What a wonderful turnout by attendees, presenters, and our hosts, the Fond du Lac Unit of Church Women United! The women who came early on Friday had the added bonus of a tour of Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, while many women arose in the early hours Saturday to catch a bus or carpool to the Assembly.
Forty-three women registered and joined together for conversation and light refreshments at Memorial Baptist Church. We then moved into the sanctuary for welcome addresses by our State Board President, Carol Lange, and Fond du Lac Unit Vice-President, Rosemary Helmer. Retired minister, Joanne Talaska, led devotions and we were ready for our keynote speaker, Rev. Mary Council-Austin. What a remarkable women! Her faith journey crosses decades, experiences, and cultures. As a reminder to us not to forget those women who have gone before, we received glowing stones to take along home.
Rev. Council-Austin also led the Memorial Service where the names of those recently deceased were read, and a votive candle was lit in their honor. Let us always remember!
The Salvation Army was chosen by Fond du Lac CWU, our host unit, as our Mission Project. Fond du Lac Salvation Army area representative, Major Kim Welch, spoke to us about her involvement with both Church Women United and the Salvation Army. She gratefully accepted the donations of non-perishable items as well as monetary donations. The organization is doing much to help with food, rent, gas, and utility payments for those in need. Even as the economy seems strong, there are rising numbers of people who are in poverty and are not able to provide adequate food or housing for themselves or their families. We need to be generous when we see those red kettles at Christmas, as well as throughout the year.
Drug Free Communities speakers Alex Berg, Steve Galske, and Geri Loewe gave an outstanding panel presentation on the Opioid Crisis. The panel included psychological, medical, and law enforcement perspectives and emphasized that we cannot expect to arrest our way out of the problem. Their forward-thinking approaches to the problem involve concern for our young children, especially those where early onset stress contributes to rewiring the brain that leads to disfunction and poor decision making later in life. Also, in Fond du Lac County, some first-time offenders selected for a special program have been very successful in avoiding re-entry into the drug scene.
Lunch was served by the Fond du Lac women, featuring an excellent chicken salad along with side dishes - and yes, homemade desserts! If you stopped at only one, you were in the minority!
Sister Ruth Battaglia reminded us that there are two kinds of human trafficking happening in our area: labor and sexual. It is important for all of us to be aware, and make others aware, of what to watch for. She and others have visited local restaurants, motels, sporting events, etc., to ask for those areas to be especially vigilant. She stressed that we should not approach a suspected perpetrator, but to call a hotline number to report our concern.
Our CWU Regional Coordinator, Judy Reimer, gave us an overview of what is going on, both nationally and in our Midwest district, and installed the officers for our State Board.
During the business meeting we approved the minutes from the previous assembly and passed a new budget, emphasizing the decision to use some of our funds to help board members and local units fund training and enrichment opportunities. The Christensen Fund will be contributing $400 in 2019, and an ad hoc committee is being organized to administer those funds. There will be more on that process in future newsletters. Unit volunteers are needed to serve on the committee.
Evaluations turned in at the end of the Assembly affirmed the programs and workings of the 2018 Assembly with excellent scores, averaging above 4.5 on a scale of 1 - 5.
We hope you enjoyed this year’s gathering and that you met old friends and made new ones.
Assembly Chair for 2018.
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