Volume 17, No. 49 | December 15, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"Love" is Theme of This Week's Family Advent Toolkit
This week's Advent Family Toolkit is chock full of wonderful activities, ideas, projects, and a video conversation with Cindy Maddox, Reuben and Mackenzie from First Congregational in Northfield (see video below).

Four weeks of Advent family toolkits as well as faith formation leader resources for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are now available. VIEW THE TOOLKITS HERE.

Our toolkits are created in collaboration with Keren’s ArtDoing Good TogetherThe Ministry Lab, and UCC leaders.
Conference News & Events
Calling All Lay Leaders, Volunteers, Council Moderators and More…

What do Enneagram, UCC covenantal polity, community organizing, conflict transformation, and fabulous faith-filled meetings have in common? You'll find out in The Damascus Project's Leadership Skills learning experience, launching in January 2022!

If you talk with folks who have been part of this offering in the past, you'll learn how rewarding, relevant, and useful it is. Learn more about our gifted instructors. The deadline to register is Monday, December 20.

Building the Beloved Community Public Safety Project

Your congregation is invited into conversation with Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington.

Interfaith Action invites interfaith leaders to a series of compelling conversations about creating a better system of public safety and policing in Minnesota. Together with Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington and several state public safety leaders, participants will walk through real-life scenarios that police officers face on the job. What do we want our public safety officers to do in these situations? Clergy and their congregations will be invited to respond. This work will culminate in a report of the collective feedback.

Fourth Thursdays
Hybrid FourTHursday: Let’s Talk Outdoor Ministry & Youth Faith Formation

January 27, 2022 | 12:00-1:30 pm | Join in-person or online

Join us for the return of our in-person fourth Thursday gatherings for faith formation leaders! January’s topic is the 2022 full season of Outdoor Ministry programs and retreat for all ages and a preview of the exciting opportunities for youth throughout the year, including the summer 2022 Youth Immersion Trip. Register to join in-person (required) for a light, physically distanced lunch and conversation. You may also register participate via Zoom. All in-person participants will be required to wear a face mask throughout the event, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating or drinking.
Great Lakes Creation Care Series Begins in January

The Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative invites you to a three-part Zoom series, offered by the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Conferences of the United Church of Christ. The series will explore creation care justice through the lens of Indigenous rights, divesting from corporate greed, and liturgical language that keeps the health of our planet and all God’s creation in mind.

“Treaties Broken, Earth and Lives in Crisis: How do we change the narrative for the land and all its people?”
January 13, 2022, 7:30-9:00 pm EST/6:30-8:00 pm CST
With Frank Bibeau, tribal attorney for Honor the Earth and White Earth Band of Ojibwe

“Good Money After Bad: How to invest in Creation Care”
February 10, 2022, 7:30-9:00 pm EST/6:30-8:00 pm CST

“Creation Justice from the Sanctuary to the Street: Linking Worship, Action, & Advocacy”
March 3, 2022, 7:30-9:00 pm EST/6:30-8:00 pm CST

2021 Christmas Fund Special Offering December 19
The Christmas Fund is a special offering that individuals in UCC churches have been supporting for over 100 years. The offering is administered through the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance, the charitable arm of the Pension Boards. Funds provide direct financial support to those who serve the church and are facing financial difficulties. All of the Christmas Fund promotional materials are available HERE.
The Christmas Fund is one of the four special offerings of the UCC – One Great Hour of Sharing, Neighbors in Need, and Strengthen the Church – that, together with Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM), make up the 5 for 5 UCC recognition program.
Will Your Church be “5 for 5” in 2021??
Every year, the Minnesota Conference recognizes churches that support Our Church’s Wider Mission and the four special offerings – Strengthen the Church, Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, and the Christmas Fund – with the special 5 for 5 designation and certificate. The deadline for the Conference office to receive contributions for 2021 5 for 5 recognition is Friday, January 28, 2022. Questions? Contact Bob Olsen at development@uccmn.org or 612.230.3375.
Year-end Stock Giving

2021 was a strong year for the financial markets. If you are interested in making a gift of publicly traded securities (stocks and bonds) to the ministries of the Minnesota Conference, we would be happy to guide you or your financial advisor through that process. For more information, contact Renae Shields at business@uccmn.org or 612.230.3369.
Circle of Trust Peer Groups Begin January 10

The groups will kick off January 10, 6-8:30 pm, and January 11, 6-8 pm. They then will meet monthly (6-8 gatherings) for two hours for participants to share with each other and support each other through the use of deep listening and honest and open questions.

 Maintaining Fierce Hope: Refreshing Our Grip on What Sustains Us
January 18, 5 pm–January 20, 11:30 am
Christ the King Retreat Center, Buffalo, MN
Fee: $150 (private room) or $130 (shared double room)
Facilitator: Rev. Dr. Martha Brunell
After a long season of being apart, actively serving clergy from around the Minnesota Conference UCC are invited to come together on retreat. We will gather at the confluence of winter time, COVID time, and liturgical time. Then and there we will have gentle invitations to rest, to reconnect, to recognize losses, and to recommit to both familiar and unfolding shapes of ministry. Hope, whether in plain sight or hidden, will enliven these invitations, setting loose through them the potential for a circling flow of compassion and courage. In these quiet winter days, with their share of darkness and perhaps harsh weather, it will be so good to come together. LEARN MORE
Register for the Winter Spiritual Immersion Retreat

January 21-23, 2022 (Friday, 6:00 pm through Sunday, 11:00 am) 
Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center, Deerwood, MN
Registration closes January 14
Joys & Concerns
We lift our prayers for Rev. Jean Boese (St. Paul's UCC–Eyota) upon the death of her father, Arnold Boese, on December 13 at the age of 93. We trust in God’s eternal care and mercy, in life and in death. Read his full obituary here.

Art Clyde, editor of UCC’s The New Century Hymnal, and his wife Carol Birkland, will be leaving Minnesota this winter. Art has been the choir director at Union Congregational UCC for fifteen years. Carol has served as moderator and on several boards and committees. They are moving back to their home of origin in Pennsylvania. Union will be holding a special worship and celebration on Sunday, December 26, at 10:00 am. You may send your farewell blessings and greetings via the church at pastor@unionslp.com or Union UCC, P.O. Box 16089, St. Louis Park, MN 55416.
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.