Volume 19, No. 2 | January 11, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

St. Paul's UCC: Doing the Deeply Spiritual Work of Land Acknowledgment

A few years ago, when Tracy Kugler, a member of St. Paul's UCC in St. Paul, MN, was serving on her church’s Earthwise - Creation Justice team, she started thinking about the connections between creation justice and social generally, and specifically about the need for a land acknowledgment.


“I just had a sense that it’s all connected,” she says. “And I wanted to make sure that the way we put this together wasn’t just about putting some words on paper and checking a box or reciting something once in a while before worship.”


Kugler joined with three church members—Jennifer Atterberry, Mimi Goodwin, and David Weiss—and lead minister Rev. Sarah Brouwer to form a task force to give the issue the attention that it needed. The group spent the first summer doing its own research, learning about the history of the Dakota in Minnesota and taking workshops on how to do land acknowledgment work.


In fall 2021, the task force introduced the work to the congregation, sharing information about why this issue was spiritually important through communications and an adult faith formation session. In winter and spring of 2022, the church offered a Lenten series with speakers on the topics of Indian boarding schools and the doctrine of discovery, as well as a panel of Native speakers on the contemporary relationships with the land. The church also offered field trips to connect with Native organizations. 


“We got good attendance, and the sessions were really formative for the work we were doing,” says Kugler.


Rev. Brouwer says the work has been a testament to the church’s evolution. “We are moving from being a task-oriented congregation to one that thinks deeply about its own white privilege and self-transformation before we do outreach and service,” Brouwer says. “This is deeply spiritual work.” Kugler adds, “This is about us thinking more systemically instead of just treating symptoms. We can still help with urgent needs, but we need to think more about systemic change.”


As the task force approached writing its land acknowledgment, they looked at other examples and worked with the congregation to determine what resonated. “We came to a place that is pretty powerful,” says Kugler. The statement was adopted at a congregational meeting, but Kugler and Brouwer are quick to say that this is just the beginning of the work. “The adoption of the statement was a milestone for sure,” says Kugler. “But now we are putting together a plan for how we want to carry forward this work, how we will continue to develop relationships with Dakota people and really live into what we said we are going to do.”


For Brouwer, who came to St. Paul’s in 2021, this work has been an exciting part of the revitalization of the congregation. “St. Paul’s congregation was diminishing a few years ago but people have now been to the edge and have come back and become more bold, more extravagant in our welcome and justice,” she says. “It’s been a really beautiful thing to witness.”

Read St. Paul UCC's land acknowledgment statement and check out the church's helpful array of resources here. 
Conference News & Events

Join Us for the First Outdoor Ministry Winter Zoom Series Gathering January 12

2023 Farm Bill

January 12, 7:00-8:00 pm CST

Presenter: Sarah Goldman

Free; REGISTER to receive Zoom link

Learn more about the Farm Bill and why it matters to us as a faith community in this one-hour discussion brought to you by the Outdoor Ministry of the MN Conference UCC. The Land Stewardship Project will present the 2023 Farm Bill, which covers health care, food concerns, climate change, and corporate accountability and responsibility. Universities are also affected by this bill through research funding on topics involving agriculture, sustainable practices, and innovation. Read more

Join Us for Our Second Covenant Day February 4

Robbinsdale Parkway UCC

February 4, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm

REGISTER by February 1

You are invited to our second Covenant Day hosted by Robbinsdale Parkway UCC in Minneapolis. This is a time to gather together and be the church! Covenant Days are filled with workshops, worship, food and fellowship — a time for members, lay leaders, and clergy of local congregations to connect with one another and Conference staff.

All are welcome! We have tried to offer workshops that are of interest to clergy and lay members of the church. This is an opportunity to meet others who are being church in this time and to discuss what it means to be people of faith in a pandemic-informed world. We look forward to seeing you!

The Damascus Project Welcomes New Director

The Minnesota and Wisconsin Conferences (UCC) welcome a new director to the helm of our shared ministry, The Damascus Project.

The Reverend Stephanie Perdew, Ph.D. is a life-long member of the United Church of Christ. She received her bachelor's degree in Religion and Native American Studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and her M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she also obtained her Ph.D. READ MORE

FourTHursday: Reframing Ministry: The Joy of Listening that Forms Community

January 26, 2023 @ 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Join online or in person at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Lunch: 11:30am | Community Conversation/Resourcing: 12:00-1:30pm


Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation, will facilitate a conversation that draws on new research and work about the counter-cultural practices of listening and the necessity for this practice as both balm and resistance amid the chaos, despair, and overwhelm of our time. We will explore together how to re-member our communities as spaces of hospitality and belonging rooted in the simple and challenging practices of holy listening.

One Great Hour of Sharing 2023

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all… Galatians 6:9-10

Sunday, March 19, 2023, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is the recommended date for the UCC’s One Great Hour of Sharing special offering. Unlike previous years, OGHS promotional materials will NOT be automatically mailed to your church. Please visit the WEBSITE to learn more and access helpful materials for participating in this 5 for 5 offering this year!

2023 UCC Yearbook & Directory

It’s that time again for the UCC to begin preparing the Yearbook & Directory for the coming year. The Illinois Conference is one of the lowest in participation across the denomination and we are doing a BIG push this year to have ALL our churches submit their yearly information.


The annual yearbook is not simply a formality, but is what your church's 501(c)3 status depends on! Data from the annual reports is also used in the church profile when you are searching for a new pastor - and if no reports have been submitted for your church for five (5) years, all data reverts to zeros. In case those aren't enough reasons, check out this list of 12 important reasons to report your annual church data.


Instructional materials (both videos and documents) for local churches are available at the Yearbook and Directory webpage. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Naomi in the Conference office (708-344-4470). Below are key dates for you to remember:

  • January 4, 2023 — Data Hub opens for churches
  • March 1, 2023 — Data Hub closes for churches at MIDNIGHT (Eastern Time)

Calling Young Adults Ages 18-25

Reconnect with UCC camp friends for a weekend at Green Lake Lutheran Camp in Spicer, MN. This is a chance to relax, have some fun, create a meal together, and help plan the future for young adult programming in the MN Conference. Registration is open now until January 20 or when spaces are filled. Read our Covid guidelines.

When: January 27-29, 2023, begins at 6:00 pm Friday and ends 11:00 am on Sunday

Where: Green Lake Lutheran Camp, Medayto Lodge, Spicer, MN

Cost: $50/person | $25/person scholarship, if needed; contact sherin@uccmn.org


Faith Foundations: Read the New Testament & Explore Christian History

January 12 - April 20, 2023

Lay leaders, seekers, and people exploring authorized ministry are invited to explore the history of the New Testament and the early church, and to gain tools to read and interpret scripture well.

Registration ends Monday, January 9. LEARN MORE

Exploring the Enneagram

January 30 - March 12, 2023

Learn the Enneagram’s system of 9 Types and identify your type with The Damascus Project's upcoming learning opportunity. LEARN MORE & REGISTER

Joys & Concerns

The Minnesota Conference celebrated the Installation of Rev. Jonathan Holtmeier to the Congregational Church of Excelsior, UCC, on November 6, 2022. Rev. Seth Patterson, minister for Justice and Arts at Plymouth Congregational Church, preached. The Excelsior Church was joined by members of the Committee on Ministry, Conference staff and churches of the Conference to celebrate this event. Pictured from left to right: Jean Ostrom, Rev. Désirée Gold, Rev. Jonathan Holtmeier, Rev. Seth Patterson, Rev. Kelly Gallagher, Rev. John Ross.

The Conference extends its sympathies to Rev. Bryan Olson, whose mother passed away. Services will be held Saturday, January 14, 11 am, at Cottage Grove UCC. The service will also be livestreamed.

Last Sunday, the Conference celebrated with Macalester Plymouth United Church (UCC & PCUSA) the installation of Rev. Cynthia Riggin (pictured) as Minister of Congregational Life. We pray God’s blessings on her ministry in that place, on their ministry together, & on the covenant we all share!

You are invited to the ordination of Rev. Nathan Roberts Feb 19, 2:30-3:30 pm, at Edina Morningside Church. Rev. Roberts will continue to serve as Director of Community Engagement at First Lutheran Church, and will now be an ordained UCC Minister with rights and responsibilities to serve Word and Sacrament. Masks strongly encouraged. Clergy are invited to wear red stoles.

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.