"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: Love is a Many Splendered Thing

by Ardith Hoff

If you love something, set it free.  If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours.  If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.  If it just sits in your living room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your phone, takes your money and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it! 

We can joke about love, but it’s true that we sometime treat the ones we say we love in non-loving ways.  Spouses sometimes disrespect each other.  Children sometimes run households because parents fail to discipline them effectively.  Neighbors sometimes allow their pets or children to leave messes or destroy property.  Even church members sometimes snipe at other members over petty slights.  Romantic love fades and Christ’s commandment to, “love your neighbor as yourself” is not always easy to implement.  It is too easy to treat the people closest to us worse than we would treat complete strangers.

When my son got married, I wrote a blessing for the relationship.  It could apply to other relationships as well: “May your love be as sustaining as a well spring to a stream/ but never only flowing one direction.  May your caring be as constant as the rising of the sun/ but neither as predictable, nor taken for granted.  May your days be as full as the oceans at high tide, / but never too full to find time for each other.  May your affections be as faithful as the moon is to the earth, / but never cold or indifferent.  May your expressions be as warm as the sunlight on your hair, / but never without kindness and the courtesy afforded friends.  May your marriage be as lasting as the pyramids and more, / but never without the freshness of a courtship just beginning.”

Married love needs constant awareness and thoughtful tending.  Parental love can be challenging, but is well worth the effort.  Neighborly love, love within the church family or at work is challenging at times, but with thoughtful tending, it too can be rewarding.  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

Reminders: Restorative Justice

by Ardith Hoff

The “restorative justice” system for resolving disputes was practiced by indigenous people for centuries.  The basic principles of the system are applied in some Mennonite and Amish communities to this day.  It came into wider popularity in the 1970s when Nelson Mandela took over as president of South Africa.  He instated it in the courts there as a way to resolve long-standing disputes between Blacks and Whites following apartheid.  The idea is that the victims of injustices and the perpetrators sit down together.  They are required to listen to each other and try to resolve the issues amicably.

The basic tenets of restorative justice have been implemented in families, schools, courtrooms, and even prisons around the globe.  The idea behind most programs is to help the perpetrator understand how his or her actions have impacted another in order to learn to refrain from repeating the offence.  It is also to make sure that victims are allowed to confront the offender and to suggest just compensation. 

The hope is that both victim and offender will find some level of empathy with the other.  Ideally, both will examine themselves in light of God’s will for them.  In the process, both victim and offender might start to identify with the other more fully.  It is hoped that offenders will be less likely to reoffend, and victims will be less likely to seek revenge.  Each of the parties involved is required to examine their own liability in the dispute, to take responsibility for their part in both the incident and its resolution. 

Ideally, both parties will examine themselves in light of God’s will for them.  As it states in Romans 12:1-3: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.   Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Reminders: Happiness is a Choice

by Ardith Hoff

People say money is not the key to happiness, but if you have enough money surely you can have a key made.  Not so!  Money helps us feel somewhat more secure, but it does not guarantee happiness.  Buying something we think we need or want might make us feel better temporarily, but the feeling does not last.  Things have a way of losing their luster over time. 

True happiness is more enduring.  Even when life is not going well, a happy person is able to maintain a positive outlook.  One of the hallmarks of a happy person becomes evident when situations are most difficult.  We have all seen stories on TV featuring someone who has just lost all of their earthy possessions due to a disaster.  People who can express their gratitude for still being alive see the blessings in knowing that things are replaceable, but lives are not. 

One of the keys to happiness seems to rest on one’s ability to appreciate what he or she has and to express gratitude for it.  The top recommendation from experts on achieving lasting happiness is to take time each day to count our blessings, and to practice gratitude for and contentment with what we have rather than looking to the future for some situation, thing or event that will bring us happiness. 

In Philippians 4:11 the apostle Paul wrote: “I am not speaking of being in need, for I have learned that no matter what situation I am in, to be content.”  The amazing thing is that Paul was in prison when he wrote that to his Christian followers in Philippi.  What Paul had learned is that he could depend on God for whatever he needed.  He knew that even when things are at their worst, there are blessings to be found.  We just have to look for them.  We really can choose happiness and find joy wherever we are.  The only time you have is now.  “This is a day that the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24