"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

Welcome to our "DRM Extra" page.  Here you will find news from around the Driftless Regional Ministry churches as it becomes available!  Often times we have important announcements and news to share just after we publish a newsletter.  So rather than wait several weeks until the next newsletter is published, we created this page to keep everyone informed on the latest news.  In addition to the announcements, we will also publish other special articles including "Reminders" by Ardith Hoff - Westby Times contributor & Westby UMC member.  If you have any questions or have some news you would like to contribute, please send us an e-mail at info@driftlessministry.org.


Lay Servant Ministries are important and impactful!

Greetings Driftless Regional Ministry!

Click here for a great article about why the United Methodist Church has the Lay Servant program, to ensure that all of our churches can remain open as every denomination deals with the shortage of pastors. 

Because twenty people have answered God's call to ministry, the following churches have more leaders to assist their pastors, and if these twenty folks take the Leading Worship class in March at Westby, these churches will have that many more people that can preach, helping to relieve the pressure of our lack of pastors. 
Albany UMC - 1
Dell / La Farge - 1
Madison UMC - 1
Mineral Point UMC - 2
New Hope - 2
Retreat UMC - 4
Trinity UMC Richland Center - 1
Westby - 7

Blessings    ~ Pastor Jim

Help us spread God's Word!

We are currently in need of volunteers to help us share God's Word during the Lenten season!  Each Wednesday evening during Lent, we will be hosting a Lectio Divina study at the Westby UMC.  We need volunteers to help lead each night of the Lenten Lectio Divina Study Series.  The selected scripture for each week is listed below. The leader reads the scripture aloud and helps to encourage others to share their thoughts about the scripture. If you are interested in being a leader or have questions, please contact Pastor Jim at pastor@driftlessministry.org.

  • February 14 –Jesus Calms the Storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • February 21 – Unhurried Grace (Isaiah 30:15-21)
  • February 28 – A Worthy Life that Pleases God (1 Samuel 30:1-8)
  • March 07 – The Risen Christ Goes Ahead of You (Mark 16:1-8)
  • March 14 – Riveted by Jesus in His Glory (Revelation 1:9-19)
  • March 21 –Praying with Christ at the Cross (Psalm 22)

We are also seeking 15 disciples to do short readings on Maundy Thursday (March 29th) at Westby UMC. This is the fourth year that we have done this particular form of worship at Westby, and those that have attended in the past have always found it to be a very spiritual evening. You will find sign-up sheets on the bulletin board at New Hope and Retreat.  At Westby, the sign-up sheet will be handed around, and may be found on the back table. The program may also be found at church, so please take your role after you sign-up.  For more information on the Maundy Thursday service, please contact Pastor Jim at pastor@driftlessministry.org.

In addition to the weekly Lectio Divina & Maundy Thursday readings, we are also seeking individuals to help us share Christ's last words from the cross on Good Friday (March 30th).  The traditional form of worship for Good Friday is to read the last seven statements of Jesus, followed by a short reflection, and a hymn.  The readings are usually done by pastors from the community, but since they all would have done this during the day, we would like our own people to do the readings and the short reflection.  To assist you in selecting a reading, a copy of the order of worship has been posted at both New Hope and Retreat or you can view it online here.  Pastor Jim will be doing one of the readings with the remaining six readings and reflections being done by members of our congregations.  For more information and/or to sign up for a part, please contact Pastor Jim at (608) 648-2528, pastor@driftlessministry.org, or talk to him at one of our worship services!



Driftless Ministries Youth Group Planning Meeting

Preparations are about to get under way in the formation of our new youth group.  Would you like to help?  We are seeking individuals from around the region to assist us in helping and walking along our area youth as they grow into strong, faith-filled adults!  Join us on Tuesday, February 6th at 6 p.m. at the parsonage (next to the New Hope UMC) for our first planning meeting.  Come and help us make decisions that will have an impact on our area youth!  Everyone is invited!  Hope to see you there!



New Hope Food Pantry Receives Donation

On Wednesday, December 6th, the New Hope UMC Food Pantry in rural De Soto received a wonderful Christmas blessing!  The food pantry was presented with a $1000 check from the Vernon Communications Cooperative to aid in the fight against hunger in the Driftless Region.  The donation was a part of Vernon Communications' annual "Season of Giving" campaign through which they make $1000 donations to various food pantries across their service area.  This year's recipients included food pantries at: Bethel Butikk (in Westby), Cashton Cupboard & Closet, La Farge Free Methodist, Living Faith (in Viroqua), New Hope & Viola United Methodist.  The funds that the New Hope UMC Food Pantry received are greatly appreciated by everyone who walks through the doors of the pantry and will greatly help the mission.  Thank you Vernon Communications Cooperative!

The food pantry at the New Hope UMC also receives extra blessings from surrounding congregations during this time of the year.  Recently, members of the Freeman Lutheran Church (rural Ferryville) donated 957 pounds of turkeys and hams to the food pantry to be distributed to area families during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Other area congregations also help the pantry by collecting donations as their monthly or quarterly missions.  So while the food pantry is based in the New Hope UMC, it is empowered by many others to amplify it's reach across southwestern Vernon and northwestern Crawford counties.  Thank you to everyone who supports the New Hope UMC Food Pantry through your prayers, donations, and hard work!  Together, we are making an impact in the fight against hunger right here in the Driftless Region!

Special Articles

Reminders: Beware of Jealousy

by Ardith Hoff

In February of 2014, a man in China had a nasty breakup with his girlfriend before Valentine's Day.  The jealous man bought all of the odd numbered seats in a local theater for February 14th so that couples couldn't sit together during the movie.  Those last five letters of jealousy are there for a reason.  Reader's Digest, September 2014, p.10

The above is an example of someone reacting in a petulant way because of his resentment about losing his girlfriend just before Valentine’s Day.  Feelings of jealousy can range from a momentary twinge of pain to serious depression (jealousy turned inward) or acts of retaliation (jealousy turned outward).  When someone gets something we had hoped for, but did not get, it is understandable that we would feel dejected.  Even if we would like to be happy for the person who got the praise, prize, or promotion, it can be hard to accept, but we know that we must get beyond our hurt feelings and move on in positive ways.  As we are told in James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”    We can conquer selfish ambition and the jealousy that follows when we don’t get our way, if we are open to what God wants for us.   It’s when we go our own way without consulting God or trusting Him, that He brings us up short, and shows us a different path––one we might never have thought of, if not for the disappointment we suffered.   James 4:2-3 puts it this way: “You desire but do not have... You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  When disappointment turns to rage, we have let our emotions get the better of us.  Let us remember to pray that God’s will be done, and then trust that He knows best. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  If we look for it, we will find a blessing in every disappointment.

Reminders: Relationships

by Ardith Hoff

“Women worry that men will forget everything. Men worry that women will remember everything.” Yes, it’s a joke, but unfortunately, these kinds perceptions are too often perpetuated in our current culture.  We’ve all heard wives and husbands make pointed jokes at their spouses’ expense, and some seem to habitually say derogatory comments about their spouse to other people.  It may seem harmless when said in a teasing or joking way, but these kinds of characterizations, even when said in jest, are hurtful to the person being degraded.

This lesson was brought home to this writer some time ago when a young woman at work suddenly lost her husband in a car accident.  Just a few days after the accident, she returned to work, and seemed remarkably calm and serene.  When asked how she was doing, she said, “The best thing I have going for me is that I have no regrets!  I never said a bad word about my husband to anyone, and he never said a bad word about me.” What a wonderful gift that young couple had given themselves.  They had made a commitment early on in their marriage to always speak well of each other.  It gave that young widow great comfort knowing that she had shown respect, and had been respected in return. The Bible tells us that if we want a peaceful existence, we need to act with peaceful intent.  1 Thessalonians 5:15 states, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else”. What a gift we can all give ourselves and the people around us if we make a commitment not to say a bad word about anyone.  What a great feeling it would be to be able to say, “I have no regrets."

Reminders: Doing Our Part

by Ardith Hoff

A fire started in the grasslands close to a farm.  The volunteer fire department was called. The volunteers arrived in a dilapidated old fire truck.  They rumbled straight towards the fire, drove right into the middle of the flames and stopped!  The firefighters jumped from the truck and frantically started spraying water in all directions. Soon they had snuffed out the fire. As the farmer watched, he was impressed and grateful that his house and barn had been spared. He quickly got his checkbook out, and donated $1000 to the volunteer fire department.  A local news reporter asked the volunteer fire captain how they planned to use the funds.  The captain replied, ‘The first thing we're going to do is get the brakes on our fire truck fixed!  It’s just a joke, but it is true that ordinary people are often called upon to do extraordinary things.  We need to remember that with God’s help, we can all do great things.  Doing good will not earn us eternal life, but it is what we are called to do in gratitude for the salvation offered to us through the death of Christ.  A church message sign once read, “ Yes, God feeds the birds of the fields, but he doesn’t throw the worms into their nests.”  In other words, we can’t sit back and wait for God to do everything for us.  We need to do our part. According to I Corinthians 12:12, we are Christ’s body on earth. “.  Teresa of Avila explained it best when she said: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.  Yours are the hands through which he blesses the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes; you are His only body on earth.  If you want to do Gods work, find a church and lend a hand.