Volume 16, No. 22 | June 3, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Thousands Gather for Virtual Interfaith Vigil for George Floyd
"Those who are in the most pain must be in the center of our work."

That is what Rev. Traci Blackmon told nearly 20,000 people from across the country who viewed the virtual interfaith vigil for George Floyd, co-planned and hosted by clergy in the MN Conference.

Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO, was joined by Conference Minister Shari Prestemon and other pastors, rabbis, imams, and musicians in the one-hour vigil and call to action on Friday, May 29, organized to grieve the terrible murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers.

Rev. DeWayne Davis from All God's Children Metropolitan Community Church shared these powerful words about the death of George Floyd and the turmoil that has followed: "This is a reminder of the devastating price we pay for our inhumanity, the price we pay for our satisfaction with business as usual, the price we pay for our failure to do justice. Generational racism, trauma, indifference, poverty and state-sanctioned violence require intentional, collective and persistent action to undo the damage. We have work to do.""

Amen.

If you have not yet seen the vigil and call to action, click on the image below.
Black Clergy Lead Silent Marches, Joined by Clergy from Around the State
On a steamy Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of clergy followed black clergy in a silent marches to the State Capitol and to 38th & Chicago, the site of where George Floyd was brutally murdered by Minneapolis police officers.

Clergy stretched as far as the eye could see—wearing collars and stoles and masks—sending a powerful message of support to our black clergy and wider community. The crowds were encouraged to take a knee and recite the Lord's Prayer in unison.

Stacey L. Smith, pastor and presiding elder of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, said: “We know we are all hurting, and we all want justice. And that’s what today is about. We pray that it is healing that will begin today. We’re going to decree and declare today.”

To see more photos from the march, visit the MN Conference's Facebook page .
Conference News & Information
Announcing 2020-2021 Learning Opportunities

Damascus Project courses will engage learners around issues of importance today: the building blocks of faith, adaptive leadership, and community building for a changing world and a changing church.

All Damascus Project courses are designed to take place online on our new The Damascus Project Network . All courses feature high-quality content delivered by excellent instructors who will listen to you, help you build upon your own experiences and expertise, and make sure you get what you need from the courses you take. 

Every course registration comes with access to The Damascus Project Network , an ever-expanding network of leaders, curious learners, and colleagues so learning can continue even beyond the formal course experience. Right now, you can register for free without making any purchase. Check it out – it’s like Facebook without ads, but for UCCers! 

We have a great line-up of courses designed to appeal to seekers, lay leaders, clergy, Members-in-Discernment, and life-long learners. Here’s a taste: 

  • Cultivating Generous Congregations
  • Generous Preaching
  • Faith Foundations - Year 1
  • Leadership Skills
  • Being a Faith Change Agent: A New Paradigm for Transformational Pastoral Leadership
  • The Church, Trauma and Resilience
  • Sermon Camp
  • Ministry with LGBTQIA Youth

Read more and learn how to register, or contact Abby Henderson and Tisha Brown at damascusprojectucc@gmail.com .
Annual Meeting is Saturday, June 13, 10 am – Noon via Zoom

Prior to the meeting, we will have two training sessions for people who are not familiar with the Zoom platform. You can join the sessions on Tuesday, June 9, at 9:00 am or Thursday, June 11, at 4:00 pm. Choose the date that works for you and RSVP to Sandy via email at sandyk@uccmn.org. She will send you directions on how to join your chosen session. Alternatively, you can view a video about Zoom to learn more.

If you are registered for the Annual Meeting, you will receive an email by next Monday, June 8, that will include all the information about the meeting including the Zoom link to login, all the documents that will be covered in the meeting, and all the other details that will make an online meeting work! We look forward to our time together to do the business of the Conference.
New Faith Formation Resources Section on MN Conference Website

Please check out the new section with anti-racism resources and other resources to help you talk with children about violence. Bookmark the page a s we will be continually updating it.
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.

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
Rev. Fred Stroebel , a retired pastor and member of Union Congregational UCC in Elk River, died on May 27 .  Fred served in MASH units in WWII and was ordained in the Methodist Church before joining the United Church of Christ.  Read about his life here. The Minnesota Conference extends its heart to Fred’s wife Sandy and to all of his family and friends as they grieve without the opportunity to hold each other and to celebrate Fred’s life together.
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 & Other Upcoming Events
The North Central Clergy Cluster has moved its meeting to Thursday, June 18, at 12:30 pm via Zoom.

Please check the Conference's website for all events.
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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.