Volume 16, No. 28 | July 15, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Serving as Chaplains in a Time of COVID-19
Liz Mahan, a UCC chaplain in the HealthEast system, says this about COVID-19: “It has affected everything , even and especially how we die.”

Dealing with social distancing and fears of getting sick, helping people at the end of life when they can't be with loved ones, supporting staff on the front lines … these are daily topics for chaplains in our hospitals, hospices, and jails.


Read about the experiences of Liz Mahan; Sandy Dodson, who learned on her second day of work that Bethesda Hospital was becoming a facility to serve only COVID patients; Jackie Falk , who serves as a chaplain in the St. Louis County Jail; and Chelle Lyons Hanson , who splits her time between a hospital and hospice.
"Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th & Chicago"
Wednesday, July 15, 7-8:30 pm, the second in the webinar series: "Justice Talk to Justice Walk: Building Awareness, Strengthening Our Resolve"

Guest speakers Rev. Gary Green and Rev. Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis , both faculty at United T heological Seminary of the Twin Cities

They will offer a dynamic conversation about how our sacred scriptures and our theologies can help shape our responses to George Floyd’s murder and a history of racial oppression. How can we disrupt existing realities to create something new? The webinar is free but registration is required.
Conference News & Information
Check Out a Wonderful Source for At-Home Faith Formation this Summer

The Minnesota Conference Outdoor Ministry is partnering with a team from  Danger Boat Productions  and  Doing Good Together to provide at-home faith formation resources to support parents at a time when COVID-19 has interrupted the routines of daily life and altered so many summer plans. 
 
Week 2 focuses on Interrupting the Patterns of Daily Life with engaging spiritual practices, games, activities, reading recommendations and more. The toolkit is available on the Conference's website in weekly installments through August 5. To receive a weekly reminder, email Sandy Kellen .
"Youth Camp is Zooming"

The Outdoor Ministry of the MN Conference held its first Online Youth Camp June 29-July 1. With the tagline “Youth Camp is Zooming,” ten youth in grades 6-12 participated in three days of games, challenges, and conversation facilitated by Danger Boat Productions. In the mornings, we learned about being resilient through personal and social conflicts, how to use our passions to help us through these isolating times, and what it means to be a faith community in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest.
 
In the afternoons we had virtual campfires, led by wonderful musician Claire Klein, and shared book recommendations and movie critiques. There were some tears and much laughter. While it was not an ideal youth camp experience, it did provide an opportunity to see familiar faces, meet new people, learn more about each other, and have a little fun.
 
Please make sure your middle school, high school, and young adults are following the Outdoor Ministry youth and young adult Instagram ( ucc.mn ) for information about upcoming events and other information.
Lay Leaders: Build the Skills You Need with this Dynamic Course!

Are you a lay leader seeking to be a more effective and spiritually grounded leader in your congregation? Check out The Damascus Project's Leadership Skills course, specifically designed to be delivered online beginning in August. This course can make all the difference in your experience as a leader, within your congregation and beyond. LEARN MORE
Authorized Minister Information Review Forms Due By July 31

2020 Authorized Minister Information Review   (AIR) forms are due by July 31 in the Minnesota Conference office or emailed to  Janet Anderson . If you haven’t submitted what was mailed to you in March, you can get a copy here. All licensed, commissioned and ordained ministers are required to submit AIR forms annually. To understand more about ministerial standing requirements, including AIR forms, power and boundary training, continuing education, exempt standing, and more, read this crib sheet.
Grants Available for Organizations Providing Meals

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced that it will award $9.5 million in grant funds to organizations providing meals to children, families, and adults experiencing increased food insecurity as a result of COVID-19. The state received the funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).

Minnesota nonprofits (including faith-based organizations), educational institutions (e.g., early care, K-12 school districts, higher education), tribal nations, and local governmental units are eligible and encouraged to apply for the grants. Applications are due by July 20.

To learn more about this opportunity, see the full  MDE Food Access Grant Opportunity press release . Visit the  Expanding Meal Access grant page  on the MDE website to apply.
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 . The application deadline for this loan program has been extended to December 31, 2020.

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
Matthew Orendorff will be ordained on Sunday, July 19, at 2:00 pm.  Ordained clergy in the conference are encouraged to attend the online service and wear red stoles. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, contact  Janet Anderson  with the Minnesota Conference.

Kathryn Reinhardt, wife of Rev. Edward Reinhardt, who preceded her in death, passed away July 11. Kathryn served as an organist and choir director in the Midwestern churches where her husband pastored. The Minnesota Conference extends its sympathy to Kathryn's children and other loved ones as they grieve this loss.  Read her obituary , which includes a Zoom link to this Thursday’s memorial service under the Services tab.

In May, Rev. Jess Chancey joyfully accepted an appointment to the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries Board of Directors, and she was named Secretary for the Board shortly thereafter. UCCDM is our national organization for the promotion of accessibility in the full scope of church life and ministry. The Board reviews applications and certifies congregations and ministries as Accessible to All (A2A), provides educational materials and resources for a variety of accessibility issues, and hosts an annual Widening the Welcome conference to promote accessibility throughout the UCC. Rev. Chancey developed a passion for advocacy through her own experiences of struggling for acceptance and inclusion as a queer female minister with a disability.
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
The Northern Clergy Cluster will meet Tuesday, July 21, at noon via Zoom.  Contact Rev. Kathy Nelson  at Peace UCC, Duluth for the link.
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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.