Volume 16, No. 19 | May 13, 2020

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Pandemic Relief Loan Program Opens for Application
Thanks to a phenomenal partnership between the Minnesota Conference, the Cornerstone Fund (UCC), and the national setting of the UCC, applications from Minnesota Conference UCC congregations are now being received for the Pandemic Relief Loan Program.

Applicants must be able to repay a low-interest loan and have a strong, active participation in the Minnesota Conference. Loan applications will be received and reviewed by staff at the Cornerstone Fund , which will administrate this program. Loan requests may range from $5,000-$20,000.

The Pandemic Relief Loan Fund is being established utilizing dollars primarily from the Conference’s 21st Century Church Fund, also supported by an allocation from the national setting. Donor gifts to this unique effort are also being sought.

Download a FAQ sheet about the loan program, and access the application and further details here.

Grant Program Underway
The Conference's grant program is also underway. Congregations may 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.

If you would like to learn more about either of these programs, or wish to contribute to either of these efforts, contact Conference Development Officer Bob Olsen at development@uccmn.org .
Register Now for the Online Annual Meeting
Registration Open for Online Annual Meeting on June 13 – Delegates, Please Register Now!

A short, virtual meeting for voting delegates only will instead be held on June 13 from 10 am to noon via Zoom to attend to essential business of the Conference. Registration for this meeting is now open at THIS LINK.

There is no fee for the meeting. If you are a clergy delegate or a lay delegate appointed by your congregation, please register for this Zoom meeting at your earliest convenience, but before Memorial Day as registration for this meeting will close on Monday, May 25, 2020. Once you register, you will receive email information about attending the meeting online.
Conference News & Information
Join a Conversation about Engaging Online Worship Resources

Kimi Floyd Reisch, Program Minister for the Open & Affirming Coalition of the UCC and the person responsible for online worship experiences, will lead a Co-Lab Supplemental on Thursday, May 21, at noon. Email Emily Meyer to receive the Zoom link. Invite worship leaders, musicians and liturgists to get inspired and discover resources for developing a long-term, engaging online worship expression for your congregation!
Break Bread Virtually with our Muslim Neighbors

Greetings and peace to you all from the Creation Justice Team. Creation justice encompasses love and respect for all of God's creation. This includes loving relationships with other humans. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are currently observing Ramadan, a season of fasting and reflection. People of all faiths are invited to break bread virtually in the Unity Iftaar on Wednesday, May 16, from 7:30–8:30 pm. Enjoy conversation, festive celebration and a delicious meal served by Gandhi Mahal (available for take out orders).  Register through the Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light website .
Check Out New Resources for Worship

  • The Ministry Lab is offering a weekly Visual Word on its website. A sermon is recorded and spoken over a video created by Melissa Weinhandl.

  • Rev. Abby Henderson, Director of Leadership Development for the MN Conference, and Rev. Sheresa Simpson-Rice, Interim Associate Conference Minister, are creating recorded sermons for your use. Check them out on the COVID-19 resource page.

 Courage & Renewal Retreats for Clergy, Staff & Lay Leaders

Exploring Gratitude in These Days
May 21, 10:00–11:30 am CDT
Rooted in Sara Thomsen's song,  Rhapsody of Rest, based on Psalm 92 (A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day). This 90-minute session, utilizing the  Circle of Trust process, will include individual and group reflection, silence and music. Advance registration required and is limited to the first 20 people for each retreat, but there is no cost.  REGISTER

Returning to the Source of our Call in These Days
June 4, 9:30 am –12:30 pm CDT
Rooted in Sara Thomsen's song,   Root of the Root  and Romans 10:15 ("How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?"). This 3-hour session will utilize the   Circle of Trust process   and will be more spacious, providing more extended time (both online and offline) for individual reflection, as well as time in triads and as a large group. Advance registration required and is limited to the first 20 people for each retreat, but there is no cost to participate.  REGISTER

Once you are registered, you will receive an email from the retreat facilitators a few days before the event that will provide you with the Zoom link and further details about the retreat you have signed up for. If you have questions please contact Sandy.
MN Conference UCC Youth Camp is Going ONLINE!

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are moving this summer’s Youth Camp online! Join us for a time each morning and afternoon, June 29 – July 1, to re-connect and support each other as a community.

This year’s youth camp is about RESILIENCE : What is resilience? What does it look like? What if you feel un-resilient? ( Hint: That’s normal! )

The Theater of Public Policy is collaborating with Conference staff and volunteers to help create virtual spaces using the Zoom platform to ask important questions, explore skills around resilience, support authentic emotional expression & just connect.
Each day of camp will include:
  • Live music
  • Games and creative activities with the Theater of Public Policy
  • Small group projects
  • Spaces for processing and sharing in small groups
  • Virtual camp fires
All youth currently enrolled in grades 6-12 are invited to participate in this event. Register HERE, and c ontact Rev. Sheri Nelson , Outdoor Ministry Program Director, with questions about the online youth camp experience. We hope to see you on Zoom!
Faith Formation Leaders Gathering | Thursday, May 14, 12:00-1:00 pm

If you have questions or concerns about how to replace VBS/Day Camp or what to do instead of camp or a mission trip, this is the conversation for you! Join clergy and other faith formation leaders from UCC, UMC and Presbyterian congregations around Minnesota for this discussion, jointly presented with The Ministry Lab. Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth, will facilitate this supplemental  Co-Lab Webinar  "Do You Know What You're Doing This Summer...??" For more information, contact Rev. Kevin Brown or Rev. Emily Meyer, Ministry Lab Director. Join via Zoom with this   LINKIf you prefer to join via telephone, call 1-312-626-6799 and use meeting code 997 774 390.
Joys & Concerns
Vanessa Bradby will be ordained via a Zoom meeting on Sunday, May 17 at 2:00 pm. Ordained clergy in the Minnesota Conference are encouraged to participate and wear red stoles. In order to join the meeting, attendees must   RSVP to Janet   i n the Conference office.

An ecclesiastical council for Jan Murphy will be held via Zoom on May 26 at 2:00 pm. Minnesota Conference clergy and congregational voting delegates are encouraged to participate. To get a link to the event, contact Janet Anderson   with your name, church membership, clergy or lay status, and whether or not you are a voting delegate for your church. To learn more about Jan, you may read an introduction to her here and her ordination paper here .
Notices & Invitations
Prophetic Preaching Workshop May 26–June 16 via Zoom
Join Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel and Rev. Dr. DeWayne Davis in this collaborative, hands-on application of prophetic preaching techniques, justice ministry skills and creating a community of support and accountability for your ministry. This 4-week series is a group experience for Christian clergy and focuses on discernment and planning for incorporating the gifts of the Festival of Homiletics into individual prophetic preaching efforts. Learn more.

Tell us what you're doing during these challenging times. Please share how your church is coping and reinventing worship and ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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
The Northern Clergy Cluster will meet Tuesday, May 19, at noon via Zoom. Contact Rev. Kathy Nelson   at Peace UCC, Duluth for the link. 

The Southeast Clergy Cluster will meet Thursday, May 14, from 9:00-11:00 am via Zoom. Contact Rev. Paul Bauch at Peace Church in Rochester or   janeta@ucc.org   for details.
Upcoming Events
POSTPONED : Adult Meditation Retreat, Spring Conference Youth Event, Courage to Lead, Magnify! Annual Meeting. Updates about upcoming camps, retreats, and other faith formation opportunities will be continually updated on the Conference's website.
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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.