Volume 17, No. 48 | December 8, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative Offers 2022 Justice Series
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.

In response to a shared concern over the threats to our vast watershed systems with fossil fuels and chemicals, and an awareness of the Indigenous peoples who are directly affected economically, physically, and spiritually, the MN, WI, and MI UCC Conferences are collaborating to offer educational resources for continued advocacy and engagement with and for God’s gift of Planet Earth.

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
Conference News & Events
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. Rev. Sheri Nelson, Outdoor Ministry Director, and Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth, will facilitate and answer questions about the 2022 program season and the future of the Conference’s Outdoor Ministry and Faith Formation ministries.
 
We are delighted to welcome you for this time of connection and conversation. Register to join in-person 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. Register here for the event.
 
Please note that registration is required for all in-person participants, with a firm registration deadline of January 20, 2022. Due to distancing requirements, in-person registration will be limited to the first 20 participants. In-person participants will be required to make a meal selection at the time registration, so that individual box lunches may be ordered in advance. Please contact Kevin or Sheri with any questions regarding the gathering or the Conference’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines.
Richard Bruxvoort Colligan Offers a Joyful Song for the Season

Richard is a full-time composer and musician who serves across denominations teaching about music and spiritual formation. Known for hymn forms, simple chant, and pop-rock arrangements, he has several albums of original worship music. Richard is currently serving at Olive Branch Community based in Rochester, MN. He is the owner of Worldmaking.net, and his songs have been published by the ELCA, UMC, UCC, and PCUSA. He has given permission to all congregations to share You Are a Light On My Path (see video above). He describes the song as a "bouncy, clappy, melodic and joyous, which has been so good for my own spirit." Thank you so much, Richard, for sharing your talents so freely. You can also DOWNLOAD the video.
"Joy" is Topic of this Week's Advent Family Toolkit

The Conference's weekly toolkits feature a video of youth and leaders from one of our local congregations engaging in conversation and reflection on the themes and scripture text for the week. This week, join Nathan Holst and Kate from Peace Church in Duluth for conversation and reflection (listen to video above).

The toolkits also share a rich and diverse collection of at-home games, activities, book recommendations, candle lighting ritual, and service ideas for individuals and families of all ages. Contact Sandy Kellen to sign-up to receive the link to the weekly toolkit.

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.
A few spots remain in The Damascus Project's Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills learning experiences, which begin in January. If you are looking for a unique, fulfilling course for laypeople who wish to grow in faith, leadership, and community, you've got through Monday, December 20, to register. Learn more about our gifted instructors.

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. Also, if you make a calendar year 2021 contribution after December 31, 2021, you must include “2021 payment” in the memo line of your check. Thank you for your cooperation, and for supporting the ministries of the United Church of Christ! Questions? Contact Bob Olsen at development@uccmn.org or 612.230.3375.
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.

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
The BIPOC Clergy Cluster meets quarterly on the second Thursday of the month December 9 from 5pm-6:30pm on Zoom for now.  To receive the Zoom link to the cluster meeting and/or get an invitation to the Facebook group, email Rev. Nikki Frontz.
Conference Partner Resources & Events
The Ministry Lab Offers Fresh, Free Resources

The Ministry Lab is excited to offer fresh, free Advent, Christmas and Epiphany resourcesDreams of a New Day: An Intergenerational Pageant Liturgy, provides study and community-building throughout the season. Our two Illustrate-Your-Own Christmas/Eve sermons are simple ways to engage the whole congregation in worship. And our Epiphany Worship Service is led by colleagues from around the state with Michel Gribble leading liturgical movement and music from Billy McLaughlin. Find additional seasonal resources for faith formation and worship in our curated lists!!
Joys & Concerns
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.

We send our prayers to Rev. Jill Sanders (First Congregational – Alexandria) and her family upon the passing of her father, Robert Charles “Bob” Sanders, on November 24, in Johnston, IA. A Celebration of Life was held in Waukee, IA, on December 1. May God bring comfort and peace to Jill and her family in their grief.

We grieve the passing of Rev. Victor Vriesen of Blue Earth, MN, on November 28 at the age of 93. Rev. Vriesen served churches in Iowa and then served as chaplain at a nursing home in Blue Earth. He is survived by his wife, Betty. View his full obituary.

We invite prayers for Rev. Debi Hasdorff (Parkview UCC – White Bear Lake), whose partner Robert Wing passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 29. May Debi and all who loved Robert be held in God’s comfort and steadfast love.
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.