Volume 18, No. 42 | November 23, 2022

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ gives thanks for all our congregations, pastors, chaplains, specialized ministers, and lay leaders across the Conference. We’re inspired by your faithfulness, your generosity, and all the ways you make God’s love real in our weary world.

May God bless each of you as you pause to give God thanks this week. We’re grateful for you!

We Grieve the Deaths and Trauma of the Colorado Springs Shooting

The Minnesota Conference UCC joins others in prayer for all those who are grieving and traumatized following the horrific shooting on Saturday at a nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO, which killed 5 individuals and wounded 18 others.

The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ offers this pastoral letter. As people of faith in the Minnesota Conference, we also lift our unwavering witness…

  • We celebrate and affirm members of the LGBTQ+ community and hold them precious in God’s sight, children of God with inherent dignity and worth.
  • We are called as Christ’s Church to extend authentic welcome and offer places of safety and refuge where our LGBTQ+ siblings can be fully and joyfully themselves.
  • We dedicate ourselves to creating communities and conversations that refuse the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that fuels violence and demeans others. 
  • Our God is a God of extravagant, inclusive love. Our sacred scriptures & the example of Jesus Christ demand we offer nothing less than that to others in the practice of our faith.
Conference News & Events

Spark Enthusiasm and Passion for Serving the Church & Community

November 29, 11 am


Many congregations are struggling to recruit and retain effective lay leadership. Burnout is high and fear for the future of local church ministry palpable. Over the years, we have observed that lay people who come to the Damascus Project return to their congregations energized, excited about ministry and ready to take on leadership roles.

If you are longing to spark enthusiasm and passion for serving the church and wider community within your congregation, we hope you will consider participating in a Damascus Project Q & A Session on November 29, 11:00 am. RSVP today. A special course discount for your members will be provided to all who attend.

Exploring the Enneagram

For lay leaders, seekers, authorized ministers and people exploring authorized ministry

January 30 - March 12, 2023

$175 (lay leaders, seekers, authorized ministers)

$350 (if you’re exploring authorized ministry/MiD)

Now through Dec 15, use code: EARLYBIRD at checkout for 20% off the price

Leadership in congregations today is hard. It is more and more challenging to navigate change and respond with care to the many competing demands. Understanding our personality — its strengths and its shadow sides — is more important than ever before. When we know who we are, we are better equipped to work with others.

In Exploring the Enneagram you will identify your unique personality type and gain insight into the personality types of others. This learning intensive on the Enneagram is meant to ground you more deeply in yourself, your relationships, and your connection to God.


Unlock the Mysteries of Faith in Faith Foundations

12-week learning intensive with the Damascus Project

January 12 – April 20, 2023

Cost: $325

(use discount code EARLYBIRD for 20% off until December 15)

WATCH a video from one of the instructors!

So much has changed in the last three years that it is easy to feel adrift or alone in faith. What do I believe? Does God care? Who is Jesus, really? If God is a loving God, what do I do with all this chaos and loss? 

If this sounds like you, then consider joining the winter cohort of Faith Foundations. Those who participate will:

  • Gain tools for reading and interpreting scripture?
  • Meet like-minded believers on a similar journey of faith? 
  • Connect events from the past with God’s dream for our future?
  • Ground faith in scripture and tradition within a vibrant, hybrid (online and on zoom) learning community


UCC Partner News & Events

Celebrating bell hooks: "The Praxis of Love" Kicks off UTS Three-Part Series

The Leadership Center for Social Justice at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities has launched a three-part “Praxis Series” aimed at helping participants embody and live into lessons about Love, Hope, and Faith that are foundational for justice work.

The first in the series is December 1 at 6:30 pm: “The Praxis of Love”

In honor of the first anniversary of bell hooks’ (Gloria Watkins, 1952–2021) death, and in celebration of her life and legacy, “The Praxis of Love” will feature a community conversation on bell hooks’ All About Love: New Visions.


Moderated by Rev. Dr. Ry Siggelkow, director of the Leadership Center for Social Justice, the conversation will be initiated by three special guest speakers:


  • Rev. Dr. Jessica Chapman Lape, who holds a PhD in Practical Theology from Claremont School of Theology, is a womanist pastoral theologian, a clinically trained chaplain, and assistant professor of interreligious chaplaincy (and director of the interreligious chaplaincy program) at United.
  • Dr. David Todd Lawrence is an associate professor and director of graduate programs in the Department of English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He teaches African American literature and expressive culture, folklore studies, and cultural studies.
  • Rosy Petri is an artist and storyteller from Milwaukee, Wisconsin whose multidisciplinary works fuse fabric portraiture, multimedia storytelling, and illustration as an act of witness. In 2021, she served as the inaugural artist in residence at the bell hooks center at Berea College in Kentucky.


Online and in person at UTS, 767 Eustis St., Ste 140, St. Paul, MN.

REGISTER by November 28

The Ministry Lab Shares Psalm 148 Video Reflection

The Ministry Lab is creating a video reflection based on Psalm 148 that will be free for member congregations to enjoy as a sermon, contemplative practice, or celebratory opening or closing throughout the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany. The Lab would like to include your photos, images, or drawings! Share your favorite images, inspired by Psalm 148 (NRSV or The Message) by Sunday, December 4, HERE. The Psalm 148 Reflection Video will be available by Christmas Day!

Joys & Concerns

We celebrate the installation of Rev. Lauren Baske-Davis as the settled Associate Minister at First UCC in Northfield. (pictured L-R: Rev. Cindy Maddox (Sr. Minister), Rev. Lauren Baske-Davis (Associate Minister), Rev. Shari Prestemon (Minnesota Conference Minister), Hannah Kuether (Committee on Ministry representative).

A memorial service for Rev. EvaLyn Carlson is scheduled for December 10 at 1:00 pm at First Congregational UCC in Fairmont, MN. She pastored churches in the UCC and Christian Church (DOC) from the most northern portion of Minnesota to the southern parts of Iowa. The service is also available through a Facebook event.


A farewell service for Rev. Beth Donaldson, UCC New Brighton, will be held Sunday, December 11, at 9:30 am, 1000 Long Lake Road, New Brighton, MN.

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.