Volume 16, No. 23 | June 10, 2020

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Supporting Clergy with Sermon Resources
Many clergy have expressed the need for support as they continue to navigate ministry amid the ongoing pandemic while responding to additional demands on their time to support and engage in the growing movement for racial justice.

A few local pastors suggested that the Conference provide recorded sermons that they could offer for their congregation’s livestreamed or online worship services. In response, Conference staff members Rev. Sheresa Simpson-Rice and Rev. Abigail Henderson (pictured above) have created sermons (video and manuscript) that can easily be accessed on the COVID-19 Resources page of the Conference website.
To continue to expand the sermon library, we invite clergy from around the Conference to share a video and transcript of a sermon. If you are willing to allow clergy colleagues to access and share with their local congregation, please email Rev. Kevin Brown.
Generous Preaching, Generous Congregations Topics of Upcoming Damascus Project Learning Opportunities
The Damascus Project is now open for registration for a wide range of relevant and affordable courses, designed to help equip clergy and lay leaders for a changing world and a changing church.

Coming up: "Generous Preaching," held monthly starting June 16 through December. It can be hard to talk about money. And yet Jesus spoke about it often, second only to the Kingdom of God. Explore generosity as a spiritual practice in this class, and learn how to talk about generosity outside of an annual pledge drive. Or, check out the "Cultivating Generous Congregations," focused on helping pastors and ministry leaders unearth and energize congregational generosity.

All Damascus Project courses will take place on our new Damascus Project Network . Courses feature high-quality content delivered by excellent instructors. Plus, this new platform provides access to an ever-expanding network of leaders, curious learners, and colleagues so learning can continue even beyond the formal course experience.

Conference News & Information
UCC Youth Speak Up & Out

This summer, three young adults are interning with the Minnesota Conference UCC to engage other youth in important work and activities. They have launched their own Instagram channel and are helping plan and facilitate online gatherings for youth and young adults.

They are also providing important ways for youth to be involved in working for racial justice. Check out their amazing resources and recommendations.
Annual Meeting is Saturday, June 13
10 am – Noon via Zoom

Registration for Annual Meeting this Saturday is now closed. If you are registered and you are not familiar with the Zoom platform, you can join a training session Thursday, June 11, at 4:00 pm. RSVP to Sandy via email at sandyk@uccmn.org and she will send you directions on how to join your chosen session. Alternatively, you can view a video about Zoom to learn more.
Share Your Best Practices for Live-Streaming

While many of us wait for the time when we can meet again safely for in-person worship we will continue to live-stream services. But we know that not all churches have either the funds or the know-how to add a live-streaming option to their worship. Other churches are struggling to make the technology work.

The Conference wants to help all congregations build capacity to improve or offer live-stream worship. If your church is currently live-streaming, please share your experiences via email at communications@uccmn.org . We then plan to engage a panel of you in a webinar discussion of best practices, equipment suggestions, costs and more.
Speak Up, Stand Up and Show Up for Justice!

As followers of Jesus, we are called to exercise our sacred right to speak up, stand up and show up for justice. You can be an agent of change by displaying a sign in your yard or window or wearing a t-shirt, created by the UCC. View and order the yard sign or t-shirt .
Family Connection Toolkit for Summer 2020 (available July 8)

The Minnesota Conference Outdoor Ministry is delighted to announce a new resource for parents and families. The Family Connection Toolkit is a collaboration of the Conference, Doing Good Together, the Theater of Public Policy, and Improv Parenting.
The toolkit will be available electronically in weekly installments, running July 8 through August 5. Each edition will focus on a specific value of the Conference’s outdoor ministry programs and will provide a rich collection of activities to engage the whole family – readings, reflections, spiritual practices, creative/art activities, games, service projects, justice and advocacy opportunities, and more. Following is a summary of the weekly themes:
  • Experiencing the sacred in nature
  • Interrupting the regular patterns of daily life
  • Nurturing resilience in body, heart, mind, and soul
  • Giving and receiving extravagant welcome
  • Creating a more just world for all
We hope that this collection of family-focused resources will provide help for parents whose daily lives and summer plans have been disrupted by the pandemic. Please contact Rev. Sheri Nelson , Outdoor Ministry Program Director, or Rev. Kevin Brown , Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth, with any questions.
2020 Stewardship Materials Available

Love of children, love of neighbor, love of creation “Three Great Loves” is this year’s stewardship theme from the United Church of Christ.
Three Great Loves expresses the core commitments of the United Church of Christ as we live out Jesus’ call to share God’s love:

• Love of Children
• Love of Neighbor
• Love of Creation

Financial Assistance for Congregations from Conference and National Setting

The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Applications are now being accepted. See the process described here .

Applications are being accepted from Minnesota Conference UCC congregations for the Pandemic Relief Loan Program. Access the application and further details here.

Congregations may also apply for  emergency grants  to cover operating expenses, technology needs, or community ministries; grants to cover the cost of  website development ; or  counseling assistance grants  for authorized ministers.
Joys & Concerns
From the Facebook page of Rev. Ashley Harness : "In the words of Angela Jimenez: We want to share, in this painful time, news of joy. Alouette 'LouLou' Joy was born to her mama Ashley Harness on May 26, 2020 - joining her mommy Angela Jimenez, big sister August Jane and her grammy Linda Jane Harness in our home."
News & Notices
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.

Check out the  employment opportunities  portion of our website for all open positions.
Clergy Clusters & Other Upcoming Events
The Northern Clergy Cluster will meet on Tuesday, June 16, at noon  via Zoom.  Contact Rev. Kathy Nelson  at Peace UCC, Duluth for the link.

Please check the Conference's website for all events.
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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.