Volume 18, No. 5 | February 2, 2022

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
The Legacies We Build
"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” —Shannon Alder

Legacy. It’s something we tend to think about more as we get to a certain age, or when our careers reach a certain point. We reflect on what we want our legacy to be, what we want to leave behind us when we depart from a place or depart from this world. We contemplate what kind of lasting imprint we hope we will have left, a gift or an accomplishment or some blessed memory that endures long after we have gone.

In the Minnesota Conference UCC, we now have “legacy pastors”. These are pastors serving a congregation that has reached a stage in its life cycle where questions about legacy are foremost in mind. A legacy pastor helps a congregation discern whether it is time to faithfully conclude their ministry or attempt a re-birth of ministry. If the congregation determines it is indeed time to conclude its ministry, the legacy pastor guides them in making concrete decisions about the legacy they will leave behind in their communities, in the wider church, and beyond. It is precious and tender work.

In truth, discerning the kind of legacy we want to leave is a life-long, prayerful endeavor. That is true for us as individual disciples and as communities of Christ. Our legacy is not something we create in a single moment of time, but something we shape with each unfolding season, with each impactful decision we make along the journey.

It is a healthy exercise for all of us – individuals, congregations, and Conference – to periodically examine the legacy we are building. Congregational leadership can take time to ask itself questions like these as part of a regular practice of discernment:
  • How do others in our community view us, and how do we want to be seen and understood by others? What stories do others tell about us? What are the stories we long for them to tell about us?
  • What unique gifts and contributions of our church would be missing in the communities we are a part of if we no longer existed? How does our church and our ministry matter to others?
  • What decisions are we making now that will have long-term implications for the life of our church, and what are those implications?
  • How are we making a meaningful difference in the life of our members and in our community? What meaningful difference do our hearts long to make?
  • How are we stewarding our gifts (of all kinds) to fulfill Christ’s commission to love God with our whole heart and soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves?
  • What is the legacy we are building? What about our ministry is leaving an enduring imprint on our members, our community, and the wider world?
  • How might God be calling us in this moment to faithfully and courageously be the Church in ways that will powerfully shape our legacy?

I’m reminded of the chorus of a hymn I love (lyrics by Steve Green):
“O may all who come behind us find us faithful.
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them…”

What legacy is your congregation crafting? My prayer is that all who come behind us will indeed find that we have been faithful.

With you on the journey,
Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
Conference News & Events
Outdoor Ministry Announces 2022 Line-up

The Outdoor Ministry of the MN Conference UCC is excited to announce the 2022 season of events. Individuals and families of all ages, abilities, and stages of life will discover a retreat or camp experience that will provide spaces for rest, renewal, and reconnection.

Our goal is to create opportunities for folks across the Conference to fall in love with God’s creation, encounter the sacred in the natural world, and experience the deep interconnectedness of nature, human community and one’s own soul. Each camp or retreat will provide spaces that interrupt the routines of daily life and allow participants to enjoy a balance of rest, play, learning, reflection, connection and solitude. READ FULL DETAILS

  • Spring Conference Youth Gathering | April 29- May 1 | Camp Onomia, Onamia, MN
  • Summer Rural Immersion
: Middle School: July 11-12 | High School: July 22-24 | Shalom Hill Farm, Windom 
  • Fall Conference Youth Gathering | October 7-9, Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Sandstone, MN

  • Spiritual Immersion Through the Seasons 
  • March 17-19 | Spring | Good Earth Village, Spring Valley
  • June 24-26 | Summer | Camp Onomia, Onamia
  • November 6-8 | Fall | Luther Crest, Alexandria
  • January 20-22, 2023 | Winter | Clearwater Forest, Deerwood
  • Women’s Retreat | September 9-11 | Camp Onomia, Onamia, MN
  • Women’s Wilderness Retreat | September 23-25 | Camp Amnicon, WI 
  • Men’s Wilderness Retreat | September 23-25 | September 9-11 | Camp Amnicon, WI 

Family & Intergenerational 1-Day Events
  • 1-Day Family Events | July 6 or July 7 | canoeing event hosted by Camp Amnicon in Twin Cities area (locations available soon)
  • Spiritual and Sustainability Farm Initiative | July 9 | Green Island, Wadena

Our sincere hope is that our local congregations and their members will find an opportunity to engage in our Outdoor Ministry programs during 2022 and beyond. The success of this important cooperative ministry depends on the support, creative collaboration, program leadership, and participation of the many volunteer leaders and participants who generously share their time, energy, and talents.

If you have questions or comments regarding the 2022 season, please contact either Rev. Sheri Nelson, Outdoor Ministry Program Director, or Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth.
“Good Money After Bad: How to Invest in Creation Care”

February 10, 2022, 6:30-8:00 pm CT

This Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative Series—offered by the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Conferences of the United Church of Christ—is exploring creation care justice through the lens of Indigenous rights, divesting from corporate greed, and liturgical language that keeps the health of our planet and all God’s creation in mind.

In financial terms, “investing” is the process of lending or giving money in support of something – a company, a product, a person, an idea – with hope that what is invested will yield some sort of economic return. “Divestment,” in financial terms, is the opposite of that: taking money away from something in which one has previously invested. Anyone who spends money is both an “investor” and “divestor,” for any time money changes hands, an investment or divestment has been made.

Hosted by the WI Conference, this discussion will examine the ways we choose to spend our money and do damage to the earth and the lives upon it, as well as offer some concrete steps “investors” at every level can take to reduce that damage. REGISTER
Enneagram Workshop Registration Deadline Extended to Friday, February 4

"Introduction to the Enneagram: Forming Beloved Community"
One month of self-guided learning: Feb 3 – Mar 3 plus three live Zoom sessions: Feb 18, 6:00–8:00 pm, Feb 19, 10:00 am–12:00 pm & 1:00–3:00 pm

Explore the Enneagram as a tool to grow in faith and service as a lay leader. The Enneagram is a system for profiling personalities that describes the patterns and methods that people use to interpret and move through the world. By learning how this personality type influences our perception of the world we can notice how our own personality may give us a view of the world that is skewed or off-center.

ENROLL (find "Length of Study" drop-down menu and select "Unit 2: Enneagram and You")
Plans Underway for Minnesota Conference 60th Annual Meeting

Diana Butler Bass Is Our Keynote Speaker!

All churches, pastors, Board members, and team/committee leaders of the Conference have been mailed initial information about the Conference's 60th Annual Meeting, scheduled for June 10-11 (both in-person and virtual options) at College of St. Benedict. The packet includes general information as well as a call for resolutions, a call for workshops, a preliminary agenda, and the exciting news about our keynote speaker, Diana Butler Bass (pictured).

Stewardship Webinars Offered

Join local church leaders from across the UCC this year to learn and discuss ways your congregation can infuse new life into your stewardship program. Seven free webinars are being offered by Rev. Andrew B. Warner, CFRE, who serves as a Generosity Outreach Officer of the national setting of the United Church of Christ and Director of Development for the Wisconsin Conference. The first webinar, Year-Around Stewardship, is February 23 from 6:30 to 7:30pm Central Time.

REGISTER in advance for this meeting.
READ MORE about all seven of the webinars being offered.
Please Submit Your Yearbook & Directory Data

It's that time again for the UCC to begin preparing the Yearbook and Directory for the coming year. The Minnesota Conference UCC would like to encourage all of our churches to submit their annual data for Yearbook 2022! See the 12 Important Reasons to Report Annual Church Data.

Data Hub is open for church right now and closes for church data entry at midnight, March 2nd, 2022. This date will not be extended. So, please consider putting this on the top of your "to do" list.. Instructions for the report can be found HERE.
Conference Events
Joys & Concerns
You are invited to celebrate the installations of Rev. Sarah Brouwer, Lead Minister, and Rev. Eli'jah Carroll, Associate Minister, at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, 900 Summit Ave., St. Paul, on Sun, Feb 13. If you are clergy, please arrive by 10 am, and bring a robe with red stole so we can welcome you into participation. Worship begins at 10:30 am. If you are unable to come in person, you can watch via livestream or on our church's Facebook page. We are fortunate to have the Rev. Shari Prestemon preaching. A note on safety: we are a highly vaccinated congregation, all masked, and spread out in our large sanctuary for worship.
More Resources & Opportunities

  • Send story ideas, insights and more to communications@uccmn.org. COMMAntary is published on Wednesdays; submissions are due the Monday prior to publication at noon.

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to Covid, racial justice, and more.
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This newsletter is brought to you by generous contribution to Our Church's Wider Mission.

The Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (UCC) equips a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love. Through advice, support, and resources, we strengthen the 126 congregations throughout the state to do the redemptive work of God in the world.