Volume 17, No. 27 | July 14, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
COMMAnts from the Conference Minister
Rooted In Love, Nudged by the Spirit

This week marks an important and joyous gathering for the wider United Church of Christ. The biennial meeting of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ convened with opening worship this past Sunday evening and will conclude on Sunday the 18th. This year’s “special edition” of General Synod is entirely virtual, with nearly 3000 delegates, visitors, and honored guests in attendance. Our Minnesota Conference has a voting delegation of 18 local church members and authorized ministers participating, plus several Conference staff members. The theme of this year’s General Synod is “Rooted in Love”.

I was asked recently what I hoped our delegates & other Synod attendees from the Minnesota Conference would take away from their General Synod experience. My reply: I hope they catch a glimpse of the breadth and depth of the United Church of Christ, its people, and its ministries in all its complexity and beauty.

It can be hard for any of us to comprehend just how wide and complex the ministries and impact of the United Church of Christ are when the perspective most of us have is that of our singular local church. But in fact we are an amazing mosaic of over 5000 congregations and nearly 1 million members across the country, diverse in personality, culture, race, and witness.

Nowhere is that diversity more evident than at General Synod every two years. It’s clear as you scan the Synod crowd on the delegate floor and exhibit hall. It’s obvious as people line up at microphones and speak up in committee sessions to share their opinions on whatever resolution is at hand on a dizzying array of issues Synod attempts to address. And all of it shines all the brighter because our congregational polity and denominational ‘DNA’ gives every local church and Conference its own authority and freedom to weigh in, while at the same time calling us to mutual accountability and love. 

All the messiness and brilliance of who we are in the United Church of Christ is on full display at General Synod. And that’s one of the reasons I have attended nearly every General Synod since I was a high school youth in 1985 and absolutely love each General Synod experience. Here’s the other reason I’m a self-proclaimed “Synod Addict”: the Spirit never fails to powerfully move and inspire and surprise us at General Synod if we just pay attention.

I’ve experienced that myself at every single Synod I’ve attended, some unexpected moment when the Spirit washes over me and brings me to tears of grateful joy. So this week I’m on the lookout for that Spirit-filled, goose-bumpy moment to show up again. And I’m giving thanks that the Spirit is indeed moving in the United Church of Christ, in the Minnesota Conference, and in me, doing some new thing if only we will perceive it.

This week, I invite you to lift up your prayers for the United Church of Christ, our Conference delegates, and all those gathering at General Synod to discern the Spirit’s prodding for this moment in our life together. May you also be open to the Spirit’s nudge in your life and church.

Blessings and peace,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister

Want to experience the awesome worship of General Synod virtually on either Wednesday evening or Sunday evening? Check out the times and live streams here!
Conference News & Events
General Synod Continues This Week
Worship will stream live on the United Church of Christ YouTube and Facebook channels and on GeneralSynod.org on Wednesday, July 14, and Sunday, July 18.

Learn more about what's offered during this special virtual General Synod.
Summer Events with Outdoor Ministry

Join us for any or all of the one-day events we have planned in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota!

Senior Graduate Day: Wednesday, August 4, 9:00 am- 2:00 pm
Hidden Falls Park, St. Paul
All high school graduates from 2020 and 2021 are invited to reconnect with friends, play a few games, and share a meal.

MNIPL– Be the Spark!: Thursday, August 5, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
United Church of Christ, New Brighton
Be the Spark is a dynamic and experiential leadership development workshop that builds community and gives participants organizing tools and strategic approaches for engaging their community of faith in climate change solutions.

Organic Farm Tour: Saturday, August 7, 10:00 am- 2:00 pm
Auntie Annie’s Fields, near Northfield
Visit a local organic farm in the Northfield area to learn what it means to run a family farm—economically, spiritually, socially—and the practical pitfalls and joys.

Rest and Renew at Green Island: Sunday, August 8, 1:00 pm- 6:00 pm
Green Island Preserve, Wadena
Experience this unique opportunity to relax and meditate on the beautifully maintained paths of this old family farm that has transitioned into an oasis for contemplation and connection with Mother Earth.

Joys & Concerns
We celebrate the ordination of MaryBeth Harman on July 17 at 2:00 pm. MaryBeth will be serving as a hospice chaplain in the Twin Cities. The ordination service will be outside at New Spirit UCC in Savage, MN. Masks will be required. Congratulations to MaryBeth on this momentous occasion in her ministry.

On July 18th, Rev. Shari Mason will lead her last service as pastor of First Congregational UCC in Austin. We celebrate her next chapter of retirement and all the wonderful plans she has for the future. Her official last day is August 1st. Pastor David Stoeger will begin on August 2, 2021. We rejoice with First Congregational UCC as they commemorate the ministry of Rev. Shari and begin a new ministry with Pastor David.
Resources & Clergy Clusters

  • 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.