Church Council

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Here is the full text of the letter our Church Council sent to Bishop Hee Soo Jung, June 4, 2019:


June 4, 2019

Bishop Hee Soo Jung

The United Methodist Center
750 Windsor St.
Sun Prairie, WI 53590

Dear Bishop Jung,

We greet you in the name of Jesus and the spirit of our common mission.

First United Methodist Church has a history of committed support of the ministry of the church beyond its local setting. Many from our congregation have dedicated themselves to ministries at the Annual Conference and global levels. We have also made it a priority to make our apportionment contributions at the 100% level every year stretching back many decades.

The 2019 Special General Conference legislation and the ruling of the Judicial Conference have caused great anguish in our congregation. The restrictive and punitive sanctions imposed regarding full and open ministry with our LGBTQIA+ congregants, constituents and ecumenical partners has been stultifying to our ministry and mission. We seek to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us to further the inclusive and gracious ministry of Jesus. Many have responded by seeking clarity about the apportionments and what they support. There is grave concern that their donations are supporting an institution of punitive exclusion, division and an appropriation of the gospel that seems in direct contradiction to the heritage, experience and contextual practice of our congregation and so many others that seem distressed at this turn in our denominational life.

The Church Council has adopted the following resolution:

“First United Methodist Church has a long record of 100% payment of apportionments that confirms a broad support of the missional priorities of the Annual Conference and the thrust of ministry across the General Church

Be it resolved: That apportionments through January and February 25th, 2019, be paid in full.

Be it further resolved: That apportionment payments from February 26th, 2019, through June 30th, 2019, be withheld (this is not to include any pension, health insurance or insurance on our building) pending the decisions of the 2019 Wisconsin Annual Conference regarding any petitions that empower the local church and annual conference to pay apportionments that do not support the measures adopted by the 2019 Special Session and move the church in a direction of inclusion and justice.

Be it further resolved: That the Church Council or its appointed Task Force will re-visit this resolution in the next meeting following the Annual Conference with the inclusion of our Annual Conference delegates and the Conference Chancellor to propose next steps. These may include a congregational gathering to bring our constituents up-to-date.”

This resolution was not adopted without deep grief, anguish, prayer, discussion and a yearning for a way forward that First Church can embrace fully. Our prayers are with you as you lead us through this difficult and damaging time for our congregation and our wider church. We pray that the Annual Conference can find ways in which members and constituents of First Church can freely support the mission and ministry of the church beyond ourselves as we have done in the past. However, there is strong sentiment that as far as possible it does not include paying anything that would sustain or advance the mechanisms of oppression and punishment that have been more securely established in 2019. Nor, that the stances of the Annual Conference diminish or ignore the ongoing harm that is being done every day to people in our congregations who are officially deprived of the full measure of grace the witness of the church may afford.  

We anxiously await the results of the work of the Annual Conference and the fruit of your leadership as we find our way through this difficult time.

With high regard and abundant grace,


Ellen Carlson, Church Council Chair

Abby Ehringer, Lay Leader

Mark Fowler, Lead Pastor


Cc: Scott Carlson, Jack Stubbs, Tamara Wims


The Church Council of the First United Methodist Church is responsible for working toward meshing the church's mission and vision with the financial resources and facilities, as well as the gifts and talents of the pastors, staff, and church members. Contact the Church Council.

In addition to the Church Council, there are currently five standing committees: Board of Trustrees, Communications, Finance, Nominations, and Staff Parish Relations.

Learn about the many and varied volunteer opportunities within First Church ministries. If you would like to help volunteer for any of these opportunities please call the church office at 608-256-9061 or submit a volunteer interest form.


Church Council 

Abby Ehringer, Lay Leader

Ellen Carlson, Chair

Paul Nagel, Immediate Past President

Steve Schooler, Treasurer

Jesse Simpson

Erin Hastey, Secretary

Connie Haessly

Caroline Altfeather

Paula Primm

Ex Officio:
Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler, Lead Pastor,
Tina Lang, Executive Associate Pastor

Standing Committees 

Board of Trustees

Carrol Spencer, Chair
Bryan Burris, Secretary
Bruce Marion
Brooke Seeliger
Bill White
Tom Gobel
Karen Wydeven
Sarah Emerson

Ex Officio:
Dennis Anderson, Facilities Supervisor

Finance Committee

Steve Schooler, Chair and Treasurer
Don Dean
Jan Moen
Tom Wochos
Frances Ramsey
Ellen Carlson, Chair, Church Council
Joan Deming, Chair, Stewardship Committee
Ann Herrold-Peterson, Chair, Staff Parish Relations Committee
Olivia Hwang, Lay Member, Annual Conference
Tom Gobel, Liaison, Board of Trustees
Abby Ehringer, Lay Leader

Ex Officio:
Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler, Lead Pastor

Staff Parish Relations Committee

Ann Herrold-Peterson, Chair
Bobbi Foutch-Reynolds
Ellie Hein
Jonathan Drewsen
Kate Heling
Marilyn Smith
Ben Senson
Jesse Simpson, Liaison, Church Council
Abby Ehringer, Lay Leader
Doug Knudson, Lay Leader, Annual Conference

Ex Officio:
Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler, Lead Pastor
Tina Lang, Senior Associate Pastor

Stewardship Committee

Joan Deming, Chair
Don Schultz
Max Varner
Milton Ford
Margo Fisher

Ex Officio:
Rev. Dr. Mark A. Fowler, Lead Pastor

Lay Members to the Annual Conference

Abby Ehringer, Lay Leader and Alternate
Bobbi Foutch-Reynolds, Lay Member
Doug Knudson, Lay Member
Olivia Hwang, Lay Member