Volume 16, No. 37 | September 16, 2020

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"Respect, Compassion, Atonement"
Nearly 80 years after three young black men were lynched on the streets of Duluth for a crime they did not commit, a small but mighty group of people came together, determined to infuse the 1920 deaths into consciousness of the community. One of those people was Henry Banks, the Conference’s guest speaker for the September 15 "Justice Talk to Justice Walk” discussion.

Banks told a powerful story about the importance of community reconciliation in the wake of an unspeakable incident. While Banks said it took many years to “bring the truth to light,” and especially to get white people to acknowledge the atrocity, his group stayed the course; in 2003, the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial opened in Duluth and was subsequently recognized by National Geographic as one of the top memorials in the U.S. More than 1,500 people and congregations from across the country (including Pilgrim Congregational UCC and Peace UCC in Duluth) contributed to the project, the country’s first memorial to address lynching.

Banks emphasized how important it is for people to both understand that these lynchings happened in Minnesota and to connect today’s lack of economic opportunity for people of color to the same thread of racism. “Racism is our biggest pandemic,” he said, “Healing, understanding, compassion and love are the answer.”

Banks acknowledged the difficulties facing our communities but told attendees, "The goodness of Jesus Christ is our answer. His mandate was to love each other."

With this latest webinar (watch below) and the upcoming one on October 1 with Jim Bear Jacobs, the Conference is "looking in our own Minnesota mirror to confront our racist history as a state," says Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon. "We are reminding ourselves that George Floyd was another horrific incident in an historic line-up of events that reflect white supremacy in our state. We need to come to terms with our own history."
"Justice Talk to Justice Walk" Webinars Available for Adult Education, Youth Groups & Worship
These easy-to-share webinars, with compelling and insightful guests, are the perfect way to start and promote conversations about racial justice.

Where Do We Go From Here? Lessons from Ferguson & Beyond
Featuring Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ and a leading national voice in the struggle for racial justice in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th & Chicago
Featuring Rev. Gary Green and Rev. Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis, both faculty members at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, in 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.

Youth Lead Now: Equipping Young Leaders for Social Change
Featuring Samantha Fuentes, a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and leader in March for Our Lives, who shared her story of resilience and healing that fuels her commitment “to uplift the voices of the silenced, and remind us that ALL our experiences matter regardless of color, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation."
Where Do We Go From Here? Lessons from Ferguson & Beyond
Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th & Chicago
Youth Lead Now: Equipping Young Leaders for Social Change
Conference News & Info
Refusing to Fight for Crumbs: Exploring the intersections of Indigenous and Black Justice

Guest: Jim Bear Jacobs
Thursday, October 1 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Born in St. Paul, Jim Bear Jacobs is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, an American Indian tribe located in central Wisconsin. He has degrees in Pastoral Studies and Christian Theology and has served various churches as youth minister, adult Christian educator, and director of Men’s Ministries. Presently he is director of racial justice and community engagement at the Minnesota Council of Churches. He is also a cultural facilitator in the Twin Cities and works to raise the public’s awareness of American Indian causes and injustices. He is founder/convener of “Healing Minnesota Stories,” an initiative dedicated to creating events of dialogue, education, and healing, particularly within faith communities. RSVP
Are You Called to Serve?

There are many wonderful opportunities within the Minnesota Conference to serve the wider church, ranging from faith formation to racial justice to immigration and much more. Download a document that describes teams and committees and offers choices for you to serve.
New Boundary Training from Leaderwise
The Minnesota Conference is now offering power and boundary training from our partners at Leaderwise, in response to criticism of the online boundary training offered earlier this year. The course includes reading, online learning, and written reflection for a total time commitment of about five hours. The cost is $50/participant. Dates and times for fall classes are noted below. Find more information here.

  • Chaplains: Thursday, October 29, 9:00-11:30 am
  • Other clergy: Wednesday, October 21, 9:00-11:30 am
  • Other clergy: Wednesday, October 28, 3:00-5:30 pm 
Bring the Liddles to Your Church (Virtually!)

Minnesota Conference UCC members Tom and Monica Liddle, together with their children, have completed their second term of service as mission co-workers in East Timor and have a powerful story to tell of God's work in the world. We highly recommend bringing them to your worship, Sunday school, a women's group, a special event or a small group discussion. Contact Catherine Nichols to schedule before October 31. The Minnesota Conference UCC was grateful to support the Liddles' global mission appointment through special fundraising years ago & now we're delighted to welcome them home! They now reside in Duluth.
Register by September 28 for "Being a Faith Change Agent" Adaptive Leadership Course

As our churches engage in adaptive change —however successfully or not — it is the ideal time to learn the key moves of faith change agents. Faith change agents help their communities recognize crisis and major change as opportunities for faithful action and organizational transformation. Recommended for pastors, lay leaders and members-in-discernment. LEARN MORE

This new Courage to Lead series is designed to help faith leaders (ordained and lay) call forth their best heart and soul for ministry. The course will meet (virtually) seven times over the course of five months. Cost is $400. Participants from the Minnesota Conference should use the code UCCDISCOUNT. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Keep Current on OCWM and Per Capita Annual Dues!
Your church’s payments to Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) and your Per Capita Annual Dues are the lifeblood for our denomination at the state and national levels. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference has been extraordinarily grateful for your continued generosity. As the Minnesota Conference closes in on our September 30th fiscal year end, we ask for your continued diligence. If you have any questions or concerns about your OCWM or Per Capita Annual Dues, please contact Bob Olsen, Development Officer, at development@uccmn.org or by calling 612.230.3375. Thank you!
Join Us for Contemplative Gatherings

The MN Conference Outdoor Ministry will present a three-part Contemplative Gathering to bring us into a place of mindfulness and peace as we enter a change of seasons, a time of thanksgiving, and a time of reflection and anticipation. With the facilitation of three singer-songwriters/theological artists, each Zoom gathering will involve story, song, and inspiration. The first gathering is October 17. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Financial Assistance for Congregations

  • The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the pandemic. See the process.

Joys & Concerns
Rev. Ellen Green will be installed as Associate Minister at Lynnhurst Congregational UCC on Sunday, September 20. The Minnesota Conference celebrates this new phase in the relationship between the congregation and Pastor Green. To receive a link to participate in the service, email the Lynnhurst Church office.
Clergy Clusters
The Southwest Clergy Cluster will meet on Thursday, September 17, at 11:30 am via Zoom. Contact Rev. Dana Mann at Mankato UCC for the link.
Tell Us Your News!
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.

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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.