Joyous and Blessed Christmas to All

We at ORUCC wish all our members, visitors and website readers merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Christmas Eve Bulletin

Asylum FAQ

For general questions related to the asylum-seeking family living in our church building, please read:

The Asylum-Seeking Family Living in Our Church Building FAQ

Fair Trade Sale – November 24 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For decades, ORUCC has been hosting a Fair Trade Sale offering unique and socially responsible items including clothing, home goods, artwork, jewelry, baskets, bags, food and other items. All vendors support humanitarian and educational efforts to improve safety, living and working conditions in Uganda, Palestine, Guatemala, El Salvador and many other countries.

Bring friends and come shop this unique venue on Sunday, November 18 from 9am to 2pm.

Thank You: Heart Room – Opening Doors to Homes for All Families.

Update – July 2018

Heart Room is underway! Six families with young children have been selected for housing assistance using funds ORUCC members contributed. Families were selected by the Heart Room partnership – The Road Home, Joining Forces for Families (JFF) and the Dane County Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) — based on criteria agreed in advance with the church. Families will receive generous rental assistance and family-directed services with the goal of achieving long term housing stability.

Here is a snapshot of the families we will help:

  • A grandmother caring for 5 grandchildren age 2-13. Mom left the country for fear of deportation. Grandma is working, but hopes to improve her job situation. The family has eviction records and touched the homeless system in the past.
  • Mom and Dad of a 1 year old. Dad works two jobs, but due to an injury needs surgery which will significantly limit his ability to work for a period of time. Mom is learning English and hopes to get added education leading to full-time employment.
  • Mom and Dad with 2 children. Older boy will have lifelong disabilities due to being shaken as a baby; his father is in prison. Dad of the younger boy, Mom and children are currently homeless, looking for housing, and went to the Beacon Day Center for support.
  • A Mom with 3 children, age 8-21, known to a JFF worker for many years and barely squeaking by. The extra support of this program is very promising for the family achieving long term housing stability.
  • Two adults and two kids, 9 months old and 6 years old. They were accepted into housing by a landlord specifically because of the Heart Room support with the mutual commitment to work for their success as tenants.
  • A Mom of two who is pregnant with a third child. Her finances have been shaky since she separated from her partner. She just got a job but will need extra support to achieve her goals to provide for her family both short-term and long-term through employment.


Some of these families would welcome volunteers from ORUCC such as English language partners, rides, clothing for children, and other help. Stay tuned for more information!

April 2018 udpate


March 4 was the completion of the Heart Room pledge drive. We have great news! We have great news! Your generous pledges total $115,372 over the three years of the project.  As funds come in, we will provide three years of rental assistance to six families with young children. Partner agencies will offer services to help them keep stable housing long term.



Original Post – Fall 2017

Every family deserves a home. Stable housing is the foundation families need to meet their goals and for children to grow up safe, healthy, happy, and successful in school.

Click here for a More Detailed Version of this Proposal

Background – Shifting from Offering Shelter to Stable Housing

After two years of discussions, Road Home Board of Directors unanimously voted recently to end the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) shelter program.  Kristin Rucinski, Executive Director of The Road Home, said, The Road Home is committed as ever to helping families obtain and maintain stable housing, which has always been our end goal for families. This decision will allow us to focus on what’s best for the families.” Independently of deliberations by The Road Home, in 2017 ORUCC re-committed to promoting stable housing and long-term solutions for families, working with The Road Home, Joining Forces for Families, and the Early Childhood Initiative on a new approach.

ORUCC: Spiritually Alive, Joyfully Inclusive, and Committed to Justice

  • The Gospel calls us to respond to the needs of the poor and welcome children.
  • Research shows homeless children are more likely to suffer from health, mental health, and developmental problems, and are more likely to perform poorly in school.
  • Regardless of other challenges, very low income families need financial assistance simply to afford decent housing, and to build a foundation for long term success.
  • The early years are critical for healthy child development, including brain development.

Our faith calls us to be a good neighbor and part of an effective solution to the challenge of family homelessness and housing instability. Securing a stable home for a family has become increasingly daunting in Madison. A few facts set the practical challenge:

  • Landlords frequently use the guideline of rent costing no more than 30% of gross salary to determine whom they’ll consider renting to.
  • To even be eligible for a typical one bedroom apartment, the gross monthly income would need to be $3080. Listed below are the 2018 fair market rates (FMR) for Madison and the corresponding gross monthly income that would be required for that rent.

HEART ROOM: Collaborating to make a difference

Heart Room is a collaborative pilot program that will provide 6 families with real opportunities to achieve housing stability long-term. The program will offer significant monthly rent subsidies that will gradually decrease over the three years of the program, coupled with other supports from The Road Home [TRH], Early Childhood Initiative [ECI], and Joining Forces for Families [JFF]. The families chosen for this program will:

  • Be struggling to secure or retain housing
  • Have young children (at least one elementary aged child and preferably also a child under the age of 5) with the family enrolled in ECI.
  • Be able to create a pathway leading to stability in housing with this support.

The impact of this program will be evaluated to determine future directions. We will also reach out to other faith communities to learn together with a commitment to expand what works.

What can our financial support of this program mean?

  • We at ORUCC will enact our faith and live into our church mission statement.
  • This is a learning experiment bringing together landlords, neighbors and churches as well as service providers in a family-driven, neighborhood-based approach.
  • Rent subsidies, in combination with housing case management and other family services will give parents the chance to move beyond simply surviving to thriving long term.
  • Stable housing improves educational outcomes for children, by reducing the educational barriers associated with homelessness including: poor health and nutrition, feelings of guilt and shame, absenteeism, moving from school to school, grade repetition, special education labeling, and failure to graduate.
  • The financial, educational, physical and emotional health benefits of stable housing increase the chance for housing stability in the next generations.

Over 3 years, this program will cost $95,000. Of that, 85% ($81,000) goes directly to landlords in family housing subsidies. The rest pays for monthly stipends for neighbors on the core team and evaluation. Partner agencies are contributing administrative and other service costs.

Sanctuary Mission Team offers two educational sessions

The Sanctuary Mission Team has scheduled two programs to help us further understand immigrants in Dane County and beyond. 

The first program is March 4th @ 9:00 – 9:45am and will feature Fabiola Hamdan. She will be talking about the immigrant community in Dane County and her work with undocumented people. Baxter Richardson will facilitate.

Fabiola Hamdan is a bilingual, bi-cultural Senior Social Worker with the Dane County Department of Human Services. She is the first Immigration Affairs Specialist. Fabiola immigrated from Bolivia 32 years ago. She went to UW Madison and got her masters degree in social work. For 18 years, Fabiola has facilitated the Darbo Worthington Joining Forces for Families team comprised of 8 to 12 police, school, public health, and other human service professionals. The team provides collaborative service to specific families and implements community projects designed to improve quality of life in this neighborhood. 

 She will be discussing immigrants’ communication systems among themselves, the working conditions they face (often dangerous), and their methods of coping with current policies on immigration. Mark Beatty will facilitate.

Tekla is a Madison native with extensive knowledge of and experience with immigrant issues. Her husband is an immigrant, and Tekla is the owner and operator of a home cleaning company that employs immigrants. 

Rising: Spirit, Voice, Stirrings in the Movement for Justice – March 17 at ORUCC

A joint program offered by Orchard Ridge UCC and Good Shepherd ELCA.  Led by Regina LaRoche (see her bio below)

Saturday, March 17


Cost – $20.00

Click here to pay/register 

RISING integrates performance and some media offering with simple group movement and story activities; as well as community response and conversation. The focus is on issues of justice and inequity, and the strength of intersectional justice movements… And, depending on where the conversations go, we explore being human and a citizen of a world/earth community.  The concept is that the community building activities pave the way for connections to yield honest conversation; and that the artistic offerings open us all and invite deeper responses. We hope these responses translate into the rise of just and healing action.

“Rising:  Spirit, Voice, Stirrings in the Movement for Justice”
This four-hour offering includes:
performed song, dance, & story/spoken word;
media excerpts;
community building using simple movement and story sharing;
interaction and conversation.

The themes represented range from slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement, to Black Lives Matter, to the Women’s March, to Native American Stands, and more.  The convergence and intersectionality of these movements for justice are examined as a hopeful sign of healing in our world.

This offering is an invitation to engage on multiple levels the narratives and strength of marginalized communities.  It is also an invitation to discover and deepen the connections between us all.

About Regina…

The offerings of Regina M. Laroche, of DIASPORA ARTS rise from the intersection of art and the unifying stories of humanity, earth, and those with whom we share this existence. Regina’s story, dance, creative guidance & work are shaped by her life of small scale farming, family, and community on the edge of Lake Superior. Furthermore her life and art are influenced by her mother’s rural South Carolina upbringing, her father’s Haitian Afro-Caribbean culture, the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, her own travel and cultural experiences, training in spiritual direction, InterPlay, worship with a variety of churches, and a theatre degree from St. Catherine University.

She guides retreats, workshops, classes, and celebrations. Regina has worked with a wide range of ages locally, throughout the country, and overseas.

Regina believes that our bodies and stories are the common ground from which to dance our connections with ourselves, the earth, each other, and all that is.


Care of Creation’s 2018 Winter Film Series on Climate Change

ORUCC is a Sanctuary Church – see what we are up to!

Click here to fill out a volunteer form/survey

New Post:  September 26, 2018

In an effort to remain supportive to all those who are undocumented in our community, the Sanctuary Mission Team is offering the following:

Upcoming Educational Sessions on October 7 & 14 at 9 a.m.
 Attorney Reluca Vais-Ottosen from the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) and her colleagues will discuss the current immigration situation in Madison and possible projects in which the ORUCC congregation could be involved. Come join us for what promises to be an engaging discussion!
Compassion Offering for month of October 2018 – Community Immigration Law Center (CILC)
The compassion offering for the month of October will be for the Community Immigration Law Center, Inc. (CILC).  CILC provides information, support, and attorney referrals to low income, undocumented immigrants. CILC is based at Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison and is an initiative sponsored by a coalition of legal, social, and faith-based organizations.


AUGUST 1, 2018.  From our Sanctuary Mission Team

Recent events, with the increasing possibility of our hosting a person in sanctuary, have prompted a number of noteworthy activities:

We held a successful letter-writing campaign with congregants signing 70 letters each to Representative Pocan, Senator Baldwin, and Senator Johnson. Our letters make the case for a humane and just immigration policy. Thanks to Ruthanne Landsness, who hand delivered our letters to each office.

Centro Hispano, Voces de la Frontera, and representatives from Dane Sanctuary Coalition host congregations met recently with Maria Portugal, a mom being threatened with deportation, to assess accepting her into sanctuary. Dane Sanctuary and Centro Hispano determined that Orchard Ridge would be put forward as the first sanctuary site, if asked.  Our Leadership Team followed up and agreed to accept Maria and her 3-year-old daughter into sanctuary should they seek it. Two other hosting congregations did likewise.

Centro, Voces, and Dane Sanctuary held a July 24 news conference to publicize Maria’s plight. She, her 12-year-old son, and others spoke passionately about the effects of being threatened with deportation. Many Orchard Ridge congregants attended. (see video of this press conference here)

Dane Sanctuary Coalition’s Community Resources Team is finalizing a volunteer data base; it will be used to schedule all volunteers for on-site hosting needs, once we know what those needs are. ORUCC also completed a resource manual so our on-site hosts have the information they need to offer hospitality and security to our person in sanctuary.

An orientation for Orchard Ridge on-site hosts is planned for Sunday, August 19 @ 11:15 – 12:45. Agenda: scheduling software, resource manual, walk-around, and Q & A. Please email Baxter Richardson if you’re interested in being an on-site host. (NOTE: this orientation will not include meals, transportation, and other volunteers. Stay tuned; we’ll be offering more orientations in the future.)

The Ministry of Christian Witness and Service will dedicate a compassion offering to Community Immigration Law Center, an immigrant rights group of attorneys working to protect those at risk of deportation. Look for this offering in October 2018.


Sanctuary Mission Team Members

Marv Beatty, Marty Bero, Winton Boyd, Susan Cary, LuAnn Greiner, Kathi Kemp, Ruthanne Landsness, Carol Prugh, Baxter Richardson (chair), Susan Watson, Jill Westberg


Past Post:  On June 18, 2017, ORUCC voted to become a sanctuary congregation.  At that time we made a commitment to engage in support, advocacy and service to our undocumented brothers and sisters.

At the core of this commitment is our offering of safe sanctuary to an individual or family who may be facing deportation. Until we host a guest we won’t have all of the details of what will be needed. What we do know however is that we will need a core base of volunteers to carry out the logistics of supporting that individual or family.

We are also a founding member of the Dane Sanctuary Coalition   – an interfaith effort to create as many sanctuary sites as possible in Dane County.  Members of our Sanctuary Mission Team serve on the Steering Committee and other work teams of the larger coalition.

This site will list events sponsored by both the Dane Sanctuary Coalition and our congregation.

Questions – contact Baxter Richardson or Winton Boyd




WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO FILL OUT THE VOLUNTEER SURVEY (see link above).  This will give us contact information for upcoming trainings and advocacy efforts.

Orchard Ridge UCC/ Madison Mennonite Sanctuary Mission Team includes:

Baxter Richardson –

Marv Beatty –

Jill Westberg –

Kimberly Miller –

Susan Watson –

Susan Cary –

Marty Bero –

Ruthanne Landsness –

LuAnn Greiner –

Winton Boyd –

Ian Aley –

Kathi Kemp –

Megan Bjella –

ORUCC declares itself a Sanctuary Church

On June 18, our congregation voted to be a sanctuary church by adopting the following statement:

As a community of faith seeking to be spiritually alive, joyfully inclusive and committed to justice, and in solidarity with our undocumented brothers and sisters whose lives and families are being torn apart by our country’s immigration policies and enforcement actions, we of Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ declare ourselves to be a Sanctuary Congregation. We commit to engage in support, advocacy and service as best we are able to our immigrant neighbors, in collaboration with the interfaith community and the broader Dane Sanctuary network. Included in this commitment is the willingness to provide physical sanctuary as the need arises.

On July 6, Ruthanne Landsness represented our congregation at a public press conference announcing the creation of the Dane County Sanctuary Coalition.  You can see a video of her remarks here:


Earth Care Is At The Heart Of Our Congregation’s Ministry

Maybe there is a place for you to ‘dig in!’ ORUCC members and friends participate in a host of efforts to care for the earth and advocate for sustainable practices. It takes a village to grow vegetables and flowers and trees…


Flower And Meditation Gardens

Everyone enjoys the flower, shrubs, and trees on our church grounds. There are over 20 flower plots as well as numerous shrubs and trees on our church grounds. A group of garden tenders maintain these plots, by removing weeds and debris, and occasionally watering, to keep the these gardens looking great. If you are interested and able to share the maintenance of one of these plots, please contact Chuck Kaspar at for more details. Another way to help with the upkeep of our beautiful grounds is by participating in Work and Worship Sundays held each Spring and Fall.

Our Care of Creation Mission Team meets on the first Tuesday of the month from 7:00-8:30. Our faith in our Creator leads us to want to care for this beautiful earth, out only home, and the life on it. We seek to provide the congregation with education on climate change and environmental issues, engage in direct advocacy on behalf of the earth, and encourage people to savor God’s beautiful creation. In these times, when the earth is especially threatened, we welcome you to join us in our mission. Contact Sara Roberts at 608-332-1114 for more information.

ORUCC Veggie Village

In 2009, we created our Veggie Village garden that consists of two parts: Individual Plots Are you interested in growing your own vegetables? There are a limited number of 12 x 12 foot garden plots available in the community garden section of the Veggie Village on the east side of the ORUCC property. Plot fees are $35.00 for the season. Contact Leslie Linser at to secure a plot or to ask questions.

ORUCC Pantry Garden

If you have experience with or would like to learn more about vegetable gardening we have a great opportunity for you! ORUCC volunteers grow and harvest from a large food pantry plot in the Veggie Village (garden on the east end of the property). This produce goes to the Good Shepard Lutheran Food Pantry in our neighborhood. We need several people to help care for the garden on Tuesday evenings throughout the growing season. Any time that you can give will be much appreciated! Join our food pantry garden volunteers by contacting LuAnn Greiner at

ORUCC Memorial Garth

In 2007, we established a Memory Garth for those who wish to have their ashes scattered here in our Meditation Garden. It is also possible to purchase a memorial stone for the garden. Those who are buried or have their ashes scattered elsewhere can also purchase a memorial stone. Contact Winton Boyd at for more information.

Summer Kids’ Garden Program

Children are invited to participate in ORUCC’s garden program on Sunday mornings throughout the summer. The children have their very own garden plot in our Veggie Village. They will plant the vegetables on May 21 (Worship and Work Day) and then tend to their garden all summer. Each Sunday, starting June 11, during 10:00 worship, the children will spend time considering/reflecting on a Bible story and/or spiritual theme that has to do with gardening. They will then go to their garden plot to water and weed their garden, and harvest vegetables. Some of the vegetables will include sugar snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli. They will then bring the vegetables back into the church kitchen to wash them and prepare them to eat. On some Sundays, the children will make simple recipes using these vegetables. We invite children who are going into first grade and older to participate in the Kids’ Garden Program. Younger children are invited but must be accompanied by a parent. Middle and High School youth are invited to assist! The Kids’ Garden Program is offered every Sunday, starting June 11 and ending August 27 except Sunday, July 2. Please contact Tammy Martens at 271-7212 or if you are interested.

Worship and Work Sunday –  All who are able are invited to stay after worship to help clean up the property and gardens. There are tasks for every age and ability. If you have tools, it may be helpful to bring them along. We offer this twice a year.  The fall date will be finalized soon.  If you have questions, contact Chuck Kaspar at