Mission Study
October 12, 2014, 12:27 PM


Kettle Moraine United Presbyterian Church

Hartland, WI

Mission Study     August, 2014

Mission Statement:  Called by God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to worship, grow and serve.



Kettle Moraine United Presbyterian Church is a small church in a pastoral setting.  In the 1960s two nearby Presbyterian churches merged (hence the United in our name) and built a lovely red brick facility on 14 acres of Wisconsin forest.  The property also includes a parsonage.  Since then attendance and membership have fluctuated somewhat.  In this study we try to identify factors contributing to that increase and decrease.


A Brief  History

Kettle Moraine United Presbyterian Church of Hartland, WI, began more than 150 years ago as two small churches located in Stone Bank and North Lake, founded by settlers who were predominantly farmers.  In 1962 the congregations combined to become KMUPC. Since that time our church has been served by five pastors and is currently under the interim leadership of Rev. Dr. Charles Denison.  The church reached its largest membership (approximately 230) under the leadership of its longest serving pastor, Rev. John Baumann, who is now Pastor Emeritus and lives approximately one hour away.


Area Demographics

The Lake Country of Southeastern Wisconsin is an area of forests, lakes and small towns.  The Ice Age glaciers carved a moraine – a rough plain of glacial debris and left small bowl shaped hollows called kettles as the ice melted.   Growth is moderate.  Between 2000 and 2012 Hartland grew 16%, to 9200.  The last two decades have seen several small sub-divisions move in.  None are in the planning stages at the moment.  Sewer lines have not been dug through the neighborhoods, so most are still on well water with septic tanks.

Surrounding the KMUPC are many school systems and medical facilities.  Our church is in the middle of the Arrowhead Union School District (see addendum X), Oconomowoc School District (addendum Y) and to the south, Kettle Moraine School District and to the north, Hartford School District.  Medical facilities include Oconomowoc Memorial, Waukesha Memorial, Aurora Summit and the Lake Area Free Clinic.

Recreational opportunities abound in Waukesha County. They include:


  • 77 lakes offering fishing, swimming, and boating

  • 21,000 acres of public parks (state, county, and municipal)

  • 129 miles of hiking and biking trails over

  • 70 miles of cross-country ski trails

  • 10 campgrounds

  • Over 20 public golf courses

The primary economic engines are Milwaukee to the east and Madison to the west.  Waukesha County consistently registers one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.  With over 12,000 employers employing 218,000 workers, manufacturing, services and retail represent the largest sectors.  Many of our members commute to work out of the immediate area.  Others are farmers, teachers, firefighter/police, county workers or small business owners or workers. 


Within a five-mile circle of our site, Percept (2010) found 18,524 adults, of whom 70% were working, 2% were unemployed and 28 % were not in the labor force.  Of 8781 homes, 75% were owner occupied.



The Area People

While an estimated 83% of folks within 5 miles believe there is a God, fewer than 60% attend any church.  20% give over $1000.00 to a church.  Of the churchgoers, 17% more than the national average prefer traditional worship, while also showing the same percentage preferring more contemporary music.


Historically, German Lutherans and Catholics settled the area, and they still account for the majority of churches and churchgoers (Lutherans 15%, Catholics 30%).  More recently two or three “mega-churches” have been able to grow significantly and offer more contemporary worship, program and services for many people of all ages.


The People of KMUPC

Currently our membership rolls show 157 members.  A more accurate number is 116 when we subtract grown children who have moved out of area, snow birds who are absent up to 6 months of each year, and those who regularly attend other churches but who have not withdrawn membership from KMUPC.  Of that number, those who regularly attend total approximately 80. 


KMUPC’s reported total gains in membership in 2012 (7) were less than the 2012 average for all PC(USA) congregations (12).  The reported total losses (21) were larger than the 2012 PC(USA) average (19). The largest declines since 2002 occurred in 2004, 2008 and 2012, and have been attributed to three factors:


  • A number of committed, active members left KMUPC because theological differences with the PC(USA) violated their conscience;

  • Several committed, active members left because of pastoralleadership;

  • A number of families left in conjunction with the resignation of a youth director.

Our church has a nice balance of young families, active middle-agers, retired seniors and a few of Tom Brokaw’s “Great Generation.”  Of the enrolled members (as of the end of 2013) the age demographic is roughly:

                    Age                                  #

          Up to 25 years of age                  15

          26-45                                          39

46-55                                          31

56-65                                         23

65+                                            49


In summer, the typical Sunday attendance drops below our normal 75 – 80. From September to May, ten to fifteen children attend Sunday school.  Five to seven people attend an adult Sunday school before the morning worship service. The congregation is 100% Caucasian.


Governance and Staffing

The Session is composed of nine members, although as of January, 2014, only eight positions are filled. Each Session member chairs one of the following committees:  Finance & Stewardship; Building and Grounds; Christian Education; Evangelism and Outreach; Mission; Nominating; Personnel; and Worship. The Board of Deacons is composed of 12 members who assume responsibility for coffee hour, food pantry and food baskets, nursery volunteers, fellowship of concern, kitchen supply, roses for newborns, funeral luncheons and bulletin boards.  Each Deacon has a call list for contacting members of the congregation. KMUPC employs a part-time secretary who is in the office two days a week for a total of 12 hours.  A custodian cleans the building once a week on Monday mornings.





We do many things well.             




A Church Family:  

Many people love KMUPC’s warm and caring members.  Like many smaller churches, we consider ourselves a welcoming family.  The new visitor will be welcomed repeatedly and helped to feel at home, while the regular members express genuine happiness at getting together for fellowship and worship. Some members have been in the church their whole lives—even eight or nine decades.  Person after person attests to the sense of family, the atmosphere of acceptance and the constancy week after week of being in the company of people who are simply glad to be around each other. Approximately half the membership in attendance on any given Sunday is 50 years or older.  These people love the church and are committed to its past, present and future.



We excel in missions. For many decades 10% of our receipts have been given to mission agencies selected by the Mission Committee. In addition to those efforts, several of our people are personally involved with specific opportunities.  Members have worked in Ethiopia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, South America and Alaska.  Some members have worked with Habitat for Humanity. 

KMUPC has members who volunteer at the Lake Country Free Clinic and the Hartland Food Pantry.  We have supported Angel Tree ministries as well as Operation Christmas Child for many years. 


KMUPC has also been a faithful sister church to the urban New Life Presbyterian Church, taking school supplies, food, clothing, household goods and other items to help New Life fulfill its local ministry.  We expect to continue our commitment to helping others in the name of Jesus Christ.


Our Presbyterian Women are a very active group.  Several years ago they built a Pavilion on the property.  It is the site of an annual Flea Market in the summer, and in winter it is offered to the community as a storage area for boats and motorcycles for a free will offering.  The money raised by the PW is used for a variety of mission projects. 



It is easy to get involved at KMUPC.  One recent member jokes about raising his hand once, now he mows the lawn, sits on the personnel committee, has his own keys, and regularly leads worship.



Prayer plays an important part in this congregation. Each Thursday some half dozen faithful gather here for prayer at 6:30 A.M.  Our prayer chain is active – they keep in touch with the needs throughout our extended family and beyond. We expect the successful candidate to be a person of prayer. 


Three Questions:

As part of our Mission Study, we invited our membership to listening sessions where they might offer their advice, concerns and hopes for our future.  Between meeting with various groups and committees, and numerous sessions spent listening to individuals, over 25% of the congregation responded.  We narrowed our focus to three questions:


  • Why do you come to KMUPC, and what do you like?

  • What needs to change for KMUPC to be the church you envision it being in 5-10 years?

  • How would we get from here to there, and how will we

    measure our progress?

People cited our casual worship, sermons, service opportunities, location and friendly atmosphere when asked why they come and what they like.  Their hopes for the future included a packed sanctuary, men’s programs, more local outreach, increased visitation, excitement and expanded programs.   To get there, it was observed, we will need more help with youth ministry to attract young families, more people involved with the music program, more variety in worship, and a continued focus on mission brought more to the forefront.  Most individual members feel they are in conflict with the direction and decisions of the General Assembly, and this is a felt concern.


We might have just a few weaknesses as well.





Our assumption as a team is that something must change in order for KMUPC to increase our membership.  The respondents all recognize that our numbers have dwindled over the past fifteen years.  Many of our generous contributors are no longer with us and for several years the Session has periodically had to withdraw funds from a bequest to cover operating expenses.



We have a number of members who play piano or organ.  These ladies provide accompaniment for the hymns, introit, Gloria Patri, Doxology, offertory, “Amen” and special music. Our three octave bell choir plays monthly. Respondents in the listening sessions would like to see the music expanded and strengthened.



Currently Christian education, Sunday School, Nursery (during worship), and Youth Group are organized and staffed by volunteers. We would like to see more adult involvement to be able to give the teachers some relief during the school year. The Youth Group meets once a month.  We would like to increase the frequency of meetings, expand the age groups, and have more kids participate.  When one or two families cannot attend, events sometimes fail to meet critical mass.  Some respondents thought we should hire a person who could direct the volunteers and provide creative ideas, resources and training for the dedicated volunteers who work with our young people.



We have held or attended a number of events for men over the past few years, but there is no consistent ministry focused on the men of the church. 



We would like to see more reach into the communities surrounding the church.  While there are a number of other churches nearby, we are the only Presbyterian Church.  At least two subdivisions have grown up near the church and we have no members from either one.  Efforts in the past have been sporadic and not sustained, and have been abandoned because of discouragement or a perception that “nothing we do works.”  We need to find ways to meet people, to invite them to church, and to win them with love.  We hope for a growing church of worship, service and fellowship centered in Christ.



We are in an increasingly precarious financial position.  We received a $300,000 bequest a few years ago.  In the past three years we have found it necessary to draw monies from this gift to fund our general budget.  That is, our necessary expenditures have exceeded our annual income. We believe that with God’s help KMUPC  membership can double in the next ten years. We expect that financial support would increase also.  The Session intends to restore funds to the Dayton bequest and to cover operating expenses and capital improvements with current tithes and offerings.



Like many churches, KMUPC is ambivalent about change.  We know we must change, given our declining membership and weakened financial situation.  We cannot keep doing what we’ve been doing or we’ll get what we’ve been getting.  We know change is inevitable, but it is hard.  Our interim pastor has introduced a good bit of change to our worship, and this has been met with a wide spectrum of reactions: resistance as well as acceptance; disenchantment as well as delight; refusal to attend or beginning to attend for the first time in years.  A person who can gently and prayerfully introduce change will help people find their place in the body, step into new roles, step out in faith, and adopt new behaviors.  We look for a new pastor who will be able to manage this dynamic.



Our Next Pastor


We are looking for a pastor with a heart for God and people.  Preaching is important, and we tend to respond to insightful preaching of scripture, typically in an exegetical style.  At the same time, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Social times, visiting in homes or over lunch in a neighboring restaurant, and getting to know the folks of KMUPC are  bit as important as shining on Sunday morning.  Some of our members are shut-ins who appreciate the occasional call or visit.  But this is not a chaplaincy.  We need leadership.  We need direction, energy, imagination and love.  We need prayer.  We don’t require a workaholic.  Around here there is space for personal time and hobbies.  Our next pastor should have developed enough sense of self and personal boundaries to know when and how to say “no” as well as “yes.”  We look for our pastor to steer toward our goals in daily activity, to help us resolve conflicts with positive energy, gracious humility, gentle humor and God given vision. 





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