Volume 18, No. 10 | March 9, 2022

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Building a Garden of Peace
Five years ago, after Edina Morningside Community Church removed a dumpster from its east lawn, a group of staff and members began to ponder what to do with the area. “Some people just wanted the lawn to look better and some wanted outside places to sit, but others were already thinking about land stewardship,” says Barb Green, a member and avid gardener. “It took a while to put all of those things together.”
 
Today, the east lawn has been transformed into a garden of beauty, peace, and sustainability. It’s also a public gathering space where the community is invited to stop, sit, and wander, say Green and her husband Charlie, who helped spearhead the transformation.
 
The garden includes new stone paths, a patio, native plantings, and terraces where vegetables are grown for the VEAP food shelf. Boulders from a house being renovated down the street were repurposed for the garden, and a church member refurbished three benches. A peace pole with four languages (Dakota, English, Spanish, and Swahili to honor the church’s partnership with school in Kenya) was installed, along with a rain barrel and garden.
 
Church volunteers provided the labor to implement the garden designed by Scott Herbst of Watercolour Design. “It was a natural campaign,” says Charlie. “People just came forward with donations of time and money when they saw what we were doing.” The church’s “Green Team” (not named after Barb and Charlie, they emphasize!) tends the garden, but the goal is to make it as easy to care for and sustainable as possible.
 
The neighborhood has embraced the garden, says Barb, and the vegetable terraces are providing a great way to talk with the community about VEAP and food insecurity. “Our neighbors love it and stop by frequently. It puts the church outside the building.”
Conference News & Events
Grief is Focus of this Week's Lenten Family Toolkit

Our weekly toolkit for families and faith formation leaders focuses on grief in week two of lent. Each week features a video with clergy from around the Minnesota Conference in conversation and reflection on the themes and texts for the week. The toolkits also provide a rich and diverse collection of at-home games, activities, book and film recommendations, spiritual practices, and service ideas for individuals and families of all ages.

New Materials Available for Stewardship
 
“From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving” makes the connection between our experience of God and our generosity as disciples. It includes practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts, and letters. The materials also provide resources for preaching and teaching about stewardship throughout the year. Campaign guidance and calendars help leaders make the best use of these robust materials for their specific context and size. Visit the video above to learn more about these materials. Materials are available for purchase at ucc.org/stm2022.
Join the Outdoor Ministry's Spiritual Immersion

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” ― John Muir 
March 17–19, Good Earth Village

You are invited to a new space in Minnesota, to rest and renew. Come to find reconnection for your body, mind, and soul. Register now for one or more of these seasonal retreats.

Organizing as Evangelism

Join The Damascus Project for a Leadership Skills learning experience on the topic of organizing. The Rev. Casey Martinez-Tinnin leads the Zoom sessions on March 25 and 26. Self-directed learning March 28–April 21.

Community organizing in the Progressive Christian world is the new “evangelism.” We seek not to welcome people into our churches, but rather we invite the church to go out into the community and find out what God is already doing, and how we might come alongside and tap into the good work that is already being done. It is the job of spiritual leaders to learn how to listen to the needs of the community, and attach those needs to resources for change. Community organizing is the best tool to transform a congregation, a community, and our world.

Minnesota Conference 60th Annual Meeting is June 10-11

Renewal and restoration are the focus of the Conference's Annual Meeting June 10-11 at College of St. Benedict. While we will ensure the work of the Conference is done, we will also engage in thoughtful and restorative conversation. We will leave lots of space to catch-up with friends new and old. We will worship. We will laugh. We will pray. And we will rejoice in being together again.

Family Camp at Moon Beach is June 10–17

Come to Moon Beach Camp in northern Wisconsin for a week of fun, fellowship and discussion. In this beautiful northwoods setting, there will be age group classes in the morning, lots of swim time, arts and crafts, nature exploration and time to enjoy your own family and meet others. Each family group will have their own cabin with bathroom and meals are eaten as a group. Co-directors of this camp are Jan Shaffer of Minnesota and Paul Williams of Wisconsin. Check out the Moon Beach website for more information and to register. 
Upcoming Conference Events
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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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.