"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.



... our incoming pastor!  For those that are not aware, Pastor Jim and Christy will be moving on to the Cambridge UMC in Cambridge, IL in late June.  Since the announcement last fall, the search for a new pastor has been ongoing.  Then in mid-April, the SPRC members from all four churches met at New Hope UMC to be introduced to our incoming pastor.

Pastor Pam Harkema of the Randolph & Courtland UMC will be making the move to Western Wisconsin to serve and lead the Driftless Regional Ministry churches beginning in July.  And we even have a special message to YOU from Pastor Pam as she look towards the journey that we will be making together:

From Pastor Pam:

God surprises us at the most interesting times of our lives, right? 

Pastoral ministry was never supposed to be part of my life journey.  OK, honestly, Wisconsin was not supposed to be part of my life journey.  A long time ago, I went to Oklahoma State University and studied journalism.  My career evolved from technical writing into marketing and public relations, to advertising and communications training.  My faith walk was in Lay Ministry - Lay Speaking, serving on church committees, music.  Once God gets a hold of your heart though... well... there are many chapters to the story which I will share as we get to know each other over these next months and years.  For now, as we begin our journey together, I believe God has great things in store for Driftless Regional Ministry. Together we will listen for God's direction and follow God's path.

Assisting us on this journey is my remarkable cat Tutti, a tortoiseshell darling adopted from a shelter.  She is visually impaired in one eye but is outgoing and affectionate.  From time to time, my daughters will visit; Madaline from the Chicago area who processes insurance claims by day and works in theater by night.  And Anne and her husband Trevor who live in lower Michigan and both work in education for an online high school.  You will have a chance to meet them all soon. 

I am a bit over half way through course of study as a licensed local pastor.  My later call to ministry and my life experiences translate into a very personal and experiential way of serving our great God. 

I extend my heartfelt prayers for Pastor Jim and Christy as they ready themselves for their move to Illinois and I have begun daily prayer for all the congregations and communities of Driftless Regional Ministry.  As our time of transition draws near, I ask you to choose one of the other congregations of this four church charge and make a point to pray for the people in that church at least a couple of times a week.  Pray for the people you do not know, pray for the ministry to be revealed, and pray for the people who will come to know God's Word in a new way because of the ministry of that sister congregation of the United Methodist Church.

God is good, all the time. 

And God is preparing us for remarkable ministry. 

Peace to you.

Pastor Pam


Faith Fest is coming!

Women of faith are very excited about our upcoming Faith Fest. Our music director, Ron Willis, has been very busy and has secured fantastic music again this year.  Performing will be J.P. Olson, Eric Nofsinger, Stuart Thayer, Tor Eness and friends, Ron Willis and Judy Herr with the Gospel Strings. If you haven’t had the priviledge of listening to J.P., you are in for an additional treat. J.P. has shared the stage with Charlie Pride, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Wynonaa Judd, Ronnie Millsap, Michael Bolton, Etta James, the late Phyllis Hyman as well as others too profuse to mention.  We are thrilled to have J.P. Olson, Eric Nofsinger  Fiddle/Acoustical guitar and Stuart Thayer on the piano in addition to our dear friends, Ron Willis, Judy Herr and the Gospel Strings and Tor Eness and friends who always do a fantastic job.  Along with music there will be a raffle for a 55 inch Philips flat screen TV (Each ticket is $5 or five for $20). There will also be a Chinese auction with loads of new items donated by area businesses, and games and crafts for kids. Tickets for the Chinese auction, games and crafts are $1 each or six for $5. And, of course, let’s not forget about the food (free will offering).
Women of faith hope you can join us for a great day of music and fun. 

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: There is No Perfect Church on Earth

by Ardith Hoff

A farmer went to a big city to visit his sister for the weekend.  He attended church with her.  When he got home his wife asked how it was.  He said it was okay, but all they sang were those praise songs.  He said it would be like if I talked to you saying, ‘The cows are in the corn, the corn, corn, corn.  The cows, the cows are in the corn, corn, corn’, and then repeated it several times while clapping to the beat.  I’m never going back to that church!”

Weeks later, the farmer’s nephew came out to the farm.  He went to church with the farmer and his wife.  When he got home his mother asked how it was.  He said it was okay, but all they sang were old-fashioned hymns.  They went something like, ‘Come thou majestic exalted one.  Harken unto Juda during this time of tribulations, and incline thine ear to thy ransomed, captive souls.’  That dragged on for six long verses, but they only sang verses 1,3 and 6.”

The truth is that there is no such thing as a perfect church on earth.  If it’s not the music, as in the story above, it might be the preacher whose sermons are too long.  The worship services are either too early or too late.  They are too formal of too casual.

The concept of church initially simply meant, “an assembly of God’s people”.  Early Christians often met in secret to escape persecution, but the institution of “church” as we know it, has changed.  It has divided into denominations, and evolved over time into an almost infinite variety of belief systems and styles of worship.  The key here is to find a church that best suits your needs for spiritual growth, and as the author Richard Carlson put it, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” 

There are good reasons to find a church that comes closest to feeling right to you, and worshiping among people who care about each other, and believe in a God who cares about them.  There are good reasons to find a church where the word of God is used as a guide for living the best life one possibly can, even if it isn’t perfect.

Reminders: Be Wise as an Ass

by Ardith Hoff

What happens to us is less important than how we react to it.  Take the case of the donkey that fell in a pit.  The farmer who owned the donkey had trouble figuring out how to get him out.  He decided just to bury the old donkey where he was by filling in the pit.  He started shoveling dirt into the pit.  At first the donkey brayed and honked in complaint, but after a while he just started to shake the dirt off, and stepped up on top of it.  Eventually the pit was filled in, and the donkey was able to climb out on his own. 

The moral of the story is that we should all be as wise as that old donkey.  When we find ourselves in a “pit”, and someone throws “dirt” on us, we should shake it off, step up and climb out of our own metaphorical pits.  It is all too easy to just sit there complaining, and becoming angry and vengeful.  What’s worse, when we find ourselves feeling down, it seems like everything that happens, heaps misery on top of misery. 

Jesus set a good example when He was being mocked on the way to the cross.  Matthew 27:27-31 tells us that the Roman soldiers stripped Him, put a ruby robe and a crown of thorns on Him.  They put a staff in his right hand, then pretended to bow down to him, mocking him saying, “Hail to the king of the Jews”.  They beat him with the staff, and even spit on Him.  Christ did not complain or use his Godly powers to retaliate.  Instead, He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Few of us will ever be subjected to such humiliation and torture; so why is it so hard for us to shake off the petty frustrations and slights that happen to us?  Why is it so hard for us to forgive those who hurt us?  We claim it is because we are, “only human”.  We use that as our excuse for sitting in our own little pity parties grumbling.  Let us resolve to be as wise as an ass, to step up and find a positive way to climb out of our own misery.

Reminders: Signs of the Times

by Ardith Hoff

Ole was the pastor of the Norwegian Lutheran Church.  Pastor Sven was the pastor of the Swedish Covenant Church just down the street in their small town.  One day they joined forces and were seen pounding a sign into the ground.  It read, “DA END ISS NEAR! TURN YERSELF AROUNT NOW BAFOR IT ISS TOO LATE.”  As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, “Leave people alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!”  From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.  Shaking his head, Rev. Ole says, “Dat's da terd one dis mornin'.”  “Yaa,” Pastor Sven agrees, then asks, “Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say, “Bridge Out?”

If only there were signs that would warn us when we are headed for trouble.  Such signs could save us from all kinds of mistakes that cause us to go blindly forward when we should take a different path.  Even when there are signs we sometimes ignore them.  We think we know where we want to go or what we want to do. 

A mother of a teen-age daughter was trying to teach her daughter about how to handle boys who were a little too forward.  She said, “Be kind but firm.”  What the daughter took from that was that she should understand boys’ natural desires, but it was up to her to be strong and not to give in.  That advice fits many situations.  When someone wants us to do something that is not right, we need to be strong and say, “No!” kindly but firmly. 

The Bible is full of good advice and clues about how to live, but they don’t always seem clear to us.  We don’t always have time to search for the right answer when a troubling situation arises.  Having good values firmly in mind is important.  It’s like having a set of “Bridge Out” signs that pop up when temptations and right-or-wrong decisions arise.  If you don’t have warning signs in mind, find a church and Sunday school where Bible teachings can help instill and reinforce them. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41