Volume 17, No. 3 | January 27, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Strengthening Emotional Stamina to Counter White Fragility
Hoping to show up for racial justice in 2021 and beyond? Looking for a way to focus your intentions this Lent?

The Damascus Project invites you to participate in our "40-Day Lenten Practice: Strengthening Emotional Stamina to Counter White Fragility."

This anti-racism offering includes a digital workbook, real-time instruction, & weekly support. Registration deadline is end-of-day Friday, February 12. It's a great programming opportunity for church groups and it also satisfies the new anti-racism/diversity requirement for authorized ministers. 

  • $50 for individuals
  • $150 for groups 4-6
  • $300 for groups 7+


Check Out Other Damascus Project Opportunities:

$49
Friday, March 12, 6–8 pm
Saturday, March 13, 10 am–12 pm and 1–3 pm
Learn practical ways congregations can support and welcome LGBTQIA+ youth in this weekend workshop. Generously underwritten by the Ashley Endowment of the MN Conference. 
 
from $149
April 15–June 3
A guided, proactive process for capturing & integrating the innovation & adaptation resulting from volatile life experiences, transforming churches into greater expressions of the Body of Christ.
Courageous Church! 2021 Annual Meeting to be Held Virtually Week of June 7-13
Plans are well underway for the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference. The Annual Meeting Planning Work Group, in collaboration with Conference staff, is working hard to create an experience that will be educational, supportive, collaborative, and enjoyable — balanced by our sincere desire to keep everyone safe and healthy.

To that end, the decision was made that the entire Annual Meeting will be virtual this year. Like the rest of the world, our team simply does not know when it will be safe to gather in-person, or even how that might look in June. That said, we have a lot of exciting plans to share with you!
 
The activities and learning sessions for the Annual Meeting will be spread out throughout the week of June 7, with the bulk of the work conducted on Friday and Saturday. Monday through Thursday we will have two workshop sessions each day, one mid-morning and the other mid-afternoon. We are accepting workshop proposals now! All workshops will be open to all delegates and visitors and will be recorded for later viewing by those registered for the Annual Meeting.
Conference News & Information
Family Toolkit Returns for Lent Beginning February 10

During Lent, we will share a weekly toolkit full of thoughtfully focused and curated video reflections, spiritual practices, readings, creative/art activities, games, community service projects, justice and advocacy opportunities, and more.

The Lent Toolkit Schedule:
Feb 10: Ash Wednesday-Practicing Ritual
Feb 17: Practicing Emptiness
Feb 24: Practicing Boldness
Mar 3: Practicing Belovedness
Mar 10: Practicing Community
Mar 17: Practicing Repentance
Mar 24: Holy Week – Practicing Revolution and Self-giving Love
Mar 31: Easter – Practicing Resurrection

The toolkit will be available electronically in weekly installments, starting February 10 on our website. If you would like to receive a direct email each week, please email Sandy Kellen.

This curriculum and interactive content are being developed in collaboration with Danger Boat Productions, Doing Good Together, the Ministry Lab and pastors in the MN Conference: Leslie Moughty (Brainerd), Tony Romaine (Little Falls), Sara Morse (Hazel Park), Vanessa Bradby (Savage), Eli'jah Carroll (Mayflower), Amy Wick-Moore (New Brighton), Robin Raudabaugh (Elk River), and Rick King (Falcon Heights.)
Our Faith, Our Values, and the Issues Facing Our Communities

In every community in Minnesota there are opportunities for congregations to see those who are invisible and to live out our call to respond to the needs in our communities.

Join pastors and leaders from around the Conference to explore the possibilities and how others are living out their faith and values on a webinar on Monday, February 8, at 7:00–8:30 pm, presented by the Amos Task Force and moderated by Conference Minister Shari Prestemon. Revs. Dana Mann (Mankato), Lawrence Richardson (Minneapolis), Nathan Holst (Duluth), Rev. Dwight Wagenius (Conference Creation Justice Team and MNIPL), and Diane Haines (Conference Immigration Team). We will explore issues facing our communities and how pastors and lay leaders have drawn on their faith and values to respond. REGISTER
We will gather Thursday, January 28, on the topic of "Trauma During the Turning of the Tide: Ministering to Self and Others as We Prepare for In Person Gatherings." The presenter is Sally Ankerfelt. She is committed to upholding conversations on how faith communities can be a source of connection and healing for those who have experienced trauma. She will help us address the question of how we continue to minister to our flock's current needs, prepare for in-person ministry, and take care of ourselves in the process?
 
There is no registration fee but you must REGISTER. Contact Rev. Sheri Nelson for more information or with any questions.
The "5 for 5" Special Offerings Dates for 2021
 
Will your church be 5 for 5 in 2021? Congregations that support OCWM and the four special offerings of the UCC are recognized annually as a “5 for 5 Congregation” by the Minnesota Conference and the United Church of Christ. The dates for receiving the four special offerings are as follows:
  • March 14, One Great Hour of Sharing
  • May 23, Strengthen the Church
  • October 3, Neighbors in Need
  • December 19, The Christmas Fund
 
More information on 5 for 5 special offerings is available HERE.
The Ministry Lab Shares New Resources

Check out Rev. Jia Starr Brown’s transformative series Journey to Freedom: Embracing God’s Cultural Diversity of People. All 23 videos are now available, free to Ministry Lab member congregations on the Lab's Vimeo page.

We highly recommend this series, produced and facilitated by Minnesota clergy and leaders. It is a powerful tools to utilize throughout Black History Month (February) and/or Lent to either introduce folks to anti-racism work or re-energize and expand diversity conversations. MORE INFO
Webinar Offered on Jan 29 on COVID-19 Considerations for Church Employers

This webcast on January 29 is offered by the Insurance Board will address issues churches face as employers during COVID-19, and provide best practice policies and procedures for managing employees and volunteers. Many states may require that employers have specific COVID-19 policies and procedures in place to protect their employees; learn about best practice considerations for your church.Your copy should address three key questions: Who am I writing for? (Audience) Why should they care? (Benefit) What do I want them to do here? (Call-to-Action). LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
Resources
  • Matthew Wagner, Vice President of Institutional Relationships at the national setting of the UCC, has prepared a helpful article that describes practices and strategies for churches and ministries to create a Gift Acceptance Policy – an essential but often overlooked section of endowment governance.

  • The UCC’s Lakeland College in Wisconsin has a great scholarship opportunity available for students interested in religion as a major or minor, who also have a commitment to learning about and participating in diversity and social justice activities on and off campus. More details here

  • The Conference website offers a calendar of events, both Conference-sponsored and those sponsored by local churches. Access the calendar.

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic, post-election, and more.

  • 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 monthly on the second Thursday of the month from 5:00–6:30 pm on Zoom. To receive a link to the meeting, 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.