Volume 19, No. 17 | April 26, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

The Congregational Church, UCC-Rochester Offers Two Faith Formation Video Series

The Congregational Church, UCC-Rochester is generously offering two faith formation video series free to interested congregations. Both series were produced in collaboration with Dr. Sarah Ruble, a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College.

The first series, "Race and Christianity in the United States," was developed after the murder of George Floyd. Ruble wanted to do something about race, Christianity, and the church, says The Congregational Church co-pastor Andrew Greenhaw. Together with a volunteer videographer, Ruble produced eight episodes and brought them to the Rochester church for discussion after worship for several months.

The videos were extremely well received, says Greenhaw. “The series spurred a lot of conversation. They are academically rigorous but from a Christian perspective. They don’t shy away from the bad things, but they also share a sense of hope and responsibility and concern for the wider church.”


This experience inspired Ruble to do more, but she was limited by her videographer’s volunteer time. “We decided as a church to provide funding and a videographer, and Sarah would provide the content for a second series," says Greenhaw. "Ryan Bliss, a member of church and freelance videographer, stepped forward to help."

In this second series, each of the six 15-minute videos discusses a question that begins similarly with “How did we get…” The series helps people understand the central principles of Christian doctrine in historical context and how they relate to the present, says Greenhaw. “Each video takes on a different topic. How did we get the trinity? Christology? Original sin? Separation of Judaism? Justification for faith? Liberal and conservative Christianities?”

The first video premiered April 24 and Greenhaw expects all six will be available in early June. The church will post them to its website as they are ready. The videos can be used free-of-charge.


Access the “Race and Christianity in the United States” video series here.


The new series, “How did we get…” will be posted to The Congregational Church’s website.

Conference News & Events

Congregations Across Country Join the First Annual UCC Earth Day Summit Hosted in Minnesota

"We gather from across the UCC to be reminded that we are called to be faithful stewards of God's precious gift of this Earth." —Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon

The United Church of Christ inaugurated an annual Earth Day summit on April 22 to lift up, celebrate, and further ministries dedicated to caring for God's creation. The event was cohosted by the National Setting of the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Christ's Council for Climate Justice, Mayflower United Church of Christ, and the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ.

People from across the country joined the virtual presentation in the morning; in the afternoon, Mayflower UCC hosted a "Readers' Theatre," attended by about 100 people in person and livestreamed for others from afar.

The morning featured a keynote address by the Rev. Jim Antal and a panel discussion with environmental organizers Gina Peltier, Analyah Schlaeger dos Santos, and Alexa Horwart. The event also celebrated our denomination's newest Creation Justice Churches, our recent youth and young adult Climate Justice Fellows, and the winner of the Dollie Burwell Prophetic Action Award – Coral Gables UCC. We were thrilled that the Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative, of which the Minnesota Conference is a member, was first runner up for the Dollie Burwell Award, receiving $500!

In the afternoon, four members of Mayflower UCC under the direction of Mary Keepers, presented "Hope from the Front Lines," 17 stories submitted from people and congregations around Minnesota. Union Congregational in Hackensack shared its story about creation of "The Weed Patch" community garden. First UCC in Northfield told of working with the city on zero-waste goals. A minister shared the words learned working with Liberty Community Church: "You cannot heal anything without healing the earth." Others told stories of geothermal church projects, wind turbines, and a move away from mono-crop farming. The Conference's Director of Outdoor Ministry, Rev. Sheri Nelson, submitted a humorous and moving story about growing up on a dairy farm, concluding with these words: "Thank you, God, for giving me such an amazing playground."

Rev. Sarah Campbell from Mayflower summed up the summit with these words: "Yesterday was a big day for the United Church of Christ, our first national earth day celebration thanks to Zoom and livestream and the leadership of Brooks Brendt. We fell in love with our denomination all of over again as we witnessed the faithful, powerful, tenacious, sacrificial actions all around the country of this small but mighty denomination."

Last Chance to Register for Healing MN Stories: Sacred Sites Tour April 29


Download info about tour logistics

Minnesota Conference UCC members are invited to experience a sacred sites tour with Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) on Saturday, April 29. The tour is part of the MCC’s “Healing MN Stories” program, an effort to create understanding and healing between Native American and non-Native people, particularly those in faith communities.

This opportunity is offered as part of the Conference’s commitment to racial justice and equity. All sites visited in the sacred sites tour are located in the Twin Cities, around the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, what the Dakota refer to as Bdote, or “meeting place of rivers.” Registration is required and limited to 30 people. Per person cost is $40; registration fees will be donated to the Healing Minnesota Stories program.

The Annual Meeting is for You – Yes, YOU!

Our Annual Meeting organizers have been working around the clock to plan an engaging, spirited, and inclusive event June 9 & 10 at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN. An online option is available as well.

Why should you attend? There are so many reasons!

Workshops: We are putting together the final schedule for Saturday, June 10, and have terrific options but there’s still time for you to offer your idea. If you are interested in presenting a workshop, you must send that info to (who) by April 29.

Exhibits: Showcase the work of your congregation, highlight an important issue, or encourage action through an exhibit. You must submit your form electronically (or postmarked) by May 3.

Connections: Meet old friends and new! Whether you are attending in person or online, our organizers need to know how many people to plan for so please fill out your registration form as soon as possible.

Clergy Training: A Racial Justice Training and a Power & Boundary Training are available on June 8 for clergy who need to complete these trainings to meet their standing requirements.

As you can see, there are several important deadlines that are fast approaching. Here’s a recap:

  • Workshops: Presentation ideas must be submitted to Sandy Kellen by April 29.
  • Exhibits: Forms must be submitted to Sandy Kellen by May 3.
  • Registration: sign up now to help our organizing team plan!
  • Annual Report: If you are the chair of a team or committee, please submit your Annual Report to Sandy Kellen by May 1 so that it can be included.

For all the information about the 61st Annual Meeting, visit our website. Links to the forms in the right sidebar.

Support Available for Communities and Congregations Impacted by Flooding


If your congregation or community experiences disastrous flooding this spring, assistance could be available to you. Please contact Crispin Philips, the Minnesota Conference UCC Disaster Coordinator, at 952-412-3503 or sonoma566995@hotmail.com

Anti-Racism/Diversity Training & Power & Boundary Training Both Offered June 8 Prior to Annual Meeting

Anti-Racism/Diversity Training

Thursday, June 8, 9:30 am – 4:00 pm (check-in begins at 9:00 with coffee) 

$65 (lunch included with a light afternoon snack) 

Training leader: Rev. Jia Starr Brown


Every two years, authorized ministers of the Minnesota Conference are required to take a workshop on Anti-Racism and Diversity. We are offering a training prior to the Annual Meeting and hope that those who are planning to come to the Annual Meeting can combine these opportunities. LEARN MORE

Power & Boundary Training

Thursday, June 8, 10:00 am – 4 pm (check-in begins at 9:30 am with coffee)

$65 (lunch included with a light afternoon snack)

Facilitator: Rev. Dr. Anita Bradshaw


Every three years, authorized ministers of the Minnesota Conference are required to take a workshop on Power and Boundaries. We are offering a training prior to the Annual Meeting on June 8. Come for the training, stay for the Annual Meeting! LEARN MORE

Give Your Input about Forming Communities of Practice

The Minnesota Conference is hoping to form Communities of Practice this year for authorized ministers. These Communities provide opportunities for peer support and learning with a trained facilitator to engage around the challenges and blessings of doing ministry and living in this pandemic-informed world. Please fill out this brief survey.

St. James UCC Has Fun Raising Money for its Community

Eighteen members of the St. James UCC congregation in Barnesville, ranging in age from 11 to 71, recently gathered at Cullens Hockey Arena in Moorhead to participate in an annual sled hockey event to benefit Hope, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides family-friendly sporting and recreational opportunities for children and adults who are mobility challenged. Prior to the event, the children of St. James collected coins from parishioners during the worship services (fondly referred to as “Noisy Coin Sunday” because of the noise made while collecting the coins in metal buckets). This year, they collected an impressive $600 for Hope, Inc.!

“For those of us who are older, we always wake up the next day a little sore but thankful that we participated,” said participant Jim Wilson. “We are a church that likes to have fun and who are committed to community involvement.”

“Coming Home: Celebrating United at 60"

In celebration of its 60th anniversary, United Theological Seminary we’ll be featuring leaders and visionaries—past and present—whose work continues to inform the ways in which we realize our vision. UTS invites you to a talk on May 10 with Dr. Munjed Murad entitled “Studying World Religions at a Christian Seminary," and with Jessica Chapman Lape on “Interreligious Engagement: Bridging Classroom and Community.” LEARN MORE

Diane Weible Offers Boundary Training for Authorized Ministers

May 18 & 19, 11 am–1 pm (CT)



Authorized ministers are encouraged to check out the training from ordained minister and trained facilitator Diane Weible, offered via Zoom. 

Send Us Your Significant Anniversary Info!

We are gathering information for the Conference's Celebration Booklet. If you have a significant church anniversary, or ordination anniversary this year, please send your information to See Chang at comadmin@ucc.org.

For churches, please send a photo along with a brief history of the church. For clergy, please send a photo along with the Clergy Anniversary Questionnaire form.

Union Congregational UCC Offers Items through Auction

Union Congregational in St. Louis Park has a number of items for sale through Auction Masters. Items for sale include tables, chairs, portable staging, theater lights, and pews. VIEW & BID HERE

Joys & Concerns

Marilyn Stille, wife of The Rev. H Dean Stille, died on Saturday, April 1. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, April 26, at 1:00 pm at Woodland Hills Funeral Home, 1605 Woodland Ave, Mankato, MN. Visitation is from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. Read her full obituary.

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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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.