Volume 17, No. 10 | March 10, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"This moment is a movement about public safety"
by Rev. Lawrence Richardson
Linden Hills Congregational UCC

Jury selection in the trial of the ex-police officer charged in the death of George Floyd begins this week in Minneapolis as Congress works to pass the police reform bill named for Floyd.

As the trial for Derek Chauvin begins, I join others from Minneapolis at events each day to hold space, pray with and for, and bear witness to the pain and hope in our city. On Sunday, March 7, I dressed in black and headed to a peaceful, impactful and prayerful demonstration at the Hennepin County Government Center, the “I Can’t Breathe” Silent March for Justice. Clergy and religious leaders were invited to wear vestments. The general public was invited to bring signs and flowers. 

After the event opened with prayer and a call to action, the growing crowd was invited to march. I volunteered to be a pallbearer for a casket symbolizing those unjustly killed by police. At the front of the march was a sign that read, “I Can’t Breathe,” followed by a white casket covered in a mass of red roses and rose petals. That casket was flanked by a scroll that listed the 405 names of individuals killed by Minneapolis police since 2000. Hundreds more peaceful demonstrators marched in the streets behind us.

At the conclusion of the two-mile procession, we reassembled at the Hennepin County Government Center for closing prayers, remarks and calls to action by community leaders. In a sea of people, the pain and hope in our city were palpable. The pain of a people traumatized by the unjust killing of George Floyd and tired of a reality in which advocating for the worth of black and brown bodies is necessary. Hope was also evident in the eyes and prayers of the people and I saw a glimpse of what the kin-dom of God can look like. 

People of diverse ages, stages, skin colors, faith traditions, and political affiliations gathered together. We were there for so much more than justice. We were also there for peace. As I stood, my hands and shoulders tired from carrying the symbolic casket, John 14:27 came to mind. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

The energy from those gathered was the energy of a people united and unafraid, a people who know that this moment is a movement larger than ourselves. This moment is a movement about public safety. Policing is an important aspect of public safety. For the greatest good to be served, we must hold police officers accountable to keep the peace and punish those whose excessive use of force takes life or in any way jeopardizes the well-being of society.

Countless UCC clergy and ecumenical faith leaders were present. Our Minnesota Conference Minister, the Rev. Shari Prestemon, was also in attendance. At the conclusion of the event, I asked my partner, James Triplett, to take a picture of the two of us (pictured above). For me, this time of prayer, the march around the government center, the pained-yet-hopeful energy of people, and this picture with my conference minister taken by my partner are all reminders of what is possible when we believe. 

I believe in a society that values all people equally. I believe in a society with policing that keeps us safe. I believe in a society where we can come together for the well-being of our people and our land. I believe in a society where we are the church everywhere we go.

(This article was originally published on the UCC national setting website.)
Conference News & Events
"What Is Permaculture?" Discussion Moves to March 18

Creation Justice Webinar Series DATE CHANGE to March 18 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Heidi Morlock and Hans Peterson will relate stories of experimenting for 20 years with permaculture principles and sustainable agriculture at both the garden and farm scale. Get ideas to support a transition to a more just food and farming system. The workshop will cover theory related to sustainable farming/gardening as well as practical examples to consider in your own garden design or advocacy work. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Operation Safety Net Resources During the Chauvin Trial

The Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with the Minnesota National Guard and State Patrol, have established a central information source to share helpful information and counteract misinformation during the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin. Here are resources you can share with your congregations to stay safe, connected and informed.

"Practicing Community" in Week 4 of the Lenten Family Toolkit
How welcoming am I and my community to people I/we meet? Would Jesus want to join our community? Check out the resources to help you and your loved ones reflect on these questions with week 4 of the Lenten Family Toolkit. Video reflections, games, activities, books and more available on our Lenten Toolkit page. If you would like to receive a direct email each week, please email Sandy Kellen.
Additional Power and Boundary Training Offered May 12 & 13
To accommodate demand, we have added another session for the Power and Boundary training this spring on May 12 and 13 (mornings only both days). REGISTER
Is Your Church Participating in One Great Hour of Sharing March 14?

One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) special mission offering of the United Church of Christ involves your church in disaster, refugee/immigration, and development ministries throughout the world. When a disaster strikes or people are displaced or made refugees by violence or extreme poverty, your church is a part of the immediate response and of the long-term recovery.

Through OGHS, your church engages in holistic development programs including health care, education, agriculture, food sustainability, micro-financing and women’s empowerment. Because the UCC relates in mutual partnership to churches and organizations through Global Ministries and worldwide response & recovery networks, church contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing puts your congregation in the right place at the right time for the relief, accompaniment and recovery of the most vulnerable. Your church meets immediate needs and church participants address the underlying causes that create those needs in the first place. LEARN MORE
Johannah Frisby from MN Interfaith Power and Light Joins FourTHursday

Thursday, March 25, noon-1:30 pm

To prepare for Earth Day on April 22, Johannah Frisby from MN Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) will join us March 25 from noon–1:30 pm to discuss activities families can do at home and leaders can introduce to their groups in response to environmental issues. Emily Meyer from the Ministry Lab will have other resources to share as well.
Johannah is the Outreach Fellow for MNIPL focusing on developing the Climate Justice Household Program, which engages households committed to effective and sustained action in response to the climate crisis. She has a degree in Peace Studies from the College of Saint Benedict and experience working in environmental policy in Washington, DC, plus field work in Chilean Patagonia. Johannah is a member of St. John the Evangelist in Saint Paul where she serves on the Creation Care team and as a Youth Leader.
Chapel Hills of Edina Accepts Applications for Financial Support

The Enduring Fund, established by Chapel Hills UCC of Edina in 2003, provides supplemental financial support to organizations, individuals and projects that align with the church's mission as a community of faith. Applications are due April 30. SEE INSTRUCTIONS AND THE APPLICATION FORM

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to ministry.

  • The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the pandemic. See the process.

  • 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.
Clergy Clusters
The BIPOC Clergy Cluster meets quarterly on the second Thursday of the month (March 11, June 10, September 9, December 9) from 5pm-6:30pm on Zoom for now.  To receive the Zoom link to the cluster meeting and/or get an invitation to the Facebook group, email Rev. Nikki Frontz.
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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.