Volume 17, No. 40 | October 13, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Playing, Praying and Wondering in Nature
On the last weekend of September, seven women from six different congregations spent time together "glamping" along the shores of Lake Superior. This was our one and only Outdoor Ministry event for the season since we could be outside, even when we ate. 

We hiked, canoed, relaxed, laughed, and spent time getting to know each other and spiritually opening ourselves to one other and the natural surroundings. Please enjoy this short video of some of the highlights. And we hope you will consider joining us next year. 
Welcoming Our New Ministers in the Conference!

We are sharing short profiles of pastors who have been called during the Covid-19 pandemic. We commend both ministers and congregations for continuing to move forward faithfully despite the unusual challenges this global health crisis introduced for search committees, candidates, and newly called pastors.

Rev. Shannon Smith, The Congregational Church, Rochester

Shannon serves as co-pastor of The Congregational Church, working alongside her husband, Rev. Andrew Greenhaw. A native of Kentucky, Shannon attended Western Kentucky University before discerning a call to ministry. After completing her Master of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion she was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served as the pastor of First Christian Church in Slidell, Louisiana. When she is not chasing her children, Ruth and Samuel, Shannon loves to read and imagine how we can make the Church a more welcoming, diverse place that serves all of God's children.

You started your position in trying times. What has been your biggest challenge?
Not knowing the members of the congregation. So much of the initial work at a call is building relationships and developing a deeper understanding of the congregation and the pandemic has made this significantly more challenging.

Where have you found joy?
The faithfulness of the Congregational Church. They have made a real effort to continue the work of the Church during the pandemic, from putting together an incredible live stream set up to checking in on one another. This inspires me and makes me so excited to serve them. Plus, working with my husband is pretty great.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Continuing to deepen relationships and Advent. This year having time to honor waiting and hoping for the coming of Jesus resonates with me during this time of Covid. It will be even better because we will be able to gather both online and in person. 
Conference News & Events
Calling All Faith Formation Leaders to Join a Circle of Trust Peer Group

If you are a local congregational leader — clergy, lay staff, or volunteer — whose ministry focuses on nurturing the spiritual lives of others – children, youth, families, or adults – this opportunity is for you. These Circle of Trust Peer Groups will offer space for Faith Formation leaders to be nurtured and nourished in themselves and in community. The offering includes both an opening retreat AND monthly small group calls and will be held entirely online.

  • Facilitators: Rev. Winton Boyd and Rev. Ellen Green
  • Opening Retreat: Oct 25, 6-8 pm & Oct 26, 8:30-11:30 am; 12:30-2:00 pm
  • Peer Groups: Monthly meetings via Zoom, November 2021–June 2022
  • Cost: $150 (with generous support from the Ashley Endowment of the Minnesota Conference UCC)
  • REGISTER by Friday, October 15
Register Closes October 18

Workshop is October 22 & 23

Join this personalized learning experience—for clergy, lay leaders, and all people of faith—that you direct, at your own pace and on your own time! In addition, you'll have discussion time online with peers and instructors, and real-time, facilitated group engagement. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER BY OCTOBER 18
Registration for Faith Foundations and Leadership Skills Offered for Laypeople

These two great programs for laypeople, brought to you by The Damascus Project, open for registration October 15.

Get Ready to Get Ready for Advent!

Wednesdays, October 20 & 27, and November 3, 10 & 17, 12:00–12:45 pm
Cost: $40

Don’t let this holy season sneak up on you!
The Damascus Project's "Get Ready to Get Ready" Advent Prep Series is great for preachers, faith formation, and adult study leaders. This low-key, online lunch-hour lecture series will equip you with fresh perspectives on the Advent texts. Each week features a different faith leader, including Justin Sabia-Tannis, Karl Kuhn, Rachael Keefe, Shannon Kearns, and Alika Galloway & Carolyn Pressler. MEET OUR BIBLICAL COMMENTATORS.
Last Chance to Register for October Power & Boundary Training

Oct 20 & 21, 9:30 am–noon

The Conference will utilize the services of LeaderWise to provide online power and boundary training on Wednesday and Thursday, October 20 & 21, from 9:30 am–noon both day. The fee is $50. If you have questions or would like additional information, please email the Registrar for the Conference, Catherine Cejda, at catherinec@uccmn.org. To ensure that your training is recorded, please email your certificate of completion to Catherine at the same email.
Joys & Concerns
We celebrate the ministry of Rev. Dr. John Ross, who had his last Sunday at Wayzata Community Church (UCC) on October 10. Rev. Ross served at WCC for 17 years. He will now be the Executive Director of the St John’s Bible (Heritage Edition) program at St John’s University. 

Rev. Jerry Hankins passed away October 4. Jerry served the Minnesota Conference for many years as pastor of Faith UCC in Bertha, Granite Falls UCC in Granite Falls, and the Federated Church (UCC/UMC) in Morris, before retiring in 1999. The Minnesota Conference holds Jerry’s wife Liz and the rest of her family in prayer.
Resources & Clergy Clusters


  • 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 Covid, 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.