"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: The Cure

by Ardith Hoff

Three pastors were having lunch together.  One said, “I've been having trouble with bats in my church balcony.  I've tried everything––noise, spray, cats, but nothing seems to scare them away.”  Another said, “Me too.  I’ve got hundreds living in my belfry.  I've even had the place fumigated, and they won't go away.”  The third pastor said, “I baptized and confirmed all of mine, and I haven't seen one since!”

“The cure” might not work for bats, but it seems to work for some people.  Pastors often complain that even though they have done their best to help young people see the importance of regular church attendance, young people sometimes think they have graduated from church, once formal lessons are over. 

While it is true that going to church is not the way to achieve eternal life, it is an important part of learning to grow as a Christian.  Even if church services sometimes seem boring and repetitious at times, there is something to be said for taking time out on a Sunday to gather with other believers and spend time contemplating what is important in life. 

Having a church family, where everyone is concerned about fellow members, can be a life affirming feeling.  The sense of belonging can literally fill that homesick emptiness we sometimes feel when life gets overwhelming.  Having people around us who will pray with us about the problems we face can help lift the burdens we carry. 

What we sometimes forget is that though God promised to be with us always, no matter where we are, He also wants us to come to Him.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8  

It’s true that we don’t have to be in church to feel close to God, but there is something about being in a place of worship with other people who believe in God and are grateful for what he has given us that helps us remember the verse we leaned as children: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Reminders: Faith Enough to Walk on Water

by Ardith Hoff

Two pastors, who liked to fish, invited a third pastor from another denomination to come fishing with them.  Out on the lake, the first pastor needed to go to the bathroom.  He walked on water to the restroom on shore.  A while later the second pastor did the same thing.  The third pastor had to go really badly, but he was a little worried that maybe his faith was not strong enough.  He prayed hard and stepped out of the boat.  Sure enough, he sank like a rock!  He felt humiliated and swam ashore and never returned to the boat.  He knew that his faith must be too weak.

Faith, according to the dictionary is, “Complete trust in someone or something.”  The Bible tells us, in Hebrews 11:1 that faith is, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Religious faith is exemplified by a belief in God, without actually seeing him, and trusting Him for what we need.  So what was wrong with the third pastor’s faith? 

Did he not believe strongly enough?  Did he not trust God to provide the ability to walk on water?  Did he somehow lose faith as he stepped out of the boat, just as the apostle Peter did in the story where Jesus walked on water, and invited his disciple Peter to do the same?  In Matthew 14:29-31 it says: “Jesus was walking on water, and he said to Peter.  ‘Come!’  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.   But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”

If Jesus had been there in person, he might have reached out and caught the third pastor, but he was not.  Though we see modern “miracles” that we can’t explain, we don’t actually take unnecessary risks, and expect Jesus to reach down and save us.  We do our homework.  We search for the best surgeon to operate on us; we keep our car serviced so that we can have faith that it will get us to church and back and we ask the other two fishermen where the rocks are!

Reminders: How to Tame a Bully

by Ardith Hoff

A farmer and his brand new bride were riding home from the wedding chapel in a horse-drawn carriage when the old horse stumbled.  The farmer said, “That's once.”  A little further along, the poor old horse stumbled again.  The farmer said, “That's twice.”  After a little the poor old horse stumbled again.  The farmer didn't say anything.  He reached under the seat, pulled out a shotgun, and shot the horse.  His new bride was horrified and said, “That was an awful thing to do.”  The farmer said, “That's once.” 

That old joke is an exaggerated illustration of how some people like to act when they want to appear tough.  They try to bully others into submission.  Intimidation is a way of trying to demonstrate superiority.

It is well established that bullies are actually very insecure people who do not feel confident.  They try to act confident by wielding power over others.  They try to affirm their power by making the other person feel powerless.  Often, the bully was a victim of bullying in the past.  He or she has reversed roles to make sure that they are never put down by anyone ever again, no matter what. 

Sometimes, the bully actually is in a position of power, i.e. is the bigger child, a parent, teacher, or boss and uses that power to intimidate others.  They have not learned that one pat on the back is better than a thousand reprimands in getting good results. 

On the other hand, if the bully is in effect throwing a tantrum, we need to be the adult in the room.  Just as a parent should not give in to a child’s tantrum, adults should not be allowed to get away with one either.  Kindly point out what the bully is doing and letting him or her know that you will not tolerate such treatment can sometimes be an effective deterrent to bullying.

If you are being bullied or realize that you might be a bully sometimes, the following Bible verses might help: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 and Ephesians 4:2: “Act with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”