Volume 19, No. 29 | August 23, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative Retreat Forms Action Plan

The Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative finished its retreat with a plan of action around plastic pollution and transforming divestment from fossil fuels into investing in alternative sustainable energies. 

The Collaborative spent two days discussing the issues of pollution and use of the Great Lakes and their watersheds. The discussion also included how to demand change from government agencies and corporate entities that continue to harm the water, land, and air.

Between the six UCC conferences represented at this first in-person meeting, we mapped out action plans and discussed ca events that we could all do simultaneously from our respected locations, such as worship services, cleanup around our lakes and rivers, and advocacy at our state capitals. We hope that our promotion and documentation of these events will spur action around all the conferences of the United Church of Christ and beyond. 

This collaborative has grown so much over two years of education and connection through Zoom meetings and conversations. It now is a movement of individuals at both congregational and Conference levels who are determined to advocate for our Living Earth by continuing to speak for government and corporate changes. 

With the newly named Great Lakes Collaborative-UCC, the Heartland, Michigan, Indiana-Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota Conferences are hoping to encourage more Conferences and individuals to join us in healing and protecting our five Sisters–Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario–and their watersheds.

Rev. John Helt, a core leader and participant from the Wisconsin Conferences, aid, "My sense of the retreat is that while we gathered with the intention to protect our 'Five Sisters,' it turns out that they blessed us with new hope, joy and resolve to further our care for the Earth."

More information about future meetings, resources, and activities, contact Rev. Sheri Nelson at sherin@uccmn.org or Rev. Mike Mulberry at [email protected].

Nature’s church: Outdoor Ministries builds back after pandemic years

Check out the story from the UCC National Setting, which highlights the blossoming of the Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative!

Read the story
Conference News & Events

Register Now for Three Wonderful September Retreats

The Outdoor Ministry of the Conference has three wonderful retreats planned for September.

Women's Retreat

September 8 - September 10

A weekend of rest and renewal on the banks of Lake Shakopee

$200/person (shared room) | $250/person (private room) only available to the first 5 requests

LEARN MORE & REGISTER by September 1

Women's Wilderness Walk: From the Inside Out

September 22 - September 24

Limited to 10 participants

Held on the Root River Trail in Southeastern Minnesota, with walking practices of pilgrimage, forest therapy, and the labyrinth

$250/person; please select to sleep in the bus or tent when registering. The bus is open to the first 6 registrants

LEARN MORE & REGISTER by September 15

The Walking Space: Queer Walk

September 29 - October 1

Limited to 10 participants

A safe, inclusive space designed to inspire and connect participants in a nature-drenched, adventure-driven weekend

$250/person; please select to sleep in the bus or tent when registering. The bus is open to the first 6 registrants

LEARN MORE & REGISTER by September 22

The Damascus Project Announces 2023-2024 Offerings

The Damascus Project is back for a sixth year with a robust calendar of learning opportunities for clergy and lay people in fall 2023 and spring 2024. The curriculum includes courses in three core areas: Faith Foundations, Ministry Studies and Leadership Skills.

The courses are a blend of asynchronous content designed for adult learners and Zoom discussion sessions, all created and led by expert instructors. All course content is housed on the Damascus Project Network, an online classroom and community space designed to provide a welcoming environment for learning and conversation.


Calling all Authorized Ministers: Communities of Practice is Live!

Now is the time to sign up to join a Community of Practice this fall in the Minnesota Conference. REGISTER by September 15 to let us know you are interested, what you are hoping for in your Community of Practice, and the best times for you to meet.

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

Apply Now for 2024 Grants Supporting UCC Congregations

Applications for the United Church of Christ’s 2024 Justice and Local Church Ministries grants, which support the work and mission of local churches, are now open. LEARN MORE. The deadline for congregations to apply is September 15.

Save the Date for the Fall Clergy Retreat

November 14–16, Christ the King Retreat Center

We are excited to gather again this fall for our Clergy Retreat. This year we are blessed to have Dr. Jean Chagnon leading us through our time of “Reimagining Our Connection to Self and Spirit.” Together we will seek to reconnect spiritually in a time where many feel ungrounded, lost, and overwhelmed. Using ritual, experiential exercise, and meditation we will focus on developing skills and strategies to help us be more centered and aligned even amidst polarization and chaos.

Dr. Jean Chagnon is an integrative healer and ceremonialist working with individuals and groups for more than 30 years. She focuses on helping people expand their ability for compassionate presence; release personal, familial, and cultural entanglements that interrupt the flow of life and love; ground into full embodiment; and reconnect with their passion. She combines her training in psychology, spiritual direction, family systems constellations, shamanic practice, and Peruvian Indigenous Wisdom in the work that she does in service to others.

Stay tuned for registration information.

2023 Neighbors in Need is October 1

In 2023, the Neighbors in Need “BEHOLD!” theme continues. This year’s focus is on environmental justice. Plastics, electronics, and other non-compostable wastes are being shipped across, and even tossed into, our waterways, launched into space, and buried in landfills. As people of faith, we believe these egregious acts are sinful and unholy. We must be better stewards of our planet!


Please join us in promoting this year’s NIN campaign at your church! Many churches will collect the offering on October 1, as part of World Communion Sunday. DOWNLOAD RESOURCES HERE.

Partner News & Events

Mark Your Calendars for the 15th Annual Overcoming Racism Conference

Reclaiming History and Paying What's Due is the topic of the Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative's upcoming Overcoming Racism Conference November 10-12.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Yohuru Williiams, Distinguished University Chair and Professor of History and FOunding Director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas.


Joys & Concerns

Two memorial services will be held to remember Rev. Joe Clay, who served Friedens County Line Church and Edina Morningside Church UCC for many years. The first service is at Friedens UCC in Norwood Young America, 11325 Zebra Ave, on Friday, August 25; visitation at 10 am, service at 11 am. The second service will be held at Edina Morningside Linden Hills UCC, 4201 Morningside Road, on Friday, September 8; visitation at 10 am, service at 11 am. Clergy are asked to wear red stoles (robes are not necessary) and process in at the start of each service together.

Upcoming Conference Events
More Resources & Opportunities

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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.