Volume 18, No. 21 | May 25, 2022

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Help
"Oh God, in this brutal moment we utter just one whispered word … Help."

A prayer written after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022
 
Help us, God.
When 19 precious children and two of their teachers are murdered just days before the school year’s end, when families are devastated beyond description, when yet another community is traumatized, when tears course down our cheeks at the sheer and unimaginable horror of it…

Help us, God.
When one tragedy follows closely after another, when 10 innocent lives are lost to gun violence while buying groceries on a Spring Saturday in Buffalo, when one is killed and five injured in a Taiwanese American church at worship on a Sunday morning , when racial hatred is weaponized by a hater with a gun..

Help us, God.
When gun violence erupts in churches and synagogues and mosques, in schools and concerts and night clubs, when week after week and year after year the same death-dealing pattern of mass killings and mass grief plague our nation and break our hearts….

Help us, God.
When these tragedies fail to change us, when ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t convert to meaningful action, when our inaction results in the inevitability of yet more violence and unfathomable loss….

Help us, God.
When our grief overwhelms us, when our despair leaves us hopeless, when the sheer awfulness of things renders us speechless…

Oh God, in this brutal moment we utter just one whispered word….

Help.

Written by Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister of the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ.
We Remember

On this second anniversary of George Floyd's death, we remember and continue to combine our voices to further courageous action, justice, and mercy.
Conference News & Events
Faith Formation Resources to Respond to Gun Violence

In the wake of another senseless, terrible, and preventable act of gun violence that ended the lives of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, parents and children around our country are reeling with fear, anger, and despair.

Please visit our FAITH FORMATION RESOURCES page for a variety of resources to help local congregational leaders support children, youth, families, and other members.
Annual Reports Available and Last Chance to Register for Annual Meeting

Can you believe the Minnesota Conference UCC Annual Meeting is just around the corner? If you are already registered, be sure to check your registration email for instructions on how to attend the more than 14 different workshops and hearings. Details of each workshop are available on our secure workshop page on our website.

Once you are there, the page requires a password for access. There is no need to pre-register for workshops; simply click on the Zoom link at the appropriate time and you will be admitted to the room. Hearings and workshops will be held via zoom on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (June 6 - 8) at various times. You are free to attend as many workshops as you want once you are registered.  
 
If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time! REGISTRATION is open until June 2, 2022, to attend either in-person or remotely. Also, please note that the Conference's board of directors approved new Covid guidelines at its May 7 meeting. READ MORE

Reports from staff, teams and committees have been posted to our website and can be found HERE. This information shares the many exciting ministries taking place and impacting lives in our Conference and beyond.

We are so excited to have so many registering, but if you haven't yet registered, please due so right away. We need to get numbers for housing and meals to the College of St. Benedict and by registering now, it makes the process much easier.

Local Congregations, Send Us Your Picture for Annual Meeting

The Conference Planning Worship Team is asking for each body of Christ (local church) to send in a picture of your local setting to be used in our worshipping during the Annual Meeting. Pictures of buildings are nice, but pictures of the bodies of Christ, i.e., people, are even better. Please send in a picture from this past year or take a new one with the theme of “Restoration and Renewal" to pastorgmucc@boreal.org.
Register by May 25 for this week's FourTHursday Faith Formation Gathering

Join In-Person or Online via Zoom this Thursday, May 26
Lunch: 11:30 am | Community Conversation/Resourcing: 12:00 - 1:00 pm
REGISTER HERE by May 25 for in person, or JOIN US for the gathering via Zoom.

Please join us this Thursday for a time to come together with colleagues for lunch, conversation, mutual support, and shared resourcing. The summer conversations will not include a formal presentation but will provide space for building relationships and for participants to bring questions and issues for the gathered community to help resource. There will also be space for reflection, shared wondering, and simply being together.

For the May gathering, in-person participants will be required to wear a facemask, except when eating lunch. Please note that registration is required for all in-person participants, with a firm registration deadline for May's gathering of May 25, 2022.
Pollinators of the Spirit: St. John's United Church of Christ in Norwood Young America

On any Wednesday afternoon during the summer, if you happen by the parking lot of St. John's United Church of Christ in Norwood Young America, you will find a community of people surrounded by a bounty of locally grown food and homemade goods at the Bongards Market. READ the updated story with additions and corrections, originally published May 18.
What Does it Mean to be the Church in Today’s Tech-Shaped Culture? 

Join with peers and colleagues to discuss Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture in a digital book group hosted by The Damascus Project. The author, Ryan M. Panzer, highlights four cultural values influenced by today’s digital technologies. We will ask ourselves: What are the opportunities and possibilities for the church in a culture being shaped in these technologies? How might we engage these cultural values to reach a new generation?

  • June 14–July 26
  • Weekly polls and questions based on each of the 4 sections of the book for discussion within the Damascus Project’s online learning portal
  • Weekly Zoom gatherings at noon on Tuesdays June 14, 21 & 28 and July 12, 19
  • Live discussion with the author, Ryan M. Panzer, on Tue, July 26, 12:00–1:30 pm
  • $15 for the discussion group (does not include book price; visit Fortress Press and use the code PANZER30 to save 30% on the book purchase)
  • REGISTER
Make Plans Now for OWL Training

Clergy and lay leaders who plan to offer an Our Whole Lives program in their congregations are invited to three days of facilitation training August 26–28 at the Daycholah Center in Green Lake.

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a comprehensive human sexuality curriculum for elementary-age children through older adults, developed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The August training is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin and Minnesota conferences, in partnership with the national setting of the UCC.
 
Cost is $475 for a shared double-occupancy room, meals and training for UCC participants and $550 for non-UCC participants. A limited number of private rooms are available for $575 for UCC participants and $650 for non-UCC participants. INFO AND REGISTRATION
 
Facilitator training will be offered at the elementary, youth and adult levels. Each participant may participate in training for just one age level, so consider sending a team to be trained to start or expand the OWL program in your church. Registration information will be available soon. Questions? Contact Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation.
Clergy Care Grant Program Concludes May 31

Is your congregation still considering applying for a Clergy Care Grant? The Conference will conclude that grant program and other pandemic relief grant programs this month. Get your applications in before May 31!
Joys & Concerns
We grieve with Reverend Oby Ballinger, pastor of Edina Morningside Church, and his family upon the death of his brother, Dr. Ebener Ballinger, in Cornell, Wisconsin. A survivor of significant childhood trauma, Eb experienced ongoing mental health challenges and died by suicide on May 19. May God's limitless love surround Oby and his extended family. MORE
 
We hold Commissioned Minister Dawn Carlson Conn, Robbinsdale Parkway UCC, in our steadfast prayers upon the death of her husband James on May 10 due to a heart attack. A celebration of life will be held at Robbinsdale Parkway UCC on June 4 at 11 am with visitation one hour prior. We give thanks for Jim's tireless dedication to service throughout his life. MORE
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 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.