Volume 19, No. 6 | February 8, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Celebrating the Merger of Edina Morningside & Linden Hills UCC

Congratulations to the congregations of Edina Morningside Community Church and Linden Hills UCC, who voted unanimously last week to join forces through a merger!

The two churches began their journey a year ago with a rental agreement, worship attendance, and participation, according to Linden Hills' Rev. Paula Norwood. A more formal merger process ensued, leading to the culminating vote.

"It’s my prayer that God will continue to bless this merged entity as we discover all that God is calling us to in this time and place," Norwood said in a message announcing the merger. "A heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave of their time, energy, and care for this unique process. As the scripture says, 'Well done, good and faithful servants.'”

Pastor Oby Ballinger at Edina Morningside said in the coming weeks, the newly merged congregations will begin a "respectful process that will aim to propose a name for the merged church by September 2024, to be approved by voting membership."

The Conference applauds the lay leadership, staff, and congregations for their open hearts and hard work over the past year to get to this joyful moment. A covenanting service is scheduled for Sunday, March 19.

Conference News & Events

UCC Launches Appeal for Turkey and Syria

The news continues to unfold about the devastating earthquake on the border of Turkey and Syria. The death toll continues to rise, adding to the significant challenges of the war in this area for more than a decade. The United Church of Christ has launched an appeal to help those in need. Give generously HERE. You may also text UCCDISASTER to 41444.

Microplastics is Topic of February 9 Outdoor Ministry Zoom Series

Microplastics in the Great Lakes is an emerging water quality issue that has a huge potential to impact human health and the aquatic environment. Join the Outdoor Ministry Zoom conversation on February 9 from 7-8 pm with presenter Art Hirsch discussing types of microplastic sources, impacts, legislation, and local and regional mitigation actions. LEARN MORE & REGISTER

Conference Hosts a Wonderful Second Covenant Day

Last Saturday, February 4, the Conference hosted our second Covenant Day in our series of five such events, this time in the metro area. What an incredible day! More than 50 clergy and lay leaders from 20 churches attended to learn from one another, to share questions, joys and struggles, and to be reminded that we are not alone. Our next Covenant Day is in Rochester on March 18!

Mark Your Calendars for the Conference's 2023 Events

Spring 2023 Youth Gathering

April 28-30, 2023 | Camp Onomia, Onamia


For youth 6th-12th grades. Lori Alford, a licensed marriage and family therapist and long-time faith formation leader in the Minnesota Conference UCC, will guide youth through activities and experiences that help them listen to their bodies, practice stillness and quiet, open up “heart spaces” for connection, and tap into their innate capacity to know, love, and connect.

Summer Middle School Camp

July 5-7, 2023 | Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Sandstone

For youth entering 6th grade through 8th grade. Swim, canoe, hike, and meet some birds of prey. Let’s explore the connection of eco-justice and faith while connecting with new friends and eating some great food! MORE

Summer 2023 Youth Trip to Washington, DC

July 21-28, 2023

Students from Conference congregations currently enrolled in grades 8-12 are eligible to participate in this service-learning experience focused on the work of legislative advocacy. MORE

Fall Youth Conference Event

October 6-8, 2023 Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center

Through playful discussions, activities, and music, we will reimagine our “wild and precious life” that speaks to who we are, what we value, and how our faith can guide us in the world. MORE

2022 Annual Information Reviews Due for All Authorized Ministers

The Committee on Ministry is calling on all authorized ministers – retired, actively serving and exempt – to please submit your 2022 Annual Information Review if you have not already. These information forms are imperative for us to keep track of our more than 350 clergy in the Minnesota Conference, and to help us serve each of you well. They are an important piece of the Covenant we share.

Also, the National Office is creating the Annual Yearbook and the information they have for our authorized ministers comes directly from the Annual Information Reviews. Not sure if you sent one in? You can email See Chang at COMadmin@uccmn.org and ask. Letters and emails have been sent (in the last 10 days) to those who have not submitted them. Finally, you can submit another one if you are not sure – we don’t mind!

Questions? Contact Kelly Gallagher.

Stewardship Theme Materials Available


“Because of You, Our Church Changes Lives” is this year's UCC stewardship theme, making the connection between donor generosity and the ministry and mission of your congregation.

Materials are available HERE.

Partner News & Events

Behind in Planning for Lent?

The Ministry Lab's Rev. Emily Meyer has accepted a call for Lenten pulpit supply in the little northwoods congregation in which she is a third generation member — and where her mom, Madelyn Lawrence, is the long-standing, well-beloved organist. Listen in as Emily and Maddy plan Lent 2023, including worship, prayer, study, and youth involvement. In the process, flesh out your own ideas, process your own challenges, and get resourcing and creative support from two leaders who have learned how to balance tradition and transformation. LEARN MORE & REGISTER.

Workshops Offered for Moderators, Treasurers and Other Lay Leadership Positions

Saturday, February 25, 9 am – noon

The Center for Transformational Leadership will offer basic training over Zoom for new and returning moderators, assistant moderators, treasurers, and pastor-parish relations committee members. The workshops are offered at no cost. REGISTER BY FEB 17.

Joys & Concerns

The Conference extends its condolences to Theresa Gehrke-Herwynen, whose wife, Rev. Michelle Gehrke-Herynen, died February 3. Theresa is a chaplain at Sanford Health in Bemidji and has standing in the Minnesota Conference. Visitation is Friday, February 10, from 5-7 pm at Cease Funeral Home in Bemidji; a memorial service is Saturday, February 11, at 10:30 am at Calvary Lutheran Church of Bemidji. Read Michelle’s obituary.

Rev. Betty Clark died on February 4. A celebration of her life will be held at First Congregational Church of MN, UCC, on March 4 at 11 am. For those wishing to join online, the service will be available here. Betty graduated from United Theological Seminary. She specialized as an interim minister, serving congregations in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Minnesota (Northfield, Hazel Park, and Wayzata), and as interim Conference Minister in the Minnesota and Northern California Nevada Conferences.  

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 faith formation, 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.