Volume 17, No. 8 | February 24, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Joy Comes with the Morning
“In this space between our suffering and our full rejoicing, we rely on our faith … The psalmist says, ‘Weeping may linger for the night but joy comes with the morning.’ My friends, our weeping may yet linger, but I trust that our joy will come.”

In the video below, Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon addresses the profound and unfathomable loss of lives from the Covid pandemic and encourages us to pause, reflect and pray for those who have lost the ones they love so deeply.
UCC Supports Our Friends in Texas
Our prayers go out to all those in Texas who suffered from the severe winter storms and resulting outages of power and water last week. As churches, individuals, and cities struggle to recover from wide-spread damage and need, the United Church of Christ has issued a special appeal for funds to aid in the recovery. When you donate, 100% of your gift will be utilized for direct assistance to those who need it most. 

You can also read an interesting UCC story about churches helping meet needs in Texas.
Conference News & Events
Seeking Justice, Caring for Community: Preparing for the Days Ahead

March 2, 7 pm, hosted by the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Amos Task Force of the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ

As the trials of the former police officers accused in George Floyd’s death begin in early March, our nation — especially the Twin Cities — will again be confronted with the trauma of racism, police brutality, and white supremacy. How can clergy and community leaders prepare for this moment?

You are invited to join a virtual dialogue with Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Steven Belton, President and CEO of the Urban League (Twin Cities), moderated by Rev. Dr. Gary Green II, assistant professor of pastoral theology and social transformation at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

“This conversation will begin transformational work by centering on healing and helping our communities develop the resources we need to support and care for each other, while disrupting the ways white supremacy functions behind the scenes to create the very circumstances where Black bodies can be routinely killed in this manner,” said Rev. Dr. Green II. “Our nation is at a turning point where it seems we are finally ready to have serious and honest conversations about white supremacy that have the potential to transform race relations in America. We are committed to leading this conversation.”

The suggested ticket price is $10, but donations of all sizes or none are accepted to ensure the event is accessible to everyone. RSVP here.
The Racial Healing Handbook: Join the Conversation!

Sign up today for the book study on The Racial Healing Handbook by Annelise Singh on Mondays from 7 to 8:30 pm March 1, 8, 15, and 22. Clergy and lay people alike are invited to participate. Participants should purchase the book and register for the read. Participation will qualify for meeting the anti-racism requirement for authorized ministers. REGISTER
Virtual Annual Meeting Set for June 7-13

The Annual Meeting Planning Work Group, in collaboration with Conference staff, is working hard to create an experience that will be educational, supportive, collaborative, and enjoyable — balanced by our sincere desire to keep everyone safe and healthy. To that end, the entire Annual Meeting will be virtual this year. Our keynote speaker is Susan Beaumont, author of How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season.

Read more about the schedule, our guest preacher, how to submit a proposal for a workshop, registration and more HERE.
How Then Shall We Live? Putting Faith Values into Earth Practice

Check out the video from the second in our Creation Justice Series with Buff Grace, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. Learn more about upcoming conversations.
"Practicing Boldness" with Week 2 of the Lenten Family Toolkit

How would worship feel if everyone, even kids, asked questions? Where are my holy spaces, where I feel I can be my whole self? What are some questions would I like to ask Jesus? Check out the wonderful resources in week 2 of the Lenten Family Toolkit. Video reflections, games, activities, books and more available on our Lenten Toolkit page. If you would like to receive a direct email each week, please email Sandy Kellen.
The Damascus Project Offers Ministry with LGBTQIA+ Youth
March 12-13 | Only $49 |  INFO AND REGISTRATION

Join the discussion on how to proactively create spaces in church so LGBTQIA+ youth in the wider community know they are welcome. This weekend workshop from The Damascus Project will include practical and meaningful information for building or strengthening a ministry among LGBTQIA+ youth in your church.
We welcome Rev. Jason Brian Santos on February 25 from noon-1:30 pm for a discussion on "Sabbath Practices and the Formation of Christian Identity." Whether at church, home, or retreat, we all struggle with how to intentionally engage Christian practices in our everyday lives. What if we reimagined spiritual formation as an extension of Sabbath rhythms? In this conversational presentation, participants will explore the benefits of embracing Sabbath practices aimed at fostering Christian identity, both in and outside the walls of the church. FREE BUT REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
Inspiring Preachers, Speakers to Highlight CHHSM Annual Gathering

The 83rd CHHSM Annual Gathering, themed “Together in Hope,” takes place online March 2-4 with a docket of keynote speakers and worship leaders guaranteed to inspire and captivate. Learn more and register.
Church Annual Reports Due: Data Hub Open Through March 3

The Data Hub is open to church administrators through March 3rd!  All churches in the conference are requested to submit data that informs us about our shared regional and national resources in a movement of faith and love. Click here for instructions. Contact Catherine Cejda at the Conference office if you experience problems with the process. The deadline for submissions is March 3. Thank you for your time on this project! 
Joys & Concerns
Rev. Jan Bodin’s mother, Lois L. Bodin, passed away on February 15. Jan last served the Minnesota Conference at the church in Faribault. We hold Jan and all her family in our prayers.
 
Rev. Guy E. Stone, JR., passed away on February 18 after battling Parkinson’s for several years. Guy had served the Minnesota Conference at Parkway UCC in Minneapolis and at the Pilgrim Point camp. His body has been donated to the Brain and Tissue Program at the University of Maryland, where research will be performed to study Parkinson’s disease.
Resources

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to ministry.

  • 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.


  • 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.
Clergy Clusters
The BIPOC Clergy Cluster meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month from 5:00–6:30 pm on Zoom. To receive a link to the meeting, email Rev. Nikki Frontz.
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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.