Volume 16, No. 33 | August 19, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Attracting and Cultivating Clergy for Congregations throughout Minnesota
God calls the Minnesota Conference UCC to equip a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love. An important aspect of that call is helping churches attract and cultivate clergy with the skills to lead a changing church in a changing world. This can be an especially big challenge in rural areas.

“The Church is a significant force for good in so many of our Greater Minnesota communities,” says Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon. “We need strong clergy who can help lead thriving congregations, and we need new approaches to developing those talented leaders.”

Those approaches include the Damascus Project, which is offering fresh ways to develop spiritual leaders. Other approaches include working with Conference staff to identify retired ministers to serve in a part-time capacity, engaging leaders in the community who are interested in becoming licensed but non-ordained ministers, or working with seminaries to match students with churches in rural areas.

Read more about what congregations such as First Congregational United Church of Christ in Zumbrota (pictured) and New York Mills have done to ensure strong leadership.
Conference News & Info
Faith Foundations & Leadership Skills Start this Weekend! 

Time is running out! Join the 35 lay people from Wisconsin and Minnesota who have registered for Faith Foundations or Leadership Skills, two innovative and welcoming online learning experiences from The Damascus Project.

Orientations for these courses are this Friday, August 21 (Leadership Skills) and Saturday, August 22 (Faith Foundations). These sessions will be recorded but are best experienced live on Zoom. The absolute deadline to register is Tuesday, September 8. Learn more by watching the video below and register here.
Annual Campaigns 101 Webinar

Two sessions to choose from: Tuesday, Sept. 1, or Monday, Sept. 14, 5:30-7:00 pm

The Minnesota Conference UCC is excited to invite our churches to join our Wisconsin neighbors in this webinar to develop and strengthen plans for a successful fall stewardship campaign. Several churches that joined this webinar last year reported improved results from their pledge campaigns.

Designed for pastors and lay leaders planning an annual pledge campaign, the webinar will explore ways to create an effective campaign. We will reflect on core purpose of a campaign, discuss practical steps leaders can take, and explore creative ideas to design a campaign uniquely suited to your congregation. Invite others in your congregation, too!
 
There is no fee for participating in this webinar, however registration is required to receive the link to join the webinar.

LeaderWise Offers Clergy Consultation Groups

LeaderWise will host eight clergy consultation group sessions, designed to support clergy as they face the many challenges of the pandemic — from pastoral care to worship to maintaining community to finances. If your capacity and resilience are drained and you are finding it difficult to manage the stress, learn more and register here. The cost for the eight sessions is $600.
COVID-19 Update from the Conference

In light of increasing COVID numbers in Minnesota and continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the Board of Directors voted on Saturday that the Conference staff are to continue working remotely through at least December 31, 2020.

In addition, the Conference will not host any in-person events during that time and all committee meetings will continue to be done electronically. Conference staff members will also refrain from any travel or visits within the Conference and wider UCC. Read full details.
OCWM & Per Capita Annual Dues Reminder

As summer comes to a close, please check that your church is on track with your contribution towards Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) and your Per Capita Annual Dues. Your church received a second quarter Statement in mid-July. If you have any questions, please call Bob Olsen at 612.230.3375. Thanks!
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
A Service of Ordination for Ellen Green will be held Sunday, August 30, at 1:00 pm on Zoom. Ellen has been a Member in Discernment with the Southeast Conference UCC and will be installed as Associate Minister at Lynnhurst UCC next month. To request Zoom meeting details for the Service of Ordination, email Church.Office@LynnhurstUCC.org.
You are also invited to contribute paper handprints for a symbolic laying-on of hands. See details about submitting your handprint.

A farewell service for Rev. Janice Steele of Community UCC in Saint Paul Park will be held on Sunday, August 23, at 10:00 am. Janice will be moving back home to serve the UCC in California, and the Minnesota Conference offers thanks for her ministry here and blessings in her new setting. If you would like a Zoom link to Sunday's service, contact the church or janeta@uccmn.org.
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.

Check out the employment opportunities portion of our website for all open positions.
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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.