Pastor Messages

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

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>.

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,

PK

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,

PK

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 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.

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