their Star Words throughout the year and I’ve been moved by your vision of God in the world. From the working mom who taped her star word to her work computer, to Ann Zweifel’s family who pinned her Star Word among the photographs at her funeral, to our Annabelle Udey who, as she was dying, wanted me to know that her Star Word was ‘everlasting’ and she knew that God is exactly that . . . I’m strengthened, buoyed, in awe of your faith. Thank you for giving me your vision for God’s presence in your life.

My own Star Word for 2019 is ‘Determination.’ When I first drew it out of the pile, I thought, ‘A-Ha! Yes! This is me all over!’ I’m determined to lead with joy! I’m determined to be faithful and transparent. I’m determined to collaborate.’ But as the year wore on, I felt worn down and I wondered, ‘Really God? Determined for what? Who’s purpose? God’s? Mine?’ After some quiet time, God showed me the truth of my Star Word. It had nothing to do with me whatsoever. The determination, which is the gift of God for the church, is yours. You, dear Trinity, have said to me in word and deed, ‘We’re determined to be the church.’ Seriously! On day one when John Syens and Ruth Smithback actually said the words to each other, ‘God has called us to be the church.’ I’ll never forget that! You’ve showed up continually to worship, to serve, to listen, to learn, to pray, to teach . . . the list goes on. You’re determined to grow, to invite, to be a living community in Christ.

Thank you for your determination this year and, in so doing, setting our theme for next year: “Community.” For being a vibrant, determined faith community that articulated your mission statement in a new way. Trinity: A Living Community of Christ. You’ll be seeing this phrase everywhere 2020 and beyond. There is much more to come for Trinity Lutheran Church all thanks to our everlasting God who calls us into this living community in Christ.

What an amazing year we’ve had. And it’s not over! Check out the Star Word reflection album before/after worship (located in the Narthex). People are adding their experiences with star words to this album and you can add yours too! This is a great time to get to know some of your fellow members and how they’re experiencing God’s gifts for God’s church.

Come worship with us throughout Advent.

  • Join us for a calm Christmas worship during Blue Christmas at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15. This reflective service is a peaceful worship for those who need a break and for those who may not feel so jolly this season.
  • Plan to bring your family and invite your friends for our Christmas Evening Worship as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
  • 4 p.m. Family Worship is perfect for all ages. A little bit earlier and we also use glow sticks instead of candles so no worries over wax and little ones. Still lots of singing and communion. Sometimes kids come in their Christmas PJs!
  • 6 & 10 p.m. Worship are Carols & Communion with candlelight. A beautiful tradition for all ages. Everyone is welcome. The 10 p.m. service is especially poignant with the tree lights and candles.

Come and see, come and be this living community of Christ this Advent.

In peace,

Pastor Amy

Jesus is Born!

Hanging 'O the Greens

The end of Thanksgiving weekend is also the beginning of Advent. Please come help us get Trinity ready for this special season. This is a special tradition of decorating, eating, gathering with our church family after a holiday weekend. It’s a touchstone to start our journey to Christmas together. Sign up today at the sign up center or online.

Prayers requested for . . .

Marsha Anderson, Sandy Anderson, Andrew Campbell, Linda Doerr, Evan Dudzek, Kim Hannan, Renee Jensen, Bob Kyle, Karen Mepham, Dan Morrow, Jeremy Schepp, Denny Stark, Carol Topel, Ruth Smithback, Karen Weber, Donna Weeks, Lori Williams, Donald Zuehlke and those we name silently in our hearts.

Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas is a peaceful worship time of reflection and remembrance. Often, people who have experienced a significant loss during the previous year find it comforting. I hope you’ll join us in this peaceful honoring of a special season.

Christmas Eve and Dec. 29 Worship Volunteer Sign up

You can sign up for Christmas Eve Worship or Dec. 29 9 a.m. Worship at the sign up center or via SignUp Genius through

Thursday Worship

Forgiveness & Reconciliation Workshop

Sign up here for the Forgiveness & Reconciliation Workshop, Saturday, Jan. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon.



Devotionals for Advent

The season of Advent is the time of getting our hearts ready for Jesus coming to us as an infant. The Christian Education Ministry Team has gathered a variety of materials that may help you prepare your heart and find joy as you ponder Christ’s birth. The materials available include an Advent calendar from ELCA World Hunger, placemats with prayers and discussion starters for families, and two types of daily devotionals. Please help yourself to the materials that work best for you. These items are located on a table near the main church office and on a table in the Narthex.

December 15 – Sunday School Worship Services

Join us as we celebrate Jesus’ birth! Students in grades 5-6 are sharing the Christmas Story at the 8:15 worship. Students are reading Scripture verses, others are reading prayers, serving as greeters and ushers. Students in grades 4K-4 will be sharing the Christmas Story at the 10:45 service. The 4th grade students are sharing a short skit. All students in grades 4K-4 will be sharing the Christmas story through song.

Dates to keep in mind

Dec. 1 – No Sunday school
Dec. 8 – Sunday school
Dec. 15 – Sunday school
Dec. 22 – No Sunday school
Dec. 29 – No Sunday school
Jan. 5 – Birthday Party for Jesus
*Students, please gather in the Sanctuary for our Opening Time at 9:30
Jan. 12 – AACE: All Ages Sunday School – Care of Creation, guest speaker Karen Albrecht

What is AACE?

AACE is a time for learners of all ages to gather and experience the joy of learning together. All members and guests of Trinity are invited to our first AACE event! For this experience we request that Sunday school students attend this with their families. Members of Adult Sunday school, we look forward to you joining us.

AACE will begin at 9:30 in the Sanctuary. Sunday school students, please sit with your family. We will not be gathering into grade level groups for this event. As part of this event we will be planting milkweed seeds in milk jugs.

Help us prepare for this event by saving plastic milk jugs, either ½ or 1 gallon. Please rinse out the jugs with a light bleach solution before bringing them to Trinity. We need these donations by Jan. 5. All donated jugs can be dropped off by the Sunday school office.

Looking for a way to volunteer at Trinity? Here are two opportunities.

1. Church nursery
We’re looking for an individual or a team of people to sort, organize and wipe down toys on a monthly basis. Help keep the nursery a happy and healthy place to be!

2. Take food donations to the Fort Atkinson Food Pantry
We’re looking for an individual to take food donations to the Food Pantry on either Monday or Thursday mornings, approximately every-other week.

Contact Julie Vurva at or 920-563-4145 ex. 4.


Birthday party for Jesus

Happy birthday Jesus!All Sunday School Students are invited to attend a Birthday Party for Jesus (belated) on Sunday Jan. 5, 2020. This event will be held in the Fellowship Hall during the Sunday School Hour (9:30-10:30). Activities include:

  • Games
  • Tasting food that may have been served at a birthday party Jesus attended
  • Crafts
  • Cookie Decorating
  • Songs
  • Cake and ice cream
  • Photo booth
  • And much more!

Students are asked to bring new socks that will be donated to a local homeless shelter. Parents, this would be an excellent opportunity for your child to invite a friend! Volunteers are needed! Contact Sheryl Phillipson at

Youth and families

LIFT—6:30 p.m. All high schoolers welcome!!

Wednesday— Dec. 4 Christmas Movie Night and Worship planning

Wednesday— Dec. 11 White Elephant Christmas Party

Wednesday— Dec. 18 Christmas Neighbor Gift Wrapping

Dec. 21—  Christmas Caroling

Volunteers needed

I am looking for volunteers to be on a Youth Ministry team to plan the future of youth ministry at Trinity. We would meet periodically throughout the year. I am looking for people with children of all ages. If you are interested, email Kitty at

7th & 8th Grade Sunday School

Sunday, Dec. 8— 9:30 a.m.


Thursday, Dec. 12— 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 19— Young adult discussion group.

Worship with the Youth Director

Dec. 12— 6:15 p.m.

Let me know if you are coming so I can order enough pizza! I promise I won’t burn it this time! Join us!

Gift cards

Gift card order forms and vendor lists will be out on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Gift card orders will be placed on Mondays, Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. It’s a great way to support the youth and do some shopping! For more info, contact Kitty.

Christmas Neighbors

Joy of GivingThe Giving tree will be set up in the front hallway on Tuesday, Nov 26.

We will have over 10 families that we will be supporting this Christmas. All you have to do is take a tag or tags from the tree. Each tag will have suggestions for you.

There will also be tags for monetary donations that will go toward Christmas dinner and additional food items.

There will be some tags that are for personal care items such as toothpaste and laundry soap.

Please bring your UNWRAPPED gifts back to church by Sunday, Dec. 16.

If you would like to donate to Christmas Neighbors but don’t have time to shop, simply donate the money you would like to spend and LIFT will do the shopping for you. We tried this last year and it was a great success. LIFT loved buying toys and gifts for people. If you would like LIFT to shop for you, simply mail or hand in your donation to the office and enclose a note FOR LIFT SHOPPING. Thanks!!

Summary of Proposed Bishop Election Process and Timeline
South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, 2019-2020

This process has arisen from consideration by the Bishop Election Task Force, the Synod Council and Executive Committee, and has been drafted by Interim Bishop Peter Rogness. It has been affirmed by staff at the Office of the Presiding Bishop. It is on the agenda for discussion and adoption by the Synod Council at its Nov. 9, 2019, meeting. It has been presented verbally to the Bishop’s Convocation Oct. 6-8, and will be presented at the Nov. 2, 2019, special Synod Assembly convened for the purpose of adopting a budget for 2020.

The focal elements of the process are as follows:

  • Lay a foundation based on careful and broad input from around the synod, a foundation that describes the synod and develops a profile for the bishop being sought.
  • Invite participation at the Conference level for careful consideration of possible nominees for bishop.
  • Charge a Bishop Call Committee with responsibility for conducting interviews, background and reference checks on proposed candidates, forwarding a slate of 4-6 candidates for the synod’s consideration and election.

A more detailed timeline and description of the Proposed Process:

  1. October – December – Bishop Rogness holds informal conversations with rostered leaders at Conference gatherings.
  2. January 1 – February 15 – 6 Town Hall Meetings – for rostered leaders and Assembly Voting Members (either ’19 or ’20) – These will be structured, 90-minute gatherings for (a) gathering input describing the strengths, challenges, hopes, issues that best describe our synod at this time, and (b) building a profile describing the needs we have in the person to be elected bishop of the synod. (Questions to be posed in this structured process may be sent in to Bishop Rogness between Nov. 10 and Dec. 10.)
  3. February 15 – February 20 – summary of the Town Hall meetings and resulting “Bishop Profile” produced and distributed.
  4. February 20 – March 10 – Conference Nomination Caucuses are held. Participants are rostered leaders and lay voting members of the 2020 Synod Assemblies (or ’19, if you haven’t selected 2020 voting members yet.) Each Conference may identify up to five persons for consideration for nomination as bishop.
  5. March 10 – April 24 – The Bishop Call Committee receives and researches the names coming from the Conference Nomination Caucuses. It may receive information, conduct interviews, do background and reference checks. It is charged with bringing forward 4-6 nominees for consideration by the synod for election as bishop.
  6. May 1 – 2 Synod Assembly – the Nominees are introduced to the gathered Assembly.
  7. May 2 – June 20 – (3) Forums are held involving nominees.
  8. June 20 – the members of the Synod Assembly reconvene for the Election of the Bishop.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we making changes to the process of electing a bishop? It’s not the first time. For the first several elections, there was no pre-work at all, only a nominating ballot at the assembly. Later we followed what a number of other synods had done, which was to identify nominees beforehand and hold forums for those willing to be in the election. We continue to seek improvement.

Are the changes at this time because of our track record? Yes and no. Many synods tinker with changes to the process. In our case, we recognize that only two of our six bishops have left office at the conclusion of a term. There’s no one single reason, but it does suggest we could make changes that would allow for more thought and consideration to candidates prior to the election.

So what are the key differences being introduced this year? There are several:

  1. Town Hall meetings will draw on broad input from around the synod to describe the synod and what we need in the person elected to be the bishop. We’ll develop a “bishop profile,” that should guide our thinking about who best could serve.
  2. Conferences will be asked to convene and discuss possible nominees. Names may still be put forward by individual persons or congregations, but would need to be supported by a conference to be sent on further into the process.
  3. A Bishop Call Committee will do the work similar to a Congregational Call Committee – gather personal and background information, do interviews, and pass on to the synod as a whole 4-6 names of persons they consider the best fit for the synod’s needs. By the time nominees are presented to the synod assembly, there will have been thorough vetting and support.

Who will be on the Bishop Call Committee? The members of this committee will be appointed by the Synod Council in January. It will be separate from the existing Bishop Election Task Force, which deals only with the process. Deans are invited to suggest persons to serve.

Isn’t every synod supposed to use an “ecclesiastical ballot?” The model constitution for synods describes an election process via the “ecclesiastical ballot,” which means the first ballot is a nominating ballot. But it is not a required provision, and the constitution of the South Central Synod of Wisconsin says “The Synod Council shall be responsible for determining the process to be used in the election of a bishop.” (S9.04.01)

Have other synods used a process like this? Yes. To cite some neighbors: the Lacrosse Area Synod begins the process by involving assembly voting members at a “conference nominating caucus,” that raises up nominees; no further nominations are allowed at the Synod Assembly. Northeast Iowa elected its current bishop using a Synod Call Committee that gathered nominations, did work similar to what we propose, and forwarded five names to their assembly. In recent elections, both Northwest Washington and Eastern Washington Idaho synods had a pre-nomination process and no floor nominations. These are only a few examples.

Doesn’t this call for much more involvement by people throughout the synod? Yes. Especially if you are a rostered leader or a lay member identified as a voting member of the synod assembly. You should plan on participating in (a) a Town Hall meeting; (b) a Conference Nominating Caucus; (c) two synod assemblies (the regular May 1-2 Assembly, and the one-day June 20 election assembly); and (d) a forum in your area to become familiar with nominees.


Council Corner: Welcome to our new council members Jeanne Stark, Vicki Steinke, and Candy Milan. These new members are filling vacancies left by Matt Anderson, Tim Sawyer, and Sean Alwin, who for various and personal reasons stepped away from Council at this time. We thank Matt, Tim, and Sean for their dedication to Christ and Trinity. We welcome Jeanne, Vicki, and Candy onto council!

A constitutional note: This isn’t the first time a vacancy has been filled by an appointed council member. It’s happened before and there is a process for it in our church constitution. The council is able to appoint people to serve and the congregation affirm that action with a vote in the next meeting. In January, the congregation will have the chance to affirm the council’s action of appointing people to fill vacancies.

Annual meeting

In the Sanctuary on Jan. 26 between services.

Weather cancellations

The below resources will have the most up-to-date information on Trinity’s closings due to the weather. WFAW, CHANNEL 3000, Trinity’s Facebook page, and Trinity’s Website @ If school is cancelled, Thursday worship is cancelled.

Addresses for Trinity’s college & tech students and service members

Did your young adult move to school or go into the service? STAR group is looking for the addresses of current Trinity college and tech students and service members for their card ministry. Email the office at or fill out an index card in the Narthex.

Please include their birthday too. Thank you!

Thanks for giving!


Here’s a photo of just a portion of the 109 pairs of mittens/gloves, 94 hats, and 12 sets of matching hats and mittens sent off to our local elementary schools to keep kids warm at recess. Thank you, members of Trinity, for your generosity! Thank you to our STAR discipleship group that keeps inviting us into ways to serve our neighbors!

Housekeeping Ministry

We are forming a Housekeeping Ministry Team which is open to everyone. We would meet on the second Friday of the month, starting on Friday, Dec. 13 from 9-11 a.m. Our goal is to do light housekeeping duties to maintain the beauty of our building. For example: dust
Hearth room, Bible Study room, etc.

No need to bring supplies as they will be provided. It will not be necessary that you come every month either but come when it is convenient and works for your schedule.

No need to RSVP!

Questions: Contact Steph Beran 920-563-2156 or email

Click here to view the Trinity calendar