Volume 18, No. 24 | June 15, 2022

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Beatitudes for the Minnesota Conference UCC
Blessed are you. 

Blessed are you who are downtrodden and tired, challenged and uncertain, for you are a Resurrection People. 

Blessed are you called pastor and chaplain and organizer and teacher, for all the ways you illuminate and articulate the faith, for your own faithfulness when weariness overwhelms, for standing humbly in places of pain, for using your gifts to the glory of God. 

Blessed are you, the Moderators and Treasurers and Secretaries and Council Members and Boards, for your willingness to lead as volunteers, for your abiding love of the church and all the ways you show up for it, for the difficult decisions you must carry, for the precious value you have in our life as Church. 

Blessed are you, my Conference staff colleagues, you whose calling it is to equip and support, to nudge and to accompany: for your resilience, your sense of humor, your inspiring dedication, your many and great gifts. 

Blessed are you who stand up for justice, who imagine a world that is good and just and beautiful and Christ-like; who dare to raise a prophet’s voice in sanctuary pulpits and busy streets, in city halls and state capitols; who are courageous and consumed with holy impatience. 

Blessed are you who mourn: the loss of precious loved ones, the unraveling of our nation, the uncertain future of your church home. 

Blessed are you who believe: that God’s love for us endures, that all of Creation is precious, that Resurrection is our unending song and our unquenchable hope. 

Blessed are you, O Church, struggling or thriving, rural or urban, small or large: for you are God’s beloved and imperfect vessel, called and sent to be signs of love and hope and mercy incarnate in a broken and hurting world. 

Blessed are you. And you. And you. And you. For all you are and all God calls you to still be. For your faithfulness. For your loving and learning. For your tender relationships and beloved community. For being the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ together. 

Blessed are you. 

(These blessings were written by Conference Minister Shari Prestemon and originally delivered as part of her State of the Conference address at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference UCC on June 10, 2022.)
What a Week it Was!

We were so grateful to gather in person this past week for the 2022 Annual Meeting. Below, you can watch and listen to the State of the Conference address, the powerful March for Our Lives youth video, and the closing worship. Thank you to all who made this a memorable, meaningful experience!
State of the Conference & Closing Worship
March For Our Lives
Conference News & Events
Conference Minister Prestemon to Take Sabbatical Leave

In keeping with the Conference sabbatical policy, Conference Minister Prestemon will be afforded sabbatical leave this summer. She will be away June 15-September 14. 

Reverend Rick Wagner, who retired as Associate Conference Minister in February 2020, will serve as sabbatical supply Conference Minister on a part-time basis during Rev. Prestemon’s sabbatical. He will provide support to the Conference staff team and will respond to needs of congregations under his specific assignment.
Support for Our Trans and Nonbinary Members

The Council of Conference Ministers, officers of the UCC, and Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC have co-signed a letter urging support for our trans and nonbinary members. READ THE LETTER
Volunteer Opportunities Await You!

It takes a village or should we say a whole Conference? At the Annual Meeting this past weekend, many new folks were elected and/or appointed into various positions for the Conference and there are still several positions that need filling and we are counting on you and your talents. Please take a few minutes to look at this Volunteer Opportunities Form and decide where you can serve. It is a fillable form, so please fill it out online, save it and then attach it to an email and send it to info@uccmn.org. Thank you for all you do for the Minnesota Conference!
Congregational Pastors Invited to Apply for Inaugural Leadership for Social Justice Program at United Theological Seminary
Applications due July 1, 2022

Thanks to generous funding from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities’s new Leadership Center for Social Justice—led by Director Rev. Dr. Ry O. Siggelkow—is excited to invite congregational pastors from Minnesota and adjoining states to apply for the inaugural Leadership for Social Justice Program. The program officially launches September 2022.

From now until July 1, church pastors and ministers can apply for a tuition-free, nine-month, hybrid program designed to equip them to reflectively engage in a broad range of pressing social issues—including struggles for economic, racial, gender, sexual, and ecological justice—in contextual, practical, and faithful ways. Led by a team of experienced teachers, leaders, mentors and grassroots community organizers, the program will help pastors develop and/or deepen sustainable, community-based, social justice ministries responsive to what God is doing in our world, congregations, and communities.

Pastors who wish to apply for the inaugural program must complete an application by July 1, 2022. Applicants must also supply a letter of support from congregational leadership. To learn more, contact the Center’s administrative assistant, Stella Pearce, at spearce@unitedseminary.edu.

Teaching Fellows at the Leadership Center for Social Justice

  • Rev. Kelly Chatman, an ELCA pastor, is the 2020 founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement. 
  • Dr. Amy Finnegan, as associate professor in Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas, also co-founded and co-directs SocMed, a program of EqualHealth.
  • Gaagigeyaashiik (Dawn Goodwin) is an Anishinaabe/Ojibwe from the Mississippi Band of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, a staunch advocate for Nimaamaa-Aki (Mother Earth), and a fierce protector of water and the Anishinaabeg traditions.
  • Ned Wik Moore is the Neighborhood Leadership and Organizing Program Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
  • Nookomis (Debra Topping) is an Anishinaabe/Ojibwe (Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) from the Fond du Lac Reservation in northern Minnesota who fights to preserve an indigenous way of life that honors nature and keeps sacred life-giving waterways.
  • Rev. Hierald Osorto answered the call to become the senior pastor at the bilingual St. Paul Lutheran Church/Iglesia Lutheran San Pablo in October 2021 after serving at Ithaca College in New York as the founding director of Religious and Spiritual Life.
ConNext Summit 2022

Faith Formation leaders, clergy, staff, volunteers, and all who walk with others on their spiritual journey are invited to ConNext Summit 2022: In the Ways of Jesus - Gracious Idleness, Scrappy Transformation, Radical Belonging. Find time for rest and renewal; developing and deepening friendships and colleague groups; inspiring innovations; and processing the past few years with a comedy troupe. Learn more and register HERE.
COMMAntary Goes to Summer Schedule

Beginning June 22, COMMA will go to an every-other-week schedule through Labor Day. So, watch for an edition on June 22, then we will skip to July 6 for the next version.
Upcoming Conference Events
  • Jun 24–26: Adult Spiritual Immersion through the Seasons: Spring Valley, Camp Onomia
  • Jul 11–12: Summer Rural Immersion
: Middle School, Shalom Hill Farm, Windom
  • Jul 22–24: Summer Rural Immersion High School, Shalom Hill Farm, Windom
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.