Volume 20, No. 32 | September 20, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Shari Prestemon Named Acting Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, 

plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” 

—Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Minnesota Conference UCC community, 

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of God’s steadfast guidance in our lives, and proclaims God’s beautiful promise of a future brimming with goodness and hope. Today I take confidence in that promise as I share the news that my time as your Conference Minister will soon conclude. 

I have accepted the appointment of the UCC’s General Minister & President to serve as the Acting Associate General Minister of Wider Church Ministries (UCC) and the Co-Executive of Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples of Christ). My ministry here in Minnesota will end on December 29.

During these ten years we have been in ministry together, we have experienced a season marked by treasured relationships, faithful discernment, enormous change for the Church at large, and events in our state and nation that have challenged and shaped us all. The next three months will offer many opportunities for reflection on our shared ministry and all the specific moments that have made it so rich and fulfilling. For now, know that I give thanks for all you have taught me, for the laughter and tears and prayers we’ve shared, and for all the ways we’ve witnessed to the love, justice, and mercy of a God who never fails to walk with us. I’m tremendously grateful for the ministries and people of the Minnesota Conference and have truly been blessed to spend this time among you. 

My new call represents a “full circle” moment for me. I will have the blessing of overseeing and engaging more fully in ministries that have personally transformed me and profoundly shaped my faith, including: global ministries, disaster response and recovery, volunteer ministries, and public policy advocacy. I’ll have the joy of witnessing to our shared mission in the Church, in this country and with our partners around the world, something about which I’ve long been passionate. It feels like an extraordinary opportunity to give back some measure of all God has given. I am amazed and humbled by how God has led me to this unexpected moment and ask your prayers that I will be sufficient to the task. 

In the United Church of Christ Book of Worship, the liturgy of farewell includes these words: 

“I thank you for the love, kindness, and support shown me all these years. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. As I leave I carry with me all that I have learned here. I trust that our time together, and now our parting, are pleasing to God.”

This is my prayer as we spend these last months together. May our time remaining be filled with a spirit of gratitude and mutual care, and may we trust that God promises to all a future where hope flourishes. 

With thanksgiving, 

Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister

[email protected]

Read the announcement from the United Church of Christ
Conference News & Events

Woven Together: A Recap of our Women's Retreat

This year's Women Retreat welcomed 18 women from eight congregations at Camp Onomia. With the theme "Woven Together," we discussed the roles of women in Scripture to see how their stories not only weave into the life of the early church and their communities, but also how they reflect our own stories today. 

Rev. Claire Klein, Lyndale UCC, led the discussion and introduced us to musical pieces to get us moving and stretching both our bodies and lungs. Artist Paula Benfer, Union UCC in Elk River, offered us an opportunity to put our creativity to the test through a looming activity that "weaved" the Bible stories and ours together.

The weather and the environment led to time soaking in the fresh air, while conversations among old and new friends filled the atmosphere with laughter. 

Participants had this to share about this retreat:

"Good opportunity to meet and learn from the women from other churches"


"A perfect mix of faith discussion, social time, nature time and open time."

Register Now for Power and Boundary Training with Kevin and Kelly!

Tuesday, October 17

9:30 am – 3:30 pm


We had so much fun last fall we thought we would do it again! This Power and Boundary Training will meet the standing requirements for authorized ministers in the Minnesota Conference. It will be in-person roughly 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Place to be determined. We will cap participation at 35.

Faith Formation Leader Retreat: What Is Saving Your Life Now?


October 22 (4 pm) – 24 (11 am)

ARC Retreat Community, Stanchfield, MN

$175 (scholarships available)


In her 2009 book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, Barbara Brown Taylor remembers being asked once to talk about what was saving her life now. As we gather in autumn of 2023, we consider what might save our human lives now within a wider lens that embraces what might save the wide interconnected web of life now. In another voice, Howard Thurman could inquire about what makes us (and the wide web of creation) come truly alive. LEARN MORE

Tomorrow is Last Day to Sign Up for Communities of Practice

Deadline extended to September 21!


Now is the time to sign up to join a Community of Practice this fall in the Minnesota Conference. Please register to let us know you are interested, what you are hoping for in your Community of Practice and when are your best times to meet.

What is a Community of Practice (CoP)? “Whenever a group forms to work together on similar concerns, explore new ways of approaching their work or helping each other cope—we are part of a community of practice. A clergy community of practice is one that is intentionally focused on learning how to do better what we do as we interact and gather wisdom from the perspectives and practices of others in the group.” ~ Communities of Practice – A Sustaining Support (COMPASS) Manual

The groups are facilitated and ongoing, each participant committing to at least a year of practice together. Three necessary and interacting dimensions of a Community of Practice are 1) the focus is ministry, 2) the community is essential and 3) knowledge is practice based. CoPs have been gathering for decades throughout the UCC and are proven effective for our growth as ministers, for spiritual and emotional support, and to remind us that we are not alone in this work.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Kelly Gallagher, [email protected].

Conference Youth Event is October 6-8

Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Sandstone, MN

Grades 6-12

$125/Youth, $100/Adult Leader


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~Mary Oliver

So often we have people in our lives who ask, “What do you plan to do?”, as if we must have a perfect answer. Our fall Conference Youth Event will provide time together where both youth and adults will practice shifting their language that is more about curiosity and wonder rather than having the “right” answers. Through playful discussions, activities, and music, all will reimagine their “wild and precious life” that speaks to who they are, what they value, and how their faith can guide them in the world. Musician and faith leader Hans Peterson will help shape the weekend and offer space to wonder together. LEARN MORE

Authorized Ministers: Complete Your Annual Info Review by Sept 30!

It’s that time again! Please fill out your Annual Information Review. This year you can fill it out online. The deadline is September 30. Read the letter here sent to all Authorized Ministers.

Questions? Contact See Chang, [email protected], or Associate Conference Minister Kelly Gallagher, [email protected].

Partner News & Events

Mark Your Calendars for The Ministry Lab Learning Opportunities

The Ministry Lab is excited to offer four + fantastic learning opportunities in our 2023-2024 Transformative Innovations series. Our save-the-dates postcard will be in the mail to your congregation soon inviting you to save the dates for:

  • Where is God in transformational/transitional times?
  • Trauma-informed ministry workshops: 4-part series
  • Ecumenical anti-racism panel & workshops
  • Sustainable finances/social entrepreneurism

But you don’t have to wait for the postcard! Find details on our Blue Whirl Webinars. Registrations will open soon!

Joys & Concerns

Rev. David Plumb passed away August 30. The memorial service is Sat Sept 23 at Robbinsdale Parkway UCC 11 am, with a 10:30 am visitation and a luncheon following the service. He is survived by his wife Kathleen Corradino. Read his obituary.

Upcoming Conference Events
More Resources & Opportunities

  • Send story ideas, insights and more to [email protected]. 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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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.