Volume 19, No. 18 | May 3, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Miracles Arising

COMMAnts from the Conference Minister

This morning I headed out to run a quick errand. My mind was focused on accomplishing my task quickly so I could get back home to the lengthy “to do” list that awaited me. I wasn’t expecting that pesky diversion to produce sudden moments of awe, but that’s exactly what happened.

I noticed three deer serenely grazing at the side of the road. Then a bird flew just overhead, a streak of brilliant red catching my eye. The most delicate layer of green was just pushing through a ground waking from its very long winter slumber. And there up above, amongst the drab brown of trees that surrounded me, were the tiniest buds of life, hopeful signs of spring finally emerging.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…

That 24th Psalm sprung to mind as these glimpses of God’s abundant Creation interrupted my haste and caused me to notice the beauty all around me. The advent of Spring has a glorious way of doing that, of slowing us down enough to witness the miracles arising. Having endured yet another (especially long) Minnesota winter, we marvel at the slow emergence of dazzling color and bursting life. As people of faith, we’re moved to give thanks for God’s incredible gifts, and reminded that God has called us to be mindful stewards of this precious and vulnerable earth.

Next month, our Annual Meeting will focus on our role as faithful stewards of God’s Creation. On June 9-10 at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, we’ll hear from an amazing speaker and role model in this work, Rev. Michael Malcolm, who founded The People’s Justice Council, a non-profit focusing on environmental justice. We’ll talk in small groups about how our churches and we as individuals are caring for the earth. And as we gather together as the Minnesota Conference UCC community, we’ll also tend to our relationships, learn from one another, be strengthened for our ministries, and feel God’s powerful presence and encouragement among us.

I hope you’re planning to be present at Annual Meeting this year.  Our gathering will not be complete without your presence and your voice. Every congregation, every authorized minister, every faithful member is needed and welcome at our Conference table. Register now. I can’t wait to see you!

Grace and peace,

Reverend Shari Prestemon


Conference News & Events

Announcing the Annual Meeting Workshops & Hearings

The 2023 Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference UCC is fast approaching and we have many exciting workshops and informative hearings planned! Once you are registered for the 2023 Annual Meeting, you will have access to the links to all the hearings that will take place via Zoom on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (June 4 - 7) from 6:30 pm – 8 pm.

We are very excited to share that our workshops will once again be held in-person at Annual Meeting. We will have dedicated time on Saturday’s agenda for attending workshops. REGISTER TODAY and you'll be all set to attend both the online hearings and in-person workshops!

Here is a list of the workshops and hearings:

  • We have made progress: The Minnesota Northstar Act is a reality!
  • Creating Gender Inclusive Ministries
  • The Cosmology of Surfing
  • Subdue It Not! Environmental Racism and the Biblical Creation Stories
  • Justice Story Quilts
  • A Playbook for Political Action in the Progressive Church
  • Let’s Drum
  • Sponsoring a Ukrainian Refugee Family
  • Tai Chi: Moving Meditation
  • Sacred Reckonings: White Settler – Colonizer Churches Doing the Work of Reparation
  • So, You Think Your Church is at Risk
  • Green Team Forum (Zoom only, Sunday, June 4)
  • 2024 Compensation Guidelines Hearing (Zoom only, Monday, June 5)
  • Resolution Hearing (Zoom only, Tuesday, June 6)
  • 2024 Budget Hearing (Zoom only, Wednesday, June 7)

Check out all the Annual Meeting details on the Conference's website.

Anti-Racism/Diversity Training & Power & Boundary Training Both Offered June 8 Prior to Annual Meeting

Anti-Racism/Diversity Training

Thursday, June 8, 9:30 am – 4:00 pm (check-in begins at 9:00 with coffee) 

$65 (lunch included with a light afternoon snack) 

Training leader: Rev. Jia Starr Brown


Power & Boundary Training

Thursday, June 8, 10:00 am – 4 pm (check-in begins at 9:30 am with coffee)

$65 (lunch included with a light afternoon snack)

Facilitator: Rev. Dr. Anita Bradshaw


“Small Church Collective” Conversations Final Week – May 9


Tuesday, May 9, 10:30-12 noon, free



The last in a series of conversations designed for pastors and lay leaders in churches with 50 or less in worship is next week with as we delve into a conversation about our spaces and buildings.


Our special guest on May 9 is the Rev. Patrick Duggan, who is on the national staff of the United Church of Christ. Patrick is the executive director of the Church Building and Loan Fund and works with churches all over the country. He has more than 30 years experience in bi-vocational ministry, serving the local church while working in the public sector, including education, government, nonprofit organizations and economic and community development. Prior to coming to CB&LF, he led community development initiatives that generated $600 million in investment in the poorest communities on Long Island. The vision of the CB&LF is: “Transform. We transform communities by helping the Church live into God’s economy. We help congregations plan, raise, finance and build these transformative projects.”


Come to imagine, learn, dream, discover, share and wonder what can be possible.


This gathering will be held on Zoom. Our guests will present first, followed by a time for Q & A and small group discussion. We will also have time at the end of the gathering to evaluate and gather suggestions about possible future meetings.

The Strengthen the Church (STC) Offering is May 28

The Strengthen the Church (STC) Offering reflects the shared commitment of people across the United Church of Christ to cooperatively build up the Church. The funds raised support leadership development, new churches, youth ministry, and innovation in existing congregations, and are split 50/50 between Minnesota and the denomination.

The 2023 STC materials are available for download DOWNLOAD HERE, and include resources, a Reflection by Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, three bulletin inserts, and a music video of new churches and ministries funded by Strengthen the Church.

For more information contact Bob Olsen, Development Officer, at 612-871-0359 or email Bob at development@uccmn.org. Thank you for your generosity!

Support Available for Communities and Congregations Impacted by Flooding


If your congregation or community experiences disastrous flooding this spring, assistance could be available to you. Please contact Crispin Philips, the Minnesota Conference UCC Disaster Coordinator, at 952-412-3503 or sonoma566995@hotmail.com

Join The Ministray Lab's reCONNECTion Summer Tour

Discover how The Ministry Lab can reinvigorate and resource you, your ministry, and your community: we exist to support transformative ministry and you (MN UCC, UMC, and PC(USA) congregations) are already a member! Worship, pray, and walk the labyrinth; get creative and enhance relationships; wonder and learn about the Innovation Culture Index; email NOW to learn how your congregation can participate in the first Minnesota Innovation Lab Cohort (applications are due June 1!!) Find tour dates/locations, the daily schedule, and the registration link HERE.

Give Your Input about Forming Communities of Practice

The Minnesota Conference is hoping to form Communities of Practice this year for authorized ministers. These Communities provide opportunities for peer support and learning with a trained facilitator to engage around the challenges and blessings of doing ministry and living in this pandemic-informed world. Please fill out this brief survey.

Send Us Your Significant Anniversary Info!

We are gathering information for the Conference's Celebration Booklet. If you have a significant church anniversary, or ordination anniversary this year, please send your information to See Chang at comadmin@ucc.org.

For churches, please send a photo along with a brief history of the church. For clergy, please send a photo along with the Clergy Anniversary Questionnaire form.

Joys & Concerns

Rev. Richard “Dick” Mark had passed on April 24. His family will be holding a Celebration of life on Saturday, May 13 at 10:30 am. The service will take place at St. John’s UCC, 12984 County Road 51 in Norwood Young America.

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 faith formation, 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.