Volume 17, No. 18 | May 5, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Peace UCC Rochester Forms Unique Partnership with Christway Full Gospel Church
“We want the same thing. We’re both just praying for peace and asking God to move his people.”

Those are the words Pastor Lorone Shepard from Christway Full Gospel Church in Rochester, a primarily Black congregation, uses to explain her church’s partnership with Peace UCC. The two congregations have been sharing worship space on Sundays for the past two years, but the relationship has grown in other marvelous ways, says Rev. Paul Bauch, senior minister at Peace.

In non-Covid times, Peace holds two services on Sunday mornings; Christway then holds its service at 1 pm. In between, the two congregations join for lunch and a time of fellowship. On Easter this year, the two congregations joined for a parking lot worship. Earlier, they held a Black Lives Matter service. “We are intertwined in many ways,” says Bauch. “We do special services together and we attend each other’s services. It’s just beautiful what has happened.”

Pastor Shepard moved to Rochester 16 years ago and found few welcoming clergy in the area. “I thought I had made a mistake, but I started having services and the ministry started growing,” she says. “I learned it’s not easy when God tells you to do something.” When she outgrew the space she was using, a friend told her to talk with Bauch. “I came to the church and we talked and talked and right away I knew the Spirit was present,” she says. “We both love God, and it was like we’d known each other forever.”

Bauch, too, says the connection was immediate and profound. “We hit it off,” he says. “Pastor Shepard just exudes love. I felt at home with her and knew we could worship and praise God together.” Bauch says Christway has fully embraced his congregation’s commitment to being an Open and Affirming church.

Shepard says, “Personally, the best part of this arrangement is that it makes no difference your age or color. God’s people are just God’s people. When you truly love God, you can worship and pray together. My congregation loves Pastor Paul.”

Bauch echoes her words. “Honestly, it’s like a big, loving embrace, methaphorically and literally. You can feel God’s love when we are together. And we have had very open and candid conversations about what is going on in the world. It has been enlightening in so many ways. We have very different cultural and theological backgrounds, but we have found common ground in the center of God’s love.”
Conference News & Events
Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson To Lead Annual Meeting Worship June 13

We are so thrilled that the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson will lead worship to close out this year's virtual Annual Meeting. She is the Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations in the United Church of Christ and Co-Executive for Global Ministries with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Music will be provided from around the Conference.

Worship is open to all! There will be an opportunity during worship to contribute to the annual fund of the Minnesota Conference.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Join Rev. Traci Blackmon and Nicolette A. Louissaint, PhD, executive director and president of Healthcare Ready, an organization that focuses on strengthening the United States’ healthcare supply chain preparedness and response before, during and after natural disasters and disease pandemics. Dr. Louissaint will share with us the current state of the virus and vaccinations nationally, as well as considerations for re-engagement and long-term recovery post-vaccination. REGISTER

New pickup site:
Parkview United Church of Christ
3737 Bellaire Ave., White Bear Lake

Saturdays 10 to 11 am
May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The arrival of May brings Mental Health Awareness Month and, for many congregations, preparations for Mental Health Sunday on May 16. The UCC Mental Health Network has partnered with The United Church of Canada to offer a new resource: Radical Belonging: Mental Health Sunday Liturgies and Resources for All.

This downloadable resource, available in both a PDF and a large print Word document, is for any congregation of any size that wishes to become a place of radical belonging. Within it, you will find liturgy that challenges the systemic sins that create “otherness” and ableism, resources that share the stories of people living with mental illness and disabilities, and words of grace and celebration for the opportunities we have as the Body of Christ to love, care for and accept one another.
The Ministry Lab Seeks Diverse Voices to Read Acts 2:1-21

In celebration of the diversity that is drawn into community in the Christian understanding of Pentecost, The Ministry Lab is compiling diverse voices reading Acts 2:1-21 as a worship resource for our member congregations. You are invited to share a video of yourself reading Acts 2:1-21 in the language of your heart. We will compile submitted videos into a single montage of readers - as depicted in the story being read - expressive of and in celebration of - the diversity of our community. Videos must be received no later than Thursday, May 13. Submit videos directly to ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu.
Please complete a submission form to ensure proper credit and representation.
Outdoor Ministry Plans Educational Journey to Enbridge Line 3 Site

Saturday, May 15
Wednesday, May 26

Outdoor Ministry, MN Conference invites you to participate in an educational journey to Palisade, MN, the place where Enbridge Line 3 and the Water Protectors collide for the rights to sacred lands that cross the Mississippi, rice lakes, and one of the most important watershed systems in the world.

MN Interfaith Power and Light will lead the discussion on the controversial Line 3, introduce us to some of the Water Protectors and residents directly affected by the tar sands pipeline, and invite us to pray with them over the Mississippi.
Congregations, families, and individuals may register for one or both events. DOWNLOAD AN INFO SHEET.
Joys & Concerns
Rev. Penny Entringer, pastor of Zoar UCC in Chaska, underwent successful gallbladder removal surgery on April 28. Rev. Entringer has been at Zoar since 2016. The Minnesota Conference sends prayers and gratitude for Rev. Entringer’s continued recovery.

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to Covid, racial justice, and more.

  • 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 United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the pandemic. See the process.

Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on news, events, jobs and more.

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.