Volume 17, No. 16 | April 21, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
A Welcome Sign of Resurrection
—Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon

Yesterday, deep into our Easter season, a welcome sign of Resurrection hope showed up. Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. 

Across the Twin Cities, and indeed across the nation, there was a palpable sigh of relief and cries of thanksgiving. Finally, an officer who needlessly killed a person of color was held accountable. The jury’s decision simply shined a light on what we already knew: George Floyd’s black life mattered. George Floyd was a precious Child of God whose dignity and worth should never have been in question.

While we rejoice in this one verdict in this one case about this one precious life, we must also remember that far too many other lives have been similarly taken with no accountability that followed. Daunte Wright’s death in Brooklyn Center at the hands of a police officer on April 11 leaves no room for doubt that this centuries-long pattern of violence against persons of color will continue until and unless substantive, transformational change comes. Racism will continue to rear its ugly head until we who have white privilege face hard truths and do the work needed in our own lives and communities to dismantle racism in all its forms.

We know from our own faith’s story that after the Resurrection, the work of the emerging Church began in earnest. It was then that all who claimed Christ as their cornerstone had to enflesh his message and ministry in their own daily lives. It was in that post-Easter season that the Church was commissioned to build beloved community and step into its calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.

We are in that season now, beloved Church. We have still more work to do to create a just and loving world for all. And that work must be done by all of us: in rural places and cities, in small churches and big ones, from north to south and east to west. All of us.
What will you do where you are to share in this ministry to which all of us are called? Let us not grow weary in witnessing to the extravagant love and bold justice of the God who created us and calls us to faithful ministry rooted in Easter Hope.

Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
UCC Leadership Expresses Relief, Resolve

—National Officers of the United Church of Christ: The Rev. John C. Dorhauer — General Minister and President, The Rev. Traci A. Blackmon — Associate General Minister, and The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson — Associate General Minister

"We share a collective breath of relief in the moments following the announced guilty verdict on all three counts against the now convicted murderer who recklessly ended the life of George Floyd.

There is no joy in this, instead a deep and profound sense of relief in knowing that a white police officer who killed a Black citizen with neither regard for the law nor his responsibility to uphold it will be held accountable." CONTINUE READING THE FULL STATEMENT
A Prayer from the UCC: ‘Breathe on us, breath of God’

Holy God, you are as close as the breath we breathe. We are a people in mourning tonight, grieving the loss of the life of George Floyd. We remember George Floyd in this moment as one of your own, created in your image, fashioned in your likeness. His was a life filled with breath, breath that was taken from his body prematurely.  We pray for his family, may they be visited with peace and comfort in their grief and loss. 

Breathe on us, breath of God. 

We grieve the brutality of George Floyd’s death. We grieve the dehumanization of his existence and the disregard for his right to live with dignity. We grieve the systems present in our society that oppress because of perceived differences and mourn the lack of justice that has been visited upon us so many times before. 

Breathe on us, breath of God. 

We are thankful for justice served tonight. We take no joy in this moment, instead we breathe a collective sigh of relief that George Floyd was seen and heard. We give thanks that his cry from the streets was heard by a jury and justice visited with us today. We want to keep breathing.  

Breathe on us, breath of God. 

We pray for continued justice. We pray justice and peace be present for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion. We pray that the lives of those who are underrepresented will be valued by all and we pray that there will be healing in the land today. 

Breathe on us, breath of God. 

Breathe on us Holy one. Our breath is a gift from you, connecting us to you. Fill us with the breath of the Spirit as we continue on in the fight for justice. Fill us with your hope and love, so that we may continue to cry out for justice on behalf of all people. 

Breathe on us, breath of God. 
Conference News & Events
Meaning Making & Belonging: A sabbatical journey with St. Benedict and Springtide Research Institute 

Thursday, April 22, Noon – 1:30pm 

Join us on Zoom as Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth, shares reflections and insights gained during his recent sabbatical. Our conversation will include reflections on some successes and failures of practicing a “rule of life,” as well as significant new research findings from Springtide Research Institute about the shifting role of congregations in relationship with youth and young adults. Each participant will receive a copy of Springtide’s recent publications, “Meaning Making: 8 Values That Drive America’s Newest Generations.”
Planetary Health: Co-creating a Better Future for All

April 22, 7pm
Led by Teddie M. Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN

What do COVID-19, structural racism, and the devastating wildfires in the western United States have in common? They are all symptoms of a planet in multi-system failure. Join our Creation Justice series to learn about the human health consequences of the human caused disruptions of Earth’s natural systems. You will also learn that it is not too late for all of us to work together to co-create a healthier future. LEARN MORE
Workshops Announced for Virtual Annual Meeting

June 7-13

You won’t want to miss all the great things happening at this year’s Virtual Annual Meeting!

Two to three workshops will be held Monday through Thursday and are available to all who have registered. Once registered you will receive access to the link to join one or all of the workshops.

Workshops include discussions of intersectionality and liberation; sustainability, equity, racial parity, and justice; immigration; spiritual strategies for social justice, and so much more! Presenters include Alexis Tolbert, Lori Myren-Manbeck, Ph.D., Diane Haines, Rev. Charlotte Frantz, Rev. Dana Mann, Rev. Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis, Rudi Anders, Bob Olsen, Rev. Andrew Warner, Rev. Randy Mayer, Rev. Clyde Steckel, and Rev. Dr. Molly T. Marshall. View the full schedule of workshops.

Outdoor Ministry Plans Educational Journey to Enbridge Line 3 Site

Saturday, May 15
Wednesday, May 26

Outdoor Ministry, MN Conference invites you to participate in an educational journey to Palisade, MN, the place where Enbridge Line 3 and the Water Protectors collide for the rights to sacred lands that cross the Mississippi, rice lakes, and one of the most important watershed systems in the world.

MN Interfaith Power and Light will lead the discussion on the controversial Line 3, introduce us to some of the Water Protectors and residents directly affected by the tar sands pipeline, and invite us to pray with them over the Mississippi.
Congregations, families, and individuals may register for one or both events. DOWNLOAD AN INFO SHEET.
The Ministry Lab Offers Professional Development

The Ministry Lab is excited to share professional development through our partner, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

Rev. Karen Hutt is offering three rounds of ACPE accredited CPE units:
  • Unit 1: Public Chaplaincy: Care in the Public Square - Sept. '21-Jan. '22
  • Unit 2: Rural Chaplaincy: Care in Towns and Agricultural Regions - Feb. '22 - June '22
  • Unit 3: TBD - June '22 - Sept. '22

Applications are available now for all three units. LEARN MORE or email Rev. Karen Hutt with questions and for further information.
Vigil Service of Remembrance for George Floyd
Sunday, May 23, 7 pm

The Minnesota Conference will host an online vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. We will take time to pray for racial justice, more just policing, and for hope for a more just future. Hosted by the Amos Task Force, the vigil will feature local and diverse speakers and artists. More details and a registration link will be provided in future COMMAntary issues.
Joys & Concerns
We celebrate the installation of David Buko on April 25 at 10:15 am. David is being installed as pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Church of Lewiston. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor with the Southeast Minnesota Synod. St. Paul’s Evangelical is a dual denomination congregation made up of ELCA and UCC parishioners that identify as one community. We congratulate David and the congregation on this important day — for their church and our conference. Welcome, David!

  • 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 30SEE 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.
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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.