Celebrating two of FPC’s Veterans
As part of a larger network of regional newspapers, in recognition of Veteran’s Day, The Waunakee Tribune sent out a special collection of interviews with area veterans. The veterans shared memories and experiences. Their stories capture the American commitment to protect our freedom for generations. Two of the veterans profiled in this special publication are from the FPC congregation: Chuck Koranda and Pastor Kirk Morledge.
Some excerpts from the publication:
Chuck Koranda… logged 1,000 hours flying an AH-1G Cobra helicopter.
“We referred to it as hours and hours of sheer boredom interspersed with hours of sheer terror,” he said. Yet, he remembers positive things, too.
“The experiences propelled my aviation and military career. Learning to fly by doing it was something you couldn’t get anywhere else,” he said.
He enlisted in Army helicopter flight school in 1967. After Cobra training, he headed to Vietnam. A year later, he returned to be a flight instructor in Texas.
After leaving active Army service, he moved back to the Milwaukee area and got married. Koranda missed training others to fly helicopters and in 1971 joined the Wisconsin National Guard as a part-time flight instructor, first in West Bend, then at Madison’s Truax Field. He completed his associate degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. In 1980 he went full-time, and seven years later transitioned to twin engine turbo props, eventually becoming unit commander.
Over his military years, he earned an impressive collection of medals, including Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and 38 air medals, one of which was for Valor.
Koranda is proud of his time training young men to fly, helping them to become more proficient and to advance in their careers.
As a Navy Chaplain, Kirk Morledge never fought an enemy while serving in the Navy Reserve. Instead, he tended to others who had engaged in combat.
Still, Morledge underwent the same rigorous training as other Navy Reserve service men and women and then reported to duty monthly. He also was deployed a number of times, twice for lengthy missions.
In 1990, when First Presbyterian Church was housed in the small white church on Fish Street, Morledge took the commission oath and was sworn in by a church member who was also a military officer. Morledge would go on to serve for the next 26 years.
Morledge was one chaplain among others of different denominations. He oversaw the base chapel there and led services, while counseling the troops. He also had a weekly radio message to the troops called “Chaplines.”
Morledge is thankful for the experience, saying it helped his ministry and his parish. He gained “a tremendous appreciation for the people who serve our nation in uniform,” he said, along with an appreciation for their sacrifices.
This Weekend’s Message
The final Stewardship Campaign message before Harvest Sunday. It’s Harvest Time! Join us this weekend for the online message or at the Sunday outdoor worship at 10:45.
FPC – Working at FPC during a pandemic:
Written by Doug Brown, Personnel Elder
To say that “the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the status quo for people” could be the understatement of the year. We’ve all had to adapt, evolve and do things in different ways. In some cases, these changes have been beyond challenging, in other cases, COVID has forced people to try new things which may actually be improvements over old methods. Like the rest of the working world, FPC staff have had to find new ways to accomplish their daily tasks and keep the ministry moving forward.
In the beginning, staff had to figure out how to work remotely. Some of our staff may have already been blessed to have an office setup at home while others needed to create a new work from home space. “Working from a bedroom isn’t ideal, and nowhere near as comfortable as my spacious FPC office,” shared FPC Receptionist and Office Coordinator, Donna Kopan.
Donna also shared that, “One of the biggest challenges initially with COVID, was learning the various technical aspects for working remotely. Everything from connecting to the FPC server, to learning three different video-conferencing platforms for our weekly staff meetings, to answering incoming calls to the church with a phone application and headset. We all struggled, but here we are over six months into the pandemic and it’s working!” Communications Specialist, Janna Leslie explained “Moving to an entirely online church format has created challenges that require immediate and creative answers! Supporting a weekly online service has become the highest priority and communicating to our congregation through emails, newsletters, website updates and even on our electronic sign is more important than ever. It’s an ever-changing situation and as a team we are constantly having to adapt to whatever new challenge arises.”
Now not everyone is working exclusively from home; in fact, most spend at least a little time at the church each week. Several of our FPC staff team continue to work regular hours from their church offices but whether working from home or at the office, all have felt the impacts of the isolation from the rest of the team. Church Business Administrator, Sue Gade, who still regularly works from her office at FPC said, “I miss getting to see my coworkers, the church members, and our wonderful volunteers more regularly.”
Some of our FPC staff team are not just battling a new work from home dynamic, but they’ve also had to figure out how to manage changes to childcare and schooling situations. Janna stated, “Having to balance being a mom to 3 kids, being a home-school teacher, and being a wife supporting a work-from-home husband… it’s quite a juggling act and can feel stressful at times.” To help our parents manage we’ve allowed for flexible scheduling and our staff have done a great job working to find a way to balance their personal and professional responsibilities. FPC’s Director of Family Ministry, Christa Schmeelk expressed, “I feel so lucky that Ezrah and I work for an employer that has allowed us to change our scheduled hours in order to support our children and also be able to get all of our work done because we can each have time away from the house at different times for focused work.” Patricia Cooley, our Director of Children’s Ministry shared similar sentiments, “I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve FPC and thank God for the flexibility to take care of my family, myself, and still be able to serve the children and families at FPC during this uncertain time. In this unique time God has provided us with skills to continue in his work in ways that many of us never thought of before!”
Now that FPC is offering an in person outdoor worship service, in addition to the online services, our worship production team and supporting staff are responsible for twice as much service preparation. For example, Assistant to the Pastors, Alka VanHaren is now responsible for creating two different bulletins, one for each unique service experience. Pastor Ben expressed, “While we have the same number of services, splitting them over two days (Wednesdays and Sundays) is a different sort of time demand.”
Many might assume that the church office being closed would result in the staff having less work to do but the reality is just the opposite for most of our staff. Everyone’s core responsibilities have remained, for example: Pastor Kirk is still writing sermons, preaching, and leading worship, providing pastoral care and counseling (mostly by phone and email), baptizing, leading the Session, Zooming his meetings (Session meetings, staff meetings, Nominating Committee, Worship and Music, COVID meetings, worship planning, and more), helping the needy with his pastoral emergency fund, and more. Nancy Groeneveld, Director of Music and Worship Arts, remains incredibly active working six and sometimes seven days a week to produce the music and oversee other technical aspects of our weekly worship service experiences while Ezrah Schmeelk, Director of Student Ministries has been implementing creative new ways to connect with students including personal visits to meet to students’ homes and hosting safe outdoor physically distances gatherings around the fire pit.
In many cases, even for things someone may have been doing for years and has down pat, there may now be additional time required to coordinate, maybe because of the remote working, reduced access to coworkers and other collaborators or simply because something needs to be done 100% differently. In addition, extra time has been needed to research. That might be researching a new and possibly better online meeting platform or simply staying up to date on the latest CDC guidelines.
One of COVID’s many hidden blessings has been that some staff have been able to address projects there just wasn’t previously time for. For example, Sue Gade shared, “When things were a bit slow this summer, I spent the better part of three days completely cleaning and organizing our supply room. I was able to get rid of a lot of old stuff that had accumulated over the years, and made much better use of some of the space. We have also used this time to create a comprehensive Gift Acceptance Policy, which was on our “to do” list for quite some time. So, a hidden blessing for me has been the opportunity to tackle some projects that we haven’t had time to get to in the past.”
In the end, the FPC staff team remain committed in their service to God and to our congregation. The office may be “closed” but our staff are very much still at work. Whether they are working from an office at FPC or from a makeshift office in their basement, bedroom or garage, they are all still available and ready to answer the call. Phone and email are going to be the best way to initially connect with staff but many of them are available and open to physically distanced and safe in person interactions as well. If you need anything from the staff, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Donna may have said it best when she said, “I’m just a phone call away, so please know that I am still here to assist you with your questions and needs as usual, and will find you the answer or connect you to the right person if I am unable to help. God bless you and keep you, and I look forward to seeing you face to face again one day.”
Share the peace and promise of Christmas with Our Daily Bread!
The Peace & Promise of Christmas, 10 Christmas Reflections from Our Daily Bread have been delivered. They are in a plastic tote at the front of the church under the portico on the right side as you face the church. Stop by anytime to pick one up for yourself, your friend or a neighbor, and discover how you can experience the peace and promise of Christmas!
Last Sunday’s Baptisms
We were blessed with beautiful weather last Sunday and it was perfect for two baptisms:
The Baptism of Finnegan James Johnson,
Born on May 29, 2019, son of Kasey and Nate Johnson. Finnegan’s siblings are Poppy (5), and Olive (3), Grandparents are Jane & Jeff Coatta and Lori & Jayme Johnson, Sponsors are Mike & Kory Swift and Karly & Tom Newton.
The Baptism of Maggie Jane Walker,
Born on February 4, 2020, daughter of Kelly & Tyler Walker. Maggie’s sibling is Stevie (2), Grandparents are Jane & Jeff Coatta and Jim & Chele Walker, Sponsors are Riley & Allison Walker.
Hope Grows Here!
FPC Stewardship Campaign for 2021
Brian Keller, an FPC member and Elder, shares about how giving selflessly is followed by a miracle of joy. As Christians, it’s our responsibility to recognize the gifts we’ve received from God and use those gifts to serve others.
You should have received your pledge card in the mail. If you have not, contact Sue Gade. We would like to have all pledges returned by November 22 when “the harvest of pledge cards” will be blessed during worship.
The 2020 Giving Trees:
The Mission Team continues to help those in need this Christmas with the Giving Trees. Due to COVID, wrapped Christmas gifts cannot be distributed to families. For this reason, we will be accepting monetary donations or store gift cards for each group’s tree. All donations should be marked Attention Mission Team and can be mailed or dropped off at the church at the mailbox near the church office entrance. Any amount is appreciated. If you’d like your donation to go towards a specific group’s tree, make a note of it on your donation. All Giving Tree donations should be made by Monday, December 7.
Here are the groups we are supporting this year:
- WEB Tree – The Waunakee Ecumenical Board has 156 families and 350 children in Waunakee that need help with food and gifts. Monetary donations only. No gift cards please. Checks can be mailed directly to WEB at P.O. Box 143.
- Soar Kenya Academy Tree – After recently opening their doors to 4th-8th graders they have found that, due to COVID job loss, many families are not able to pay tuition. Hoping that that this is just a temporary situation, they are desperately in need of funds to pay for meals for students and local elderly community. Monetary donations only. No gift cards please.
- Operation Christmas Angel Tree – for the Children of active duty men and women serving outside of the Country. Walmart gift cards requested.
- Shelter from the Storm Ministry Tree – This group will purchase gifts for the children of the single homeless mothers that are being served in their facility. Walmart gift cards requested.
- *NEW THIS YEAR* Sock Tree – To benefit the homeless or needy men, women, and children of: Friends of State Street, The Beacon, Porchlight, and Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. We are collecting bagged socks at the church main entrance on Sundays. Or arrangements can be made to pick up the socks at your home.
Our FPC family is always so generous during the Giving Tree season! Thank you in advance for financially supporting these worthy groups in our community. Have any questions? Email Glenn Myers, FPC Mission Elder.
For Your Calendar:
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone—raising the level of fear, stress, and anxiety for people all over the world and underscoring the importance of caring ministry. As a Stephen Ministry congregation, we equip and empower lay caregivers to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care. Our commitment to this ministry is extrememly important during these uncertain times.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from this ministry, contact the church office.
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