Retired Ministers & Missionaries Offering

December is the time of year when our church participates in the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO).

We look at Jesus Christ as the perfect role model for generosity.  His life embodied graceful generosity.  When we follow his model, we too become gracefully generous people.  God gave his only begotten Son; Jesus gave his entire life.  He is our role model of generosity.  We are called to be faithful servants of the gospel and to live out the ministry of Jesus in word and deed.  RMMO is one way of doing this.

The roots of RMMO go back to the mid-1930s, when American Baptist congregations received a Communion Fellowship Offering on the first Sunday of each month to support retired ministers, missionaries, their widowed spouses, and elderly clergy within their churches.  In 1977, American Baptist Churches USA launched the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO) to continue this appreciation of God’s service.

“Generous Congregations” is RMMO’s theme this year—and RMMO is all about giving.  It provides financial support for ministers, missionaries, and widowed spouses who have helped build our churches.  It helps to ease the financial burden of a retired ABCUSA minister, missionary, or widowed spouse having difficulty makings ends meet.  But it is more than assistance for them—it sends love…”thank you for remembering me.”

Show your thanks, help ease retirement, and share God’s abundance with retired American Baptist ministers, missionaries and their widowed spouses by giving generously to RMMO.  In Isaiah 32:8 we read: “Generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”  Please prayerfully consider your gift.  Thank you!

Missionary Profile: Sue Hegarty

Sue Hegarty serves in Costa Rica in partnership with the Baptist Federation and the Pastoral Care for Women ministry.

She teaches seminary courses for training pastors with the Costa Rican Baptist Federation, as well as serving as liaison with American Baptist mission teams.

Sue also teaches in the leadership development program for the inter-denominational ministry of Pastoral Care for Women.  This ministry seeks to give Christian hope to women in a male-dominated culture by teaching them of God’s love for them, which then empowers them as they seek to reach their potential as women of faith.

Previously Sue served for 12 years in Cuba where she taught at the Baptist Theological Seminary and directed an editorial group responsible for writing and publishing Bible study materials for all age groups for the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention.  Prior to that she worked for five years in Nicaragua as the Christian Education Promoter for the Baptist Convention, where she and other national leaders led teacher training workshops and published Sunday School curriculum.

The Pastoral Care for Women program in Sue’s ministry specializes in courses that help women, especially those in abusive situations, find hope and personal growth from a liberating Christian perspective.  Many of the program graduates go on to minister to others.  Sue develops and teaches courses for this ministry and is revamping current class content and materials for republication.  With the Baptist Federation, Sue works to strengthen the ministries of churches and their pastors by teaching classes, Bible studies and workshops.  She is a liaison with American Baptist mission teams that visit Costa Rica to develop fraternal relationships and assist with in-ministry projects.

In addition to praying for Sue’s work, please pray her family’s physical, emotional and spiritual health and a good balance between school, work and family time.  Thank you!

MBC 60th Anniversary: “Part of a Bigger Whole”

Recently, my husband Tom had a chance to connect with extended family members he had never met at his uncle’s funeral in central Minnesota.  He’s always had a longing to know his roots and to know more about his family’s background.  Meeting cousins and other relatives for the first time at his uncle’s funeral gave him a strong sense of belonging, of being a part of a bigger whole.

Reading through the history of our church gave me a strong sense of connection to “family” I had never met but who were a big part of who we are now as a church.  I see the continuity of our faith community and the ongoing vision of honoring and serving God, mostly in the day-to-day living out of normal life which is where the majority of our Christian walk takes place.

The part of church history I investigated this month was the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights and what was going on in the life of the church…  In 1981, Good News meetings by Bob Laurent of the Good News Circle challenged Christians to be “real’ and to help change the lives of others by speaking out for Jesus.  Fran Flint was a frequent contributor to the letters to the editor in the Fond du Lac Reporter, speaking up about the rights of the mentally ill and other justice related issues.  He also helped start the Franklin and Lincoln Houses, residential living facilities for the elderly and mentally ill, that some of us still do vespers services at today.  Rosemary and Merritt Helmer celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary while Russ and Muriel Wagner, many years their senior, were just getting married.

Pastor Bill Cornelius, long-time pastor, got called to a new position as Minister of Education for ABC of Wisconsin.  Pastor Bill and his wife, Harriet, still stayed very involved at Memorial and Bill, along with Pastor Glenn Davidson, chaplain and counselor at the Health Care Center, helped start Alcoholism Intervention Project, which helps educate the public about alcoholism, provides interventions for many alcoholics to get the help they need, and offers support to families of alcoholics.  Pastor Ernest Shipe was called as the new pastor for Memorial.  At that time, Memorial was known as the church with the “Dial-a-Devotion” telephone line.

In the late 1980’s, Steve Cornelius was called as the new pastor at Memorial in the footsteps of his father and the church entertained a proposal to build a new addition onto the building.  In the early 1990’s, as the expansion of the building is underway, the church office and the pastor’s study were located in a trailer in the church parking lot.  The CARE ministry team was initiated by the Diaconate to communicate in a systematic way our caring for all people in the church family.  Youth directors were hired and Pearl and Al Mertens got married.  In 1994, Pastor Bill Cornelius died at age 67.  A dedication service took place for the new addition which includes a new fellowship room, upstairs handicapped restrooms, a grade level entrance, new nursery, youth room, and office space.

In 1995, Memorial Baptist turned 40 years old and a celebration was held.  In 1996, Lucille Balson resigned as church historian at age 87 after 40 years of service.  She stated, “This is not a history of memberships, births, baptisms and so forth; that is the job of another officer.  This is a history of people doing things, not only as part of our church, but as part of our community of believers in the city of Fond du Lac and beyond.”

In 1999, Pastor Brian and Gabrielle Hastings started serving at MBC and were welcomed at an all-church picnic.  Pastor Brian’s dream at that time for MBC: “God is calling each one of us.  God has given us a special place in His kingdom.  My hope for the church is that it will be a place where people can come and find out where their place is.”

And so goes the snapshot into the history of MBC up until 1999 when the scrapbooks by Lucille Balson end.

We didn’t come on the scene of MBC until 2008.  I’m sure there were many important and everyday events that happened during that nine year interim.  I have enjoyed reviewing the history of MBC since its beginning in 1955.  It’s been interesting to see the continuation of family connections since the beginning and to see others join in for a time in the journey.  I appreciate the faithfulness of long-time members keeping everything going in service to God and to this church.

Now as we wrap up our 60 year anniversary celebration, I have mixed feelings.  Sad that my glance into the history is ending but also excited about looking forward to being involved in the living, breathing organism of Christ’s body, the local church here at MBC.  We are the current history being made as we live out our faith, taking steps day by day in the business of being the hands and face of Jesus in our worlds.  As I consider the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before, I feel inspired to continue in the tradition that has gone before me.  I have a sense of belonging and of being a part of a bigger whole.

Kathy Bonde

Invitation to Help with Ways to Pray

Prayer is a key component of listening for God’s direction during this upcoming time of Sabbatical at Memorial Baptist Church.  We would like your help in sharing ways of praying that have been meaningful and helpful to you in your life with God.

Using these guidelines, write out the description of the prayer and send it to the church office by email: ministry@mbcfdl.org or by dropping it on Gabrielle’s desk.  The description will need to fit on a half-sheet of paper.

1) The name or description of the type of prayer.

2) For pre-written prayers:  (i.e. the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, etc.):

  • Write out the prayer.
  • Describe the parts of the prayer; what do they mean?  Why are they important?
  • Describe ways to pray this prayer (the how).
  • Feel free to include advice from your own experience (labeled as such) in praying this prayer.

3) For ways to structure prayer (i.e. A.C.T.S, Examen, Lectio Divina, etc.):

  • Describe the purpose of the prayer structure.
  • Describe the method and/or the parts of the prayer.
    • How can we pray a prayer like this?
    • What do the different parts mean, why are they important?
  • Include a basic example of this kind of prayer.
  • Feel free to include advice from your own experience (labeled as such) in praying this prayer.

Three ways to lend a helping hand

Winter is coming; and the newly relocated Fond du Lac Warming Shelter is gearing up to open in November.  Hurricane Season has left its mark on Haiti and the southeastern coast of the US.  Here are three ways to get involved and lend a helping hand.  

Globally – Hurricane Relief for Haiti

Globally – Hurricane Relief for Haiti

Before Hurricane Matthew affected coastal areas of the United States, it impacted the country of Haiti which was still in the process of rebuilding after the effects of the devastating 2010 earthquake.  At this time, almost 900 Haitians have lost their lives, and the effect on the survivors is immense.  According to BBC reports, over 350,000 people in Haiti require assistance in the wake of the hurricane.  

Multiple aid organizations are active in Haiti, and so there are lots of ways to become involved.  www.charitynavigator.org is a site that rates various donor organizations.

Feed My Starving Children gets a 4-star rating from CharityNavigator, and you can find out more about their relief efforts through the link

International Ministries is responding to Hurricane Matthew with an immediate donation of funds through One Great Hour of Sharing, and is continuing to collect funds to help the people of Haiti, Cuba and the Caribbean through our American Baptist partners.  

Nationally – Hurricane Matthew Relief

Fill-the-Truck-Hometown Fundraiser


October 18, 2016

Dear Family, Friends, and the Wonderful Community I am grateful to be a part of,

As some of you may or may not know my hometown, Lumberton, NC, was flooded and devastated by Hurricane Matthew.  Many of my friends and people I grew up with and their families lost everything!  Some of the residents still don’t have power, running water or if they do have running water it is not sanitary.

The shelters are still full of families that are waiting for the water to go down so they can return to their homes, and then there are those that will never return to their homes as result of damage.  There are 7 schools in Robeson County that were damaged by water and/or falling trees and don’t know when they will reopen. 

You never forget where you come from and my heart breaks for my hometown, so I felt compelled to take action!  I am so grateful to be surrounded by friends, family and a community here in Wisconsin full of people more than willing to help.  I know we all like to help but just don’t know how or who to contact. 

I am fortunate to have contacts in the Lumberton area that I know exactly where the supplies/donations are going to…the good Southern people I know and love will get them. 

Here’s our plan:  We are having a “Fill-the-Truck-Hometown Fundraiser” for all the Hurricane Matthew victims.  Our kind and generous friends, The Cole family, are allowing us to park the truck this Saturday, October 22nd from 9am-5:30pm at the BP Highway Hop in Lomira. Also, the kindness of Joe Ziegler we are able to have a drop off location on Sunday, October 23rd in Fond du Lac on East Johnson Street in the Subway and Euphoria Salon strip mall parking lot.  Please drop off all supplies and donations at that time. If you can contribute, volunteer your time or would like more information, please contact Donna King at donna@wfdl.com or 920-948-7767, or if you are unable to attend, I will make sure your donation is picked up.  Continue reading “Three ways to lend a helping hand”

Missionary Profile: Denise Osejo and Rev. Juan Aragón

Denise Osejo and the Rev. Juan Aragón of Ravenswood, West Virginia, have been endorsed to serve as American Baptist International Ministries missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico.  Through this new role, they will continue a ministry that they have already begun. In his current position as Hispanic Ministries Strategist for the West Virginia Baptist Convention, Juan has worked extensively within the Mexican-American community, and this vocation has engendered a personal mission for both him and Denise.

Juan explains: “For the last eight years, we have been ministering to Hispanic immigrants in West Virginia.  Most of them are from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.  We’ve listened to their stories of faith, hope and courage.  But we have also learned about the struggles and challenges they face in their villages and communities.  Through them we have learned to love the people of Mexico.”

Denise, who will be serving mainly in women’s ministries, has for a long time felt called to serve among women who live in male-dominated social contexts.  “My sisters need to be empowered to believe they deserve more in life than just working in the kitchen or suffering silently from domestic violence,” she writes.  “They need to realize how important they are to God and to the ministry of the church.”

Juan’s work will focus on leadership development in churches.  He will seek to strengthen the witness of local churches by offering theological education, coaching and discipling to new and current leaders.  Juan sees this role as one of coming alongside men and women as they advance their ministries, accompanying them as a mentor while they continue to do the good work that God has already begun in them.

Please pray for Juan and Denise and their two children, Juancito, age 5, and Hefziba “Ziba,” age 2.  Thank you!

Missionary Profile: Sharon Koh

koh_sharonAmerican Baptist International Ministries (IM) has announced the call to the Rev. Sharon Koh, Senior Associate Pastor of Mission and Community Life for Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California, to the position of Executive Director.  She will lead the historic mission agency following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Reid Trulson at the end of August.

Board President, the Rev. Dr. Reginald Mills, who chaired the search committee, says, “Sharon has a passionate heart for God’s mission and is an effective team builder, who understands how to mobilize people for God’s work.  God has used the ‘Responding to the Call’ discernment process to give IM a clear vision.  Through her work on the Discernment Team that received and articulated this vision, Sharon is uniquely poised and gifted to provide collaborative and executive leadership for this new century of mission.  The Board is delighted, staff is enthusiastic and Sharon is passionately committed.  Together, we are responding to the call embedded in the prayer Jesus taught us, to see God’s will done ‘on earth, as in heaven.'”

An ordained American Baptist minister, Sharon has deep roots in mission, the cause that brought Baptists in America together in 1814 to launch the agency now known as IM.  Of her new calling with IM, she says, “I am so delighted to be partnering with people who care as passionately about God’s mission as I do.  I look forward to working with all of IM, our American Baptist family, and all of God’s children to embrace and usher in God’s Kingdom on earth.  This has long been God’s call on my life, and I am eager to share that passion and conviction in this new context.”

Words of encouragement may be sent to Sharon at IMaroundtheworld610@gmail.com; please pray for her.  Thank you.

1970s News Clips from Memorial Baptist Church

June 6, 1970—An 8th grade girl from Memorial Baptist writes a letter to President Nixon asking, “Why do we worry more about the astronauts than the men dying in Vietnam?”  The question came up in a Sunday school class discussion and the youth could not find an answer.  President Nixon’s staff assistant replied to her.

June 1971—A group of people from Memorial Baptist attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Chicago.

1974—MBC calls a new pastor, Dr. Val Sauer from Aberdeen, South Dakota.

January 19, 1975—Three members of the original building committee of MBC were present when a $30,000 mortgage was burned.  The church and parsonage were built in 1958 at a total construction cost of $113,690.

1975—Six Vietnamese families move to Fond du Lac, following an invitation from MBC.  When they left Vietnam, the war was over and their homeland was in turmoil.  Human misery prevailed across South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.  One man said, “Many of my friends and classmates are in prison in the north [Vietnam].”  His sister was the only family member who was not able to escape the country.

October 22, 1977—Bruce Fauska and Louann Leonhardt are married at Memorial Baptist Church.

1978—Pastor Bill Cornelius was called to serve as pastor at MBC.  Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius arrived in Fond du Lac with three of their five children.  A dinner welcoming the Cornelius family was held following the September 3rd service.

1980—Memorial Baptist celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Tom and Kathy Bonde

60th Anniversary Celebration Team Members